Fullofit, that was a story right out of Boys Own Paper. Ripping yarn! I'm glad to see Gaston back to the side of the lines with good wine. And congrats on getting revenge for Dagonet's downing. It was a real surprise to hear he was able to land. And then for Gaston to welcome himself back with a trio of Huns, even if only two were confirmed. The man is outstanding.
Lederhosen, congratulations on your Nieuport. Some wonderful photos too.
Wulfe, I have thoroughly enjoyed Graham's leave and the terrific photos you found. And that Provision Box No. 14 will be just the ticket, thanks!
Hasse, terrible luck for Julius with that gun jam. But it read like so many wartime accounts. Very true to the period.
77_Scout, tell Aleck not to think so much. That thinking business will mess you up in wartime.
Carrick, Emile is certainly racking up the hours. Hope he get his Np 11 soon!
MFair, it's nice to get a milk run once in a while. And I really loved the touching interlude on the ride to Bertangles.
Lou, I'm very sorry about Craig, but curious how the Rankin saga will play out.
Here is the latest from Collins...
An Airman’s Odyssey – by James Arthur Collins Part Thirty-One: In which we bid farewell to Bruay
In the next few days, the RFC waged a campaign of hatred against Hun railways. Despite some very wet weather, we flew twice to bomb stations around Loos. On 30 March, our attempts were disrupted by three Fokkers. Two attacked Captain Mealing’s machine and were driven off by Theobald, his observer. The third Fokker came straight for me. I was a little more distant and had time to release my bombs and turn west, yet the Hun kept coming for Wilson and me, following us some ten miles back across the lines almost to Béthune. Wilson fired a drum at the Fokker, but our Hun was very solid and difficult to get at. He dipped under our tail, emerging on one side and then the other while Sergeant Wilson struggled to bring his Lewis to bear. In one such exercise, the Hun bobbed up behind us and to our left and put about ten rounds into the Morane, fortunately hitting nothing of great import (such as us). I put down the nose and dived toward our balloon line and the HA decided it was time for his potatoes and sausage and headed east, none the worse for Wilson’s endeavours.
"Despite some very wet weather, we flew twice to bomb stations around Loos."
It was a mid morning patrol and I was back in good time for a poor lunch of bully beef and toast, made palatable by a liberal spread of HP sauce. Jericho was back from a wet and eventless jaunt to Haubordin. After our plates were picked up, we took our tea (or rather my tea and his coffee) to the anteroom. He was in a sombre mood, it seemed, and I asked him what was bothering him.
“Thinkin’ about my Ma,” he said. “I got no way to let her know where I am or what’s become of me, and every time I go into Injun territory like today, I figure there’s a chance I might not come back and she’ll never know what became of me.”
“You’ve never written?” I asked.
“Don’t dare, pard,” he said, and laid his mug on the floor beside the armchair. “I figure anybody who wants to bring me in for that little incident with my sonuvabitch uncle will be watching the post office and the Western Union.”
I lit another cigarette and thought for a while. “Maybe I can help,” I said. Jericho looked up skeptically. “There’s a man in New Orleans, an old friend of my father. Well, actually my Dad arrested him once for selling bathtub whiskey in the Yukon – back before my Dad started making his own stuff. The fellow is one of those guys who just know how to get things done. He’s worked with our business for years now, because he’s an agent for places in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas that – shall we say – can’t buy whiskey from other sources.”
I nodded. “Horrible concept, but yes. Heck, we sell to the same politicians and ministers who are leading the push for prohibition. Anyway, the man’s name is Sigurdsson, Mike Sigurdsson. If anyone can get a message to your mother, Mr. Sigurdsson can.”
“Can he be trusted with a parcel?” Jericho asked. “I’m sure Ma could use a bit of a hand with money.”
“If it comes from me, Mr. Sigurdsson won’t ask questions and he won’t take chances. He and my father were pretty tight in their later lives.”
“Thanks, pard,” Jericho said, and he stood and placed a hand on my shoulder. “You’re good people.” He lurched his way through the anteroom with his empty mug, and but for his uniform and Sam Browne, you’d have thought he was off to face the Earp brothers at the O.K. Corral.
On the last day of March we received orders to move from Bruay. Our new home was to be Bertangles, just a bit west of the road from Doullens to Amiens. It was, by all accounts, a huge field. From sunrise to four in the afternoon we worked in the rain to load trucks with everything we could move. I worked with a party of officers to empty the mess of everything we had bought or could pry away, loading a 20 hp Crossley tender with a mountain of furniture, bit of Hun machines, dirty pictures, cases of drinks, toasting forks, kitchen gear, and so forth. Captain McNaughton, the senior observer officer, was President of the Mess Committee, and as PMC fretted and insisted on an impossible degree of organisation and accounting.
Swanson came to me in the early afternoon, distraught that there was no time to rebuild an undercarriage for my shed that we had brought from Auchel. There was no chance of the old, jury-rig axles carrying the thing to Bertangles, nearly fifty miles away. It was sad, but it would have to remain at Bruay as our contribution to the RFC. I vowed to ask General Trenchard for a receipt.
We lifted off, Captain Mealing, Sergeant Bayetto, and me and Wilson in our “Mother Goose.” Our flight to Bertangles was without incident. Bertangles was a small village dominated by a stately chateau and the many outbuildings within its walls. Brigade offices were in the village with its messes in the chateau. Our aerodrome was situated in the broad fields south and west of the village. A rail line passed through the fields from north to south, just west of the village. The line ran through a sunken way line with trees and brush for much of its distance, emerging to cross the road that led southwest from Bertangles to Saint-Sauveur on the Somme. 24 Squadron and its Fees already occupied the part of the west field north of this road. We were relegated to the south side of the road. Our machines were housed in canvas hangars, and we set up our bell tents in the belt of trees that lined the rail cut. Comforts would come later. At least some good work had been done to erect a large two-section marquee tent with a wooden floor as a mess for the officers, and similar arrangements were underway for the NCOs and other ranks.
For us lowly squadron types, we had to make do with accommodation under canvas. I was thankful that the weather was turning warmer. Of course, that was why we were here. The speculation was that there would be a big push this summer to try to finish the war, and Fourth Army had just taken this sector along the Somme over from the French. Given the concentration of squadrons we were beginning to see, the betting men thought we’d be getting ready for the big show all spring.
Swanson’s flight arrived last of all, having run into some Fokkers that had strayed well over our lines. In the brief scrap we lost Craig, the highly-respected senior observer who had shared Swany’s victories. Craig had been paired with a brand new pilot this day and had been shot down. Swanson did not come to dinner that night and rumour had it that his own observer on that flight, Rankin, who had transferred in from the infantry with the rank of Captain, had got the wind up and nearly let a Fokker get to their Morane. But no one was talking, least of all Rankin.
After dinner I retired to the tent I shared with Clarke, an observer officer, to write a letter to Mr. Sigurdsson.
#4468553 - 04/02/1910:43 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Apologies, this one's going to be a long one! Plenty's happened in the last couple days for Campbell! April 2nd to follow...
77_Scout - Uh-oh, I hope Chris doesn't continue to be a dud observer!! Good for you though, showing that Einie what's what. Speaking of - 29 Squadron, eh?! Good stuff! No doubt MacKinlay will work wonders with a DeHav - especially considering he can already outfly huns in a B.E! Louvert - terrible news about your observer - you have my sympathies. A nasty way to go as well! Poor Swany, and poor old Craigy too...glad that Swany could put one of the Einies down in vengeance - even with the dud observer. That bloody Rankin had better get his act together...
MFair - really liked the imagery of Jericho riding Moon to the new aerodrome. Nice touch with the friendly elderly couple as well - they seemed excited to meet a real Yankee cowboy!!
Fullofit - bad news about Dagonet, sorry to hear it. Gaston seems to have a reinvigorated taste for sending the Hun down after his return from the wrong side of the lines - Our Frenchman is a proper ace now!! I suspect he'll become one of the great high-scorers before this thing comes to a head.
Raine - Sounds like a tense encounter with that Fokker - seems like No.3 are still in the thick of it. Shame that Madame's wondershack has transferred out of the squadron. And I really enjoy the little insights into Collins' history before the war when he's talking with his chums! Looking forwards to more.
2nd. Lieut. Graham A. Campbell, Awaiting Posting, London, England.
March 31st, 1916.
After a hurried breakfast, required due to my sleeping-in, I rushed out of the Cavendish, stopping briefly to thank Rosa for her hospitality. Mason’s Yard was a mercifully short distance away - in fact, due to my hurried pace I arrived early. The small square was dotted with R.F.C personnel, and the clink-clink of a hammer echoed into the smoky air from J.H. Bourdon’s - a Smith on the corner.
After a quick scan I located the R.F.C Office, and stepped inside. Behind the desk at the entryway was a young mole-like Corporal who wore impossibly thick and comically large glasses. Frowning in deep concentration over his small, disorganised stack of paperwork, he failed to notice as I stepped up to his desk. I cleared my throat, and the poor lad nearly jumped out of his skin. Embarrassed, he pushed his perfectly rounded glasses up on his nose and squinted up at me. “Can I help, sir?” he asked. “2nd. Lieutenant Graham Campbell, I’m here for my posting”. Uttering a soft “Oh!” to himself, the Corporal gestured for me to wait, and pulled out a small black folder, flicking through the various documents in it and becoming increasingly nervous. “I, ah...C-Campbell, you said?” he stammered, and I nodded patiently, giving him a smile to hopefully set him at ease. It didn’t work.
The Corporal’s anxiety only grew as he hurriedly flicked between the papers in the folder, before suddenly crying “Aha! Here!”. Triumphantly, he thrust a sheet of paper towards me. I took it, brimming with anticipation, and looked down. My brow furrowed as I read, and then re-read, the form. “No, that’s not right,” I said, and the Corporal seemed to flinch at the words. I turned the sheet towards him, and pointed to the name. “This is for some chap named Richard. My name’s Graham”. The Corporal recoiled as if I’d struck him, snatching the paper back clumsily and looking through it. “Oh, er, s-sorry, sir, I’ll just...ah…” he mumbled, going back to his painfully inept searching.
After a half-hour with no luck, I was slowly becoming frustrated. Just as I was about to ask for somebody else to check, a firey-haired Captain appeared, a mug of freshly-made coffee rolling steam into the air from his hand. His beady eyes flicked to the now-panicked corporal, now with a large stack of folders and papers on his cluttered desk, and then to me. He let out a deep sigh. “What’s the problem, Turner?”. A look of pure dread crossed his face, as he slowly turned around, the paper he had been examining dropping down onto his desk. “Sir, I can’t find his posting…” he mumbled in a defeated tone. The Captain let out a groan. “Bloody hell, Turner, can you not be useful at least once?!” he demanded, then turned to me. “Name?” he asked gruffly, a tone of irritation in his voice. “Graham Campbell” I answered, and without setting his mug down the Captain casually swept aside a pile of documents, producing an envelope and setting it flat on the table.
Shooing the Corporal out of his way, he opened the unsealed envelope, removed a neat stack of papers, and quickly flicked through them. After three or four papers, he glanced up at me. “Graham Arthur Campbell?” he asked, and I nodded. “24 Squadron, Bertangles. You’re to report tomorrow, to Major Hawker”. I stood in stunned silence. 24 Squadron? Major Hawker? Major Lanoe Hawker VC?!. Before I was afforded the opportunity to tell him that some mistake must have been made, my travel pass and service orders were pressed into my palm and I was ushered out, back into the smoky yard.
I boarded the train to Dover at Charing Cross, and as London slipped past and away my mind was racing. I couldn’t believe my luck! Not only was I being posted to a DeHav Squadron, but it was also my old friend Freddy Foster’s unit, and my new C.O. was none other than Lanoe Hawker VC! I grinned like a fool as I recalled the day at Hounslow Heath, during my training, when I had watched Hawker throwing his DeHav Scout into spin after spin, expertly flicking the rudder and straightening out, after one of his pilots had suggested that the D.H.2 was a dangerous machine to fly. Of course, I was still saddened to be leaving all the good chaps at No. 20 behind, but what a stroke of sheer luck! I smiled to myself, reclining in the train booth as I thought of reuniting with Freddy.
The train pulled in at early evening, and I found myself a quiet little hotel, mainly populated by other Officers, to spend the night.
April 1st, 1916.
My hands shook with a mixture of terror and rage as I held the morning newspaper in front of my face. Disbelieving the words printed before me, I read in silent horror that German Zeppelins had, only last night, dropped bombs on England. Five German airships had attacked several towns along the East coast and had even come as far inland as Blackmore, not even forty miles from Hendon aerodrome, and in hateful cold-blood had killed over forty people. The majority of those killed were not soldiers. My fist closed in on the newspaper, crumpling it in hatred, as I read of a bomb landing directly on the home of a cowering mother and her five young children.
And so, it was with hate and sorrow in my heart that I departed for France once more, on a troop ferry bound for Calais. I thought it horrendous that the Hun would be so barbaric as to kill the innocent, and found a grim enjoyment in picturing my DeHav sending Fokkers down in flames. When Jacky-Boy was killed, and when McHarg was wounded, I uttered the all-too overused phrase; C’est la Guerre, but for this atrocity I would make the Huns pay. I tried to distract myself by reading my orders - I was to make my way by rail to Abbeville, where I would then be chauffeured to Bertangles Aerodrome.
After an hour’s milling about in Calais, I became impatient and boarded the Three-O’Clock train bound for Abbeville early, finding a quiet second-class compartment by the window and staring out over the troop-ships, lumbering to and fro and leaving columns of smoke wisping through the air. By the time the train finally groaned into life, the train was packed full of infantry, nurses, airmen, some even sitting cross-legged in the corridor, and my booth now had five mud-streaked tommies in it. At first they were cautious of the Officer in their midst, but before long they seemed to decide that I was harmless. The train ride would have been scenic, had we not been at war - it took us down France’s Western coast. I allowed myself to become lost in thought, watching the shimmering waves creeping up the yellow rain-soaked beaches.
Abbeville would have been a pleasant town, had it not been for the large static hospital, No. 3 BRCS, that had been set up there, and the swarms of maimed and wounded men that now occupied the town. The rain, that had been on since my arrival back in France, didn’t help to set the mood. Various staff cars flitted about the roads, speeding around Bedford ambulances and coming and going from the local Communications HQ as I walked to the Place de L'Amiral Corbet, an open square with a grand statue in its centre, and my meeting-point for my Chauffeur. Sure enough, a sleek black car was waiting there, and I was greeted by a wiry, thirty-something old Sergeant, in an impossibly creased uniform and a peaked cap, slightly too big for the man, hanging over his deeply-lined brow. “Second Lef-tennern Cambell?” he asked, a thick cockney accent betraying his London roots, and I nodded. “Sahgeant Powell. Noice ter meet ya, ser. Hop in, chum”.
Hastily collecting my luggage and loading it into the car, he whistled a happy tune as I slid into the seat beside him. Whereas his friendly, informal demeanour had set me at ease, his driving certainly did not, as he slammed his foot down on the gas and we shot out from the square, ripping down the roads and swerving precariously in-between the various vehicles strewn about. It almost felt like an omen when we passed the rows of makeshift wooden crosses at the border of the town. By the time we reached the aerodrome I felt positively ill, gripping the bottom of my seat with both hands. Shakily I stepped out, the grinning Powell holding the door open for me. “You look a tad under-the-wevver, ser! You sure yer an airman?” he joked.
Bertangles was actually comprised of two large Airfields, situated next to each other in adjacent fields and separated by a main road, which we had arrived by. As I walked beside Powell, he gave me the lay of the land. “Bertangles town is ova’ there. Brigade’s set up in the Chateau. Across the road, that’s No. 3’s Airfield”. I looked over into the field, with its rows of small single-plane hangars and Bell tents, and paused to watch the Ack-Emmas wheeling a pair of Morane Parasols into two such hangars. One of them had a strange insignia painted on the side - the figure of an old lady with her arm around - was that a goose? No, I must not be seeing it right.
Onto 24’s field we went. Ours was a little more ‘set-up’ than No. 3’s - inside three fixed wooden hangars, topped with corrugated iron, sat the intimidating-looking D.H.2s - resembling small Fees, with Lewis guns poking over the noses of their single-seat nacelles. A fourth canvas hangar sat beside them. I was led to the Officers’ mess which, similarly to No. 3 across the road, was a large wooden-floored marquee. I was shown to the cluster of bell tents we would be staying in, next to which stood two larger pole-tents, which Powell told me served as the C.O’s and Adjutant’s offices, and the briefing room. My tent was cozy, but not very spacious, with just enough room for an army cot and a small wooden chest. Hastily I dropped my things off, before Powell led me towards the office. I felt nerves building up as we entered through the flap.
Inside, the tent was furnished with a wooden floor, a gramophone propped up on a wooden crate, and two solid oak desks. And - there he was. Major Hawker, the ribbon of the Victoria Cross proudly displayed below his RFC wings. as I stood to attention before him, he looked over me methodically. “Campbell, I take it? Very good. Welcome to Bertangles”. He turned to Powell. “Sergeant, would you fetch Johnstone?”. The cockney Sergeant quickly disappeared, as the Major turned to me. “Seen much air fighting?” the Major asked informally, and I told him that I had. He leaned back in his chair and smiled. “Excellent. We’ll have you on the roster tomorrow then. The poor chap before you was in ‘B’ flight before he went west, so you can fly in his place”. As he explained, Powell returned with a kindly-looking middle aged sergeant behind him. “Ah. This is your Orderly, Sgt. Johnstone. He will show you to your tent. By the way, have you seen your new machine yet? It’s in the Bessoneau, Johnstone will show you”.
Excitement grew within me as we approached the Bessoneau hangar, to the right of the fixed hangars. Inside were two machines, and Johnstone indicated to the one at the far end. “Well, there she is. Yer’ new bus - 6018”. Slowly I approached the small pusher scout, running my hand across its nose slowly. Immediately I was enamoured with my little bus, and I felt a deep connection to it right away. For it was my little bus - unlike the shared Fees of 20 Squadron, or the used-by-all B.E’s of Hounslow - this machine, 6018, belonged to me only. “She’s wonderful” I murmured, and Johnstone beamed.
I sorely wished to test out the new machine, but with the weather being as sour as it was, and not much of the day left, I had to exercise patience. Instead, I headed to the officers’ mess tent, and almost immediately upon entering a familiar, booming voice cried out “Graham!”. Grinning, I swung around and came to face Freddy Foster, his eyes gleaming beside the familiar laugh-lines. We ran to each other, firmly shaking hands in excited greeting. “Awh, Graham, it’s good to see ya, mate!” the towering Kiwi cried, slapping me on the back. “Bet you didn’t expect this visit, eh?” I responded, and he laughed loudly. “So - an Officer now, eh?” he said, looking over my uniform, and I grinned at him. “Just as well - you can’t order me about now!” I replied.
Excitedly swapping stories, we strolled out onto the airfield and towards the road. I was delighted to learn that Freddy was also in ‘B’ flight, and not at all surprised to learn that he had already downed two Huns. I met some of the other pilots in the Officers’ mess that night - there was Alan Wilkinson, a cheery temporary Captain who wore a thick black moustache, John Andrews - an old hand who had started out as an observer in 1914, Sidney Cowan, a young and energetic Irishman, and a burly Scottish Captain whose name I didn’t quite catch. Their tails seemed up in a way that seemed strange to me after the fatalistic nature of No. 20, but I quickly found out that they were as good a bunch of chaps as I could have hoped for. After an enjoyable meal, and a few welcome-drinks, I headed for my tent, and an early night.
I dreamed of a thunderstorm, great flashes of lightning illuminating the sky for split-seconds. Below, the ground was in flames, houses burning, people screaming. I was panicked, too - but I didn't know why, didn't know what the threat was. In among the terror, I turned my face upwards, the severe rain whipping at my squinted eyes.Simultaneously, several searchlights flashed into life, and as their individual beams crossed and came to a point, I saw the enormous, horrific outline of a Zeppelin.
Two Zeppelin raids were, indeed, carried out on the nights of March 31st and April 1st, 1916. Both times London was the main target, but fortunately the Zeps never got that far. In fact, one was shot down by AA fire and came to rest just off of the Eastern coast, crashing into the sea.
Fullofit, Gaston is carving out a name for himself, eh? Two victories in one day, a bump to Sous Lieutenant, and an ace! Well done, and super videos as well.
MFair, a wonderful telling of Jericho's move to the new aerodrome. Touching stuff with the French family.
Scout, congrats on Aleck's transfer to No.29 Squadron. He should do very well there, me thinks.
Carrick, those 2-seaters are deadly opponents. Glad to see that Emile made it back in one piece, despite the rough landing.
Raine, superb episode, I really enjoyed the intertwined bit of backstory on Jericho and James. And a great job of describing the layout of our new digs.
Wulfe, I am so envious of your man's posting to No.24 Squadron. And Graham and Swany are now neighbors! This should make for even more fun back-and-forth of our respective stories. An excellent write-up as always, and that old image of the zep in the searchlights is haunting.
At Raine's request:
2nd Lt. Randolph Arvid Swanson MC 3 Squadron, R.F.C. Bertangles West, France 10 confirmed victories 72 hours 54 minutes combat flying time, (97h 19m total flying time)
#4468572 - 04/02/1901:51 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 3,477RAF_Louvert
BOC President; Pilot Extraordinaire; Humble Man
2 April, 1916 Bertangles West, France 3 Squadron, R.F.C. 2nd Lt. Randolph Arvid Swanson MC 10 confirmed victories
Swany is set up in his new digs at Bertangles, more or less. It will be tent living for a while, which he is no stranger to from his days back in Minnesota working as a lumberjack for his uncle. The young airman is still dealing with the loss of Daniel Craig, as well as coming to grips with his new G/O, Captain Lance Rankin. After their ill-fated first sortie together and the altercation that followed, the two men reached an understanding; Swany would work with the Captain in terms of getting him more at ease with the Morane when it was being tossed all about the sky, and respect his rank in the process; and the Captain would actually take every shooting opportunity he was presented in the future, no matter what. The two were going to have to learn to depend on and trust each other, at least while in the air. On the ground, well, that remained to be decided.
Before leaving Brauy, 2nd Lt. Swanson had caught a courier that was heading up to St. Omer and he asked the fellow if he would go through Auchel, stop by the café, and deliver a note to Georgette. The man agreed, so Swany quickly jotted down a message explaining the situation to his madam and promised he would do his best to get back to see her as soon as possible. He handed it off and returned to the job of packing up his kit and preparing for the flight to Bertangles. Shortly before the planes were readying for take off Major Harvey-Kelly informed his star pilot that his last two claims had been verified. He now had ten confirmed victories to his credit: one of which would be shared with Rankin; the other being the last he would share with the now-deceased Captain Craig. Despite these two confirmation making him a "double ace", they were each bitter to him. He thanked the Major for the news. The CO could see Swanson was more troubled by the announcement than he was pleased by it and surmised why. "Put it out of your head for now Lieutenant, best to get on with things", the elder officer assured. "Besides, we'll be having quite the affair in our new mess once we have it all whipped into shape. Not every day a fellow can boast he's got ten Huns to his credit!"
#4468577 - 04/02/1903:21 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Rank (in your story): 2nd Lieutenant Name (First, Middle, Last): Aleck Allan MacKinlay Squadron: freshly arrived at RFC - 29 Aerodrome at end of month: freshly arrived at St-Omer Confirmed kills to end of month: none Flying hours since first posted to the front or active duty HE squadron: 66.15
#4468578 - 04/02/1903:27 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Lou - I expect Graham and Swany will bump into each-other sooner or later!
2nd. Lieut. Graham A. Campbell, No. 24 Squadron R.F.C, Bertangles West Aerodrome, France.
April 2nd, 1916.
Waking early, I stepped out of my tent, wiping the sleep from my eyes, and headed to the briefing tent. Inside was a blackboard, with our shows chalked up for the day. Underneath them were the words ‘NO. 24 SQUADRON STANDING ORDERS: ATTACK EVERYTHING”.
Checking the board, I was overjoyed to see that our show, a patrol behind our own lines, was to be led by Major Hawker. To my amazement, I was to be number 2 in the formation, with Freddy behind me. I returned to my tent to change into my flying gear, and found Freddy and two other pilots - I assumed, the other two on our patrol - standing around and chatting. One of them I recognised from last night - 2nd. Lt. Wilkinson. I joined them, and Freddy’s face lit up. “Hey, Campbell! This is Saundby”. The Sergeant waved a tired hello to me. “He’s a miserable fella, bless him”. Saundby shrugged. “Well, it’s bloody cold up theh, and I’m too tired to bother fightin’ hoons”. I recognised the accent immediately. “You’re from Birmingham?” I asked, and he chirped up a little. “Yeh, you too? You’ve not got the accent…”. “No, but not far. Nottingham”. He grinned. “Well, hopefully you’re a proper Robin ‘ood with that Lewis”. Wilkinson laughed out loud. “Anyone’s a Robin Hood compared to you, Saundby, old boy!”. The Brummie Sergeant spat on the ground. “I’m not the one that needs two gons, Wilkie…”
Brimming with excitement, I stood by the airfield with them as our machines were wheeled onto the field. All the squadron’s planes had striped struts - red for A flight machines, white for B, and blue for C. As Saundby had said, Wilkins' DeHav had a second Lewis crudely fitted onto his nose. I felt a surge of pride to see 6018 sitting beside Hawker’s bus. I recognised one particularly rotund Ack-Emma - it was Miller, the W.O. From the Cavendish. As we approached our machines, I gave him a cheery hello. “Graham! What are you doing here?” he asked, flashing me that awkward yellow grin of his. “This is my new posting. How have you been getting on?”. His face turned sour. “I’ll tell you what, these bloody ships are a nightmare for an engine fitter! I’m up all night dealing with the damned things. Sometimes we can’t even get out the workshops to eat! But, good old Major Hawker will usually show up and bring us our supper. What a fellow, eh?”. I nodded, distractedly. “When you say they’re a nightmare - how do you mean, Miller?”. He laughed out loud. “Oh, just wait until your first case of Cylindritis, then you’ll know all about it!”.
I boarded my D.H.2, feeling excitement course through my veins, and not bothering to stop and wonder what exactly Cylindritis was. Testing the control column, I found it to be light and easy - unlike the Fees, which now seemed ham-fisted by comparison. The mechanic behind me swung my prop, and I grinned with delight as the 100hp Monosopaupe roared into life, its voice sounded powerful. With the chocks in place, I pushed the throttle forwards slowly, laughing in elation at the incredible roar of the engine, before throttling back down and waiting for Hawker’s signal. Not even the rain irritated me as we finally roared down the aerodrome, lifting up into the sky, closely followed by four machines of ‘A’ flight, making us eight in total. The DH2 felt so light in comparison to the fee, and the added acceleration filled me with excitement, and we were at 1,000 feet in a blink. As we circled towards the front, I saw a pair of Moranes lifting from No. 3’s field - I wondered if Lt. Swanson, the Morane star-turn, was at the controls of one. After a short flight out, we begun to climb up in a wide circle. Now I got to open the throttle full, and my little DeHav seemed to kick me forwards immediately. What a fine machine she was! Up we went, and the wind started to knock us around. However, my bus fought against the intrusive wind as we continued to soar up in spite of the bad weather, but once or twice I had to skid away when I realised the wind was blowing me into the path of a wingman.
We reached our trench lines at Beau Hamel, keeping our eyes peeled for signs of trouble. Whereas usually in my Fee I would be praying for a quiet day, at the controls of my new bus I sorely hoped for a Fokker to appear, unwittingly sailing along below us. Off our left wingtips I spotted a pair of Fees droning along, and gave them a cheery wave as they approached, wondering if it might be my pals from No. 20. Just as I looked back, Hawker suddenly rocked his wings and put his bus into a sharp dive, with the others following. I knew what it meant instantly - he must have seen a Hun!
My hands shaking with excitement, I followed my wingmen in their dive, my gaze searching for the unseen enemy. I couldn’t make out what they’d seen as we dove further and further, down past 5000 feet, then 4000, then 3000….and then, there they were! Two Fokkers down at ground level, weaving in amongst archie bursts. How on earth had the Major spotted them from so high up?! By any means, all eight of us came down in impossibly fast dives, straight towards the unwitting Huns. In a flash Hawker was on his Hun, his machine gun shredding its fabric and shattering its spars. The second Fokker, now up on the situation, tried to make a break for his own lines, but our buses were hopelessly faster and soon I was behind him. I fired away half a drum at him, and cried out in delight as he fell into a spin, trailing black smoke from his engine, crumpling in the mud as I flew overhead. I had gotten him!
Looking behind me, I saw Wilkinson grinning at me from behind his windshield, and I waved at him. He laughed, but put two fingers to his eyes, then forward. Pay attention!. I nodded, and looked for the rest of our flight. I found them triumphantly circling over the top of a second burning Fokker wreck. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face as I flew over to join back up with them, picking out Hawker’s red-strutted machine from the group and guiding my own bus over to his side. As we settled back into formation we were forced to skid to the right, as we had nearly flown right into an artillery barrage on our trenches. I was glad that Hawker had the good sense to guide us away from the shelling, for immediately I recalled the time, during a recon show, my own bus had nearly been hit by a shell in flight. Hawker pointed his nose up and we begun to climb once more, returning to our patrol, but our excitement was over for the day and we eventually turned home.
First DeHav Victory!
I was buzzing with excitement for the whole journey back, and when we did arrive back at Bertangles I couldn’t help but do a jovial loop over the top of our Hangars, hanging at the top of the manoeuvre for a few seconds with a wide grin on my face before falling and flopping over on my back, pulling sharply up with plenty of room between me and the ground. I then swung around, gently gliding my bus down and making a smooth landing, letting the tail skid fall of its own accord. Immediately as my bus rolled to a stop I regretted my stunt - I had done it in full view of the Major, which was a fool thing to do. As I de-planed, I saw him standing beside his own DeHav, watching me.
Rushing up to him, I began to blurt out my apology, but Hawker merely laughed, slapping me on the shoulder. “It was a very nice loop! Although, perhaps, don’t stunt over our hangars. If you do manage to kill yourself, I’d rather you only wrote off your own machine”. Embarrassed, I meekly nodded. I made my way towards the Officers’ mess, where Freddy and Wilkins were already throwing off their flying gear. I joined them as they were excitedly discussing the fight.
“Did you see how the Major dove on that Hun, Wilkie?” Freddy asked, before imitating the sound of an engine and demonstrating with his hand. “And what a dive it was!” Wilkins answered, “He must have lost 5,000 feet in ten seconds!”.
“And how quickly he dispatched that Fokker - the poor fella didn’t stand a chance!”. “Oh, I never saw that, but I did see Campbell here send the other Hun down in one burst!”. Wilkins turned to me, slapping me on the back. “You really showed him, eh, Campbell? Well done, chap!”. I laughed, still buzzing with adrenaline. “Yes, he went down rather quickly, didn’t he? I think I must have gotten the man with my fire”. Freddy clapped his hands together. “Righto! First drinks are on Campbell tonight, eh? Lets get this kit off and go see the Old Man”.
After we had removed our flying gear, we invaded the Adjutant’s office to file our reports. Maj. Hawker was just finishing up his, and he turned to us as we walked in. “Ah, now you’ll have a handful now, Old Man!” he said, laughing, to the Adjutant, and took up his position behind his desk, watching eagerly at the show that was about to take place. The Adjutant slicked back his greying hair and stroked the stubble on his chin. He can’t have been older than thirty-five, but, as I later learned, being the eldest in the squadron (save for Johnstone), he had been given his rather exaggerated nickname.
As one we started blurting out the details of our fight, as the bewildered Adjutant tried to pick out details from the flurry of words. Eventually, at the end of his tether, he jumped up and yelled “QUIET, you devils! One at a time, for god’s sake!”. Hawker let out a hearty laugh from behind his desk as we all went silent. As commanded, we made our reports one-by-one, and once we had finished the Adjutant sighed, rubbing his temples. “Okay, so that’s two Fokkers witnessed to have crashed, one for the Major and one for Campbell. I’ll telephone the Tommies and the Balloonists in the area, and see who’s seen what. Now, leave me alone, you riff-raff”.
We retired to the mess tent to have our lunch and wait for the ‘C’ flight pilots to come in, stepping outside periodically to watch the occasional set of Moranes come or go. Powell popped his head into the mess at one point. “3’s ‘aving a big party t’night. That Swanson’s got anovver two confirmed”. We all let out a hooray as ‘Whiskey’ Gomm - the Scottish Captain from yesterday, cried out “That’s, whit, 9? 10? How dis he dae it?”.
‘C’ finally returned - as Ren Rogers, their flight leader, told it, they had had a quiet show. “Your mob scared all the Fokkers away!” he complained to Freddy, who laughed and shrugged. Not long after, as we were settling down to a dinner of roast ham, boiled potatoes and cranberry sauce (courtesy of Johnstone, our Orderly, who had a keen eye for supplies, and a keener tongue still for striking deals with the local farms) the Old Man stood up from his seat, using a cane to support a game leg I’d failed to notice before, and cleared his throat. Everybody fell silent in anticipation, and I did the same - although I wasn’t sure what it was that I was supposed to be anticipating.
Dramatically holding up a telegram, pretending to examine it as an academic might view a studious text, he cleared his throat a second time, in a theatrical way. “Alright, alright, you detestable hounds, here it is. The following airmen have now been credited with one victory each.” In between the names he read came a singular cheer of approval from the pilots. “Canning, Corruthers, Foster...” - the Kiwi’s head shot up, and he delightedly let out a single “Ha!”. I caught his eye, and mouthed “Well done!” - “...Gomm, Ogden, and Rogers”. The pilots broke into frenzied cheering, pounding their cutlery on the table and applauding, before the Old Man roared out “SILENCE, YOU BLOODY MANIACS!” His tone was furious, but humour shone in his cloudy blue eyes. In fits of laughter, the room piped down. “Right,” the Old Man continued, but before he could get his next sentence out, a pilot sat beside Whiskey cried out “Haud on! What aboot ma claim?”. In a thunderous roar the Old Man replied “DENIED, Milligan, you Scotch deviant!”. The room burst into laughter again, as Milligan threw his arms up in disgust.
“NOW! Listen, you rabble! For some reason those desk-flying fools at H.Q are sending you lot some medals!”. Immediately, the pilots fell silent, their eyes flicking to each other, as if to say who do you think it is?. “Foster and Rogers, it’s a M.C for you both. As for you, Whiskey…” the Old Man fell quiet, staring over us with a sly glance. Just when it seemed the pilots were fit to burst, he cried out “it’s a D.S.O!”
The reaction in the mess was uproarious, and I thought that they must have heard the cheering and congratulating in Hunland. As if on cue, three bottles of champagne were brought up to the table by our tenders, and glasses were hastily filled, as Maj. Hawker proposed a toast to the Captain - who I learned shortly after had downed six huns, with today’s confirmation being his seventh. After the noise had died down, I asked Freddy about the spectacle. “Oh, each night the Old Man will tell us what claims H.Q has confirmed. It’s something of a habit, now. You’ll get used to it quickly!”.
It seemed that both camps at Bertangles would be celebrating tonight.
A quick question for our historians ... did the DH2 have a throttle or was it blip switch? I would like to fly as appropriate, and assume it is blip switch like most rotaries, but would like to confirm. Also, any tidbits about RFC-29? I can find zilch info through Google.
Aleck A. MacKinlay April 1, 1916
Yesterday's trip to St. Omer was a difficult one due to thawing roads, badly cut up by lorry traffic. Stuck vehicles blocked our way at several points and the going was slow. We arrived around sunset; Sergeant Johnston decided to make his return to Abeele in the morning. St. Omer looks much as I remember it from three months ago, but bigger. The hub-bub of activity has only grown as more and more pilots, aircraft and supplies make their way to the front. RFC-29 is occupying an area at the far southwest corner of the complex, billeted entirely under canvas, albeit fresh and new.
The Major's adjutant showed me around this morning and introduced me to a few pilots and support crew that we met on our brief excursion. The other pilots all seem to be much younger than me, but keen. The air of enthusiasm to 'get at the enemy' is blatant, and I know I will have to carefully guard any reservations I have in this regard.
Later in the morning I was directed to the Major's office so he could greet me. I found out that we are only to remain here for a couple of weeks before moving closer to the front. "You might recognize a few familiar faces at our permanent airfield. We will be moving lock, stock, and barrel to Abeele, your old stomping ground."
"We have a good group of pilots here. None have the kind of hours in the air that you have, but enough to know what they are doing. I value steadiness and training, and you find my boys to be quiet and competent. Well , for the most part ... we do have a few hot-heads mixed in. Youngsters who don't know enough to not get themselves killed, but they are bloody skilled in the air, which I why I have agreed to take them on." I liked the sound of 'quiet and competent' and made a quick internal decision to avoid the hot-heads as much as possible.
"I plan to pair you up with Sergeant Edith. He will be your wingman. He is a wizard in the DH2 and our best pilot. You will find his insights into the machine very useful. We will try to get you up in the air tomorrow for a shake-down flight as it where." The squadrons best pilot as my wingman? Fantastic, but I wondered aloud as to why he would be subordinate to me on missions.
"Well Second Lieutenant, you see, Edith is one of those young hot-heads I mentioned. Three kills to his credit in only 16 missions, but no bloody discipline. I might have exaggerated his flying skill ... it's more of a a craziness he shows in the air really. He'll be dead before the month is out I fear. I am putting him with you, as an older and more experienced pilot, to corral that spirit and keep him alive. Coming from BE's you have the proper instincts ... stay together in a fight, cooperate, weight the odds before attacking. He can mentor you on the DH2 and you can mentor him on discipline and self-control. I expect big things from the both of you."
I left the Major's tent with a strong feeling of apprehension. I had been worried about how I would handle the enemy in a fight, and how I would handle a new tricky aircraft, but now I was worried about how I was going to handle my wingman.
Last edited by 77_Scout; 04/02/1907:58 PM.
#4468637 - 04/02/1908:25 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
My, my, my! To say I am jealous of all the scout pilots would be an understatement. Congratulations to all. I am trying to live with a double ace flying a Morane! It's a good thing Swany does not have an ego.
2nd Lt. Mark Jericho Bertangles West April 2, 1916
After arriving at their new home by horse 2 days ago things had been a real circus getting things in order. The ride with Christian had done both Jericho and him both a lot of good. They had not spent much time together outside of missions. Both had come a bit closer to each other. As their lives depended on one another it was about time they got to know the personal side of the person they were fighting with.
Before today's mission before daylight, Jericho found Jim up in the mess. He handed him a rolled parcel. "Here it is Amigo. To Mrs. Deemer Cameron, Tupelo Mississippi. Jim looked at Jericho. "Cameron?" he asked puzzled. Jericho shook his head. "Well hell yes Amigo. What kind of dullard to you think I am to use my real name?!" Jim looked at the parcel and then back at Jericho. "So, your Mark Cameron then?" he asked. "In the flesh" Jericho replied. "But that's just between me, you and Moon" he added. Jim nodded in agreement and said, "I'll take care of it." Jericho extended his hand which Jim took. "Your a true friend Pard. Not many a man can say they have one" he said. Jim nodded and smiled. a At 6am Jericho and Christian were off for an arty spotting mission southwest of Monchy. Jericho was leading himself and Dickens. They were to have to Bristol Scouts as escorts. It was a beautiful day, if a bit cloudy.At least the sun was out and it was a like a tonic. Everyone was in good spirits. When Christian again mentioned the lack of Fokker sightings, Jericho said "One extreme follows another my man, so you better pull up your cinch another notch because when it turns we will have our hands full." With that he climbed into the cockpit.
The escorts were on time and off they went to complete the mission. Just after crossing the lines Jericho was getting ready to start his circles when Christian signaled danger behind. Jericho immediately turned to face the threat.
He saw 2 Fokkers climbing to them but the Bristols were diving down to greet the threat. One fired a burst which sent one of them down in a spin. Jericho kept circling looking for another threat or a signal from Christian. Christian was swinging from one side to the next and Jericho did not really know what to do so he kept his circle tight and his eye's open. Completing one turn he saw a green Fokker on Dickens tail and he immediately went to him.
He swung the Morane behind him and the green Fokker banked out of the way but went straight back to Dickens tail. Jericho repeated the move three time but each time the Fokker would bank out of the way of Christians fire. On the third time coming behind him the Fokker climbed up and put his wing over. Jericho thought for sure Greenie was going to come after He and Christian but then he banked and dove in front of them and what happened next surprised Jericho. The pilot looked back and up and gave him a salute! Jericho was so taken aback that he raised his hand to his forehead and saluted back. "Sonofabitch" He said to himself. With that the Fokker dove east and home.
AS usual in these situations, one minute you are fighting for your life and the next you are alone. Jericho circled a few times and was soon joined by Dickens. They had not started the spotting yet but Christian was down to one drum and he was sure Dickens was short or out of rounds. He weighed the odds with no escorts and decided to call it a day.
The landed back at Bertangles and Jericho climbed out. "Can you give me a hand?" Christian asked. Jericho looked back at his gunner, "You ok?" he asked. Christian looked down. "Well it could have been worse I suppose, but the bugger nicked me in the calf! And these were a new pair of boots too!" Christian said. Jericho climbed back up giving his friend a hand out of the cockpit. "Let's go let the saw bones have a look at ya."
Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear or a fool from either end. BOC Member since....I can't remember!
#4468638 - 04/02/1908:26 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
A quick question for our historians ... did the DH2 have a throttle or was it blip switch? I would like to fly as appropriate, and assume it is blip switch like most rotaries, but would like to confirm. Also, any tidbits about RFC-29? I can find zilch info through Google.
No throttle, just blip I'm afraid.
#4468662 - 04/02/1911:53 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Raine, those Fokkers are starting to get better. You boys better keep a good lookout. You’ve pained a vivid picture of the new base with extraordinary detail. Too bad about the hut, but I guess it’d served its purpose. I’m glad Jericho has a such a good friend. Wulfe, congrats on being posted to the elite squad! Pushers again? Heh heh! Loved the scene in the RFC office and immediately disliked Turner. Looks like you’ve already made yourself at home at No. 24. A victory on your first outing. Well done! Hawker better up his game. Congrats again, great set of stories and pictures. Lou, you are a living proof that you don’t need a forward-firing gun to be a double Ace. What’s your secret? Do you fly backwards so that the gunner points forward, a la Fee? And please, please tell Georgette it wasn’t her cooking that triggered the move. MFair, once again the Fokkers show up at the least desirable moment. Not that there is a most desirable moment. Good thing the Bristol’s were around. Jericho can take care of himself though and it was a wise call to get back to base when low on ammo. Nice action pics!
30 March, 1916 8:05 - morning mission Senard, Verdun Sector Escadrille N37 Sous Lieutenant Gaston A. Voscadeaux 6 confirmed kills
The briefing called for a CAS mission over a troop camp south of St. Mihiel salient. Gaston was sitting in his newly painted Nieuport ready for take off watching the snowflakes fall on his nose when the air raid sirens started to blare. He quickly scanned the sky. A trio of Fokkers was approaching. What should he do? Jump out and run for cover, or take off and hope to get enough altitude before they get him? He decided to fight. With the throttle fully open he screamed into the air observing what the Fokkers would do. They all banked away from him. Gaston followed and that's when one of them peeled off. He had altitude advantage, just like the other two. Maybe he lost his nerve and hoped Gaston would go for the pair, while he slinks away unnoticed? That's exactly what Gaston had done. He let the single foe go as he had no chance of catching him any time soon and went after the two Eindeckers that stuck together. Was it a smart move? He would find out soon enough. The rest of his flight were taking off now. The two monoplanes were being molested by the Archie and easily visible against the gray sky. In the meantime the single Boche came down from above and attempted to attack Gaston from behind. He noticed the Hun at the last moment. Few maneuvers later and the Hun was falling uncontrollably to his death. Gaston tried to get his bearings and at the same time look for the pair of Fokkers. He knew they would attempt to run north, so that's where he aimed the nose of his Nieuport. Soon enough he found them still surrounded by Archie flying low above the Argonne Forest. He was closing in and the snow was no longer falling. One of the specks veered off to the side, leaving his lower flying mate on his own. Gaston let him go, knowing the one in front of him must be damaged and will be easier to catch. He watched him glide lower. But at that instant something told Voscadeaux to check his surroundings. The bloody Boche that veered off wasn't a coward, he was setting a trap and it nearly worked. Thanks to his Nieuport's superior maneuverability he was able to avoid the German flyer. But his nerves were frazzled and once he turned the tables and sat on the monoplane's tail, he started to spray the ammunition. He saw this was doing no harm to the Hun. He had to calm down. Gaston took a deep breath and closed the distance to his target. He took his time to line up the sights this time. It worked! The Boche machine was being hit and with the final burst the German pilot slumped in his cockpit and his Fokker took a nose dive into the field below. Gaston returned to the aerodrome. His companions were already waiting for him. The CAS mission will have to wait for another time. Gaston made two claims.
"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys, The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain, From out of my arse take the camshaft, And assemble the engine again."
#4468663 - 04/02/1911:58 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
30 March, 1916 15:40 - afternoon mission Senard, Verdun Sector Escadrille N37 Sous Lieutenant Gaston A. Voscadeaux 6 confirmed kills
In the afternoon, second mission of the day was ordered. It was an arty spotting romp over the front sector south of the St. Mihiel salient. It was a simple affair: Gaston lead both flights, they all arrived over the target among dense cloud cover, completed their patrol and were on their way back. Easy peasy, or so they thought. As they were entering a cloud layer to descend, Gaston took a look back and noticed 2 shadows moving just below the cloud surface. He was certain the two shapes were monoplanes so he gave chase with the rest of his flight in tow. He was right, two Fokkers oblivious to the French aeroplane presence were patrolling the skies. Gaston snuk behind the trailing scout and opened fire. He landed some shots and the Fokker started to evade. He let him go knowing well his wingmen will take care of the rest. He switched to the leader and opened fire again. A mad chase ensued but eventually the Hun was forced to drop to a low level where he lost control, went into a spin and crashed into NML near St. Mihiel. After reforming and returning to base Gaston learned that Adj. Boillot got the other Hun. It was a productive day. Voscadeaux made another claim. It was his third of the day.
"Take the cylinder out of my kidneys, The connecting rod out of my brain, my brain, From out of my arse take the camshaft, And assemble the engine again."
#4468665 - 04/03/1912:21 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Woah - Gaston's merciless! I'll be wanting an external picture of that Purple Nieuport!! And yes - at this rate, the first time they put Graham in a tractor plane he'll ground loop it and try to take off backwards!