Henri Patois Verdun May 10th, 1917 Escadrille3 No. 23
Well, I am almost cleared to fly. Another wound, this one to the calf, has grounded me for well over a week now. It all happened on an aerodrome attack over the lines. We crossed at about 2500 meters and I kept a sharp lookout for the observation balloon that would signal we were near our objective. Spotting it, I angled in for a dive on the airfield. The rest of the flight followed close behind. As I descended, the ground fire picked up quite heavily. I desperately struggled to remember the signal to indicate my wingmen should attack. As I wracked my brain, I was hit in the calf from a ground fire. Despite the pain, I was determined to see the attack through. I finally remembered how to signal my flight and swung back around, letting loose with rockets and guns. That was when the ambush came.
Enemy scouts swooped down on us from above. One of them killed my wingman, St. Pierre, early in the fight. As you can well imagine, I was in no mood for this. I turned on the attacking scouts with extreme prejudice. One of them crashed in a low turn. I quickly dispatched two more and started to head for home, as my wound was aching at this point. I looked back to catch one more Albatros trying to finish me off. I turned to engage him and would you guess what? I had to put the entire fight on hold to answer a phone call! It was Ferdinand Foch, congratulating me on my Croix de Guerre and asking how the war was treating me. I thanked him very much but said now was not the best time to talk and could I call him back? He said of course and hung up and then the dance of death continued. I fired on my foe until he dove down and I took that opportunity to break away. As I looked back, I saw him struggling to keep his craft up until he crashed some moments later.
Making it back to the aerodrome, I collapsed in exhaustion and have been recuperating for the last ten days. Caporal Villars had left the fight with his own wound and could only confirm two of my victories, which puts me now at ten, with the dubious distinction of having to train yet another wingman. I must make sure that St. Pierre is posthumously cited for bravery...
Henri Patois Verdun May 30th, 1917 Escadrille3 No. 23
Not much of significance has happened over the last couple of weeks.. Washout missions, bad weather, no contacts, but today was different. They tried to send me back to the same old airfield we always attack, but I said "How about a different one?' They said "OK, but you are wasting your time!" So we set off across the front. As we approached the aerodrome, my wingman peeled off to stall the cover flight as I started the attack. I was so giddy on my approach that I prematurely ignited my rockets and they spun off uselessly into the ground. (Back home, the boys told me that "premature ignition" was nothing to be ashamed of...although I noticed that none of them sat with me at the bar afterwards...) As I continued with the Vickers, I soon saw why they didn't want me attacking this field: it was still equipped with Eindeckers! It was actually to our benefit to keep this base operational! The poor bastards! Of course, as these thoughts were running through my mind, I was attacked by the rest of the cover flight. I worked them pretty hard and fired on one fellow so much that his engine exploded!
I made another quick pass during which a round hit a spar near the cockpit and sent woods splinters painfully into my cheek. At that point, I headed for home!
Henri Patois Verdun June 3rd, 1917 Escadrille3 No. 23
FINALLY! We got some more SPADS! I got a chance to try one out after enviously drooling at the Marquis and Caporal Villars these last two months. And I can honestly say that after one flight...I hate it. No, I'm just kidding! It's pretty sweet. Instruments everywhere, the view is tight but better than the N series in some regards. My first combat flight was flying escort for some Sopwith Strutters. We followed them from above as we went across the lines so that when the eventual attack came, we could swoop down on the enemy for a change. Which is exactly how it happened. Not really having to worry about my wing collapsing, I decided that I would be the one today to follow my enemy all the way down to the deck, instead of trying to responsibly stay up on top of the fight. Now...the gun and sight are still bad. It took me forever to bring this guy down, even after shredding the fabric on his top wing. But eventually down he went. On the way back, I also managed to give another Albatross a very bad day before making it back across the lines. One confirmed.
Unfortunately, I must inform you that Sergent Jean Pie Hyacinthe Paul Jerome Casale, the Marquis de Monferrato, was mortally wounded in this engagement.
Henri Patois Verdun June 9th, 1917 Escadrille3 No. 23
So after getting killed by an observer that I flew too close to since I absolutely could not see where my bullets were going, I got better (I was in a SPAD, after all) and went up to my armorer and said: "Dude, for some reason my center field-of-view vision is only 1900x1200, I have no peripheral vision and enemy craft are made of a special material where the fabric does not rip or flutter in the wind when shot. Something has to give. I need to see where my bullets are going. So we came up with a plan to wrap every third round in a condom filled with nitroglycerin, so it burns like crazy when fired. So far, it has been working well!
Today, we went on a balloon busting mission. Since Villars and the Marquis somehow got "promoted" to Nieuports, I ordered them to attack with rockets while I stayed up watching for fighters. After a really long time, I saw one of the Nieuports go in and fire off a salvo. The balloon didn't go up though and after waiting several minutes for anyone to try another pass, I decided to do it myself. My attack went pretty poorly as I overshot my turn and only caught the balloon with a few rounds. That was enough to send it up in flames, though! Shortly after my attack, the escorts arrived. I fell in eventually with a poor fellow in an older Albatros DII and followed him down when he tried to escape, finally hitting the pilot after a few turns. By the time he had gone down for good, everyone else had scattered, so I wound my way back up to try to find some of my flight. I spotted a group of seven of the V-strut Albatros scouts and with a healthy dose of respect, I kept myself above and to the west of them. Not really running into anyone else of the friendly persuasion, I decided to have one pass at them and head for home. I tried to work my way into the sun but they had seen me by that time and turned to make my attack harder. I made one diving run through their formation, perhaps putting some rounds through my target's wings before dashing to the front. They would at least have something to tell their friends about back at the field!
Rick, you’ve got it all wrong! Rounds wrapped in a condom are even more safe than regular bullets. Anyways, this nitroglycerin explodes inside the condom after penetration. You want to go with phosphorus if you want your bullet to glow.
"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."
Henri Patois Verdun June 18th, 1917 Escadrille3 No. 23
We "attempted" an airfield attack today, just over the lines. "A" flight was supposed to provide top cover while I took the rocket-equipped Nieuports to the airfield. But "A" flight didn't expect resistance until we were in enemy territory so they sailed right over the group of Albatros scouts that jumped us right over the German trenches. I saw Sgt. Francois tangling with one of the enemy, so I went over towards him, but he appeared to have things under control, so I attacked a different Albatros.
I have to say that down low, the slight maneuverability advantage of the enemy scouts is overcome by the power of the SPAD engine. It allows you to claw your way up in a turn when the Albatros is struggling to not stall and crash. Long story still long, I managed to down two enemy craft (1 confirmed) before heading to the airfield which at this point was directly northeast of me. I waited for any of the Nupes to show up (none did; unfortunately Rosseman was killed by the enemy and Francois crashed from damage, but made it home later that day) before diving in for a few passes until I had used up all of my Vickers ammo. Of course, rifle rounds did little against the depot and I had to go home with all kinds of failure in my heart, certainly not for the first time and probably not for the last...