Best line of the whole campaign to date, Fullofit: "Watch who ya callin’ people! " That's how you know it's a good party.
Yup, good one Fullofit!
Feldwebel Lazlo Halász,
Jasta 1, Bertincourt, France September 10th 1916
A 5 am departure meant no time for breakfast for a number of the members of Jasta 1, including Lazlo. His stomach grumbled loudly as he climbed into the cockpit of his Halberstadt. Gingerly he tested out his new gunsight before getting airborne. It was a picture book sunsrise, a deep dusky pink glow filling the sky off to the east. Lazlo found it touchingly beautiful and oddly juxtaposed to the business they were about to perform.
Climbing to around 2,500 meters, kette zwei headed south east toward Albert. Their target was a lone observation balloon that had been causing all sorts of trouble for the German front lines, directing massive bombardments into the trenches, dispatching many lives in a hail of debris, death and destruction. Lazlo tried not to think about his poor comrades below. Just get the balloon, get the balloon.
They crossed the lines and were greeted with a fury of incediary devices exploding all around them. They seemed to have been expected! Onward they went until finally their target came into view. Lazlo could see that kette eins had already arrived on the scene and were making their initial passes. Lazlo turned and made a steady descent toward the pale shape looming ahead. He settled into his gunsight view position and loosed several test rounds. Good! Nice and stable. Now he waited as he got closer and then began to fire short bursts into his target. Just then another Halberstadt swooped past and Lazlo detected a few faint whisps of smoe coming from the balloon. He continued firing with great satisfaction, feeling a huge updraft of flaming heat as he flew through the towering column of dark smoke in front of him. He glance back and caught a glimpse of vivid orange as the balloon began its fall to the ground below.
Was it his victory or the other Halberstadts? He suspected the latter, but no matter, the job was done. Now to get home. The ground fire was even more intense on the return journey but they all made it safely back.
"Excellent work!", shouted Wintgens to nobody in particular, as the men stomped across the field toward the debriefing room. They would be up again in just over two hours. No rest for the wicked, thought Lazlo to himself, smiling slightly.
Fullofit -- as I said, terrific drunken party. Lou -- that's is one fearsome Norseman you have there. I hope Swany doesn't go too berserker in the next few weeks. Take care. Wulfe -- wonderful storytelling. Fuller's tale is a masterpiece. Harry -- good luck with the balloon claim. It looked like Lazlo's. Carrick -- slow and steady does it. The fifth kill is taking a while but Keith is still alive. That's the main thing. An Airman’s Odyssey – by Capt. James Arthur Collins VC, MC
Part Sixty-One: In which I meet the King
I had planned to drive the Vauxhall to Paddington, but Colonel Holt had laid on a staff car to bring us there: Leefe Robinson, Sowrey, and me. Sowrey had secreted a bottle of champagne for the train, but I held myself to a single glass for fear of embarrassing myself in front of the King. The trip was not long. We detrained at Windsor and Eton Central to find a large and adoring crowd. Overly enthusiastic gentlemen jostled with some truly splendid ladies. Fred Sowrey suggested that we might send our regrets to the King, but we thought better of it. A colonel of Guards met us and escorted us to a waiting Crossley staff car, an open tourer. The scene was overwhelming: cheers, shouts of “God bless you, boys,” and a fanfare from some sort of local band.
The motor made its way from the station up the long hill to the Castle, where we followed the Long Walk to the State Apartments. We were met there by a very jovial fellow, the exact title of whom I did not catch. He briefed us thoroughly on protocol and issued each of us with a clip to fasten to our tunics, on which the King would hand our medals. We practised the handshake the King would offer as the sign we were done and should now bugger off, and we practised the three paces back and salute. I didn’t tell the others, but I’d driven over to Woodford Green the day before to see the Disciplinary Sergeant-Major, a former Scots Guard. As my request he drilled me for two hours until my three paces back, salute, and about turn were Guards-perfect and machine-like.
We made our way up the Grand Staircase, flanked by a guard of the Household Cavalry, to the Grand Vestibule. We were to enter the Waterloo Chamber, where we should meet our family and guests. I begged a moment to visit the Grand Loo (I suppose it had another name) and then rejoined Billy and Fred. There was a wonderful selection of music being performed in the Chamber. I recall particularly the beautiful Merry Widow Waltz. It was a favourite of my mother. And there she was. My mother, flanked by Dorothy in her V.A.D. uniform and Mrs. Winthrop. It was a wonderful moment all together.
Far too soon we were interrupted by the strains of “God Save the King.” And there he was. Four members of the Yeomen of the Guard lined the wall and the King, accompanied by the Lord Chamberlain and two orderly officers of the Gurkha Regiment, entered the Chamber. Behind him was Queen Mary. The fellow who’d briefed us had said she would not be in attendance, so this was a surprise.
It was a small and private affair, without much waiting or preamble. My name was called first and I strode as manfully as nerves would permit towards the waiting King. The drill was to come to a halt three paces before the King. No salute – that would be a hard thing to avoid. The King would present the medal, shake hands, and perhaps say a few words. Then three paces back, salute, about turn, run for cover. I came to a halt sharply and smartly, but being careful not to smash my foot down on the parquet as if I were on a parade square. The King approached.
“Two Zeppelins? That is a feat,” he said.
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” I mumbled.
“You must tell me all about it,” he said. “Let’s get this done and then you and your friends can join me for a drink and a talk. You all have guests, I suppose.”
He hung the crimson ribbon and bronze cross on my RFC maternity tunic.
“We’ll get them some tea or champagne or something. Tell them you won’t be detained long.”
Three paces back. Salute. About turn. A true Guardsman’s snap to it.
We were escorted to the Royal apartments where the King offered us each cigarettes and a glass of champagne and we talked at some length. He wanted to know every small detail about our machines and about downing the airships. He asked me about Canada and expressed genuine interest in my father’s service with the Northwest Mounted Police, saying he was last in Canada in 1908 and should like to visit again after the war.
The King asked me where I would be posted next. I said that I suspected the RFC intended to keep me in England, but that I was determined to return to France. He said it was not usual after a VC, and I suggested that perhaps the award could be returned. The king laughed and said he’d have to ensure that was not necessary.
After about fifteen minutes, we rejoined our families and guests in St. George’s Hall. Mummy had finished her champagne and was eying a footman with a tray of glasses. Mrs. Winthrop made eyes that we should leave soon. We had a rendezvous for tea at four at the Ritz, after which Mummy and Mrs. Winthrop would be off to Kings Cross. I invited Dorothy to come to the Cavendish, but she said with a laugh she was not “that kind of girl.”
#4489199 - 09/12/1902:32 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
What went wrong. ? Our 7 a/c descended over the lines from 3.900 ft. as we reached our left turn point, we were over a enemy Aerodrome taking ground fire. Swinging to final for our interned target ,another AF, 3 enemy a/c attacked from up sun. We got beat up being caught low and dispersed from enemy Archie. We lost 2 a/c shot down over the enemy side of the lines + 2 a/c damaged. Bertie my number 2 did shoot down 1 enemy machine. I fire off a full drum at the flashing a/c as they sped by me. Hits ?
#4489223 - 09/12/1911:09 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Carrick, ouch. That was a rough one for Keith and 29 Squadron. Thanks for the kudos on my new paint.
Raine, it's official now. Loved the bit where James suggests he return the VC to the King in exchange for a posting back in France - classic Collins. Also, the fearsome Norseman is about to be less fearsome for a short spell.
Harry, good work on Lazlo's part, lighting up the balloon. Too bad he had to contend with that greedy Halb flieger, here's hoping your man gets the credit. Nice vids by the way. And thanks, glad you like Swany's new mount.
Fullofit, great telling of the gathering in the mess and the interchange between Toby and the drunk Whealy. I swear I've been to parties just like that. As to my man's new mascot - more teeth you say?
Lederhosen, thanks, I'm rather fond of that livery myself.
12 September 1916 Fienvillers, France
It was late afternoon, the shadows outside were beginning to lengthen as the sun inched its way down along a blue-gray autumn sky. Its light slanted through the six-pane window of the CO's office and sliced across Major Lawrence's desk. Captain Swanson sat in the hard, wooden chair on the other side of the sun-washed, cluttered worktop as his commander looked over the AARs and claims from the day's sorties. In particular, he had pulled out those of the Captain's and his new G/O, 2nd Lt. Richard Chatwick. He'd already read through them once and was now reviewing them a second time.
"Six?", the senior officer inquired.
"Six, Sir", came the matter-of-fact reply.
"I can see how you and Chatwick managed it, but...", the Major trailed off and shuffled through the reports a final time before finishing. "My lord. Six claims in one day. There will be questions about this when they see it up the line."
"I assume so Sir", Swany smiled with satisfaction. "But I can assure you they are all rock-solid, with confirmations from da rest of my flight. Also, as I've stated, our balloon south of Arras saw da fights with da two groups of Halbs. And if you can track down where those Caudrons were from they can vouch for da Eindeckers near Bapaume as well. We kept them busy so they would leave da Frenchmen alone."
"Well, it is impressive Swanson - dam'd impressive", the senior officer noted before letting the other shoe drop. "However, I am concerned you are getting careless. To Bapaume - why did you allow yourselves to get so close to the Hun aerodrome there? Trying to show off your new livery? Dam'd foolish. You know better than that Captain, and you're lucky everyone came home in one piece."
Swanson's hackles went up at the CO's remarks, but he kept proper demeanor as he responded. "With all due respect Major, I don't believe it was careless. I had assessed da situation on da ground and in da air and da only threats were from da Eindeckers, which we all took care of PDQ." The Captain thought for a moment, then added, "Well, there was Archie of course, but you know that's just a bunch of noise anyway."
The Major shot his ace pilot a stern look. "There were ground gunners as well Captain, and from the way these read you were well within reach of them. And Archie is hardly nothing but noise. I've been told by Sergeant Thomas over at the repair sheds that two of A Flight's buses had no small amount of venting on returning from Bapaume, thanks to the shrapnel from the AA over there." The Major set the papers down and pulled a cigarette from the pack on his desk, offering one to Swany as he did so. The Captain waved it off as the CO lit up and took a long draw before continuing. "Look Swanson, you're a fine fellow and a hell of a pilot, and until now you've always shown extraordinarily good sense. I know Dent's death has hit you hard, he was your G/O and mate a good long while. But I won't allow you to continue this apparent crusade you've taken up on his behalf, it will only end one way if it goes on. Tell me you understand this."
Swany shifted uneasily in his chair, leaning forward as he did so. He looked at the Major, then to the reports on his desk, his voice catching in his throat for an instance as he replied. "Yes Major, I understand - but it's da Hun - it this gotdam'dt war. I just want to kill them all and have it done with." The young Captain felt his eyes beginning to glisten and immediately looked out the window and blinked hard to halt the tears. He clenched his jaw, allowing his anger to push aside the sadness and grief that haunted him. And the hopelessness - that was the worse - he needed to keep that at bay by any means.
The Major studied the young man across from him for a long moment, taking another draw on his cigarette as he did so. "Captain, you're a stout lad, and you're smart enough to know you can't end this war single-handedly. You need to get yourself back on course. To that end I am giving you 48 hours leave. Go away somewhere, forget about this madness for a bit, as much as any of us can do that. Have some fun man!"
"Is that an order Sir?", Swany asked with a look of concern. "Da Hun have been up more and it's been busy with..."
"Which is precisely why I need you at your best and back here by the evening of the 14th", the Major interrupted. "Big things afoot, but you keep that to yourself Captain. So go somewhere and unwind, use that French you've gotten so bloody good at to woo the mademoiselles down in Amiens or over at Abbeville. Whatever, just get away."
By this point the CO had snuffed out his cigarette, come around the desk, and put a hand of encouragement on the Captain's shoulder before sending him out the door. Swany forced a smile and thanked the Major for the pass and for his advice, though the young pilot was less than convinced that two days away would do much other than make him anxious to get back to the job at hand. But he decided he would make the best of it.
The morning sortie, watching a brutal barrage being laid down near Courcelette.
The first victory of the day, a nice fat juicy Halberstadt.
The next Halb falls under the combined efforts of Swanson and his new 2nd.
The third Halb was caught along the way back to Fienvillers and downed with one long burst from the Vickers.
The afternoon outing about to commence.
Eindeckers everywhere. Hard to imagine the Huns are still suffering with these outmoded kites.
The first E.IV falls under Swany's gun. By the end of the furball two more would succumb to the Captain's vindictive and deadly aim.
Out of the six Eindeckers that engaged A Flight only one survived to tell the tale.
Archie spewing all the hate it can muster at the retreating Strutters.
#4489248 - 09/12/1903:37 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Harry, I'm afraid Lazlo's lot has already lost men and machines to Captain Swanson. He and the rest of his squadron have been hunting the area in and around Delville Wood ever since the Somme push began. Lazlo can't miss him now, just have him look for that red tail and grinning Odin, though not for the next two days as Swany will be on leave.
#4489270 - 09/12/1908:36 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Lou, PM me with a link to your skin and I'll put you in my campaign. You never know, you might show up!
Feldwebel Lazlo Halász,
Jasta 1, Bertincourt, France September 12th 1916
Lazlo had been dreaming about balloons going up in flames, re-living the events of yesterday. He had seen himself walking to the office to register his claim, when suddenly he realized that, actually, he had completely forgotten to do that yesterday. Real life merged confusingly with his dream for a moment, until Lazlo had let out a huge, booming laugh.
"Ho,ho ho!", he roared, realizing the enormity of his blunder.
"What on earth are you doing, Lazlo?", his room mate Brueuer grumbled, having been rudely awoken by the big man's outburst from the bunk below him.
"Ogh, I am so stupid being. I forgetted completely to be making the claim for the fat sausage that I ate up yesterday", Lazlo chuckled at his own joke.
"Oh, is that all? For goodness sake, let me sleep! You'll be getting plenty more chances at those things, I expect. There's a huge focus on supporting our chaps on the ground around Delville Wood right now, so we need to blind them to our counter manouvers. You wait and see, we'll be going over there again, for certain, and probably soon. Now then, let me sleep!". Lazlo made his apologies.
What seemed like ten minutes later, but in reality was two hours later, the men were roused by an orderley. They were to go and chase off some enemy 2 seaters that were bothering the airfields to the south. Lazlo quickly washed and dressed in his flying garb, running to his machine. He ran through his checklist, making sure everything was ready. He'd had four engine failures in the past week and really hoped today would be better. After about 20 minutes they reached their destination, the field at Hervilly / Montigny Ferme. Sure enough, almost immediately they spotted two BE2s, about 500 meters below and a kilometer away. They appeared to have spotted the Jasta planes and were turning hard toward the lines to the west. On the outskirts of Peronne they caught up with them. It didn't take long. Lazlo was a little slow to arrive but he managed a few passes at one of the unfortunate machines, until eventually he saw it go down from a hail of bullets from Wintgens.
Back at their own field, Von Keudell attempted to console Lazlo for his blunder with the claim.
"Hey, Big Red, don't be tooo hard on yourself. They probably wouldn't have awarded it to you anyhow! High Command is very stingy with those things. They make up a million reasons for why the things blow up other than because of our actions. No point in worrying about it. Now 2-seaters over our own fields, that's a different story. Get yourself into the action quicker next time". He grinned and patted Lazlo lightly on the shoulder. Lazlo winced slightly. It only really hurt now when he was casting his line on his days off fishing, but just occasionally, if he knocked it, he'd get a jolt of pain. "Ooops, sorry old chap. Forgot you're still mending". Lazlo smiled back.
"Do not be worry. Everything is doing well". They strolled off to the canteen together to have their lunch. That evening there were festivities planned. They were making a trip into Cambrai and a fine dinner lay in store for all the Jasta members, to celebrate some new arrivals to their ranks. Lazlo was a little nervous. He had never been to a big city in his life, or even a restaurant for that matter!
I know I've said this before, but this DiD challenge has to be one of the best (if not the best) simming experiences I've had so far. The level of immersion, the anticipation when reading the stories, the joy when someone gets a new gong, and the stab of misery when someone joins the Choir Eternal...terrific. Thanks to all for making it so enjoyable!
Lou - My word! I think Swany might need a rest! Perhaps a reunion with his old pal Collins, back in Blighty, is in order. That new bus is one mean looking machine, as if Swanson's devilish Strutter wasn't scary enough! I continue to thoroughly enjoy your man's story.
Fullofit - Squadron commander already! Mulberry's a flying prodigy! Small wonder with all the Fokkers he's been knocking down...
Raine - At the risk of parroting myself, I sincerely hope Collins' story gets made into a novel. All the elements required are present in your writing - danger, excitement, intrigue, adventure, and the list goes on. I love the historical details sprinkled in as well! A masterclass in writing. As for the latest episode in Collins' Epic, I really enjoyed his run-in with the King! I could picture it all vividly as I was reading through the descriptions, and the idea of poor old Collins awkwardly surrounded by royalty and high society gave me a good laugh.
HarryH - Lazlo has quickly become one of my favourites. The broken grammar is such a great touch to the character, and it makes me laugh every time! Hard luck about the balloon claim - I've accidentally missed out on some claims in the past. Irritating when it happens! I'm looking forward to Big Red's further exploits - he's one of the more unique characters at the front!
Sous Lt. James B. Fullard, Esc. N.124 'Americaine', Bar-le-Duc, France. September 11th, 1916
Blanchon stood by the door to the Villa, the Croix de Guerre proudly displayed on his breast and his 48-hour pass stuffed into the breast pocket of his tunic. “About time you got a rest, I think,” I said to him with a smile, and he laughed. “Rest? When I’m off to Paris? No, James, I think I’m in for an exciting couple of days! I think I’ll go and find myself a sweet young Mademoiselle to listen to my war stories”. With a laugh I helped him with his suitcase to the awaiting car outside. “Well, pal, I’ll see you in a couple of days. Bring us back some proper booze, eh? I’m starting to taste Pinard in everything I eat”. He grinned and promised to bring back the finest liquor in France. The same promise had been made by Lufbery, who had also secured himself a period of leave and now called impatiently after Blanchon.
After seeing my friend off, I headed to Behonne by car, arriving just before the afternoon briefing. I let out a heavy sigh as Thenault told us we were due for another Escort mission - 105’s Caudrons were scheduled to bomb the German lines at St. Mihiel. On the airfield I gathered my pilots, Prince and Masson. “Say, James, think we’ll finally get a chance at those Bosche biplanes today? We can’t let ol’ Luf and Masson have all the fun!” asked Prince, a foxlike grin on his face. I shrugged. “Well, it can’t be long, right? Apparently these new Fokkers have been popping up everywhere on the front, but I sure as hell haven’t seen ‘em. Not sure I want to in the old N.16, neither…”. With a smirk, Masson patted me on the back. “Don’t worry, James. You’ll get a new plane in the end”.
After going through the motions of our pre-flight ritual, sharing cigarettes as we stood and discussed the weather, we climbed aboard our machines and fired up the engines, wheeling up into the tense air. I found myself strangely apprehensive as we approached the rendez-vous point - the mysterious new German machines had been playing on my mind. I was anxious to find out their capabilities, so that I might know to avoid them in the future if needed.
We encountered the Caudron just south of St. Mihiel, and with a quick ‘hello’ wave we settled into our escorting position behind and above it, keeping our eyes peeled for signs of the Germans. Mercifully we had been granted fantastic flying conditions - the wind was low, and with not a cloud in sight the Bosche would have a harder time ambushing us. As we crossed into the front at uncomfortably low altitude, I took a quick look back at my wingmen, motioning at them to keep their eyes peeled.
In-between scans I peered down at the bizarre landscape around the city of St. Mihiel, a peppered expanse of bombed-out shell holes and jagged hills. Curiously I looked down into the trenches, occasionally spotting the horizon-blue of the Poillus as they stood sentinel. North of the city, I saw the dirt kicked up as a halfhearted artillery barrage fell around one such trench, and felt pity for its occupants. What a hell of a life, I thought to myself, putting up with that every day…
The shimmering mass of the lake Madine glowed brilliantly against the mud as we crossed over the German frontlines and the Caudron dropped its bombs. I found myself mesmerised by its waters, shining like gold in the afternoon sun, missing the Caudron as it turned away having expended its payload. It was then that I noticed shapes dancing above the water. I strained my eyes in confusion, and then suddenly realised - it was a fight! Forgetting the Caudron, I turned my flight towards the battle and tried to identify its participants. As we got closer, I spotted two Nieuports heading back towards our lines. As I peered down at them, to my amazement, the rearmost machine opened fire on the leader! I blinked, thinking I must have seen it wrong - but, no, the rear machine was definitely shooting! I circled downwards in confusion, and then realised - it wasn’t a Nieuport - it was a Bosche Biplane!
Immediately I rocked my wings and dove down to attack. As I sped down at impossible speed, the flight stick began to quiver in my hands as my Nieuport approached its limit. Strangely, I found the sensation thrilling, relishing in towing the thin line between my machine’s top speed and it’s disintegration in flight. However, I relented and eased back on the stick, allowing my machine to slow slightly before re-initiating my dive. The Bosche, fully transfixed on the Nieuport ahead of it, failed to notice as I curved onto his tail, before firing a burst. Immediately he curved up and away to the left, but I had him squarely in front of me. Firing a second long burst, I saw the German start to quiver in flight as his engine coughed a sickly black plume of smoke. God, he’s on fire! I thought to myself, curving away to the side. The machine started to drift towards earth, still billowing thick smoke, but I saw no flame, thankfully. Even the Bosche don’t deserve to burn. I fired one more burst at him for good measure and then decided to let him land, circling overhead as I watched him fighting with his straps before launching himself out of the aircraft and into a nearby shell-hole. From his shelter I saw him press his hand to his forehead, shielding his eyes from the sun as he peered up at me.
I had done it! I’d gotten one of the new Bosche machines! Excitedly I turned back to my flight - and to my alarm I saw a second Fokker Biplane, caught in a twisting fight against Prince and Masson! I looped around and followed their fight. The Bosche airman was skilled, and he had quickly gotten above my two comrades. Hawk-like he circled on top of them, deliberating which one to pounce on first - but he hadn’t spotted me approaching him. I curled around onto his six and fired a short burst, watching in elation as the Fokker’s nose dropped forwards and it dove into the ground.
Back at the aerodrome, Prince was first to rush to my side. “Damned good stuff, James! I saw you get the pair of ‘em!” he cried, punching me on the arm. I laughed and pushed him away. “Wait ‘til the others hear!” I mused, as we stripped off our combinations and headed for the ready room. That evening, in the mess, I stood with a bottle of Pinard in my hand at the head of the room as the pilots excitedly organised the furniture into a makeshift audience’s seating area. Thenault, at his piano, played an introductory tune as the pilots settled into their seats, and I began to dramatically recount the tale of the battle. As I acted out the fight with my hands, with Masson dramatically making aeroplane and machine gun noises, Thenault played dramatic chords on the piano, much to everyone’s amusement. As I thrust my hand downwards to demonstrate the second Bosche crashing there was an almighty cheer as glasses clinked in cheers and cigarettes were passed out. Seamlessly, Thenault transitioned into the Escadrille’s mess song and our voices chorused the words.
Towards the end of the evening, as we were making for our beds, Thenault called upon me in my room. “James, bad news I’m afraid. It seems nobody on the ground saw your two Fokkers. All the same, you did well today”. I tried to mask my disappointment. “Oh well, nothing for it. Good night, sir”.
“Everybody up!” came Thenault’s cry from the hallway as we blearily scrambled to pull our uniforms on in a confused daze. Outside my window I heard a mass of cars and trucks starting up their engines. We stumbled out of our rooms and through our bloodshot, hungover eyes we looked questioningly at the Capitane, who stood with a telegram in his hand impatiently awaiting us. When we had all emerged, he promptly called out “Okay, my Americans. Get downstairs and have your breakfast, then report to me in the Mess. I have some news from H.Q!”.
Confusedly we made our way down the ornate staircase and into the dining room, where the orderlies had already left out croissants and toast, as well as several pots of steaming hot coffee. “What the hell d’you think that’s about?” Bert Hall asked irritably, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “It’s gotta be a big infantry push, right? What, with all the bombing raid that have been going on?” Rockwell replied, grinning. “Erm, m-maybe it’s...” Pavelka started, in his usual stammering way. Although he had received a fond welcome, the newcomer always seemed nervous around us - especially around Bert, who had been successfully robbing him of all his money each night in their poker games. “...Maybe we’re being sent to the Somme?” he said, and there were agreed murmurings around the table.
“Yeah, the Somme...I bet that’s what it is...” “Sure, I mean it’s quietened down around Verdun, after all…” “...And they’re bound to send us sooner or later!”
As we snapped up our breakfast we deliberated, many of us now believing that we were bound for the great battle in the East. Sensing a chance to line his pockets, Bert started taking bets from the pilots. “Whaddaya think, Fullard? 5 Francs says we ain’t going anywhere!”. I quickly declined the bet. With our breakfasts finished, we eagerly rushed through into the Mess, our eyes shining in curious anticipation. There we found Thenault and De Laage patiently waiting. Taking up our various seats and passing around cigarettes, we settled down as Thenault cleared his throat, donned his reading spectacles and quickly scanned over the telegram again.
“Gentlemen,” he started, as we excitedly glanced at each other, “we have been ordered to relocate. Today”. The room broke into hushed murmurs. “The Somme!” Rockwell whispered to me, a great grin on his face. “Alright, alright,” cut Thenault’s voice above our chatter, “this is important, so let’s have quiet”.
“Firstly, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but we aren’t going to the Somme just yet”. There were some stifled boos, and one or two irritated curses from the men that now owed Bert 5 Francs. “But, some of you will be pleased to know that we are, in fact, headed somewhere familiar!”.
He now read from the telegram.
“Escadrille N.124 is hereby ordered to relocate to the aerodrome at Luxeuil on the date of September 12, 1916. Quarters have been arranged on the aerodrome, but the pilots of N.124 are free to arrange billets as they see fit”. From the original Escadrille members came a great cheer. “Luxeiul again!” cried Prince, “Is the ol’ red pirate still there?”. Thenault smiled and nodded. “Oui, Capitane Happe’s bombing group is still at Luxeuil. I’ll forward him a telegram and let him know we’re coming back”. Confusedly, I turned to Rockwell. “The red pirate?” I asked with a confused grin. He laughed aloud.
“That would be Capitane Happe, the commander of the Luxeiul bombing group. Reason we call him the red pirate is that, when we were last over there, he attacked a train by himself some sixty miles inside the Bosche lines, and would you know it, the Bosches put a price on his head of 25,000 marks!” “What! 25,000! Goodness!” “I know! What an insult! He’s worth at least twice that!”
“Alright, you two, quiet please!” came Thenault’s cry, and we issued a quick apology. “Gentlemen, get back upstairs and make ready your things. We’ll be saying goodbye to this old Villa at the top of the hour”. A puzzled Chouteau Johnson raised his hand. “Yes?” Thenault prompted. “Are our things going in one of the trucks? It’s just, my suitcase won’t fit in my Nieuport”. Thenault smirked. “No need to worry, my friend. We’re leaving our machines at Behonne”.
We were all surprised, to say the least. “Leaving our machines? How come?” I asked. Thenault shrugged. “The telegram didn’t say. I presume we shall have new machines waiting for us at Luxeuil. Any other questions?”. We were silent.
“Well, in that case, I have some good news. After some negotiating, I’ve managed to secure the Escadrille a week’s rest. Make sure you look your best, Gentlemen…because we’re going to Paris!”
I've really enjoyed watching everyone's videos so far, and so I thought I'd have a crack at posting one of my own (from the battle on the 11th. You'd think at least one of those Bosches would be confirmed, right? Right?!). Enjoy!
Harry, were other pilots complaining they couldn’t hear their engines over Lazlo’s borborygmus? Good luck with that balloon claim! Never mind, just read the second report. Geez, all this hard work and then thwarted by paperwork. I have done that a few times. I’m glad the videos are taking off. We need more.
Raine, that was a good idea to get drilled by that Sergeant-Major! Loved the meeting with the King bit. Enjoyed the whole story. Looking forward to Collins returning to France.
Carrick, like Lou said, rough!
Lou, yes more teeth. Teeth make things more scary. Look at any dentist. So, 6 in a day. That is impressive, most impressive. Hope you get at least half confirmed, but you know how it goes. You’ll either get none or all. Next time shoot all six down, but only report two, so that the C. O. is happy too. Congrats on a stupendous achievement.
Wulfe, et tu Brute? Videos galore today! What! Both Fokkers denied? I demand a recount! Great shooting and it looks like you have a handle on that bloody N.16. I also could have sworn you were shooting another Nieuport. I really like your description of the atmosphere at the Escadrille and your Thenault is even better than Jean Reno.
The new arrival, Flight Lieutenant Pellyn followed Mulberry to the Colmar rail yard and dropped his bombs too early. They exploded harmlessly in the nearby forest. Thankfully Toby had more luck. His ordnance exploded in the middle of the freight storage area. It was definitely the final stop for most of it. Pellyn was already making his way back to base, while Mulberry was hanging around to survey the damage. He too turned back and headed for the safety of the friendly front lines. It wasn’t long after that out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw an object fall out of the sky. Toby swung his machine to take a better look. At first he didn’t see anything out of the ordinary and he was about to congratulate himself for seeing things, but soon after he noticed a flash of wings below. It was a Fokker turning around. He apparently misjudged his surprise dive-attack and was now correcting his mistake. The two machines nearly collided with each other while going head to head. Mulberry noticed a second Eindecker but this one was not maneuvering. Toby quickly jumped on his tail expecting a dive, a bank, a climb, something, but this one was paralyzed with fright. Toby hesitated. It was an execution. He fired a short burst to get a reaction. Nothing. “- Fight! #%&*$#, fight!” Mulberry fired again. Finally the inexperienced pilot made a move and Toby followed. He continued to punish the Hun. Grey smoke and vapour were trailing behind the damaged machine and he was losing altitude. Toby noticed the first Fokker attempting to get on his back. He let the green one go. He wasn’t going far anyway. He turned into the other monoplane and fired. This Fokker was damaged as well and shortly crashed into the forest below. “- Now, where did that green one go to?” Mulberry asked himself. He checked his rear and continued to search below when suddenly something strange occurred. These grey streamers just passed him on each side. “- What was it?” Then the windscreen exploded sending shards of glass in his face. “- I’m being fired upon! How?!” His thought were racing. The shock was caused more by the sudden appearance of the enemy, rather than the fact that his life was perilously in danger. He felt his face burn from the cuts, but continued to turn and search for his assailant. He found him. It was an E.IV, but not flown well. Toby was able to get the bead on him and fired. He damaged him and this one also began to smoke. Another salvo and the Eindecker started to slow down with the engine failing. Mulberry was worried his engine or fuel lines were damaged and didn’t follow the stricken Fokker down. He turned his machine around and headed for home, just looking back once to see a cloud of dust and a column of dark smoke where the enemy had crashed. Toby made claims on only two of the Fokkers. He didn’t see the smoking green Eindecker crash, although it was a strong possibility.
I say, Bully good show today. The chaps in B Flight (5) did well on Patrol mixed it up with some Hun Scouts (3) a regular Punch out.. I might have got one I did see some hits, but everyone was firing and zooming from 3900 ft to the deck I took a few hits from a ground machine gun as I pursued the enemy Scout plane, down to my last drum , I saw a few wing hits then He was in a slow corkscrew down to a cow pasture and hit the Trees. We claimed Huns and only had 1 a/c damaged.
Last edited by carrick58; 09/13/1902:39 AM.
#4489302 - 09/13/1902:37 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Fullofit, looks like one of those creaky Eindeckers caught Chesty napping. Lucky the man has such quick reflexes or it could have been our favorite RNAS hero taking the dirt nap instead of the Kaiser's flieger.
Wulfe, tough luck on Fullard not get credit for sending down two of the Fokker biplanes. Typical HQ reaction, regardless of the air service you're in. And a move back to Luxeuil? You'll be able to say "hello" to Toby. Plus new planes and a week off, you say? Life is sweet in the N.124! Good first vid posting by the way. As for Swany going to Blighty soon, I doubt it, considering what is brewing in the Somme.
Harry, poor, forgetful Lazlo. He better start tying a string around one of his very large fingers to help him remember to file his claims, the lovable lug. Hope he enjoys his trip to the big city.
Thanks all for the congrats on Swany's six claims in a day, it was an intense couple of sorties and WOFF did not disappoint in making me feel like I was really in the hot seat. As it happens HQ this morning saw fit to award five out of the six - amazingly atypical of them. Swany is unaware of this news as he is currently unwinding down in Amiens, as per orders. Also unbeknownst to him is the fact that his CO, Major Lawrence, is considering writing up the young ace for the VC. The Major has a fresh Army Form W.3121 sitting on his desk right now and will be conducting interviews with witnesses over the next week or so, as time allows, after which he will send it up the chain of command, (thanks again Raine for the refresher on how the process was handled back in the day unless, as you so comically and correctly noted, your name was Bishop ).
#4489365 - 09/13/1903:36 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Lazlo groaned. His head was pounding and his stomach ached. Too much red wine and rich food.
"Oh my god, what time is it?"
"It's 4.30am, come on Big Red, we'd better get a move on. You know Zander hates anyone to be late". Breuer was stepping into his flying suit while Lazlo lay in his bunk feeling like death warmed up. "Oh, and I would watch out for Von Althaus today if I were you. He wasn't too pleased with your joke last night". Lazlo groaned again.
"Oh my god, what did I say?"
"You don't remember? You thought it was extremely funny at the time. When he was introduced, you repeated his name to everyone as Von Outhouse and then you laughed! I don't think he liked your 'toilet humour'." Breuer smiled, pleased at his own wit.
"It was just a joking" moaned Lazlo. "I am not meaning badly things, just laughing matter with red wine."
"Oh, I don't think it's a laughing matter at all. He's a pretty important fellow, you know. You'd better watch your step with him, that's all I'm saying." Lazlo hauled himself up from his cot and staggered to the washbasin. He stared at his reflection. His red hair was a tangled mess and his eyes were bleary. "Well the madamoiselles thought you were a hoot, at least. I'm sure that little brunette was wondering whether "Big Red" was, well, you know, big and red in other departments, aside from your upper half, if you know what I mean". Breuer gave Lazlo a lewd grin.
"Oh, I remember her now! What a lovely girl she is being. My little Fifi, I am in love, I am in loooove.... and I am feeling sickening!" Lazlo made a dash for the toilet.
A short while later, out on the field, the men waited by their machines as their commander strode across to join them. Lazlo's legs felt like jelly but his stomach was at least a little more settled.
"Listen up", barked Zander. "We're escorting an Aviatik on a photo recon. We can expect a good deal of flak, since our ward will be collecting some important evidence of enemy gun placements and they'll be well protected. Keep alert at all times and watch out for eachother". Lazlo noticed that Von Althaus was glaring at him and felt it unlikely that he'd be watching out for Lazlo, even if the others did.
Once they were over no man's land Lazlo was feeling decidedly ill again. He wretched a couple of time and leaned to the side of his cockpit, just in case. Over the Aviatik's target, the ground fire did indeed heat up. Lazlo hadn't experienced this kind of intense incendiary fire before and it wasn't helping matters. He wretched again but just about kept it down. Finally they seemed to be headed home, but no! Once again they turned back toward the front. Can't this fellow manage a simple camera mechanism? Lazlo wondered to himself. About 10 minutes later they turned to the west for a third time. My god! thought Lazlo, this is insane! He was getting queezier by the minute. Finally he could bear it no more. He leaned over the side and was violently sick. He should have checked first. Unfortunately for him, Von Althaus's machine was just down wind of Lazlo's. Oh No! he thought. He was bound to have caught some of it. Feeling somewhat better in one sense, Lazlo now began to worry about what would happen when they got back.
Von Althaus dismounted his machine and immediately headed for Lazlo, wiping his face with his sleeve as he did so.
"You disgusting great oaf!", he yelled, turning beetroot with rage. Had I wanted to share your dinner with you I would have asked you last night!". With that, he kicked Lazlo hard in the shin. Lazlo howled in pain and began hopping around on one leg until finally toppling over with a massive thud. Their commander had noticed the commotion and came over to find out what was going on.
"What is the meaning of this?", shouted Zander at the two men.
"I'm afraid Herr Halász slipped and fell, sir", replied Von Althaus cooly. Lazlo was clutching his shin and cursing in Slavic under his breath.
"Well, get up man. This is no time to be fooling about. There's a war on you know!"
"Quite right, sir". Von Althaus turned to walk away, sporting a smug grin on his face.