An Airman’s Odyssey – by Capt James Arthur Collins, VC, DSO, MC
Part Eighty-Three: In which I am patched
Bellevue was a forward aerodrome and not always occupied, and so it was that when my machine touched down, bounced, came back to earth on one side, and nosed over, I was wonderfully lucky to find that the place had been taken over temporarily by an RAMC ambulance unit. I came around briefly, nauseous and clammy. In seconds, unseen hands hauled me from the cockpit and laid me out on the ground.
In my next brief spell of consciousness, I was briefly aware of being under a broad canvas roof. An orderly was taking scissors to my trousers. My tunic was gone and there was a tube in my arm. I came to, fully alert this time, to find myself under a bright light while several people were working on my nether regions. An orderly place to stand on my chest and said, “It’s all right, sir. Just lie back and we will have you back in one piece in two shakes.” An older man, whom I presumed to be the surgeon, told me to “lie back and think of England,” a comment which sent everyone to laughing except me. The orderly placed a mask over my face and I nodded off.
It was night when I awoke again, this time in a white-painted bunk with clean sheets and the grey army blanket that was far too thin for the chill. I raised myself slightly. A nursing sister with a severe face, seeing me stir, hastened over and told me to lie back. She asked how I felt and I told her that I was cold and thirsty. In minutes she was back with a cup of tea and two extra blankets. She told me that I was to remain in bed for a couple of days until things stitch themselves together. I asked what my situation was and she informed me that a doctor would be around to see me shortly. I then asked if she could bring me cigarettes from my tunic, but she was still uncertain were my tunic had got to.
An orderly came shortly with my clothes, less my breeches which had been cut apart and my boots, which he had sent to be polished. Apparently, the ribbons on the tunic had attracted a great deal of attention when someone recognised me from the London papers in September. He asked how I came to be here, and I told him I was flying with the squadron from the area near Candas and had come down south of Arras after a scrap with a Hun. He lit my cigarette and offered to warm up my tea. When he returned, the tea was spiked with rum! The fellow’s name was Warrington and he came from somewhere in Devon. Nearly everyone in the ward was asleep so we chatted for a while. He told me that a piece of splintered metal had gone into my upper leg and sliced my large artery. The RAMC fellows who had dragged me from my machine applied a pressure dressing and rushed me here. “Here” was 20 CCS at Warlincourt, on the Doullens - Arras road. The surgeon was able to repair the artery and get some blood into me before I joined the choir invisible. Warrington said he wasn’t supposed to give me all this information – that was a doctor’s job. I promised to keep mum.
The duty doctor was along shortly and consulted a clipboard before telling me I’d been very lucky to have been found by chaps with a bit of medical knowledge. He repeated what I already knew and said I had to keep off the leg for four or five days, and predicted that I would be back on my feet in a week or two as long as I avoided heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for a couple more weeks. I told them that should not be a problem as I was not fond of doing either thing if I could avoid it. Before he left, he offered me a souvenir – a half ring of brass that had been extracted from my leg. It looked vaguely familiar, and I realised after a minute of study that it was a section of the brass ring on the top of my control column. It must have been shattered when the rounds from the Halberstadt plunged straight down into the cockpit as I banked. The bullet that shattered the top of the column must have passed directly in front of my face. Had I been flying the most minuscule degree more quickly, that round must certainly have hit me in the top of the head. I put the piece of brass on the bedside table, sipped my wonderfully bolstered tea, and lit myself another cigarette.
#4497239 - 11/15/1911:31 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Joined: May 2012 Posts: 3,686RAF_Louvert
BOC President; Pilot Extraordinaire; Humble Man
From British General Staff to all Commanders in the Field:
Army Order 204, dated 6 July 1916:
The following distinctions in dress will be worn on the service dress jacket by all officers and soldiers who have been wounded in any of the campaigns since 4th August, 1914:
Strips of gold Russia braid, No.1, two inches in length, sewn perpendicularly on the left sleeve of the jacket to mark each occasion on which wounded. In the case of officers, the lower end of the first strip of gold braid will be immediately above the upper point of the flap on cuff. Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men will wear the gold braid on the left sleeve, the lower edge of the braid to be three inches from the bottom of the sleeve. The additional strips of gold braid, marking each subsequent occasion on which wounded, will be placed on either side of the original one at half-inch interval. Gold braid and sewings will be obtained free on indent from the Army Ordnance Department; the sewing on will be carried out regimentally without expense to the public.
Pursuant to above order the following individual is hereby presented the Wounded Stripe:
Your King and Country thank you for your sacrifice and faithful service.
#4497262 - 11/15/1902:30 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Recon Escort flights today : 1st Light 6 a/c posted to escort a 1 1/2 er. Arrived at contact point only to see him shot down by e/a. Our 2 section couldn't catch em. Our high cover later reported they caught one and shot it down.
Last light Recon: a G-4 close Escort 3 a/c No contact.
Last edited by carrick58; 11/16/1903:09 AM.
#4497420 - 11/17/1912:21 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
The journey from St Omer to Savy was about half as long as his pleasure trip to Vert Galand had been. After a detour south to St Pol, the Rue Nationale had taken him towards Arras and, halfway there, the little village of Savy. Captain Stanley's narrow nosed Prince Henry made the trip in an hour and a half. The aerodrome was to the north west of the village proper. Stanley's route took him past the tiny railway station and into another of the areas many sunken lanes. The chalk and earth banks obscuring any view of what lay in the fields beyond. Soon the car emerged in a field where a row of hangars stood with their backs to a small wood that separated them from the railway line. Tents and huts cluttered a smaller field to Stanley's right. The sound of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony was coming from one of the huts. Stanley was surprised to see that this was the sergeants' mess.
In the main squadron office, the new arrival found an earnest looking man with a major's uniform and a widow's peak. “Smith-Barry's the name,” Stanley's new CO shook his hand after exchanging salutes. “How much experience have you got on Nieuports?” “None really sir, I have taken one for a spin at St Omer. I have previously been flying DH2s and before that Quirks, sir. One hundred and twenty hours or so since going solo.” Smith-Barry walked around his desk and examined a report. “Your hours are a welcome relief, Captain. As are five confirmed victories. Shows you know what you are doing.” He looked up at Stanley. “Your lack of experience on Nieuports is a concern. They are lovely to fly when you know how to handle them, but liable to lose a wing and crash if you don't. I want you to take up a machine a few times so that I can see how you fly.” “But before that,” Smith-Barry continued, “head to the Mairie in the village. That is where most of the officers are.”
Savy was a scattered collection of houses that loosely followed the medieval road to Arras. Here and there a few houses lined the road, turkeys making wobbling noises in the gardens and farmyards. At a crossroads that served as the village centre, a large sugar refinery sat incongruously opposite an old, tall-spired church. Adjoining the church, the Mayor's House stood on the crossroads itself. On the roadside walls, only a few small and high windows broke the sheer white walls.
As Stanley climbed a short flight of steps to enter the yard, he discovered that the south side was completely different. The almost defensive looking stonework gave way to a farmhouse style courtyard with many large windows. From this direction it was an inviting home. From the other side, it was a foreboding fortress. One of the offices downstairs, Stanley found the Officers' mess. Here a cheerful Canadian was trying to persuade two English officers to play poker.
“Oh no!” One of the Englishmen laughed, “not again Irving. My pocket is still sore from last time.” “Come on Grenfell!” Bell-Irving urged. “Its better than sitting here watching Gilchrist wax his moustache. Well hello,” he said as Stanley entered the room. “Good to see a new face. You don't happen to play poker do you?”
Stanley looked at Lt Irving's honest face and smiled reassuringly. “I am unfamiliar with the game. I am sure that you can teach me.” “I'm sure I can. I'm lieutenant Bell-Irving, by the way,” Irving held out a hand. “And these are Grenfell, and Gilchrist.” “Stanley. A pleasure,” William shook hands. “I need to get my gear stowed. Does anyone know where my room is?” Gilchrist nodded and pulled himself from his armchair. “We have to share, I'm afraid. It's us flight commanders together. Follow me, I'll show you.”
#4497424 - 11/17/1912:52 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
It had been a fortnight since Captain Stanley had arrived at Savy. “Come in,” Smith-Barry called from his side of the office door.
“Hello Stanley. Just a quick chat.” “Yes sir.” “I see that you are controlling the Nieuport well. When I have flown with you, I have seen that you engage the enemy readily. Leading to some success for your flight.” “Thank you sir,” Stanley brightened up. He had thought that this was a dressing down. “Yet you have not scored a victory of your own. Are you holding back, Captain?” Stanley's commanding officer peered over the desk quizzically. Stanley felt slightly affronted. “Not at all sir. We are a military unit and our job is to destroy the enemy in the air. The results are in the reports sir.” “Indeed they are. Yet a leader of men must be show ambition. Captain, I know that you are capable. You are currently the third highest scoring pilot on the squadron. If Ball were still here, then I would have reduced you to a deputy leader.”
Smith-Barry leaned forward. “Show me your fighting spirit Captain. Perhaps make an engine test and have a look around? See what happens? Dismissed.”
Stanley's pride had been pricked. Smith-Barry knew what he was doing, but by the time that he had realised it, William was well over the lines.
Far below, a Fokker biplane was rising to meet him.
This was no surprise to Stanley. He had been stalking the flight of German scouts since they had turned homewards from their patrol. As he had hoped, one of the three had become separated from the group and now battle was imminent.
The two aeroplanes danced around one another. Stanley found that this pilot was better than he expected and he could not get a good shot on the black crossed machine. After about five minutes, the enemy pilot seemed to change his mind and dived away. Stanley considered giving chase, but realised that the Fokker was close to the safety of Epinoy aerodrome. Even if he caught up with it, he would be exposed to Archie at best and machine guns as well.
Turning west, Stanley looked for easier prey.
A while later, William spotted two aircraft far to the north of him. As he investigated he found a FE2 fleeing west with a Fokker scout harassing the beleaguered pusher all the way.
Stanley began a dive to come to the rescue.
The dive was fast, but it was long and even as he reached the fight, the British 2 seater nose-dived into a copse near the aerodrome of Avesnes-le-Comte. The ill fated pilot had been fleeing for safety there, but had succumbed at the last moment.
The Fokker was turning for home when Stanley slipped in behind it. He was so close. He waited until he was closer. Now he wasn't rescuing the Fee crew, but instead would avenge them.
Closer. He could see the oil stains on the fabric of the German fuselage. Now he pulled the trigger.
The German pilot turned to throw off his attack, but a thin grey smoke trail appeared. In moments a flame flickered from under the cowl of the Fokker and Stanley watched as the aeroplane streaked down as a flaming wreck.
He noted the time and the location on his notebook. After circling the aerodrome and waving at the BE2 crews who were peering up at him, he set course for Savy.
#4497431 - 11/17/1902:52 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Rain so no flights. I wanted to teach Claudette how to play Snapdragon since its tradition around the Holidays :
Snapdragon was traditionally played on Christmas Eve in which players must find themselves a broad and shallow bowl. They need to prepare themselves to risk their health. Two dozen raisins were used to pour in this bowl. Other materials such as almonds, plums or grapes were added as suffice if raisins were hard to come by.
Then a bottle of brandy is poured into the bowl so that the raisins start bobbing up and down just like flies. What you need to do further is place the bowl on a table, switch off the lights and then ignite the brandy with appropriate panache. To play this game, you and the other players of the game need to sit around the blazing bowl so that their faces are lit up by the fire that you ignited in a demonic fashion. Then take your turn one by one. Try to grab a raisin by plunging your hands into the flames. If you are successful enough to accomplish this task then promptly extinguish the flaming raisin by popping it into your mouth and then eat it. Alas, I was put to work in the hangers supervising the Riggers.
Last edited by carrick58; 11/17/1903:03 AM.
#4497439 - 11/17/1906:32 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Maeran, those were two wonderful chapters in Stanley's story. You have an incredible feel for the period, for RFC life, and for the little details of class and upbringing. Well done, and good luck to Stanley in his new home.
Wulfe, good to see you drop in. I hope that when you have more time you'll be able to rejoin us. You are also a master at this stuff and we miss you greatly.
And snapdragon – that's a new one for me, Carrick!
Last edited by Raine; 11/18/1901:13 AM.
#4497548 - 11/18/1902:33 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
One of the Halberstadts from the evening mission had been confirmed. Sanders and Jackson were following Mulberry deep into Hun country on a patrol over the Bohain aerodrome. They didn’t have to wait long or look far to meet a Boche. A biplane Fokker engaged them above the ‘drome. The flight took turns at taking potshots and the German machine continued to avoid them by constantly diving lower towards the airfield. Toby’s burst hit one of the wings and appeared to inflict considerable damage. The Hun was getting low to the ground and finally crashed into the nearby woods. Toby and the rest turned back, anxious to be back in friendly airspace. The Fokker was confirmed by both of Toby’s wingmen.
Raine: I would luv to be able to Spin yarns like my fellow members. The stories just get better all the time.
Snapdragon: Its new to new to me as well. I dont even know how I got to the site. Switching gears, Snapdragon was a popular Parlor Game before the 1900's in the EU. It started to go south during the Edwardian times. However it is possible that it was still played during the Winter Holidays.
#4497550 - 11/18/1902:50 AMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Another day of Rain, Mostly relaxed out in the Mess. We did have a New Commander arrive the Comte de Lorraine. Emile Micheline . He saw straight to the Esc problems and shortages He sent word up the command chain and within a few hours Zee answer arrived Nadine.
Last edited by carrick58; 11/18/1902:51 AM.
#4497578 - 11/18/1903:09 PMRe: Deep Immersion DiD campaign -- Player Instructions (UPDATED 28 Nov 2018)
Lou, thank you for the medal and congratulations to Rene! Raine, if all the salad James carries now won’t get him a girl, the wound strip won’t help. Maeran, it looks as though the CO’s message got through. Fantastic story Sir! Wulf, glad to see you are still here. Post when you can Carrick, it looks as though Nadine may have a snapdragon! Fullofit, Toby is unstoppable!
Been a bit busy of late Gents. Great stories all. I’ll cut this short with a letter home.
Fw Ernst Everhardt Ugny airfield, Flanders Nov. 18, 1916
Dearest Mother, I apologize for not writing sooner but it has been a very busy three weeks. This is a fine Jasta with great pilots. Our Commanding officer is a fine gentleman. There are others that I get along great with and we have been having a grand time. I have 6 confirmed victories now. I shot sown a Frenchman near our field a few days ago but it could not be confirmed. Such is the way of war I guess. Thank you for my painting kit. It is a great pleasure to to indulge at the end of the day. Give Father my regards. With deepest love, Ernst
What Ernst did not tell her was that he had not touched a paint brush since the kit arrived. He did not tell his mother that when he shot down the Unconfirmed Frenchman that it’s wing came off and smashed into his machines lower wing and he barely made it down alive. Nor did he mention the freezing cold at 9000’ or the nervous, sick feeling he got when he climbed into the cockpit. There was much about war his mother did not need to know.
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!
Maeran, looks like Stanley wasn’t pulling his weight. Good thing Smith-Barry straightened him out. What is this flying around and not bringing down any Huns anyway? Congrats on that last Boche. You showed the C.O. after all.
Carrick, did Nadine teach you tat game? I’m sure she could teach you a trick or two. Congratulate Le Comte on a good taste.
Wulfe, no excuses!
Originally Posted by Rick_Rawlings
Man, your wingmen almost did to you in the first turn what the German couldn't!
Rick, they’re funny that way.
MFair, what a coincidence! Toby was going to write a letter to his mother too while waiting for the weather to clear up, but then he remembered she didn’t like him that much. It looks like Ernst likes his mother is simply protecting her. She probably has enough to worry about as it is.
First snow of the season. Toby’s grounded.
"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."