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griphos

Report from the front

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Sad news. I've been flying Stan Goble lately. Posted a few reports about him. Wonderful pilot, who kept having great adventures. Sadly, yesterday evening:

 

Winter, 1916

 

Another mission in the rain. When will it ever be dry again? Our flight leader, Stan Goble, took us up again yesterday afternoon with a mission to attack an enemy airfield fairly deep behind the lines. The flight was Stan, Luke Ward (once again returned from getting downed in a fight) and Ren Godard (our sometimes flight mate) and me, Frank Robinson. We took off with the clouds even lower than usual these past few days, and wove our way through them to the front Never saw anything else out and about in truly this miserable weather. Lots of activity on the front, though. Flying over it looks like the Huns are pushing back and trying to reclaim territory we've recently wrested from them. Lots of artillery.

 

We made it to the enemy airfield, though, and as we did, a couple of AlbDIIs entered the area. Stan waved us to attack as he headed for the field. He had 8 rockets, and I guess he was determined to use them. The two enemy, who were above us to begin with, turned away and started climbing. I kept my eye on Stan. One high speed dive and he fired all his rockets. Guess he wanted to get back to the action with us. His rockets hit home. From what I could see, he destroyed two EA aircraft on the ground and a MG emplacement at least. Looked like one of the hangers was on fire too. But as he turned to join us, I saw him taking hits from the other MG in the area. At that point, the clouds closed in around me and I had my hands full for a bit.

 

The rest of us chased the EA for a while, never seeing them again. We got separated from Stan. The rest I learned later.

 

Some of our blokes in an observation balloon reported that a lone Sopwith Pup engaged an enemy OB near the line. He made numerous dives at it, but on the last one, it looked like his left lower wing grazed the lines or the balloon itself and took heavy damage. The lads said the last foot or two of it appeared to be just gone. They said the pilot righted the plane and appeared to be able to fly it still using heavy rudder inputs. Fortunately, the last pass did the enemy OB in and they exploded and fell. The lads lost sight of the Pup flying about 2000 ft west for home, it looked like.

 

Before we got back to the field, Stan did. Fellows at the field said that they heard a lone Pup approaching in the clearing rain as evening light started bathing the field. They went out to watch and saw Stan make a nice rudder turn onto final and glide down to the field. It was a beautiful landing. He came in a little hot, engine still ticking over, perhaps to retain control authority. They said a few feet of his lower left wing was missing. He greased it on and everyone cheered, and then the plane ground looped, for no reason anyone could see. It was a gentle spill, but I guess Stan's luck had just run out. He was dead by the time the boys got to him.

 

He was a great flight leader. Brave but prudent. He got at least 5 kills, not counting ground strikes, although the home office was only still considering a single claim, made on an enemy ace just the day before. He had flown for barely 8 hours in this bloody war. He will be missed.

 

Ed Grange has shown up today to take his place. We'll see what mettle he has later this afternoon, I suppose. Better go get my galoshes on. When will this bloody rain let up?!

Edited by griphos

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