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DiD IV Campaign - Flight reports & Player instructions

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Archie battered the air around the BE2c as it made a figure of eight across the sky over the lines near Bapaume. 2Lt Le Mesurier looked at his watch. Nearly an hour had now passed since they took off from Hesdigneul. In front of him Lieutentant May was watching the ground for the flash of the third gun in their assigned battery. Then he would look east to the target and relay how far away the strike was according using a wireless telegraph. It was slow progress and Le Mesurier was watching the air around them with increasing concern.


And that was why.  He could see two thin white lines that moved differently against the background. Aircraft, and yes; monoplanes.


The time when a monoplane would be assumed to be a friendly Morraine had long since gone and Le Mesurier tapped May on the shoulder and pointed them out. May nodded and sent a return to base signal to the battery as Le Mesurier turned westwards. No time now to wind the long wireless aerial in, May gripped his Lewis gun and bent it towards the attacking Fokkers.


For a moment Le Mesurier had been proud to spot the Eindekkers.  The unfortunate truth was that they were already bearing down on the slow BE2c as he banked the machine toward safety. He heard the rattle of a distant machine gun and instinctively changed the angle of his turn to throw off his attacker’s aim.


In the warmth of the officers mess, Le Mesurier had often maintained that the Quirk should have better low speed handling than the Eindekker. His reasoning was that the BE2c had much more wing surface than the German scout.


Armchair theory is one thing, and putting your life on the line was another. Le Mesurier could feel his heart racing as he made a steep turn that pushed his body into the seat and also slowed the aeroplane to near stalling.


The Eindekker could not keep up with the turn and skidded wide.  Seeing this, May pointed the Lewis gun and fired a burst. The crack of the weapon always seemed deafening to Le Mesurier even though he had experienced it before. 


The Eindekker responded by peeling away and diving. Le Mesurier felt a momentary wave of relief before remembering the other attacker.*


The second Fokker was still there. This pilot was more tenacious and followed the Quirk as he made a series of turns. May fired away when he had the opportunity.
Suddenly the Eindekker pulled away and flew east. Looking around, Le Mesurier realised that they had crossed the lines and were now in friendly territory. In confirmation, a few puffs of white Archie chased the departing Eindekker.


“Well,” thought Le Mesurier, “that was rather good, wasn’t it?”
Over the next two days B flight were sent twice to bomb the rail yards at Lens. The first raid was a success, but much to Le Mesurier's frustration his bombs went wide on the second day and the trains remained undamaged.
The next day was another washout. Le Mesurier was considering another visit to Barlin when he received  a summons to the CO's office.


Major Cooper was sat behind his desk, looking at a collection of reports when Le Mesurier came in and saluted. The Old Man returned the salute .


“You’ve been here for a long time now, Le Mesurier. Nearly a year,” Cooper gestured at his notes. “ I see a spot of sickness and administrative duties have stretched it out, but you are due for a new posting.”
“I expect so sir,” Le Mesurier replied cautiously.
“Nothing has come through as yet,” the Major continued, “but I reckon you could do with a change of pace. We have a Bristol that is currently without a pilot since our star turn, Gray, went home. Fancy a bit of scout flying, Le Mesurier?”
“Do I sir?” Edward beamed. “ I certainly do!”

Le Mesurier took a tender to Barlin. The driver kept smirking and the pilot figured he knew why.


Nurse Antoniadis was off duty, and Edward made haste to the nearby houses where the nurses were accommodated. Another nurse who Edward had been introduced to as Emma answered the door. When she saw the pilot her expression became one of worry.


“Er, perhaps you had better leave?” Emma whispered.
“Why?” Edward asked.


“Why indeed!” a familiar man’s voice came from behind the door, “Let’s have a look at this chap who keeps visiting my Kitty!”


Footsteps thunder across the floorboards and the door flew open away from Emma’s hand. Edward’s face was white with shock.


“Bloody hell!” was all he could say.
The soldier at the door was shocked as well. Eventually he opened his mouth. “Edward?”
“George?”
“Well isn’t this interesting?” Lt George Le Mesurier asked his brother. “What should we do now?”


Finally Edward spoke again. “Pot of tea?

----------------------
* The debrief screen said that an enemy machine had been destroyed, but I never saw that happen so it doesn’t count.
 

Edited by Maeran

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Maeran – Wonderful to see Le Mesurier back in action after a rainy couple of months. And the mystery man in Nurse Antoniadis's life is revealed! Nice twist. And an even nicer escape from those nasty Fokkers.

Hawkwood has been in France for a year now and has yet to see his machine gun fired in anger. In the first week or two back in June 1915, his observer managed to fire four rounds from a Lee Enfield at a ponderous Aviatik. Since then the Huns have left him alone. I hope that is not an indication of his lack of worth.

 

War Journal – 2nd Lieutenant David Armstrong Hawkwood

23 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Izel-lès-Hameau, France

 

Part 21

 

On 27 May, we flew again for the first time in a week. This time we photographed enemy rail extensions near Drocourt. There was considerable cloud and varying levels of ground haze. The Archie flew loud and heavy and we struggled to capture what exposures we needed. We had all been teasing Beckwith about his complaining that he “was not enjoying this war at all”, so it was no surprise that when we landed he repeated that refrain.

Our plates were unsatisfactory, so back we went the following day. Archie was even more frightening, but we managed to obtain the needed photographs and returned to Le Hameau with a great many holes in our poor Fee. This at least had the benefit of keeping us grounded for a day.

Beckwith and I were dispatched early on the morning of 30 May 1916 to photograph new works in the Hunnish reserve lines near Pozières, northeast of Albert. I circled over Avesnes-le-Compte while gaining altitude. Beckwith began gesturing upwards and to the right. I looked up and saw three Hun two-seaters passing directly overhead. They had at least 2000 feet of advantage over us and I shook my head. Catching them was impossible. Besides, I did not relish attacking a close formation of three two-seaters all by ourselves.

We approached our objective at 7000 feet and searched for an approach free from cloud. As ever, Archie was fierce. On our first pass we managed only a single exposure. As we turned about to have another go, two bursts bracketed our machine. We could hear the searing shrapnel hiss past our heads. Poor Beckwith disappeared onto the floor of the nacelle, reappearing just in time to get a single exposure before we had to turn about for yet another pass. This time we completed our task and turned for home. I put the nose down gently and open the throttle fully. Another three or four bursts came in quick succession. Shrapnel splintered part of the right upper wing spar and knocked the Lewis gun from Beckwith’s hands. The Beardmore began to run roughly, and we noted a trail of vapour behind our machine – a petrol leak. I shut the motor off and angled downwards a bit more sharply. We emerged from a cloud layer. The forward aerodrome at Bellevue appeared only about three miles off to the northwest. Beckwith showed me his left arm. His leather coat had been ripped open above the elbow by a piece of shrapnel, but there was no blood. I asked if he was enjoying his war yet. Even with the motor switched off, he could not hear me over the wind.

Our landing would be of necessity a crosswind affair. We were scarcely a half-mile from Bellevue when I realised that I had misjudged the distance and we would be lucky to make the end of the field. Luckily, there were no trees or hedges bordering the aerodrome on the south side. I decided to put the machine down as soon as we were out of airspeed and roll onto the field. Only too late did I notice a two-bar wooden fence across our path, just about where I had planned to touch down. I pulled back on the stick to pass over this obstacle. The Fee shuddered and stalled. The right wing dipped and hit the ground. The machine swung about, ploughing up the soft earth. The centrifugal force of this ground loop probably prevented the giant Beardmore from smashing forward and crushing the two of us. I clambered out, worried about the chance of fire with petrol sloshing about. Beckwith did not move.

“Come on, man!” I cried. “You can enjoy your war at leisure once you’re out.”

Beckwith emerged and tumbled onto the earth. The nacelle was now resting on the ground. He looked at me and his eyes appeared unfocused. Normally a soft-spoken man, he suggested that I commit a physically impossible and ultimately narcissistic act.

We made it back to Le Hameau just in time for dinner that evening. It was a sombre affair. Two men had not returned from a patrol up near Lens. After dinner, I noticed the recording officer speaking with Beckwith, after which the two men left the mess. A bit later, Major Ross-Hume asked me how Beckwith was getting on. I told him that he was a reliable observer and that I thought his real test would come if we met the Hun in the air. The men deserved a chance, I told him.

“The chap’s a bit windy, don’t you think?” the Major asked.

“Why would you say that, sir?” I replied.

“I’m not a fool, Hawkwood, and don’t play me for one. I have sent Beckwith back to the depot. He is of no use to us here. Perhaps he can become an instructor in map-reading or some bloody thing. In any event, you will have the new observer, Miller. Be sure he sorts himself out.”

Beckwith’s cot and other kit was gone from our tent by the time I got there. I gathered up Harris and Jamieson and we walked into the village for a drink. We got back around midnight and found Second Lieutenant Thomas Miller sound asleep in Beckwith’s old spot.

Miller and I were on for a low-level reconnaissance the following afternoon, which gave us the morning to introduce ourselves over breakfast and do some practice shooting at an aircraft silhouette stretched out on the ground about a mile away. Miller was a New Zealander and worked in a bank before joining up as a gunner. He had volunteered for transfer to the RFC only a couple of weeks before and had the most rudimentary training. Fortunately, he had competent Morse and had received about an hour’s training on the camera. Thus, we were off to war.

The gods smiled on us that afternoon, 31 May. The weather was bright and clear. No air Huns appeared. Archie was nearly non-existent. We cruised about near Bapaume while Miller took notes and made sketches. We then dropped our work at the appointed spot and headed home.

The Major sent for me and asked for my opinion about Miller. I told them that he had enjoyed an easy introduction. How he would do in the longer term remained to be seen.

“May I ask a question, sir?” I asked. The Major nodded. I then told him about my leave having been cut short when I was transferred to 23 Squadron. “It’s now coming into June and I have been out here a year with only three days’ leave. Major Hogg assured me that it would be rectified, but I haven’t heard anything since I came to the squadron.”

Major Ross-Hume took this in pensively. “It has been noted, Mr Hawkwood. Carry on.”

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End of May 1916 stats

2Lt David Armstrong Hawkwood

23 Sqn, RFC

FE2b

Le Hameau, France

116 Missions

123.28 hours

0 claims; 0 confirmed

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War Journal – 2nd Lieutenant David Armstrong Hawkwood

23 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Izel-lès-Hameau, France

 

Part 22

 

Another fuel leak.jpg

June began without a further word from the squadron commander about my long-overdue leave. Miller took over from Beckwith as my observer and proved to be a reliable sort. He had worked with an accountancy firm in London before the war and exulted in all the force of personality typical of his profession. Still, he was a good man with a camera. It was yet to be seen what he could do with a machine gun.

On 7 June, we flew in the morning south toward the Albert-Bapaume road. There we photographed new enemy defensive positions under construction near Courcelette. It was too hazy to obtain good results. On our return, the Major did a poor job of hiding his frustration with our work. In the afternoon we had a taste of something entirely different. The mechanics fitted our machines with racks under the nacelle to hold a load of 20 or 65-pound bombs. Both C and A Flights were dispatched to drop bombs on suspected Hun assembly areas near Delville Wood. It was great fun despite the usual heavy Archie encountered in that location. Unfortunately, it was impossible due to ground haze to determine whether we did much damage.

For the next six days, rain and wind prevented our flying. The only exception occurred on 12 June when the Major insisted that Captain Lane send up a reconnaissance patrol. Lane protested that the weather was too poor and that it would be next to impossible for a pilot to find his way down safely, if indeed he managed to take off. Major Ross-Hume would not budge, and so poor Captain Lane went up himself with his observer, Ennis. They disappeared into the low cloud and had not returned after an hour. I stood with a number of others outside the sheds listening for them. At one point, we were sure that we heard a machine circling about somewhere off to the south. After two hours, we made our way to the mess for tea. It was getting on towards five o’clock when we heard that Lane had crashed near Barly. He was fine but Ennis had been badly injured. I heard the Major tell the Recording Officer in the mess that it was a “stout show” by Captain Lane.

On 14 June, the weather cleared at last. Miller and I again flew down to the Albert-Bapaume road to take photographs. The Archie was much heavier this day and we took several hits from pieces of shrapnel, one of which caused a fuel leak. I switched off and glided back, putting down in a field southwest of Arras. It was evening by the time we got back to the squadron.

Major Ross-Hume called for me as soon as dinner was finished. He told me he had been mindful of my situation and had arranged for a week’s leave. It was difficult to hide my disappointment at such a short break after so long at the front. The Major seemed to think he had done me a great favour and told me he had arranged for me to fly a BE2 back to Farnborough from Saint-Omer in the morning.

I wired home that evening that I would be in London on the weekend and hoped that they could meet me there, as I would have little time to make it all the way home. They could leave me a message at the front desk of the Piccadilly Hotel. Major Ross-Hume recommended the place and took care to remind me that officers should always stay at the “right sort of place.” As long as it has a bar, it will be the right sort of place.

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Some free time has allowed me to catch up the month and a half I had left due of my pilot. Here's a quick report.

 

Leutnant Ailbe Blaz Dziarzowitz

FA5Lb (FFA5)

Aviatik C.I

Haubourdin, France

46 missions

38,03 hours

2 claims (a Nieuport, a single seater pusher scout), 0 confirmed

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As with all of the finer things in life, tea comes in many varieties with subtle flavours that can be enjoyed on their own or blended into new experiences to enrich the experience of the drinker. Edward was not sure what the blend was in this pot. He suspected the little French Madame who ran the estaminet had blended second hand leaves with iron filings and maybe... just a hint of pine shavings.

“Maybe we should have gone for the wine,” his brother George echoed his thoughts. Edward attempted to alleviate the taste with another sugar cube, “probably turpentine.”

“How long have you been in France?” Edward asked. “I though your lot went to Palestine?”

“Suez,” corrected George. “They had us playing guard to a canal for a month before remembering that we'd volunteered to fight the Germans. We’ve been here a few months now. Even had a stint on the front lines.”

“What was it like?”

“Boring mostly,” Edward's big brother told him. “ We did lose a few to snipers and artillery. It’s not the glory I thought it would be. I hope we get to go over soon and show the Boche what we're made of!”

“You’re an accountant, George. You're made of slide rules and ledgers.”

“I joined up. That makes me as much a soldier as you.”

George broached the subject that had been on their minds since meeting at the nurses' residence. “I can understand why you would find Katherine attractive. She is beautiful, and clever. Exotic in a bohemian sort of way. But look here, I love her Eddie.” He turned the cup in his hand a little nervously. “There; I’ve said it. I love her.”

Edward looked at his brother. “What about Sarah? You’re married, George. For heaven’s sake!”

“I know! I know! Do you think I wanted it this way? If I had met Kitty before I met Sarah then we wouldn’t be in this predicament. No contest.”

Edward looked like he had a bad taste in his mouth. “Well that's alright then, isn’t it? Have you told Sarah that she’s getting the runner up prize?”

“Don’t be like that, Eddie,” George replied miserably. “This isn’t easy for me.”

Edward reached a decision. “Right, George. I’m not going to tell Sarah. And I’ll leave off Katherine. But you have to sort this one out. I'll have nothing to do with it.”

“Thank you Eddie.”

“Don’t Eddie me. I’m not happy about this.”

The sergeant’s mess at Hesdigneul resembled those of the commissioned officers in many ways. The type of soldier who found himself in a NCO role in the RFC was a practical man who liked his home comforts knew how to make what he didn’t have already.

Sgt Butcher, an engine fitter with C flight, settled himself opposite Sgt Amherst, who was perusing a copy of “the aeroplane” magazine and smoking on his pipe.

“How is Mr Le Mesurier doing on your Bristol, Sid?” Butcher asked.

Amherst took a reflective puff and turned the page before setting the magazine down. “He's the very devil on the Gnome. Hasn’t got much in the way of fine control of the blip switch. But I admit that if any pilot was going to bring the Bristol down safely it would be mister Mesurier. He turns in the air like a bird.” Another puff on the pipe. “He asked me the other day if we could mount the Lewis gun on the top plane, firing forward. How would he pull the trigger? You'll like this Frank. He was taking about running a string down a bit of hosepipe from the trigger.”

Butcher imagined the contraption over a sip of beer. “Poor lad,” he said at length. “We can’t all be engineers.”

 

One problem with the Bristol scout, in Le Mesurier’s opinion, was that it didn’t have as much endurance in the air as the BE2s it was supposed to escort. He had flown several close escorts this week, only to have to return to Hesdignuel before the Quirks had finished their work over the lines.
 

It was getting close to that time again. Le Mesurier had climbed up a thousand feet behind the Quikes as they photographed Menin aerodrome. His idea was that the extra height would give him more gliding distance if he needed it.
As the group approached the lines from the east, Le Mesurier spotted two dots to the north. His suspicions were soon confirmed. It was a pair of Eindekkers heading to intercept the BE2s.


Le Mesurier pushed his nose down and came in behind the German machines. He tilted his head to one side to line up the gun, which was angled off to the left and sprayed a burst of bullets at the first Eindekker. The monoplane broke of its attack and dove away.

https://combatace.com/uploads/monthly_2022_06/large.BristolvsEindekker.jpg.bef8bc1285d2c1e7a31eeaaa71f0ddbd.jpg


The second Eindekker was sat behind the BE2c of Lt Rowena broke of his own attack and turned toward Le Mesurier. The two machines circled one another for a minute to see who could bring his gun to bear.

There was little contest. The Bristol scout turned much better than the Eindekker and a burst from Le Mesurier’s Lewis gun hit the German’s engine. The enemy pilot was close behind and pulled up abruptly as he was also hit. The fragile monoplane lost control and went into a terrible vertical spin before smashing into the green field below.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At the end of May, 2nd Lieutenant Le Mesurier has 106.82 hours, 82 missions and 1 confirmed victory

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Maeran – poor Le Mesurier has a romantic dilemma. Now we'll see what he's made of. Wonderful episode as always!

I've been away from my computer for a week and it's good to be back. Unfortunately the 1916 weather is not aware of my desire to get into the air.

 

War Journal – 2nd Lieutenant David Armstrong Hawkwood

23 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Izel-lès-Hameau, France

 

Part 23

 

On the tail of a Fokker.jpg

I spent the first day and a half of my leave wandering about London aimlessly, feeling provincial and lonely but enjoying good food and drink and undisturbed sleep at night. More because it seemed like an obligation than a diversion, I took in “The Bing Boys” at the Alhambra. I had heard the tune “If You Were the Only Girl in the World” and did not realise it was from this review until I saw it. “Another Little Drink Wouldn’t Do Us Any Harm” was new to me, but it seemed that I heard it everywhere afterward.

The British Museum was marvellous, and I enjoyed visiting shops along Regent Street and Oxford Street. As planned, my parents visited the city on the weekend and we traipsed about with our mouths open, taking in all the important sights – Westminster Abbey, the Tower, the bridges, Buckingham Palace, the parks, Harrods and Fortnum’s, not to mention window shopping the elegant jewellers and galleries of Bond Street.

They left on Sunday night and the loneliness returned. I went out wandering again on Monday, and bought sausage rolls and ate them in Hyde Park while watching children play football and wealthy folks riding and believing the war to be very far away. It was there that I encountered a chap named Connors with whom I had served during my training at Larkhill. Connors was already a captain and a flight commander with a BE2 squadron. We spoke for a while and arranged to meet for tea later that afternoon at the Lyons tearoom on Piccadilly.

The hour spent swilling tea and scoffing cream buns brought me out of my funk. Connors had a wry sense of humour and was full of funny stories about his time in France. His squadron was situated farther south than mine, close to the river Somme, and he had encountered far more air Huns than I had ever seen. One day he had been set upon by two Fokkers who shot the bottom of his machine to shreds. It got to the point that Connors did not trust the floor to support his seat, which felt as though it had come adrift. He made it back to his aerodrome by bracing his feet on the longerons as much as possible when not absolutely needed on the rudder bar. After he landed, he stood to dismount and fell through the bottom of the floor!

Jacky Connors knew his way about and informed me that the gathering spot for RFC officers was the Savoy bar. We arranged to meet there at seven for a drink and wander over to the Trocadero for dinner. Connors was staying at the Cavendish on Jermyn Street, so he would meet me at the Piccadilly beforehand.

Having somewhere to go with a friend was a wonderful feeling. We met up and strolled toward the Strand, enjoying the warm late afternoon sun. The Savoy bar was the RFC in miniature. The place was rotten with pilots and observers. Connors introduced me to Jimmy the bartender, whose first words were, “23 Squadron? You must know Stephen Price and Harry Wyllie.” Price was one of the squadron veterans and expected to take over command of A Flight when Captain Hargrave comes due for transfer to Home Establishment, I told him. And Wyllie was my own flight commander. Jimmy, it seems, is second only to General Trenchard in his knowledge of and dedication to the flying service. Connors and I met up with two other fellows, a New Zealander named Quayle and a Scot named Reid, both of whom were on BE2s. They were all jealous of my good fortune in piloting a Fee.

We enjoyed our dinner at the Troc. It was simple fair – bangers and mash – due to wartime food restrictions. Connors, however, said we would make up for it later if I joined him for a bit of a party at the Cavendish. The woman who runs the hotel was a noted cook who had found favour in the late King Edward (read put it that she “worked mightily under the King”). The good woman was a strong supporter of the RFC and hosted frequent soirées for visiting pilots and bored actresses.

The evening at Miss Lewis’s soirée dazzled and alarmed. A baby-faced captain from a scout squadron pronounced himself bartender and held court whilst explaining the latest cocktails. The room was inebriated when we arrived and became more so by the minute. I chatted for a long while with a Canadian who was instructing at Netheravon. Connors excused himself and headed for the lift in the company of a sultry temptress. Miss Lewis sat with me for a while, transparently attempting to pry me out of my shell. She succeeded only in some respects. First, she introduced me to chilled Chablis; then, she urged me to try smoked salmon on dark bread, dressed with onion, capers, and even caviar. It was all quite unlike home and all marvellous. A girl named Jessie sat down next to me. She smiled too much and placed her hand on my knee. It was rather exciting and I began to weigh the benefits and risks of following Connors’ example. In the end, she could not compete with the smoked salmon.

Several hours and at least two bottles of Chablis later, I lurched onto the pavement of Jermyn Street. A few footsteps in the wrong direction found me at the entrance to Mason’s Yard, a small square that was home to the office from which the RFC dispatched me to Larkhill. I relieved myself into a drain, turned about, and made my way unsteadily back to the Piccadilly.

21 June 1916 and I have arrived safely back at Le Hameau, too late for dinner but still able to beg the mess steward for some cold roast beef and pickle. Two of the old boys were still about – Webb at the piano and Parker spilling brandy on himself. Parker introduced me to the new commander of B Flight, Captain Gray. Several unfamiliar faces huddled in the threadbare armchairs. Harlowe King, one of our most senior observers, welcomed me back with the news that he and I were now a team. Moreover, we had a photographic reconnaissance patrol at seven forty-five the following morning. I was not upset by this as King had a solid reputation and Miller and I had not yet been together long enough to form a relationship.

All the roads here seem busy and I am told that the amount of traffic further south is breathtaking. We all know that a huge push is coming, yet no one knows exactly when.

Our flight on 22 June was uneventful. There was no sign of the Hun in the air, and even the Archie merchants seemed to be having a good lie-in. King and I walked into the village for tea in the afternoon. He talked at length about horses and seemed to know his way around the creatures. I had little to no experience with them, and King promised he would see to my education. The squadron typically had three horses at its disposal, all on loan from the cavalry, sent to us for rest (and no doubt for the horses’ amusement).

On 24 June, we awoke to the crashing of 20,000 guns, concussions that one felt deep inside one’s chest, even though many miles from the front. After being grounded due to low cloud and rain in the morning, the weather eased somewhat and we were dispatched on another photography show, this one down to Pozieres. We arrived at our intended objective at 6200 feet and were met by an appalling wall of Archie. I steeled myself and ploughed straight ahead. Suddenly, King started waving to me and pointing to the camera. Something was off. The thing was not working properly. I turned and climbed to our right, westward, filled with relief.

King and I saw them in the same moment – two yellow Fokker monoplanes heading westward, well below us and off to the left. We forgot the Archie. King fired a momentary burst from the forward Lewis gun to warm it as I throttle back and banked. The Fee descended quickly in sweeping S-turns. The Huns were in line astern, one behind the other, and clearly unaware of our approach. We came up behind and below the rearmost Fokker. King held his fire until we were only fifty yards away. Then he let loose two long bursts. The German machine shed some splinters and scraps of fabric, staggered to its left, and then rolled onto its back and nosed straight down. Its engine remained full on until it struck the ground immediately behind the enemy’s frontline trench. The Huns would be spared the task of burying the pilot. Man and machine smacked into the mud and disappeared.

We climbed away amidst a hail of rifle and machine-gun fire from below. The squadron had not claimed a victory for some time. When King and I filed a report, both the recording officer and Major Ross-Hume promised they would do their best to find someone who could corroborate the claim.

The next two days passed without a glimpse of sunshine – constant drizzle. The guns continue. Rumours tell us that the push is delayed due to weather. And on top of it all, there has been no confirmation of the Fokker we downed on Saturday.

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Posted (edited)

Raine, Edward thinks he is good. But he isn't always. As we will hopefully see.

‐-------------------

Maplin of A flight lay the map out on top of a crate in the hangar where his BE2c was being given a once over by the mechanics. 2nd Lieutentant Le Mesurier looked at it with bleary eyes.


“So this area here to.... here. That’s the new trenchwork that HQ want me to photograph. Now I don’t want you hanging above and behind like you did with Rowena.  I’m not some goat you’re staking out to hunt a tiger!” Maplin looked stern as he folded the map small enough to sit on his lap. “No. I want you right next to me. Put any Huns off before they get the idea. Got it?”


Forty minutes later they were over the lines and Maplin was working up and down trying to get a good exposure of the fresh dug trenches below.  


Le Mesurier spotted the two Eindekkers as they approached.  He considered that he was too close to Maplin to manoeuvre well. He turned towards the incoming enemy machines and swept across their path, hoping to draw them away from Maplin’s slower machine. He was confident that he could out-turn the German monoplanes. 


Pang pang pang! Splinters flew from the woodwork around the cockpit. Something thumped hard against Le Mesurier’s shoulder. Instinctively he ducked and pushed the stick forward.
There was blood on the instruments in front of him, so Edward knew he had been shot. He couldn’t feel much pain though,  which he was grateful for.

 The Eindekkers had both followed his Bristol scout , leaving Maplin to run for the safety of the lines.  Turning to throw of their aim, Le Mesurier finally made it across to clearly British held territory. The Germans were no longer following him. That was a relief.  The pain was starting now. It was heavy and dull, but Le Mesurier was more concerned about the blood. Just how badly was he bleeding. He couldn’t tell. Did he have time to land before he passed out, or was it just a scratch? 


The French Town of Arras was a mess, with shelled out buildings everywhere. Le Mesurier tried to put down in a wide avenue but something ripped of his right wing tip.  Thankfully the rest of the scout held together and it was moments before helping hands were lifting Edward to safety.

large.Briscrash.jpg.766f55dd7d24b57b7b84

‐--------------------

Emma was making her rounds at Barlin when she spotted Edward Le Mesurier sat amongst the “walking wounded" wearing a sling.


“Hello,” she smiled at him, “what happened to you?”


“An Eindekker shot me through the shoulder.” Edward indicated the dressing with his left hand. “Not bad really, but I’ve got some time off. Is Katherine about?”


The nurse shook her head. “She has some time off too. Gone to Paris to stay with her Bohemian friends. She does that every few weeks.”

-------------------

large.2012_CKS_08050_0326_000(maurice_ut

Most streets in Paris looked the same to Le Mesurier. Narrow, with tall buildings 3 or 4 stories high bearing shuttered windows that were lines up as though they were on parade. And for all the grandeur of the construction there was a certain sense of decay. As if the city was already past it’s best.

Of course, here in Montmartre, that was absolutely correct.  Cheap rents and lively night life had attracted artists from around the world for decades.  But when the war came most of the art community either joined up or fled the city. 

“Le voilà, ton aviateur.” The word ‘aviateur’ woke Le Mesurier from his reverie over a coffee. 
Katherine was stood at the door of the café with a moustachioed man who with an earnest expression. She was wearing a white peasant blouse underneath a green lantern tunic with long drooping sleeves. On her head she wore a headscarf with black and white stripes typical of the bohemian women Edward had seen through the week. The overall impression was some sort of Gypsy fairy.

large.dress-by-paul-poiret-wikimedia.jpg

Something like this


“Well this is a surprise.” Katherine smiled at him. “Did you come all this way for a change of dressing?”

----------------------

Ricebourg 30th of June 1916.
There was no sleep to be had. The intense shelling had gone on all day and all night.  A feeble light to the east suggested that dawn was approaching, but would have to fight her way through the continuing British bombardment and the smoke that had been laid down.
Lieutenant George Le Mesurier held the ladder in one hand and his service revolver into the other. He could hardly hear anything any more, but he heard the whistles blowing.
Over the top went the Sussex Volunteers of the 13th battalion.  Later on they would call it the day that Sussex died.
George’s boot was on the ladder. And he pushed upward. 

Over the top.

Quote

 


 

Edited by Maeran

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End of June 1916 – 2nd Lieutenant David Armstrong Hawkwood

23 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Izel-lès-Hameau, France

FE2b

Missions:     109

Hours:           120.58

Claims:           1

Confirmed:     0

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War Journal – 2nd Lieutenant David Armstrong Hawkwood

23 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Izel-lès-Hameau, France

 

Part 24

 

Heavy Archie.jpg

"Archie was the heaviest we have yet seen."

 

Wyllie was on his third whisky. I had already switched to tea. I had a recco at seven in the morning and was already up too late. Wyllie was overdue for Home Establishment and wanted to talk about England and my recent leave. The guns had been pounding for nearly a week. Tonight brought a new intensity.

Nash and Campbell landed a couple of hours ago – last flight of the day, barely possible given the weather. They said that beneath the cloud the front was sparkling like a sequined gown. “Absolutely thousands of guns. Never seen anything like it,” said Nash. Outside the rain had stopped. This would be the big push. We knew it.

“I had two days in the city with my parents,” I told Wyllie. “It was odd. Truly lovely to see them, but somehow we were foreign to one another. I don’t know what they really think is going on here, but I cannot bring myself to talk about the grimmer details. And if I talk about the happy times, it sounds like we are all off on a lark with the Boy Scouts.”

“You were happy to get back to the squadron, is that right?” Wyllie understood.

“It’s more like being with family than really being with family. Is that terrible?” I asked. Wyllie simply laughed.

I had been thinking a great deal about my leave. England was strange now. I resented the gentleman in bowler hats and striped trousers, tick-ticking their umbrellas along the pavement. The ladies in their fine dresses and broad hats annoyed me. Reading the papers about debates in Parliament made me curse under my breath. But here in Le Hameau, things were in their proper place. I put my tea aside and joined Wyllie for a last drink.

The next morning, 1 July 1916, marked the start of the great offensive. King and I were to photograph German reserve positions near Pozières, a bit north of the Somme. Our orders were to stay at least a mile clear of La Boisselle. We soon understood the reason for this directive. As we approached Pozières from the northwest, there was a massive blast just ahead. A rounded cone of earth rose from the trenches about the village of La Boisselle, reaching nearly a mile into the sky. One could see the air ripple outwards in circles from the blast until, seconds later, the shock hit us and nearly flipped our machine over. King landed half out of the nacelle and had to clamber back in a panic. A second, even larger, explosion followed close behind the first. We watched in awe as the impact of 10,000 shells formed a solid wall of hell in front of our advancing men. Certainly, this was the end of the war. We took our photographs as ordered and headed home.

As the day progressed, news trickled in. Good progress had been made, especially south of the river. Spirits were high.

The Ack Emmas found a problem with our engine and we remained on the ground the rest of the day.

On 2 July, we again took photographs, this time a bit farther north. Archie was the heaviest we have yet seen. News was mixed and confusing.

Bad weather grounded us the next few days. On 7 July, we were part of a squadron show and bombed a Hun rail yard east of Arras. Our fighting machines have been patrolling deep into Hunland and pinning the enemy down well away from the front. We did heavy damage to the yard and returned home without seeing an enemy machine. That afternoon, King and I conducted a long-distance reconnaissance, taking note of road and rail traffic between Bapaume and Cambrai. Again, the air had been swept clean of the enemy.

On the ground, however, things were not as rosy. For all their fury, our guns had neither destroyed the Hun wire nor all their artillery and our casualties thus far have been appalling, especially north of the river. While we have carried the enemy first line trenches nearly everywhere, nowhere have we achieved breakthrough. The Germans instead have counter-attacked with all their might. We are faced with the dreadful prospect of a long and drawn-out struggle in a devastated landscape.

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War Journal – Lieutenant David Armstrong Hawkwood

23 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Izel-lès-Hameau, France

 

Part 25

 William Orpen “A crashed FE2 Biplane of the Royal Flying Corps in  undulating landscape near Le Sars in Northern France.” | Biplane, Crash, Fes

We now have a much more sober view of this war then we had a week ago. Despite the weeklong barrage whose concussive brutality seemed to displace one’s organs, the enemy was not eradicated, the wire was not cut, and the path to the green fields of Belgium was not open. Instead, reports told of heavy casualties for minor gain. Only on the southern edge of the great push, near Montauban, had we clearly succeeded. The intent now seemed to be that we would push again where the enemy had given ground.

For that reason, on 8 July 1916, King and I took off at 7:45 AM to photograph enemy positions northwest of Montauban. We were met there with a wall of Archie. There was nothing for it but to grit one’s teeth and press forward. King hunched over his camera, and I held a machine steady whilst scanning about for air Huns. It took three endless passes to achieve all the needed exposures. Our machine was thrown about the sky by the blasts from Archie shells. Still, we emerged with only a few scratches on our wings and returned to Le Hameau with passably good results.

Late in the afternoon, they sent us back again. This time we pressed a little deeper into Hunland to photograph rail lines leading to the northern edge of the battle area, not far from Bapaume. Again we were met with heavy Archie and again we ploughed ahead and did our job. But this time we had a new experience. Just as King was finishing his final exposures, the Archie stopped. Seconds later I heard the “Smack! Smack!” of machine-gun rounds hitting our upper wing. A moment after that, a Fokker monoplane passed overhead, just to our right, and dived beneath us, turning left. I pulled the Fee about and dived after him. King was smart on the Lewis gun. He fired two short bursts and we saw some material fall away from the Fokker. The Hun disappeared below us. I turned about and saw another HA some distance off. This fellow seemed less keen to attack so we put our nose down and dived westward. The matter was over in less than a minute. We reported the combat on our return to the squadron but had to admit that it was indecisive. That did not prevent King and I from talking about the scrap half the evening. We bought each other drinks and clapped on each other’s back and told ourselves what jolly stout fellows we had been. I even took the liberty of writing a lurid account of the day’s work in a letter for my parents. Having felt disconnected from normal life at home when I was on leave in England, I was now driven by some evil part of my nature to frighten the poor dears!

Big surprise. That evening, the major announced that I was promoted to lieutenant. The work is the same but the pay is better.

Sunday, 9 July 1916. The C of E chaplain held a church service in one of the sheds at 10 AM. We were not there. Instead, King and I were on a reconnaissance of the roads and rail lines into Bapaume. It was an uneventful patrol, and we were back in good time for lunch. Took a walk in the afternoon into the village with Price. Price is one of the old hands here and is due for promotion to captain. He regaled me with stories of his new observer, who is a genuine American cowboy!

10 July 1916 – the day I nearly went west. This morning we were sent off on a squadron show to bomb the Hun airfield at Haubordin. There were ten Fees in all. I was assigned to lead C Flight and decided on a low-level attack. As we approached the field, we were dived upon by a group of Hun biplanes of a type I had not seen before. They were, I have since been told, Halberstadts. We were down to 1500 feet when one of the enemy machines dropped onto our tail. King stood up and did a fine job of holding the Hun at bay while I let loose our bombs over the line of enemy sheds. By that time, bullets were cracking past our heads. I turned sharply, first one way and then the other. King managed to get off a few bursts and the nearest Hun broke off his attack. We were taking heavy machine-gun fire from the ground. Our main petrol tank began to leak and the engine began to miss. We immediately headed back toward our lines and clambered for altitude. Another Halberstadt dived onto our tail and began shooting pieces from our machine. Once again, King stood up and began pouring out return fire. He went through two drums before this second Hun decided to go home for tea.

By this time, we had climbed to 2000 feet and were approaching the enemy front line. The engine gave a final cough and stopped. The Fee is a heavy machine. One must be very careful not to stall it in a glide. It did not take long for us to run out of altitude. The German front line had barely passed beneath when I was forced to pick out the least shattered piece of the devastated landscape. We hit the ground rather hard, bounced about forty feet, and came down with a crash. The oleo struts of the undercarriage gave way and we skidded along among the shell holes, dragging a long veil of barbed wire behind.

Thankfully, the giant Beardmore engine did not break free from its mounts. Both King and I were completely unharmed. We could not take a moment to gather ourselves or say a prayer of thanks because the Huns unleashed every bit of frightfulness they could muster – machine guns, rifle fire, mortars, and within a minute or two, heavier artillery. We tumbled into a nearby shell crater and huddled at the bottom, our legs in water above our knees. A greenish and very dead German chap floated up to us to welcome us to his resting place.

The afternoon dragged on. Gradually the shelling became less intense. King and I were dying of thirst, but our Hunnish friend dissuaded us from drinking the local water. Shadows eventually began to climb the muddy wall of our shellhole.

“If we stay here, there’s a fair chance the Huns will send out a patrol to look for us,” said King. I nodded. As much as I dreaded the idea of leaving the protection of the crater, we had no choice. Our long leather coats were a burden and we sweated like pigs as we crawled. It took more than an hour before we could make out English voices somewhere ahead of us. Unmistakably Yorkshiremen. We began to call out, taking care to keep our heads down. It must have been close to midnight before we heard the welcome words, “Advance one and be recognised.” We were safe.

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Nice story, Raine. A real nail-biter. Keep up the good work!

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BuckeyeBob – thanks for the comment! It has been a bit quiet around the campaign. The horrid weather in May and June 1916 probably sent people to catch up on other games/sims or to deal with real life issues. Being deficient in the real-life department these days, I've been able to keep up. I expect others will rejoin soon. I know that epower is thinking about a back story for a new pilot once he finishes the continuing saga of Oliver, his DiD III pilot back on the other forum. And Maeran soldiers on with his excellent tale about Lemesurier. I'll be on holidays for a couple of weeks so please forgive a pause in the storytelling.

 

War Journal – Lieutenant David Armstrong Hawkwood

23 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps

Izel-lès-Hameau, France

 

Part 26

 

A couple of years ago, I went to the pictures whilst in London with my parents. There was one bit of film about jungle creatures. The Amazon, I think it was. They showed a immense snake engaged in eating a whole pig that it had suffocated. The horrid thing took a painfully wide-jawed bite of the pig and over the next hour or so struggled to swallow it. After lying exhausted with a third of a pig in its throat, it mustered the energy to take another bite. This drama continued for the rest of the day, the film said. The snake would take a bite, swallow a bit more, regain strength, and bite again.

That pretty much describes the battle of the Somme thus far. The big push has stalled. The army struggles to hold what it has taken, replaces its considerable losses, and tries for another bite here and there. In the air, the RFC has done a good job letting our reconnaissance machines patrol the front and take their photographs without let or hindrance by the Hun. We suspect that the enemy has moved more squadrons into the disputed sectors because we are now encountering more serious aerial opposition.

On 14 July, we took photographs of a new reserve area and railroad line southeast of Arras. On our return trip, a pair of Hun two-seaters passed overhead within five hundred yards. As they seemed unaware of our presence, King and I gave pursuit. Our machine approached the closer Hun and when we were about a hundred yards away, King fired a long burst from his Lewis gun. Despite clearly hitting the enemy machine, it continued on its way in the direction of Monchy. His partner, however, was more alert. The German observer in that machine managed a long burst from about two hundred yards above and to our right. His luck was in, for our engine immediately began to make disturbing noises. We were forced to switch off and land on the outskirts of Arras. Just as I was settling into a lovely grassy field, a wire fence loomed up. I pull back and the joystick and did a masterful job of both clearing the fence and stalling the Fee at a height of thirty feet. We came down heavily and with our left wings low. Once again, I succeeded in completely writing off one of His Majesty’s aeroplanes.

We continued with reconnaissance patrols. Rain kept us on the ground on 17 and 18 July. Major Ross-Hume insisted on sending up a machine from A Flight on 18 July despite fog and drizzle. It did not return, and we learned later that it had flown into the side of a house about ten miles southeast of here, killing both men aboard. Captain Wyllie is furious with the major and rumours are that they had words in the mess. We all expect Captain Wyllie to be sent home for a “rest”. It is not a happy family at the moment.

On the bright side, we have a small contingent of Royal Engineers putting up three Armstrong huts with wooden sides – quarters, officers, for the use of. We should be able to move in within a few days.

More reconnaissance patrols continued. Our next bit of a thrill came on 20 July. On that date we flew reconnaissance to the area east of Beaumont-Hamel. The cloud being low for good camera work, we took notes by hand and dropped them at divisional headquarters behind our lines. The drop required a very low approach over the battlefield. Fortunately, we were shielded from enemy fire by a very slight ridge, so it was rather surprising to find the smoke trails of German machine-gun fire streaking over our heads as we approached the drop area. As soon as King released the bag and streamer with our notes, I turned sharply to the right. A yellow German biplane suddenly appeared very close overhead. He crossed to our left to turn behind us. More smoke trails from the right side told us that there was a second Hun. These were Halberstadt scouts, the enemy’s newest machines. Our trusty Fee allowed itself to be thrown about rather harshly and, unlike its predecessor, resisted the temptation to stall. King managed a couple of short bursts whenever an HA came into the field of fire of the forward Lewis gun. The rear-firing Lewis was not used much. I confess that I was turning this way and that too frequently and too sharply to permit King to stand without risking a hasty departure.

We know we scored a few hits, as did the pair of Huns. Whenever possible we moved a bit farther to the west. Then suddenly, one of the Halberstadts turned for home. I brought our machine about to engage the remaining Hun. This fellow apparently felt the zephyr vertical and called it a day’s work. Back at the squadron we reported the encounter as indecisive.

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The morning sunshine streamed happily through the tall window of Katherine’s apartment in Montmartre.

Katherine was looking through her wardrobe, speculatively holding up one outfit before replacing it with another. Meanwhile Le Mesurier idly looked through a collection of sketches and photographs. They were all of Katherine; mementoes of several years amongst the artists of Paris.

“This one makes you look like Mata Hari.” Edward waved a photograph.

Katherine paused to look at the image. “That was Cheri Herouard. It was a reference for one of his drawings for la Vie. I don’t know why, but men always want to dress me like a Turkish harem girl.”

“Is that so awful?”

“You joke? I am Greek! We fought the Turks for our freedom! Your poet Baron fought too. We remember him well.” Katherine sidled across and put her arms around Edward. “Do you write poems?”

 

Edward thought.

“There was a young woman from Crete

Whose kisses could never be beat

When stripped to her drawers

She ‘roused cheers and applause

And soon she was swept off her feet.”

 

Speaking in a noticeably thicker accent, Katherine pouted, “who is this woman from Crete? I am from Thessaloniki!”

“I... I’m sure I couldn’t rhyme Thessaloniki.”

 

There was a knock on the door, which turned out to be one of Katherine’s artist friends. An emaciated young man who looked pale and drawn from too many nights chasing the green fairy.

“Bonjour Alphonse,” Katherine greeted him. “Ça va?”

Tant mieux de te voir, Mademoiselle,” Alphonse replied. “But it is the English aviateur I have a message for. Monsieur, there is a soldier with a telegramme downstairs.

large.Auchel.jpg.8a66a65465565113397c610

The early days of the war had been highly mobile, with the RFC being required to move to new landing fields at a moments notice, in support of an advancing or retreating army. While the trenches had stopped such rapid movement, this philosophy of being ready to move had not left the corps. Most of its aerodromes lay directly next to major roads to make moving equipment easy at a moments notice.


The aerodrome between the villages of Auchel and Lozighem was a fine example. Here the public road actually crossed the middle of the landing field. Bisecting the cluster of hangars and huts at the western end and being a profound nuisance for the sentries.


On the morning of the 15th, a motor car pulled up next to the first sentry. It was an antiquated looking Renault painted red with ‘G-7" stencilled on the side. A British officer sat in the back, alongside a woman was wrapped in a shawl against the breeze. The officer clambered out and pulled his valise out with him.


“I’m going back to Barlin,” the woman said. “No-one told me there was an offensive. They can probably use me. Come over when you can.”

With a round of farewells, the taxi turned around in the road and headed off west again.


“Lieutenant* Le Mesurier,” The officer announced himself. “I’m to report to the Officer Commanding 25 squadron?”

“I'll have a man escort you sir,” the escort told him.

 

Major Cherry was a young looking man with a black moustache and Royal Artillery collar badges.

“Welcome to Auchel, Lieutenant. We fly the FE2 here. It’s a hulking big machine, but make no mistake; she is a machine of war and a real Hun killer!

“I asked for a pilot who shows promising offensive spirit, and I’m glad to have you along. You will need to get used to the machine, but then I want you to be deputy flight leader for B flight. I’d say... 2 days ?”


 


It was now a week since Le Mesurier had arrived at Auchel and he was getting used to the big Fee.**


All of the machines had a name that was Scottish in theme to represent the squadrons formation in Montrose (although most of the pilots seemed to be from Kent and Sussex, as was Le Mesurier himself). Some of the machines had been presented by donors, and this was recognised on the fuselage too. Le Mesurier and his observer Cpl Brandon flew in ‘Monarch of the Glen.’


They had been sent to photograph the results of bombing at Houbardin when the flight leader, Wheldon had wheeled the flight around and headed home with 4 Fokker monoplanes in pursuit.

 

As they approached Auchel, Brendon once again raised his notepad to Le Mesurier to see.

“Still chasing.”

This was unusual behaviour for German scouts. They must have been a raiding party from the outset; Le Mesurier considered his options.

The best form of defence is a strong offense. Le Mesurier banked the big aeroplane steeply and came about in a surprisingly small amount of distance. There was no way that the four Fokkers hadn’t seen him, but he hoped they wouldn’t expect him to do what he was planning.


The Fee hurtled toward the horizontal lines that resolved themselves into black crossed machines painted in a green finish. Le Mesurier was sure that one pilot looked surprised as the huge pusher hurtled through the formation. Brandon's Lewis gun rattled as he squeezed off a burst.

large.Incoming!.jpg.6e514c203defc50ceed8

 

Now the turning fight began. For most of the time, Le Mesurier could not see the Fokkers. But he kept turning and every so often Brandon would haul his gun around and fire a burst at something. He had to change the drum at one point and that was the most tense moment that Le Mesurier had ever experienced.


On two occasions a Fokker hung in the air in a position where Brandon could get a series of bursts in succession. Le Mesurier wasn’t certain that it was the same machine.

The eindekker nosed down with a thin stream of smoke tumbling from the engine. The spiral became steeper and steeper until the aeroplane finally crashed into the wood on the opposite side of Lozighem to Auchel. Black smoke rose from the now burning wreck.

large.62e1b1c58e7c6_Lozinghemwood.jpg.33

 

Le Mesurier couldn’t find the other Fokkers. They must have decided that these Fees came at too high a price.

 

Wheldon’s machine was already being wheeled in when Le Mesurier rolled to a stop. Men and officers from both squadrons ran across to congratulate Brandon and Le Mesurier.

“We saw the whole fight,” and Australian pilot called Richardson told them excitedly. “You were among those Eindekkers like an Osprey among seagulls.”

“I must admit,” said a 32 squadron DH2 pilot, “I didn’t think a Fee could move like that!”


 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

* Lieutenant Edward Le Mesurier got his promotion on the same day he was told about his assignment to 25 squadrons

** I was going to write about Le Mesurier’s first impressions of the FE2b, but this is already very long. If you haven’t read it Flying the FE2b - the Vintage Aviator

is a brilliant read.


 

Raine; Hawkwood has had a few close calls lately. I’ve been worried for him on several occasions now! A sign of excellent writing.

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Outstanding stuff.  I'm still scrambling and have yet to give these superb narratives the proper time for a full reading. 

FYI, Raine is still playing host to a huge family reunion.  I'll be Kayaking the Thousand Islands from August 2-5 and will not have my WOFF materials in tow.  Only my iPad.  Please take extra care (always) but most certainly until get back on the 6th. 

 

Looking forward to a long catch up with all your adventures.

Cheers,

 

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Posted (edited)

Maeran – good to see your man safely ensconced at 25 Squadron. "Monarch of the Glen" – fine name for a Fee. Best of luck with it!

End of July stats: Lieutenant David Armstrong Hawkwood
23 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps
Izel-les-Hameau, France

127 missions
134.61 hours
2 claims
0 confirmed

Edited by Raine

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War Journal – Lieutenant David Armstrong Hawkwood
23 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps
Izel-lès-Hameau, France

 Part 27

Claimed Fokker.jpg

"The Hun zoomed vertical, stalled, and fell away beneath us in a spin."

 

During the last ten days of July, there was a noticeable beefing up of the German defences in the face of our attacks. King and I flew twice on 22 July, taking many photographs of new enemy trenches and wire in the area of Le Sars and Courcelette.

Rain and low cloud swept in on 23 July, frustrating our further efforts. Major Ross-Hume again insisted on sending up a machine that morning. Within half an hour of taking off into the dense cloud, the thing hit a hillside several miles away. Both pilot and observer merged miraculously unhurt, but the observer, a young officer recently arrived from the Manchesters, was so shaken by his experience that he has requested to return to the trenches.

We had good fortune on 24 and 25 July. On both days we photographed enemy defences and returned unscathed with many good plates.

On 26 July, we conducted a reconnaissance of roads and rail lines east and north of Martinpuich. The clouds were too low for good photographic work to be done, so King made extensive sketches and notes. Archie was merely sporadic and thoughts of eggs and bacon were filling my head when suddenly two rounds smacked into the side of the nacelle, only inches from my elbow. I turned about as quickly as the Fee would allow. A Hun biplane, likely a Halberstadt, flashed overhead. Two Fokkers passed beneath. King instantly threw his notebook to the floor and readied his forward Lewis gun. We turned about several times. The Germans showed themselves only for a second here and a second there. I reversed our turn from right to left. A Fokker appeared above us and to the left. I brought our machine up behind it and King’s Lewis gun began barking out in short, five-round bursts. A thin stream of smoke or vapour began to trail from the Hun machine. Looking all about, we saw no other HA. The damaged Fokker was heading home and we were able to catch up with it. King gave it a long burst. The Hun zoomed vertical, stalled, and fell away beneath us in a spin. We lost sight of it.

On our return to Le Hameau, we reported the Fokker as falling out of control. It certainly seems that way to us. Unfortunately, we had no witness and Wing modified our claim to “driven down”. I have at least the satisfaction of thinking that this is the second Hun that King and I have accounted for. We made a point of heading into the village for a celebratory tea that afternoon.

The rain returned and continued through the first day of the new month.

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