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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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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.”

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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.

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Something like this


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

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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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