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DiD IV Campaign - Flight reports & Player instructions

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Obflugm Edward Reimann



5 confirmed victories (4 unconfirmed)


5th March to 10th March 1917


Edward climbed out of the cab which had brought him from the train station to the family home on Stephanstrasse in the centre of Otterndorf. The journey had been a long one travelling through the night and involving several train changes from Ostend, through Brussels to Dortmund and then on to Otterndorf. He'd said quick farewells to the other pilots and had left hastily. Leutnant Wald hadn't even said goodbye, he'd simply stayed in his office. 'Good riddance!' Edward had thought as he left with his bags. He managed some fleeting moments of sleep on the trains although they remained busy despite it being the middle of the night. There were servicemen everywhere, nurses too, although Edward was too tired to pay them much attention.


He knocked at the door to his mother's house, after a moment the door opened. His mother, now 50, still had the radiance of her youth. She smiled broadly as she saw her son on the step. "Eddie! She hugged her son warmly and despite Edward cringing at sound of 'Eddie', responded in kind.


"Why didn't you write and say you were coming?" his mother reproached him. "It's a long story mother, I'll tell you in due course" responded Edward. "Right now I'm shattered and in need of a bath!" Edward continued.


Edward went straight to his old room and threw his bags on the floor and himself on the bed. His mother had kept his room spotless despite it being nearly two years since his last visit. After a rest he went into the kitchen where his mother was busy preparing dinner. "If I'd known you were coming Edward I'd have got more in. For now I do hope a Käsespätzle will suffice!" said his mother. "It will be fine mother" responded Edward.


"Where is Eva?" Edward asked. Eva was his older sister, 3 years his elder. "She is in Bochum meine leibe" replied his mother. "Bochum? Why would she be there?" Edward queried. "She is at the teaching hospital there. She's been training as a nurse for the last three months now" replied Edward's mother.




The Käsespätzle was wonderful and Edward enjoyed sitting at the family table once more. After dinner he went for a walk through Otterndorf. Not much had changed other than there being a preponderance of navy personnel about. He spotted the Rathaus and his old school. On the Marktstrasse, he stopped at many of the shop windows. Feldmann the Tailor was still there, as was the dairy. Next door, the bakery was busy and smelt wonderful. As he looked in the bakery window at the beautiful kuchen, a soft feminine voice spoke from behind him. "Edward? Is that you?"



Edward turned around and saw the owner of the voice. Inge Muller had known Edward since childhood and had lived opposite for many years. Her mother had died a few years ago and Inge lived at home with her father who was a local businessman. Inge was beautiful, beautiful to Edward anyway and seeing her now brought back many memories.


"Inge! How wonderful to see you!" Edward exclaimed.


To be continued.....

Edited by AlbertTross

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Posted (edited)

Inge and Edward sat in a fairly dark recess of the Cafe Zaubernuß. The Zaubernuß had been there for many years although it had been some time since Edward has frequented it. As to why the cafe was so named was obvious on first entering. The piquant citrus smell of witch-hazel was obvious from the moment one set foot in the door. A small bundle of the flowers was to be found on each table and was a way of keeping the overpowering stench of cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke at bay. Edward had suggested a drink to Inge as a way of spending some time together and reminiscing.




"So what are you upto these days Inge? Are you still with your dad?" asked Edward.


"No Edward, I've been a full-time nurse for nearly two years now. I have three days leave and came home to see him" replied Inge.


"How is you're father by the way? Well I hope." Edward continued.


"He is well. He's looking rather old now but otherwise he's healthy." stated Inge.


"I'm assuming you are in the navy looking at your uniform Edward" said Inge.


"I'm a naval pilot Inge. I'm home on leave myself and then I'm transferring to a new unit." explained Edward.


"Ahh you are a pilot! How wonderful...and dangerous. You look very smart anyway." said Inge.


"You look beautiful Inge" said Edward, almost unintentionally, certainly unplanned, but utterly from the heart too.


Inge flushed red but smiled nonetheless, "I'm far from beautiful at the moment Edward. It's been a very hard few months and I'm exhausted". explained Inge.


"Where are you based?" asked Edward.


"At the military hospital in Brussels" replied Inge.


The pair continued to talk, Edward ordered another round and the afternoon turned into the evening.


"Can I see you tomorrow Inge?" asked Edward. "I'd like that very much Edward" replied Inge.


With that the pair went home and Edward slept like a log in his own bed.


The next day Edward's mother woke him with a hot coffee. "Danke Mutter" said Edward as he came to. She also handed him a telegram. It was stamped by a navy stamp. Edward teared it open and read......


To Obflugm Edward Reimann stop


Transfer has now been authorised stop


Report to Oberleutnant Gotthard Sachsenberg at Marine Feld Jasta I at Nieuwmunster stop


No later than 1700 hours on 10th March 1917 stop.


Edward felt relief, it was now official and he had the green light to start a new chapter of his life. For now though, he had a date to keep.


Edward met Inge as planned and spent the day walking along the many rivers and streams that straddled the area around Otterndorf.




The weather was fresh but dry and the pair reminisced. "Did you not have a boyfriend Inge? I remember all the boys chased after you when we were younger" asked Edward, only half in jest.


"Nothing serious Edward and I'm not one for dalliance." replied Inge.


"I apologise Inge I wasn't suggesting for one instant that you were that type." spurted Edward wishing for all the world he'd kept his big mouth shut.


Inge laughed "Stop worrying so Edward, I know what you meant.".


The pair continued and went for a meal at the Cafe Zaubernuß. At the end of a glorious day, Edward walked Inge home. As they reached Inge's door, she turned and faced Edward. The pair came together and embraced warmly.


"Can I see you tomorrow Inge?" asked Edward. "I'm accompanying my father into Hamburg tomorrow morning Edward." replied⁴ Inge.


Edward looked rather crestfallen...Inge laughed again, that disarming and warming laugh, "I shall be back in the afternoon so can meet you tomorrow evening Edward". said Inge.


"Wonderful! I can't think of much else at the moment Inge....to be honest" stated Edward. Inge smiled warmly again....."me neither" she almost whispered as she kissed him again and went inside.


The following day, Edward sorted his travel arrangements out for the trip back to Flanders on the 10th. If all went to plan he'd be there by 4pm. In the evening he and Inge spent more time together. A meal at the Gasthaus zur Schleuse. She was leaving in the morning to return to Brussels. "Promise you will write Edward!" stated Inge as they parted that night. Embracing warmly again, Edward replied "of course I will Inge and given the chance I'll come and see you in Brussels".




Inge smiled and after a final embrace, they then parted.


Edward went into Hamburg himself on the 9th, and attended to some business on behalf of his mother. Including a meeting with the bank as his mother needed additional funds to attend to several jobs around the family home. He had a lavish meal that evening with his mother and left early on the morning of the 10th.


The trip back to Flanders, though long and tiring, went quickly enough and Edward had plenty of time to think about the new adventures ahead, both as a pilot and with Inge.


He finally reached the home field of MFJI at about 4.20pm. The daylight was beginning to darken as he climbed out of the lorry and grabbed his baggage. He took a deep breath and looked out across the airfield.....and then frowned as he looked upon the long line of aircraft on the edge of the field....."Halberstadts?!?" He said to himself. Finally he went into the office.

Edited by AlbertTross

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Obflugm Edward Reimann 

Marine Feld Jasta I 


5 confirmed victories (5 unconfirmed)


10th March to 20th March 1917


Edward was introduced to the rest of MFJI by Oberleutnant Saschenberg, following an introductory chat in Saschenberg's office. Although it was all very friendly, Edward had asked about the Halberstadts out on the field. Saschenberg had explained that the jasta had received several Albatros DIII aircraft at the end of February, only for them to be withdrawn the next week due to 'structural issues'. The only aircraft available in numbers as replacement were the Halberstadt DIII's.




A pleasant evening in the kasino on the 10th was followed by Edward's first sortie on the 11th. Saschenberg himself led a flight out to the Ypres salient. They were all but there when tracers flew passed Edward's propeller. He turned instinctively and saw several enemy Triplanes zooming in.




Despite his relative inexperience in the Halberstadt (he had roughly two hours in the old DII type) he gradually mastered one of the enemy aircraft and blasted him mercilessly. Another burst had the englischer spiralling down into the ground.




Edward then saw another Triplane attacking Saschenberg. He worked furiously to get a shot in and eventually managed a few hits which drew Saschenberg's attacker away. Edward saw and seized his chance, he turned across the Triplane and fired long and hard into the foe. More hits and the enemy aircraft smashed into the ground.




Saschenberg confirmed both Triplanes for Edward and privately thanked him for saving his bacon.


The 12th was a washout and Edward spent time getting to know his fellow pilots.


The 13th was a quiet affair as Edward led a trio on a jaunt over to the Nieuwpoort lines. No encounters and nothing to report was the order of the day. The same could be said on the 14th as the same trio defended a Drachen balloon on the Passchendaele ridge.


The 15th was following a similar trait until Edward saw flak bursts ahead, out towards the lines. He went to investigate and was rewarded with a formation of enemy Caudrons coming across the front.



He signalled to attack and went after the lead aircraft. He came up behind ad the Caudron desperately tried to give the gunner a shot. Edward had other ideas however and fired a long accurate burst into the right engine which spluttered and steamed at first but then burst into flames. The enemy pilot fought hard to retain control of the now unbalanced and burning Caudron but ended up spiralling into the ground near the German lines.




The other Caudrons had tried to scarper but Edward went after one of them. His pursuit took him over the lines and he hammered into the Caudron as he drew near. More hits had him in flames and plummeting down into the ground.




Edward found himself alone and made his own way back to Nieuwmunster where he landed safely some little while later. One of Edward's victories was confirmed, the other, not a huge surprise to Edward, was rejected ad it had been unseen and fell on the enemy side of the lines.


The 16th involved a defensive flight of the railyards of Roulers which was without incident.


The 17th had the jasta up in force over Ypres and their patience was rewarded when a flight of ponderous BE2's appeared unescorted. Edward went after one and made short work of the poor englischers. Several good bursts had the engine and fuselage in flames and the aircraft plunging into the depths.



He then went after another two seater and again, despite the desperate attempts to evade, the outcome was the same. A burning BE plunging down into the ground near the Ypres salient.




Saschenberg confirmed both of Edward's BE's bringing his total to 9 confirmed victories.


The 18th was meant to be a sortie down towards Passchendaele again but after several minutes, Edward's windscreen was suddenly covered in oily grease as his engine spluttered and stopped. Thankfully he was able to land safely in an adjacent field. He was left to flounder his way out of the muddy quagmire and back to the airfield, leaving the Halberstadt to the mechanics.


On the 19th, Edward was again leading a flight towards the front lines north of Ypres when a flurry of bullets ripped into his wing. He turned to face his foe and saw a trio of Nieuports nearby. His sturdy Halberstadt was still airworthy and eventually got the better of one of the Nieuports although every so often he could hear the rat-a-tat-tat of enemy Lewis guns. He had been dragged lower and lower by the turning Nieuport but got some hits in. Another flurry and the enemy lurched over and spiralled into the ground.




Despite it being on the German side of the lines, the claim was rejected however. Edward's score remained 9.


The 20th was washed out once more.




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Wow! I'm really impressed by Edward's streak of victories. It has not taken him long to become the star of MFJ 1. For my part, I have been working from home on my laptop rather than from my office and apartment in town where my WOFF computer sits. I'll be moving it home in a week or two because health reasons will see me spending less time at the office. I'll have a lot of catching up to do. In the meanwhile, keep Edward's skin intact. Those Albatri will be on their way to you before long.


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Posted (edited)

Got some catching up to do...

Journal of FLt Douglas Bell-Gordon, RNAS

Part 15


"Flames immediately began to pour from the engine of the Albatros and I watched it, a black machine with a white band around its fuselage, as it fell in flames directly over the enemy aerodrome"


12 March 1917. Dunkirk.

So with the beginning of March I was off to England, boarding HMS Llewellyn in Dunkirk for the quick dash across the Channel. The German Navy had been active during the preceding night and the ship’s complement were clearly on alert. We landed at Dover without incident, and from there the train delivered me to Victoria Station in the heart of London.

What a city! My past acquaintance with the place was so brief and so full of preparations for transfer to France that only now did I have a chance to take it all in. I headed out to the street to flag a taxi for Holt & Co to cash a cheque and exchange francs for sterling, then bring me to my hotel on Basil Street.

First priority was a long bath and a smoke, all accompanied by a stiff whisky. My hotel is a bit of a walk from everything. Wandered north through Hyde Park and took tea at the marvellous Maison Lyons by Marble Arch. Shopped on Oxford Street and ended my marathon by following Regent Street to the famous Piccadilly Circus. It was growing dark by then and the place wasn’t all it’s made out to be because of the blackout rules. Ran into Pete Maguire from Halifax. He’s over here with the artillery. We enjoyed dinner at the Regent Palace and he suggested that I take in the new show “Maid of the Mountains” at Daly’s. I picked up a ticket on my way home.

Took in the Natural History Museum next morning. Met Pete for lunch and then went to see Buckingham Palace. Light dinner at the Trocadero and from there by taxi to Daly’s Theatre by Leicester Square.

Played the tourist for several more days – British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and saw “Zig-Zag” with George Robey at the Hippodrome. Joined a small group of Canadian officers for a trip to the Turkish Bath at the Auto Club. Then a most pleasant surprise – the clerk at my hotel informed me of a letter that had been left for me in my absence. It was a dinner invitation from the mother of George Simpson.

On the evening of Friday, 9 March, I caught a cab up to Regent’s Park. I’d always understood that Simpson lived in a posh area, but nothing prepared me for the immaculate white, pillared Georgian frontage of Cumberland Terrace. Before I even reached the door of number 29, it was opened by a liveried butler who took my cap, gloves, and walking-out stick (with which I had never before actually walked out). To my surprise, I was met by a Mr Goodman Levy and moments later joined by Simpson’s mother, who introduced herself as Alice. The story tumbled out over sherry. Simpson’s parents were English but had moved to Australia more than thirty years before. Simpson himself was born in Melbourne. They returned to England when Simpson and his brother Rolfe were boys. Simpson’s father taught art but had died six years ago. Goodman Levy was a trusted family friend, also from Australia. Goodman and Simpson’s father were old school chums in Melbourne. Goodman and his brother had a prosperous importing and exporting business and he was something of a wine merchant. When Simpson’s father died, he left money to Goodman Levy, who had promised to take care of Alice. And take care he did! The flat at Cumberland Terrace was immense and Mrs Simpson had two rooms of her own and the run of the place. It was all very proper, of course, and a very comfortable situation for Alice.

More visitors arrived – two lovely girls named Dorothy and Patricia. Dorothy is a distant cousin to Simpson. She and Patricia are working as nurses at Saint Thomases’ Hospital. A splendid dinner followed. I related as much as I could comfortably about our experiences with the Royal Naval Air Service, and about George Simpson. After dinner, Dorothy gave me a package. She invited me to open it when I returned to my hotel and said it contained several items that George had requested her to find for me.

My return to France was delayed by problems with the ship on which I was to sail. Finally, I made it to Dunkirk. There the disembarkation officer helped me to find a telephone to arrange a drive back to Furnes. I had a long and serious chat with D’Albiac, our Records Officer, who had not received my telegram about the delay in sailing. Absolution received, I settled into a café to await a tender.


13 March 1917. Furnes, Belgium.

We had a celebratory dinner in La Panne in honour of – wait for it – my old chum Huntington. Huntington has achieved ten Huns to his credit and been awarded the DSC. There is even talk of making him a flight commander. Huntington gave a stirring speech at the end of dinner, in which he thanked all of us for our support and vowed to continue taking the fight to the enemy. He even managed to work his beloved Eliza into the conversation, saying that decorations meant nothing to him – all he wants to do is make her proud of him. It seems that his last three claims have all been unwitnessed. Once the patrol breaks up and the pilots head home on their own, Huntington goes off to do battle with the enemy. Increasingly, his claims from these solitary quests go unquestioned. In the atmosphere of the wardroom, one does not question the integrity of one’s fellow officer. So there’s nothing for it except to smile and nod when Huntington is praised. Infuriatingly, he placed a hand on my shoulder whilst we were finishing the port and said, “Terribly sorry to have taken advantage of your leave to surpass your score, old boy.”

Simpson and I have taken Reggie Soar into our plot. We have decided to head for La Panne on our first dud day and spend the afternoon putting it all together. I will share the contents of Dorothy’s package at that time.


21 March 1917. Furnes, Belgium.

A busy week back with the squadron. Flew twice on the 14th, encountering a large group of Albatri whilst on a close offensive patrol near the coast. I managed to drive one down but did not see it hit the ground.

On 15 March, we were to attack the rail yard south of Roulers, but as we crossed the lines at 11,000 feet we were attacked by a large formation of Halberstadt scouts. Our Tripes handle these machines rather comfortably. After twisting about the sky for a couple of minutes, the fight spread out and I spotted one of the brown Halberstadts turning behind a Triplane. I dropped in behind the Hun and gave it a long burst. The HA immediately began to trail black smoke, and then a bright tongue of orange flame snapped back from the cockpit. I silently hoped that I hit the pilot before the fire erupted. This victory over the Hun, however, was hard to miss and Simpson was able to confirm its fall. My score was up to eight. With the exception of Huntington, we all pretend not to count our scores. But dammit, I can’t help treating it as a competition.

I added another Halberstadt to my bag on 18 March. A mixed group of Halberstadts and Albatri engaged us as we were climbing over our lines and preparing for another trip back to Roulers. This time I chased the HA down to nearly treetop level before finishing him off. Huntington, however, claimed another Halberstadt that morning – this one beyond question, so he had eleven to his credit and I had nine.

Then on 19 March we were off to attack the Hun aerodrome at Ghistelles, which the Flemish call Gistel. We approached over the sea and turned inland for the attack. We were in squadron strength and our other flight was already beating up the aerodrome when a very large group of Albatri decided to interrupt the proceedings. We met several of them head on and tried to turn behind them. The Huns were faster and zoomed into high turns. One of them punched a few holes in my wings, but this time I was able to snap the Sopwith into a left turn and catch the HA as it began another climb. My rounds hit all about the pilot and I saw the enemy machine tumble out of control.

A second HA passed in front of me, diving right-to-left. I was behind him in an instant and firing. Flames immediately began to pour from the engine of the Albatros and I watched it, a black machine with a white band around its fuselage, as it fell in flames directly over the enemy aerodrome. I claimed both Albatri, but the first was accepted only as driven down. Several of the fellows had seen my flamer over the aerodrome, so it was confirmed. Number ten at last!

Edited by Raine
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Journal of FLt Douglas Bell-Gordon, RNAS

Part 16



24 March 1917. Furnes, Belgium.

We’ve had a week of grey skies and cold drizzle, relieved only by periods of freezing rain and wet snow. Patrols have been uneventful. Simpson has been made a flight commander and so has Huntington. The latter claimed a Roland yesterday and it was marked up as his eleventh.

The talk in the wardroom centres on the many young ladies of London who have taken up correspondence with the chaps ever since Galbraith was drafted back to a seaplane squadron that in England a few months ago. Galbraith was a fellow Canadian whose sister was a Red Cross nurse at a hospital in London and who had undertaken to have her colleagues write to lonely aviators. Every few days Reggie Soar received a letter from Grace. Roderick McDonald is corresponding with Dolly. Crundall has been sent letters from Margaret. And I have begun a mild correspondence with a girl named Alice. So this afternoon, Reggie was enjoying a glass of brandy and a pipe whilst reading to us a poem written by his Grace – a poem about, of all things, flying!

Raised up from English soil and blessed with English sun,

He rises from the earth to stalk the frightful Hun,

Girded not with armour but canvas wings and wires

He jousts with England’s foes above France’s lofty spires!


Hoots of laughter. Jenners-Parson grabbed the letter from Reggie’s hand and set it alight. Reggie tried to get it back and in the process dropped it onto one of the overstuffed armchairs. Disaster was narrowly averted by throwing the flaming chair outside into the rain just in time to splash mud over Prince Alexander of Teck, who was arriving with Squadron Commander Bromet for tea!

Huntington sat apart from us all this time and, once tea was over and the higher-ups had left us alone, he came over to give us a dressing-down. We were bloody fools and what we had done was dangerous, he said. Furthermore, we were unkind to Reggie who was lucky enough to have someone who cared for him enough to write letters. As a flight commander, he would not put up with such behaviour. “You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves,” he told us, “and especially you as a flight commander, Simpson.” And then he added, “Galbraith should have known better than to start this nonsense.”

“Has a girl written you, Huntington?” It was Simpson who asked.

“You know full well that I have my Eliza,” Huntington replied. “No need of anyone else.”

“Strange. I don’t recall you ever getting letters from Eliza.”

Huntington’s face pinched. “In the first place, Simpson, it’s none of your bloody business. Eliza sends her post along with letters from my parents. She is very close with the family. Should be part of it one day, I suppose.”

I couldn’t help joining in. “Are you sure this Eliza is not a cousin, or perhaps a hideous sister you’ve forgotten about?”

“You disgust me, Douglas, you really do. Of course, one should probably expect that sort of thinking from a colonial homesteader, I suppose.”

As luck would have it, I was seated next to Roddy McDonald. Roddy hailed from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where his family had farmed a homestead for several generations since being evicted from the Highlands to make room for deer.

“Mixed up as usual, Huntington,” I said. “It’s Roddy here who is the colonial homesteader. I’m the colonial hockey player and Navy brat. Then there’s Simpson. He’s the colonial sheep shagger from down under. And Hervey, he’s the colonial peas souper from Québec. Bob Little over there is another colonial sheep botherer. Hell, as if being Australian is not bad enough, his old man comes from Canada. Then of course there’s Grange over in the corner. He’s a Yank, so he only wishes he were a colonial. You’re outnumbered by us colonials, old boy.”

Huntington left in a huff.

That evening I received permission from Squadron Commander Bromet to take dinner in La Panne along with Simpson and Reggie Soar. We’d found a comfortable little estaminet on a side street, well away from the more frequented establishments. The woman who ran the place made a genuinely decent cup of tea, and once we were settled I cleared the centre of our table and laid out my package of tricks.

“My God, a Dorothy bag!” Reggie exclaimed. “Haven’t seen one of those since the Dardanelles.”

“What did you call it?” I asked. Reggie explained that “Dorothy” bags were issued on hospital ships so that the wounded men could store their personal possessions. Mine apparently was a very fine version of what he had seen. “I got it from a nurse. Interestingly, and she was called Dorothy, too.” I gave Simpson a wink. The bag was the package I’d received from Simpson’s cousin Dorothy and her friend Patricia when I had been invited for dinner with Simpson’s parents in London a couple of weeks before. I reached inside and withdrew a small photograph of a young woman.

She was idyllic – languorous eyes, fair hair falling in ringlets, noble cheekbones and a fine, strong nose above perfect lips and delicate chin. The lower part of photograph was gauzy. Perhaps she wore a a thin dress low on the shoulders, but it was barely visible and the suggestion of nakedness was tantalising.

“Meet Apollonia Willing, gentlemen.”

“Who is she? She is topping,” said Reggie.

“Apollonia is Huntington’s new fancy,” I told him.

Simpson was giggling uncontrollably. “Willing? Her name is Willing? Isn’t that a bit transparent?”

“It’s Huntington, man. It will be at least a week before the thought crosses his mind.” I withdrew from the Dorothy bag a small pile of yellow stationary embossed with gold floral finishes in the corners. There were at least a dozen envelopes and as many penny stamps. I then explained the plan. The three of us would collaborate in composing letters to Huntington from Apollonia who, of course, was a figment of fantasy. The photograph belonged to the sister of a nurse who worked with Dorothy and Patricia at Saint Thomases’ Hospital in London. She had planned to send it to her boyfriend at the front but thought it too racy. I had been practising a girlish, loopy script that suited the character. Apollonia would be enthralled at the idea of writing to a gallant bird man. Perhaps we could begin innocently enough and gradually make her letters more suggestive and enticing. We would slip Apollonia’s letter into the post at the squadron office shortly before dinner time. The trick would be intercepting any reply from Huntington before our outgoing mailbags were picked up by the dispatch rider in the morning. To this end, Simpson had volunteered to assist the Records Officer, D’Albiac, in maintaining the squadron war journal. He figured he could offer to censor some letters while working in the office, which would give him easy access to the mailbags.

Reggie asked how we would make the incoming letters appear to have passed through the post. “Take a look at this,” I said, and pulled the final item from the bag. It was a stamped envelope, addressed in a girlish hand to Flight Lieutenant Samuel Huntington. The one-penny stamp was cancelled with a postmark from Torquay dated 21 March 1917.

“It’s perfect,” said Simpson. “How?”

“It’s the sixpence ha’penny solution,” I said. “The outer circle is traced in pencil using the ha’penny and the inner circle using the sixpence. From there it’s just a matter of mastering the lettering. I’ve diluted a bottle of black ink with some distilled water and cigarette ash. If you lightly paint it on with a drop of ink smeared on the end of a pencil and nearly dry, you can do a fairly good job. And if you make a small mistake you can always rub it with your hand and make it look like the post office smeared the cancellation.”

It was time to order a bottle of wine and begin… “Samuel, my dear boy, we have not yet met but I have already heard so much about you!” It would take several more bottles before we were done.


27 March 1917. Auchel, France.

After a period of bad weather the squadron moved again, this time farther south towards Bethune in the Arras region. Our aerodrome is just outside a place called Auchel. It is a rather grimy mining town of squat brick houses and soot-stained buildings that eventually dissipated into the countryside along muddy roads flanked with ancient low farm buildings and middens coming alive with the springtime. Above the town looms two giant mountains of dross called terrils. They have the appearance of great black pyramids standing guard over the countryside. We should have no problem finding our way home here.

I’m in the squadron commander’s bad books since I smashed up a perfectly good triplane during my arrival at Auchel. Got away with only a few bruises.


31 March 1917. Auchel, France.

We are still awaiting our first postal delivery at the new aerodrome. I am billeted with Simpson in a house at the edge of town. The owners are an elderly couple who speak no English. Whether they speak French is still a mystery as they scarcely talk to each other.

I have been over the lines twice since arrival here. By all accounts there are some very keen Huns in the area. Had a scrap yesterday with a formation of Albatri and managed to drive one down. D’Albiac phoned around but no one saw it crash. Today we were sent up to chase off several two seaters in our area. I fired about 200 rounds at long-range at one of them but it got away.

April is upon us and with it rumours of a new push. I suspect we are about to get busy.

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It's been a while. I have moved my main PC back home from the apartment in town where I stayed many nights during the week while working. I'm gradually disconnecting from that whole "work for a living" thing. The previous post is the first of several instalments it will take me to catch up. And the following are the month end statistics for Bell-Gordon.

Flight Lieutenant Douglas Bell-Gordon
8 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service
Auchel, France
Sopwith Triplane
82 missions
56.43 hours
26 claims
10 victories

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Posted (edited)

Excellent tales gents - happy to pop into the DiD IV thread occasionally to see the latest reports. I was particularly immersed in the last two entries from Bell-Gordon’s journal, Raine (right up there in quality with the Capt. Collins adventures from DiD III).

Nice to see Bosta 2’s old haunt at Ghistelles in that pic - a good reminder that I should one of these days revisit my casual campaigns in WoFF that have been in storage for a couple of years.  And that Huntington fellow - very entertaining indeed, the airman’s version of Kenneth Grahame’s Mr. Toad. I’m sure he will enjoy corresponding with Apollonia Willing. :cool:

Cheers all.

Edited by VonS
Fixed typos.

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Posted (edited)

Von S – Thank you for your kind words. It's wonderful to see you dropping in on the campaign.

I am well behind and trying to catch up. My PC that I use for WOFF used to be at the apartment in town that was part of my company office. I would stay in town during the week when I had early morning appointments as we live in the country about an hour away. But because of my condition (ALS/MND), it's now easier for me to work from home. So I have set up an office in our guest apartment attached to the house. The only problem is that I have a very large window at my back and the light interferes with my track IR until sunset. There were no blinds on that window as we are surrounded by woods and wonderfully private. Now I've ordered blinds and am waiting to have them installed. I have about a month of catching up to do. Anyway, here is another instalment that brings Bell-Gordon's story to within a week of where my actual flying has taken him. More to follow later, I hope…




Journal of FLt Douglas Bell-Gordon, RNAS

Part 17

10 April 1917. Auchel, France.


"An Albatros appeared just ahead and below. The fuselage and tail of the machine was entirely washed over with red paint."


So much to write about. April began with rain and sleet. On the first day of the month, I went into the town with Crundall. We have arranged with the mining company for access to their well-appointed bathhouse, so we soaked ourselves for an hour and then retired to a café for omelettes and chips. I’m not sure what magic these French women perform when they crack an egg, but the omelettes here are unforgettable. The one that morning had onions and scraps of pork mixed in with the egg.

We had just returned and settled into the wardroom for a rainy afternoon when the post finally arrived. The despatch rider left everything in the squadron office. Fortunately, Simpson was working on the journal there and immediately volunteered to sort the letters – one pile for the chiefs and petty officers, another for the lower deck, and a third for the wardroom. With his body between D’Albiac and the counter he was able to slip from his pocket a scented yellow envelope and place it in the middle of the wardroom pile.

Later in the wardroom, Rob Little spread the post on the bar and called out the names of the addressees. When he said, “Huntington”, Huntington sat bolt upright in his armchair by the fire. Rob was examining the envelope. “A bit of a sweet pong on this one, by God! I didn’t think your Eliza would wear a scent quite so…forthcoming.” Huntington rushed to the bar. He snatched the envelope and examined it.

“Come on, lad,” said Reggie Soar. “Read it aloud.”

Huntington tore open the envelope. He noticed and began to remove the photograph of our creation, Miss Apollonia Willing. But after a momentary glance he tucked it back inside. He then unbuttoned his tunic and slipped the letter into an inside pocket. Reggie protested loudly and others took up the cry.

Huntington protested. “It’s from one of those trollops that Galbraith persuaded to write you lot. I shall likely consign it to the stove. Regardless, a gentleman does not share letters from the opposite sex as wardroom entertainment.” He got up and headed directly to the flight commanders’ cabin.

The following morning, 2 April, dawned clear and frosty. The original plan was to conduct a line patrol from Lens down to Arras. It was becoming clear to all of us that the impending push was directed at the high ground near Vimy, west and south of Lens. Then, just before seven in the morning, Huntington informed us that enemy two-seaters were approaching the lines near Lens and we were to drive them off. Our machines were rolled from their sheds and run up. We dressed quickly. I could not find my scarf and tied my pyjama trousers around my neck to keep the wind from penetrating the flying coat. Huntington made a point of saying I look like a bloody gypsy. We had only a minute to prepare. Huntington would lead and my machine would carry the single streamer of the flight second in command. He wanted me above and behind the main formation. We refer to this as the “sacrificial lamb” position. Then we took off.

After gaining height over Houdain, we headed for the lines at 6000 feet and climbing. A few desultory Archie bursts drew our attention to a pair of two-seaters heading south from La Bassée. Huntington went straight for them without trying to get the sun at our backs. The Huns spotted us when we were still two miles off and put their noses down and ran for home. We followed them as far as the other side of Lens but gave up the chase when they drew us too low and the Hun Archie began paying us their compliments.

As we climbed back westward, Hervey waggled his wings and surged forward to get Huntington’s attention. The formation turned to port and inclined towards the south. There they were! About six or seven dark specks coming directly out of the sun. We continue to climb towards them and within seconds the sky filled with tracer streams and aircraft. The Huns were Albatros vee-strutters, the latest type. More troubling was that they were all somewhat red. We had learned that this was the colour scheme of Jasta 11, a club of particularly keen Hun pilots led by a baron who is a bit of a star turn.

I climbed sharply and banked hard to starboard, looking about. Two Huns were below and circling with a pair of Tripes. Two are three more were off to my port side. Then streamers of smoke flashed past my head. There was a Hun in my blind spot. This time I rolled sharply left and then zoomed. An Albatros appeared just ahead and below. The fuselage and tail of the machine was entirely washed over with red paint. Even the black crosses were covered, although I could make out the faint outline of a cross on the tail. There was time for a quick burst. The Vickers popped away for a couple of seconds and rounds hit the fuselage of the Hun machine. Then the all-red Hun did an S-turn below me. For several seconds he seemed gone. Then once more rounds were snapping past my head. I pulled away in a climbing turn. By the time I turned about the sky was empty and the red Hun was gone.

The next few days were busy but uneventful. The gunfire along our sector of the front smashed at the enemy lines around Vimy, an unceasing and stomach-turning assault of noise. Above Vimy, our machines were everywhere. Our task was to patrol just over the enemy lines. The Germans dared not approach. We flew, we searched the sky, we froze, and we went home.

Yesterday, 9 April, the storm broke. Our own Canadian Corps, four divisions strong and with British divisions on either flank, swarmed forward over the churned-up mud and wire of Vimy Ridge. At the south end of the ridge, our boys advanced more than 4000 yards and seized their objectives around Thélus. The central spine of the ridge fell by midday and from high above we could see the Huns staggering eastward, away from the fight. Only at the north end of the ridge did the enemy line hold.

That day we patrolled three times and twice ran into desperate attacks by Albatros scouts. On my third patrol we met our old friends from Jasta 11 once again. They were good, these Huns, and I threw my poor Tripe all about the sky while avoiding their fire. Suddenly I heard a sharp crack and knew that something was seriously wrong with my aeroplane. The starboard upper wing showed a concerning amount of flexion and the ailerons scarcely responded. I throttled back and headed west, praying all the while that the wing would remain part of the machine until I could get down. Luckily, none of the Albatri decided to follow. I found a field just behind our lines and settled down into it. At least, that was the plan. But just before touching down the ailerons decided not to respond at all, and the port wings dropped and hit the half-frozen earth. My Tripe cartwheeled across the field and, somewhere before it settled into a ditch and crumpled itself into a ball, I was ejected and landed on an embankment. I have never been so winded or bruised. Nothing, however, is broken. Squadron Commander Bromet has given me a day off. Meanwhile, Huntington claimed two Huns from the scrap. One was almost certainly Crundall’s. I had seen Crundall chasing it and shortly thereafter saw the German – yellow with a red nose – spinning earthward. Huntington asserted that the Hun levelled out and he dived on its tail and finished the fellow off. No one wants to say anything but there are several of us looking sideways at Huntington.

After dinner, Simpson got hold of Reggie and me and insisted on walking to town so he could buy us a bottle of wine. He would say nothing more until we were safely ensconced in Madame Girouard’s estaminet in Auchel. There he produced his secret – a letter in Huntington’s hand addressed to Miss Apollonia Willing in Torquay. He had successfully intercepted the outgoing mail. The wine was poured and he read it aloud.

“Dear Apollonia,

“I pray that I am not too forward in addressing you by your Christian name (is Apollonia truly a Christian name?) when we scarcely know one another. Yet I have read your letter so many times since it arrived yesterday and feel that we are destined to become good friends. Lord knows that I need some good friends. You should see the lot that I am saddled with here. They are an uncouth mob. More than half of them are Canadians and Australians and are still walking about with their mouths open at the wonders of a civilised world away from the prairie or the outback. Still others are barely above the most common of working men. They are unschooled and unsophisticated with few exceptions. One can simply not have an intelligent conversation. And as their commander, one must bear responsibility for their sad lives. I think only that I have perhaps the opportunity to leave them better persons than they were when they came to the Navy.

“You said that you were told that I had enjoyed some success here. One shrinks from revelling in success when success means killing another human being. The beastly Huns, I tell myself, are scarcely human. It is a story that eases the soul. I have lost count of how many Huns I have bagged, but the squadron commander tells me it is somewhat more than twenty. Perhaps you have heard of Albert Ball. He is a pilot of the Royal Flying Corps and has downed thirty Huns. But Ball is back in England, so perhaps I have a chance to catch him or, who knows?

“Thank you for sending me your photograph. I shall try to reciprocate if I can find an officer here able to use a camera. You asked me if I was fond of a girl. Until this week, I devoted all my energy to fighting our enemy and have never thought of pursuing any woman. Now I must confess, Apollonia, that I keep your picture hidden near my bedside and wonder nightly whether one day we might meet. Do not spare a thought that you could be a distraction for me in the air. My devotion to my duty is unshakeable. But put my feet on the ground? Ah, now I find my thoughts turning to you and to the sentiments you shared with me.

“Do you like poetry? I am very fond of Shelley and Yeats. Please share with me all your likes and dislikes. For my part, I will dedicate all my efforts to you.

“Your devoted airmen,

“Samuel Huntington.”

Simpson put the letter down on the table. “Well, chaps, that’s the end of Eliza it seems.” We were laughing hysterically, although I suspect we all felt a slight tingling of guilt.

Edited by Raine
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