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  1. Thank you Lou. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and thrives in the new year
  2. 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. 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. 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. 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.
  3. Maeran's Album

    Edward A. Le Mesurier
  4. 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. ‐-------------------- 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.” ------------------- 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. 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.
  5. 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
  6. slow slide

    I'm taking a lot more Archie fire than before. I normally get more altitude than the mission asks for. Enemy aircraft aren't much of a problem. Now that they won't chase you home you have an easy escape from them.
  7. 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.
  8. “When that April with his showers shoot...” There hadn’t been much flying for 2 squadron in April 1916 as the heavy weather prevented any useful war work. A break in the rains led to a flurry of delayed jobs for the pilots and observers. Le Mesurier's BE2c pottered over the lines. The pilot scanning the sky for danger while his observer, Lieutenant May was watching for the bursts of earth that would show how close their artillery gun was to the target – a German artillery position. Le Mesurier was looking for Eindekkers in particular. He had only ever seen one at a distance personally, but they had been shooting down allied aeroplanes and so Edward wondered if he could hold out against one if it appeared. Something Le Mesurier did not consider a threat was the bursts of black anti-aircraft fire that trailed behind the biplane like a lingering odour. Archie had been a constant presence since he had arrived and now he considered the bursts to be a waste of the enemy's time and resources. There was a flash and a deafening KRUMP as a shell burst close by. May's head jerked as if it had hit something and the observer folded back into the cockpit in a slump. There was a gash in the side of his brown leather flying helmet and a shock of red. There was a smell of petrol in the cockpit now and a definite change in the pitch of the RAF engine. The arty spot was definitely over. Le Mesurier swept the BE2 to the right in a soaring bank and put her nose down to the British side of the lines. The Quirk was slow and steady, but if the pilot had the sheer will, then she could perform a few tricks. Safely beyond the reach of Archie, Le Mesurier looked at his situation. May was unconscious at least and there was a lot of blood on the side of his flying helmet, and splattered about the cockpit generally. The petrol smell was frightening. Le Mesurier cut the throttle and turned off the magnetos to avoid fire. Now the Quirk was too low to glide far and they were still in the artillery blighted land behind the lines. There was a wide road that was unoccupied by troops, so that was the best option. The landing was good. The BE2 was good at slow flight and landed on the cobbles before shakily stumbling to the grass verge and a rest. Unbuckling his seat belt, Edward reached forward to his stricken observer. “May? May? Are you alright?” Lt May's face furrowed under the blood and whale grease. “Bloody hell!” he swore, his words slurred. “What happened?” “Looks like Archie gave you a good slap,” le Mesurier replied as he looked May over. May stared at the blood splatter. “Oh Christ! I’m going to die!” “Not today old chap. You get a lot of blood from a headwind but you are awake and talking. Always a good sign. Can you walk?” “Don’t think so. My legs are jelly.” Le Mesurier got a bracing hold under May’s arms and began to pull him up. “Try if you can. I want us to look like conquering heroes when I get you to the CCS at Barlin.” “Barlin?” May winced. “why there?” “It’s closer than any dressing stations” said Le Mesurier as he looked at the side of the Be2, wondering how best to lift his comrade down. “Plus there will be nurses.” ---------- Situated in school buildings at the centre of Barlin, the CCS was a relatively ordered place. The urgent work had usually already been done by the time the wounded reached the CCS, although the more serious cases might still see the attentions of the surgeons here. Mostly the CCS was a sorting area where patients convalesced in rows of beds before being sent back to the lines, Boulougne or Blighty. The quiet was disturbed with a bang as Le Mesurier kicked the front door open. Lt May was walking with his arm around his pilot's shoulder. The blood had dried now, but it still covered the side of May’s head and was literally splattered across both airmen. Le Mesurier’s brown leather flying coat was undone. The casual observer could see the young officer imagining it flapping dramatically as he moved. “We were hit by anti-aircraft fire,” le Mesurier told the first doctor that he saw. “Lieutenant May here took a hit to the head. I think it was only glancing, but if you would have a look, I should be so grateful. We are from 2 squadron RFC. Is there a telephone so I can report in? I'm Lieutenant Le Mesurier.” As Le Mesurier was waiting to be connected to Hesdigneul, a VAD nurse came into the office. Her beauty was captivating and the adjutant at 2 squadron had to say hello three times before Le Mesurier came to his senses and spoke. “Ah yes, Captain Maitland,” he said, never taking his eyes off the young woman with pale olive skin and piercing dark eyes, “Le Mesurier here. We took a hit from Archie and the fuel line was cut. May took a bang to the head too, but I think he was lucky. The kite is beside the road from Nouvelle-Saint-Vaast to Souchez. I’ve got a guard posted on it, but I’m sure their CO would appreciate us picking it up. Oh, I’m at the CCS at Barlin. Brought Maybin so they could check his bonce. Haha! yes he is. Thick skull. Alright. Yes, I'll wait for a pick up.” When he put the telephone ear phone back on the cradle the nurse, who had turned to look back at him spoke. “I know a Lieutenant Le Mesurier,” she said in an accent that Edward didn’t know, but it sounded exotic. “you are not him.” “I hope he is a nice chap,” Le Mesurier replied. “I should feel aweful if someone was letting the good family name down. I’m Edward, by the way.” “Katherine Antoniadis,” the nurse smiled. Edward was captivated by the way her eyes lit up as she did so. “My Lieutenant Le Mesurier is a nice chap.” She laughed, “so handsome! You are a lot like him.” ---------- Le Mesurier felt honoured. He was sat in the back of the CO's car with Lt May as they returned to Hesdigneul. May had indeed been lucky, with only a glancing blow that had slashed his flying helmet as it flew within grazing distance of his head. The doctor had told him that it was hitting the side of the cockpit that had knocked him out. Now he was wearing a light bandage wrapped around his head that put Le Mesurier in mind of a nightcap. “Thanks for getting me to hospital,” May said. “You spent more time with the nurse than I did. Le Mesurier grinned, “She said I was handsome.” “She said she had a boyfriend.” May pointed out. Le Mesurier ignored him, repeating, “she said I was handsome. She's Greek you know.” "I know! You told me!" -----‐----------------------------- There was a lot of rain in April, wasn’t there? Has the location of screenshot changed with Recon Wars? I can’t find the shots from this mission or the next one.
  9. 27th October 1915 2nd Lieutentant Le Mesurier signed the last of a long stack of requisition forms and dropped them theatrically into a letter box. He looked across the squadron office to the Recording Officer, Captain Maitland, who was typing up a summary of the squadron's activities that day. It was raining again and the afternoon flights had been called off. “That consignment of dope still hasn’t arrived,” Le Mesurier observed. “If it isn’t here by lunchtime I shall take a truck to St Omer myself. How do they expect us to finish off repairs?” Mainland finished the page and released the catch on the typewriter, pulling the report out with a triumphant flourish. “Don’t forget the King's visit,” he told Le Mesurier. “Go first thing in the morning and be very nice to the quartermaster and you might be back in time.” “Good point, Le Mesurier conceded. He stood up and straightened his tunic. “And now I’ll just see if the Old Man will see me.” A look passed across the RO’s face. Whether it was concern or exasperation was unclear. “You want to ask if you can fly again? What did the doctor say?” Le Mesurier wrinkled his nose, “He wants me to build my constitution first. It was only a bout of ‘flu! I should be up there doing my part! Not sitting around here doing...sorry.” “It’s alright,” relied the RO. I'm not an airman myself, but I understand the appeal, compared to office work. You've made a real difference here keeping things running during the push, you know. The thing with the fixing fluid...” “Fixing fluid this time, barbed wire last year,” Le Mesurier waved his hand dismissively. “It isn’t what I expected when I signed up. I left the Engineers to get away from this. The pilots have largely forgotten I can fly. I overhead one describing me as a penguin yesterday.” “Penguin?” “Has wings, can’t fly.” “I hope he doesn’t call the Major that,” Maitland commented. “It would not go down well.” After lunch the next day, the officers and men of 2 squadron were assembled in parade order at the north end of the landing field at Hesdigneul. The reason for this was no secret on the squadron. Indeed it couldn’t be. Preparations for the King’s visit had gone on all morning. General Haig had arranged a specially trained horse, a chestnut mare, to carry the King during the visit. According to the attending grooms, the horse had become accustomed to lying next to a bass drum as the band practised. Everyone agreed that she was a lovely horse. His Majesty arrived by motor car, which stopped at the edge of the aerodrome field and the King mounted the horse with the assistance of General Haig. Haig’s superior, Sir John French was present and tried to help, but the King waved him away. His Majesty, the King rode forward toward the white picket rope that delineated the edge of the ‘parade ground’ that Major Becke had set out. As he approached, the men of the squadron let out a patriotic cheer. The sudden roar startled the mare, who rocketed upwards, tripping on the picket rope as she did so. In a moment the horse fell backwards and onto her rider. Men and officers ran forward. King George seemed curiously calm, Le Mesurier thought. He was wincing from the pain, but did not cry out. “Sergeant,” Le Mesurier called to Butcher, who was standing on the other side of scene. “Get this horse lifted. We need to get his Majesty free.” Men and officers (mainly NCOs actually) worked to free the King from the horse and the slippery mud. They pulled him up and headed for the car. Sir John French hovered over the King without actually doing anything productive. “Your Majesty,” he said, “we must get you back to England.” King George grunted as he was settled into the back seat. “A long journey would seem, ah, unwise, Sir John.” “The Germans, your Majesty. If they found out where you were...” but the King had had enough of French. He looked at General Haig, “tell Sir John to go to hell.” A few days later, Major Becke called Le Mesurier to his office. “There has been a meeting back at St Omer,” Becke told him. “Usual stuff mainly, but the Wing have been instructed to release our ‘superfluous clerk.’ Which would be you, Le Mesurier. You are to return to flying duties immediately. Nothing to strenuous, I’ll have you patrolling over the King’s chateau. Make sure the Hun doesn’t get near him. ‐------------------- And that’s my explanation of where Le Mesurier disappeared to. The account of the King’s accident is put together from 3 different sources. The King was definitely having problems with Sir John at this point. The quote about telling Sir John where to go really happened a few days later while King George was under sedation in the chateau. Maurice Baring records a meeting a few days later in which 1st Wing were told to release a superfluous clerk. It probably wasn’t a resting pilot though. The real reason for my absence has been sickness. If it was in the normal part of the campaign, it would only be a few weeks, rather than the months I had to account for!
  10. Excellent stories so far everyone. Congratulations on the victory Paroni! And welcome to the campaign, Albrecht. I did actually fly this mission to Douai (by ignoring my actual orders, don’t tell the CO). Didn’t see anything myself though... --------------------------------------- There was an air of excitement as the officers of 2 squadron relaxed in their mess after dinner on the 31st of June. “It’s a big raid,” observed Lieutenant Reid as he swished his brandy speculatively. “3 are in and so are 16. That’s pretty much the whole Wing.” “We aren’t all going,” grumbled Clarke, from B flight. “Just C flight with bombs and ‘A’ flying escort.” “Well, we shall need you wireless chaps doing the day job,” Le Mesurier replied from behind a copy of Shaw’s Three Plays for Puritans that Loraine had loaned him. “You should be glad we will be taking the heat off you.” “Lots of heat,” Captain Hearson, who had taken over C flight from Dawes earlier in the month. “We have to do something about the Huns. I’ve been attacked three times this week!” “And got into Comic Cuts* as a result,” Captain Collins laughed. “Nice to be recognised, I must say,” said Lt Smith, who had also been mentioned in the RFC dispatch. The raid was to begin early in the morning and the contingent from 2 squadron took off from Hesdigneul at 5am. They were not to meet up with the pilots from 3 and 16 squadrons, but rather to bomb the airfield and sheds at Douai and Vitry independently. They reached Douai without much more that a smattering of Archie. The bomber pilots had to forgo an observer, because the BE2s could not carry bombs and a second man. The escorts from A did have observers armed with Lewis guns on Strange mounts. The bomber flight consisted of Smith, Leather, Reid and Le Mesurier. A flight flew above and there were some Parasols from 3 squadron who had arrived at the same time. Le Mesurier wished that he had copied Smith’s bombing practice as he tried to line up on the hangars. As it was his bombs went wide and sent up clods of earth in a field nearby. Some of the others’ bombs detonated amongst the sheds and a nice crater was created near the ‘T’ marking that was laid out on the landing field proper. It would probably take an hour to fill in. Le Mesurier turned around and headed for home. He was close to the escort flight and soon was joined by Smith. Leather and Reid seemed to have swung wider, but Le Mesurier was not concerned. They knew what they were doing. After they landed back at Hesdigneul, the atmosphere was a curious mix of elation and disappointment. They had coordinated 3 squadrons to attack a target far into enemy territory but then there had been little damage done. Leather turned up a little while after, but by lunch there was still no sign of Reid. Reid’s dog, Frisquette slunk around the entrance to the hangars and whined. Lt Reid with Frisquette After lunch a sergeant pilot from 3 squadron called McCudden came from Auchel to visit his friend, Butcher**, who was Le Mesurier’s engine fitter. Le Mesurier took the opportunity to ask if 3 squadron had any news. “I’m afraid not, sir,” McCudden answered. “Captain Barratt and Lieutenant Cleaver had to drive off a monoplane. One of those Morraine knock-offs that we are told Fokker are making.” The action was repeated the next day. The bombers stuck closer together this time and Le Mesurier’s bombs hit the landing field in front of a tent hangar. He hoped that he had done some damage. That evenin, an Aviatik sped over the field at Hesdigneul. It dropped a bag with a note in it. The note claimed that Reid was a prisoner having been injured by ainti-aircraft fire in the arm. It was signed by a Leutnant Immelman. The officers of 2 squadron returned to their huts with a heavy heart. Captain Hearson sat stroking Frisquette with a thoughtful expression. *yes, historical notes; I’m not sure that the RFC Communiques were called Comic Cuts this early (the action referenced here is in communique number 2, so very early). I was surprised when I read (in Smith’s diary) how many times 2 squadron machines were attacked by German machines in late July 1915. The period before the Fokker Scourge wasn’t peaceful really. **The future ace McCudden would often visit Butcher and other old acquaintances because he wasn’t treated very well by the officer pilots at his own squadron at this time. Barratt and Cleaver probably fought off Boelke, who was reported by Immelmann as chasing a monoplane (3 squadron flying Parasols). For Immelman’s own account of his first victory, see here. http://www.apw.airwar1.org.uk/immelmann ac.htm
  11. Sebtoombs, there is a very good reason for that. John Le Mesurier is both the inspiration and model for Edward. (The terrible photo is based on one of John in his 20-30s). I have him as a second cousin of the actor. Similar background, but John Le Mesurier is currently 3 years old. ---------------- The riverside idyll lasted as long as June did. With the new month 1 wing RFC moved south to cover a new section of the line. 2 Squadron was now located in the village of Hesdigneul. The field was more open, but the sheds were right next to the nearest civilian houses. Le Mesurier was sure that everyone knew there was a war on and no French grandmother was going going to complain about the noise at any point. It was a few days after the move that Le Mesurier first saw an enemy aircraft. He and an observer called Wade were working on the trench photographs when two white specks caught Edward’s eye. As he watched the shape seemed to become clear to him. Aeroplanes with black crosses! Tapping on Wade’s shoulder and pointing, Le Mesurier turned toward the enemy machines. It turned out that the German machines were flying along lower and slower than Le Mesurier’s Be2c. With a dive he was able to pull ahead and below the lead machine. Wade read his mind and reached for the Lewis gun. This was newly fitted shortly after their move to Hesdigneul and Le Mesurier had been itching to try it out. https://combatace.com/uploads/monthly_2022_01/large.LeMesAviatik.jpg.9e45e6e68c851191dc2afbfbb01793f6.jpg The noise of the Lewis over his head was even louder than Le Mesurier ever expected. His excitement overruled the discomfort however. The great white aeroplane above them turned away and fled east. He considered chasing them, but the other machine was still flying west. “Slow and across the lines?” Edward thought. “Bombs!” The speed difference allowed them to position themselves below the other aircraft. An Aviatik. Wade let fly again and again as the bomber turned for the safety of German territory. Le Mesurier gave a rude gesture and the pilot returned the salute in kind. “Well!” Edward thought as they turned for home. “That went awfully nice.”
  12. Congratulations on the first victory, Sebtoombs. A close call with your B pilot, Paroni. I hope he keeps landing on his own side of the lines from now on. This adventure happened in June. These week/months are fast paced for writing! The train incident really happened. Major Becke (originally a 2 squadron pilot) had been a founding member of 16 squadron and went to command his old squadron only to immediately come to his new ‘old’ squadron’s rescue. ‐------------------- Aerial photography was the heart of the work of 2 squadron. Sometimes there would be an artillery shoot and the pilots that had been there longer than Le Mesurier would talk of something called a contact patrol. Before and after those things could be done a BE2 with a Type A camera would have to go up and carry out ‘the work’. As wing commander, Lt Col Trenchard tried to foster rivalry between 2 and 3 squadron by showing observers photographs taken by their counterparts in the other squadron. The aircrews did talk to one another and knew the booming colonel’s game. They also knew how important the work really was. Between the two squadrons, they had already built up a mosaic map of the front and were dedicated to updating this modern marvel. Ashby cradled the latest plates for this endeavour as Le Mesurier eased the aeroplane down onto the grass at Merville. After the RAF engine was silenced, Le Mesurier noticed that there was no further noise. Clusters of air mechanics were sitting in the hangars they looked at the landed machine expectantly. A group of them came across to the BE2. “What’s going on, Butcher?” Le Mesurier asked the first to arrive. “16 squadrons are getting shelled sir,” the engine fitter replied. “Report came in about an armoured train that had been pulled forward to hit La Gorgue. The Major had everyone go up with bombs and a wireless set to put the fear of God into the Huns.” Le Mesurier looked across the river. La Gorge was very close, just a mile or so upstream. “Ashby, can you drop the plates in for me please?” Then he addressed the men, “get me some petrol and some bombs. I want to be up again as soon as we can load it.” As it was, Le Mesurier did not take off again. Even as the Ack Emmas pulled a trolly with the bombs across to his BE, the first of the aeroplanes began to land. “Where are you going, Le Mesurier?” Major Becke asked. “To help you, sir" Le Mesurier saluted from his cockpit. “Is that help no longer needed?” The Major laughed, “no; we made things too hot for that train to remain in his station.” I hope the arty we called down wrecked his rails after him.” “Very good sir.” Although June was not as hot as it had been in the glorious summer of ’14, it was still early summer and the evening warmth led the officers to the water’s edge. Some dipped their feet into the water as the exploits of the day were retold from different angles. As time went on, the older officers went further back to the ‘glorious history’ of Shiny Two. The first RFC aeroplane across the channel. The early days of reconnaissance during the battle of the Marne. The two pilots who were forced down behind enemy lines and not only escaped across the lines, but brought the British artillery useful information about the German batteries. Le Mesurier listened to all these and pulled on a thoughtful pipe. These were heroes, and here he was just trying to fit in. Of course, to everyone was idling by the river. Outside a hangar, air mechanics were stabilising a BE2 with trestles in order to remove the engine. “Do you think they know about the bodies that floated down that river?” Butcher asked the corporal. “Sarge reported them, Butch. I expect the officers will find out if more are coming soon enough.”
  13. A great start gentlemen! Opening my account of the career of Edward Albert Le Mesurier... Excuse the shoddy photo-editing. I couldn't get the quality to match. :( ‐----------------------- Merville aerodrome looked tiny. The tender had barely turned off the main road before stopping again at a farmhouse some hundred yards down the track. There was scarcely room for a tiny collection of trucks in the motor pool. Beyond the farmhouse, the dark haired young man could see tented hangars and a suggestion of open field beyond, with a row of poplar trees obscuring most of the activity. The officer gave his thanks to the driver and pulled down his valise before entering the shade of the farmhouse door. Farmhouses are not built to be military installations. After making inquiries, the commanding officer of 2 squadron was found in his office, which also served as a bedroom. The new arrival noticed that the Major was packing his own valise. “2nd Lieutenant Le Mesurier, reporting for duty sir,” Edward introduced himself. “I’ve been sent from St Omer.” The CO returned his salute. “Major Webb-Bowen. Do come in.” He gestured at his half packed belongings. “I am heading back for England in the morning, but we will get you settled in first.” There were tents for the other ranks clustered behind the farmhouse, but the officers of 2 squadron were all cooped up in the quadrangular main building that doubled as offices. That night, a dinner was held for Major Bowen and also to celebrate the recent announcement of a VC. “So which one is Moorehouse?” Le Mesurier asked as the officers mingled before dinner. The room was a riot of dress uniforms as everyone had the right to keep the that of their old regiment. Le Mesurier’s own Royal Engineers uniform was immaculate as he had only worn it once before. De Havilland smiled wanly. “No longer with us, I’m afraid. He died of the wounds that earned him that gong. We are going to jolly well celebrate it though!” “Not too much for you, Le Mesurier,” Edward’s new flight commander, Captain Dawes interrupted. “I want you up and practing take-offs and landings in the morning. This field is horrible if you don’t watch your approach.” “Very good sir,” Les Mesurier replied, then he peered across the room. “I say, is that Robert Lorraine, the actor?” De Havilland and Dawes exchanged a surreptitious eye-roll. “Oh yes, but here he is serving as Lieutenant Lorraine. No time for stage talk now; here comes the Old Man with Trenchard.” Merville aerodrome had clearly been selected by someone who had never landed an aeroplane, Le Mesurier grumbled to himself as he circled for another approach. It consisted of an L shaped field, with the farmhouse at the top of the L and the river Lys at the bottom. It was nearly completely surrounded by tall poplar trees. A few had obligingly been cut down on the approach, but their stumps remained a hazard. The next day, Dawes took Le Mesurier up to the lines in. Edward was to look around while Dawes took photographs of the latest German defense works using a box camera. Le Mesurier was surprised at how sudden the front appeared. Bethune was still the nearest large town as it was as they climbed over Merville. Now suddenly he could see bursts of earth erupting as artillery hammered German positions. The ground was a mottle of green and brown and he could see the trenches themselves. He was surprised again at how clearly they stood out. Surely no-one could hide from the all seeing aeroplane? A much closer explosion brought his attention back into the air. Cloud of black smoke drifted by about 200 yards away. Then another burst appeared as he watched. Someone was shooting at them! Le Mesurier must have looked alarmed because his observer, a Lieutenant called Ashly, smiled and waved at him to settle down. Nothing to worry about. In after what seemed an age, Dawes led them away from the lines and two BE2s landed safely back at Merville. “You did well.” Dawes said as they walked over to the photography hut carrying the bulky camera and a collection of plates. “I've seen people handle Archie far worse.” “Thank you. It was Ashly really,” Le Mesurier relied. “He told me the bursts were nothing to worry about.” “Archie is all bark. Did you see the monoplane?” “What monoplanes?” Edward was puzzled. “French Moranes. They came to check who we were. You do need to keep an eye out. Some Bosche are happy to let you be, but others will take potshots with a rifle. That’s why a lot of the observers carry a gun of some sort. Just in case.” “Oh, yes.” “That’s enough for now. Once we’ve dropped the plates off go and fill in your log while I make the report. It’s a nice day. Go wash up in the river if you like.”
  14. Yes, just send that PM when you are ready. Enjoy your holiday!
  15. Join when you get back from Mexico, Janzen. This is a long campaign. I'm looking forward to it.

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