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Maeran

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  1. “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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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
  4. Maeran's Album

    Edward A. Le Mesurier
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.”
  8. Yes, just send that PM when you are ready. Enjoy your holiday!
  9. Join when you get back from Mexico, Janzen. This is a long campaign. I'm looking forward to it.
  10. I showed my wife rule 0. She laughed. Should I be worried about her looking for pellet guns?
  11. Welcome!

    I had to update my password, because it wasn't strong enough for modern standards. Other than that it was easy getting back in. The pictures look great!
  12. This is the DFW "Flea" http://forum.worldofwarplanes.eu/index.php?/topic/3635-german-experimental-aircraft-dfw-t28-floh-flea/ My apologies for linking to another forum, but this has the most information I could readily find.
  13. "Eeps" or "EE-pray"?

    I have a copy, spotted in a book shop last year. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wipers-Times-Complete-Wartime-Newspaper/dp/1906251177/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1418858602&sr=8-3&keywords=Wipers+times
  14. A Bleak and Lonely Post...

    There will have been walkways inside the derigible itself (it isn't just the gas bag in there). But I expect that anyone with any sense doing that job would take a flask or two.
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