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Hasse Wind

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Hasse Wind last won the day on February 11 2012

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  1. The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille MS. 23, part 2. Our escadrille is attached to the Second Army, which was engaged in a big push against the boche when I arrived in June. Fighting was particularly fierce in the Vimy Ridge sector, where our brave troops attempted to break through the enemy lines, unfortunately in vain. The escadrille’s role in this was to provide aerial support to the ground forces – that is, to fly reconnaissance missions over the front and photograph enemy formations and places of interest. However, I wasn’t thrown into battle straight away! At first, Captain Schlumberger took me for a couple of practice flights to get me oriented with the lay of the land – and also to see whether I was actually capable of doing my job. I was initially rather nervous, but to my great relief everything went well and I didn’t make a complete fool of myself. Fortunately it is quite easy to find one’s way in this sector of the front. The cities of Amiens and Albert are both excellent landmarks, and to the south flows the river Somme, which is the only significant waterway in this region. As long as one doesn’t become completely lost in the clouds and fog, it is simple enough for a military pilot to find his way here. I didn’t have it so easy at the military flight school of Pau in Southern France! There, during one of my long range flights I became lost as the weather suddenly turned poor, I ran out of fuel, and had to make an emergency landing on a field. Luckily I didn’t break either the machine or myself! A local farmer (the owner of the field) informed me that I was close to the Spanish border. Apparently I had been flying in a completely wrong direction. It was an important lesson to learn about how hard it can be to navigate in poor weather and how easy it is to get lost in the air. I was very embarrassed, but my instructors were understanding. I now know that it can happen to the best of pilots – and I was definitely just an amateur back then. This little adventure of mine at Pau didn’t stay secret for long at my new escadrille! When word got around, I was soon given a new nickname – L’Espagnol (the Spaniard)! It’s a sign of affection among this odd bunch of flying men, so I quickly learned to adopt this nom de guerre as my own. TO BE CONTINUED
  2. Haha, now that's quite the adventure, Paroni! Fortunately the boche are not overly bright and a sneaky Frenchman can always fool them like that.
  3. Oh boy, everybody has been so busy flying DID! And we have our first losses and victories too! No mean feat scoring a kill when flying these early war crates, so congrats Seb! Excellent reading and pics everybody. I look forward to more. Raine in particular is off to a great start with his pilot's story, but he's definitely not the only one. The story of Auguste Besson continues... The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille MS. 23 June is turning into July and at this point, it should have become obvious to everybody that this war is not going to be over anytime soon. I have been meaning to start a diary of my war experiences for many months now, but something always seemed to get in the way. Well, here we are! This Great War is without a doubt a turning point in the history of our civilization, and I owe it to future generations to leave some record of the small part I had to play in the great events of these times. (Sounds pompous, but my purpose is noble!) I arrived at the airbase of Esc. MS. 23, located in the commune of Lahoussoye, on June 1, 1915. The area is located roughly northeast of Amiens along the Amiens-Albert road. To the south flows the river Somme. The region is densely populated and distance to the frontlines around Albert is about 20-30 km – close enough that we can hear the guns, but far enough to be safe from them. The escadrille is equipped with two-seater Morane Parasol monoplanes – the pilot sits in the front under the protection of a single wing (which does resemble a parasol!) and the observer sits behind his back, facing rear, armed with a gun. It’s a decent enough machine with very sensitive controls, unless there’s a malfunction in its 80 hp Le Rhône rotary engine. Fortunately this engine type is quite reliable! There are hangars for the machines and proper housing for the pilots and observers. Currently we have eight of both, sixteen flight personnel in total, that is. Compared to life in the trenches, we are a very privileged lot indeed! Even the ground crew live comfortably, and there’s a whole company of them. A taxi from Amiens brought me to the field, where I reported to the commanding officer, Captain Schlumberger, at noon. The captain welcomed me with a firm handshake. He’s a veteran pilot from pre-war days, and has been in the air service since its creation in 1912. After paperwork and other necessary formalities, the captain gave me a tour of the field and introduced me to his subordinates. Most machines were on a mission, so it was only later in the day that I was able to meet all of the pilots and observers. It’s a mixed bunch of officers and NCO’s. Some of the fellows are rather eccentric, but I’ve learned that is perfectly normal, and in fact something to be expected in this peculiar field of business. Everybody was more than welcoming, so I had an easy time of finding my place in this unit. The real challenges waited for me elsewhere! TO BE CONTINUED...
  4. I see the campaign is already well underway! I'll read all of your reports later. But now, here's the first entry in the saga of my pilot, sous-lieutenant Auguste Besson. I'm afraid his origin story is a bit long! I'll be less verbose in the future... Born in Cherbourg, Normandy on the 1st of July in 1916 as the son of a middle class official in the French navy, Auguste Besson spent his carefree youth in and around Cherbourg, roaming the Normandy countryside, fascinated by the rich history of the region. Having an interest in a great many things, Auguste eventually decided to become a teacher and moved to study at Paris. After graduation, Auguste completed his compulsory military service in an infantry regiment, being trained as a platoon leader. He then found work in a regional school in his beloved Normandy. By 1914, Auguste had settled down into a relatively comfortable middle class life. He was also involved in a budding relationship with a fellow teacher, Marie Leclerc. But then the war broke out and Auguste was called to arms. As a sous-lieutenant de réserve, he took command of a reservist rifle platoon and was quickly thrown into battle to meet the rapidly advancing German armies... "ATTAQUE À OUTRANCE" French Third Army front, West of Longwy, early morning of August 21st, 1914. *** ”Mon lieutenant, can you hear it? Another airplane!” Auguste could clearly hear the drone of an engine coming from somewhere above them. It was the second airplane of the morning. Obviously something important was happening in their sector. ”Yes, private Reynaud, I can hear it. Sounds exactly the same as the previous one. One of our rotary machines, unless I’m mistaken.” ”Makes you wonder – what use is it for them to fly in this bloody pea soup fog? I can barely see the tip of my nose!” Sergeant Grosjean joined in the conversation. ”Well, they are flying above the fog, so it’s probably bright and sunny up there. But you’re right, sergeant – they can’t see the ground through the fog.” The whole platoon listened in silence as the airplane droned over them. Eventually, the sound died down as the machine vanished somewhere to the east. Probably trying to spot the boche around Longwy, Auguste thought. He had a general idea of their regiment’s position, but he didn’t know the details. Mere platoon leaders have no use for such information anyway. Auguste felt tired. Ever since mobilization in early August, his unit had been constantly on the move. At first, they had had the luxury of train transport, but that hadn’t lasted for long. Having reached their concentration area, the regiment had detrained and began to march on foot. The summer had been unusually hot, and the heat soon left its mark on the reservists of the regiment. Cases of dehydration and heat exhaustion were common. But now they had reached the forests of the Ardennes, and the weather had changed too, at least for now. ”Platoon leaders, to me!” The shout came from Capitaine Lefebvre, their company commander. He was a knight of the Legion of Honour and a veteran of colonial campaigns in Africa. The platoon leaders, including Auguste, gathered at the command post, which was in a copse of trees next to an unpaved road running towards Longwy. The captain was sitting on a camp stool, holding a map. ”Alright, gentlemen! We have our orders from the Colonel. Third Army is making a move against the boche at Longwy. The plan is to hit them in the flank and hopefully roll them up like a wet blanket. Our regiment is currently in the reserve. We will join in the fun when requested by the powers that be. The first wave is already on the move – ” The heavy silence in the woods was suddenly interrupted by gunfire in the distance. Rifles, machine guns – and artillery too. The captain grinned behind his thick blonde mustache that was already turning grey from age and worry. ”I see the gods of war know the meaning of timing! This is it, gentlemen. I have complete trust in you and the men. We will do our duty for France!” *** The company had formed up into a column along the road. The sun was climbing higher and its rays were slowly dispersing the fog. Auguste could now clearly see his men sitting down in formation, holding their rifles in readiness. It occurred to him that the red kepis and trousers they were all wearing would probably make them excellent targets for the enemy. The whole thing didn’t feel too different from a peace-time military exercise. Waiting for the action to start was the same – only the stakes were higher. Constant gunfire could be heard in the distance. Auguste’s reveries were interrupted by another shout from the captain. ”Company! Stand up! Prepare to march!” A flurry of activity followed Lefebvre’s order. Soon, the men were moving along the Longwy road, Auguste leading his platoon from the front. *** Some time later, the company had left the road and was now deployed in open skirmish formation, moving rapidly forward. The difficult terrain made it hard to maintain order. The sounds of fighting were now very loud, but the woods made it impossible to see far. Here and there, wounded men from the first wave of attack were limping back from the action, some alone, some helped by their comrades. Auguste tightened his grip on his service revolver. The fog had cleared and the weather felt oppressively hot again. Suddenly they emerged into an opening in the woods. In front of them, they could see the backs of another company. The men were shouting and charging towards the other side of the clearing. There, Auguste spotted muzzle flashes and puffs of smoke. It must be the boche! Auguste had no time to think further as Captain Lefebvre, who was with two runners to the right and front of Auguste’s position in the skirmish line lifted up his sword, turned around, and bellowed at his company: ”Forward, men, forward! Give ’em the bayonet! Vive la France!” Shouts of ”Forward” and ”Vive la France” erupted from the men as they leveled their rifles with bayonets fixed and broke into a run. Terrain was easier now, and Auguste thought they could reach the enemy position in mere seconds. But then there was a huge explosion. And then, blackness. *** When Auguste regained consciousness, he discovered that he was in a great deal of pain and that he couldn’t see properly. A bandage was covering his eyes and he saw only dim light. ”Hey, the lieutenant is back with us!” A voice that Auguste didn’t recognize. He thought he was lying down on something uncomfortable – a stretcher, maybe? The pain was everywhere, like someone had stabbed him a hundred times with a knife and left him bleeding to death. Auguste attempted to move, but it was too much. ”Hey, sir, please don’t do that! You are hurt pretty badly!” That voice Auguste did recognize. It belonged to Sergeant Grosjean. If only I could see! ”Sergeant… is that you? What happened? Where am I?” Auguste could barely speak. His mouth was like sand and his voice like the creaking of an old floorboard. ”We charged the boche and then you got hit. By a shell. It exploded close to you. You’re lucky to be alive!” Auguste groaned. ”Not feeling very lucky right now. Where’s the rest of the platoon? And the Captain?” Sergeant Grosjean was silent for a while. When Auguste was about to repeat his questions, the man finally spoke. ”They… most of them didn’t make it, sir. Either dead or wounded, nearly all of them. The Captain… he was hit by the same shell. And I mean hit, sir. He’s… gone.” The sergeant fell silent again. ”My God!” Auguste tried to hold back tears. Everything hurt. ”Only He can help them now. But you’re still alive, sir. And we’re now going to lift you up and put you in the ambulance and they will then take you to a hospital. I’m afraid this is going to hurt, so brace yourself, sir!” Auguste groaned as the men moved the stretcher. But he wasn’t the only one in pain. He could hear the cries of wounded men all around him. ”Grosjean! Wait! How did I get here?” ”I carried you, mon lieutenant.” Auguste could feel a hand – Grosjean’s, probably – gripping his shoulder. ”You’re safe now, or as safe as anyone can be around here. I will get back to the platoon now. Good luck, mon lieutenant!” ”Grosjean!” It was all Auguste could manage as the horse-drawn ambulance lurched forward and pain overwhelmed his senses. Three months later ”And now try to move your left leg”, the surgeon said to Auguste. He did as ordered. The leg felt stiff, but it could have been worse. So much worse! ”Very good! Alright, you may sit down now.” The bespectacled Doctor Stein was so overweight that he seemed to be bursting out of his clothes. But he certainly knew his business. The doctor had operated on Auguste several times since the sous-lieutenant was brought to the surgical hospital in Paris from the Ardennes battlefield. ”You have made excellent progress, and even more so, considering that we had pull out 56 pieces of fragment and assorted foreign objects from your body!” Doctor Stein was clearly happy about his success. ”Soon, you’ll be ready to return to service.” ”Thank you, sir. For sure, I have no complaints about my treatment here.” Smiling happily, Doctor Stein gathered up his files and then lumbered out of the room. ”Now there’s a jolly old fellow, if I ever saw one!” The voice belonged to Lieutenant Mangin, an aviator in the French air service. Auguste had been sharing a room with him for a few weeks. Mangin had been injured in a flight accident and had been operated by Doctor Stein in the same hospital as Auguste. Mangin was a short, dark man with a neatly cropped moustache. He was very jovial and liked to talk a lot – a contrast to Auguste, who was more reserved. Mangin had become a pilot already before the war and had told many interesting stories about his adventures to Auguste, though the sous-lieutenant strongly suspected that not all of the tales were completely factual. However, Mangin was clearly passionate about his work. ”So, have you considered my suggestion? That instead of rejoining the poor bloody infantry, you’ll apply for a transfer to the air service and let me write a letter of recommendation for you?” The men had been talking much about Auguste’s interest in aviation, and whether he really wanted to get back to his regiment again. ”Yes, I have. And I will do as you suggest. I want to become a pilot. Maybe I’ll do better in the air service than as an infantryman. Because my captain and my platoon are dead and I didn’t even get to fire my pistol in anger!” Auguste couldn’t help but feel guilty about his survival. Mangin gave him an understanding look. ”There’s nothing you could have done about that, unless you have the ability to stop boche shells.” Auguste was silent for a moment before he spoke. ”I know. It is what it is. Can’t help any of it now, anyway.” ”Indeed. Well, shall we get started on that letter now?” Mangin asked with genuine excitement in his voice. ”Yes,” Auguste said and nodded in agreement. TO BE CONTINUED...
  5. Do we use this thread, or start another one for the actual DID reports?
  6. Ah, the good old OFF Christmas tradition! Merry Christmas and a Happier New Year everybody!
  7. Awesome to be back at CA! So much better in every way than the other site. I'll have to study the rules carefully and prepare for the exam Lou warned me about.
  8. Welcome!

    Great to see the WOFF gang back here at Combat Ace.
  9. I'd gladly start our new DID campaign here. Everything works better and is much more modern. The other site is so 1990's.
  10. There's a few of us still around, though the forum is dead. SimHQ is a terrible, terrible site. I wish the devs would move back here.
  11. Lothar Maps

  12. thanks for the Italian front OBD

    The map is there, and so are many of the required planes too. Unfortunately the Italian front will most likely never happen, though it would be an awesome addition to WOFF.
  13. What aircraft is this?

    Yeah, I also think it's an Albatros B.I.
  14. Biggles Flies Again...!

    Biggles books have also been translated into several other languages. I remember reading a few of the books in my youth. I was going through a period of adventure literature, which included works from E. R. Burroughs, Karl May, W. E. Johns and C. S. Forester. Good times!
  15. My last book : C39 squadron

    I'm not aware of any such unit histories. All books seem to be either about specific Jastas or aces, who naturally spent most of their careers in Jastas. And there aren't many such books either. I guess one problem for research is the loss of many of the Prussian military archives in WW2. Many Luftstreitkräfte war diaries were lost, so there's not much source material for aviation historians to research.
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