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Hasse Wind

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  1. Wulfe and Raine - Great reports from master writers, as expected! I've been distracted by real life, but I'm hoping to rejoin the fight with a new pilot soon.
  2. Wulfe and Raine, excellent entries from both of you! Really enjoying the stories. Chives, welcome to DID! A great introduction chapter for your pilot. Lederhosen, I hope it's a mild form of covid. Doctors of 1916 will have some trouble with the diagnosis though... *** Escadrille N.23 went straight into action after reaching their new aerodrome at Vadelaincourt. The German and French air services had both been concentrating large numbers of formations in the sector, and air activity was considerably heavier than what Auguste had been used to in their previous locations. However, trusting in their Nieuport scouts, the pilots of the escadrille were determined to chase the boche machines out of the skies. On April 9, Capitaine de Beauchamp led his flight of six Nieuports to attack a group of German Aviatik two-seaters that had been bombing French positions around the city of Verdun. A battle ensued, and Auguste, following the captain, targeted one of the Aviatiks. Beauchamp made a first pass at the German machine, scoring some hits. He made way for Auguste, who quickly fired a long burst from his Lewis gun into the cockpit and engine of the Aviatik. Smoke erupted from the machine, a clear sign that the German two-seater would soon go down. As Auguste closed in for the kill - his first - the German observer desperately returned fire. A bullet smashed through the windshield of Auguste's Nieuport and hit him straight in the head. Auguste was already gone when his machine began to spiral out of control and finally crashed down on the outskirts of Verdun. He received a full military burial the next day, becoming one of the millions of men who lost their lives in the War to End All Wars. On his simple cross, the words "MORT POUR LA FRANCE" marked his final resting place. *** And so ends the career of sous-lieutenant Auguste Alaric Besson! Just when things were getting interesting! It's totally my own fault, of course. I should have been more careful. Dead is Dead.
  3. The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille N.23, part 11. Throughout March, while the battle raged at Verdun and the fate of our nation hung in the balance, we maintained a regular schedule of patrols in our quiet sector of the front. As days and then weeks went by, it became evident that the enemy had weakened his presence there. We had very little hostile activity in the air, and nothing happened on the ground either, with the exception of a few harassment barrages every now and then that were intended to keep up the appearance of a war being fought. One by one, more of our escadrilles were being sent to bolster the defenses of Verdun – but not us! We seemed destined to become forgotten in a sideshow theatre of war, infuriatingly close to the action at Verdun, and yet so disappointingly far from that city of heroes. This was beginning to have a negative impact of the morale of our men, and grumblings about the situation were commonly heard. Alas, there was nothing we could do while the army headquarters saw it fit to keep us where we were. Then, on March 25, Captain de Rochambeau summoned us for a special briefing. New orders had been received from the Fourth Army – the escadrille was to be transferred to the Vadelaincourt aerodrome, a mere 15 km from the front at Verdun, by the end of the month! This news was welcomed by cheers and shouts of ”Vive la France!” So eager were we to do our part in the struggle at Verdun that even the sternest of us could not restrain their emotions. Preparations for departure were made at a feverish pace, and when our column of cars and lorries finally began to lumber forward on its 100 km journey to Vadelaincourt, we were in high spirits, though also feeling sombre about the situation. For if things had been calm, almost peaceful, in our old sector, that would no longer be the case at Verdun. Eventually we reached the road that runs from Bar-le-Duc to Verdun, a distance of about 70 km. This road became better known as ”La Voie Sacrée”, the Sacred Way, during the battle. It was the only road in the region wide and reliable enough to carry all the heavy traffic that was vital to supplying our forces at Verdun. All horse transports and troop movements by foot on the road had been forbidden since the end of February, leaving it open for motor vehicles only. Our column reached Bar-le-Duc via the road from Ligny-en-Barrois, and then began proceeding towards Verdun among countless other cars and lorries. I had never witnessed such an incredible collection of various types of motor vehicles concentrated in one place at the same time. It seemed to me like a glimpse of mankind’s mechanized future, dominated by machines! Traffic was kept in two lines, one going to Verdun and the other back to Bar-le-Duc. Occasionally we passed by vehicles that had suffered mechanical breakdowns. They were simply pushed to the side of the road to wait for repair crews so that the constant flow of men and materiel would not be interrupted by anything. A narrow-gauge railway had also been constructed parallel to the road to further improve the logistics of the troops at Verdun, and there was an additional standard-gauge railway being built in order to reconnect the city to the national railway network. As we proceeded towards Vadelaincourt, we saw large groups of men working along the road, repairing the damage it had suffered from constant heavy traffic. Many of these men were Annamites from our Far Eastern colonies, hired to do work in labour battalions in Europe. Every now and then we also spotted men in boche uniforms with shovels in their hands – prisoners of war, doing the same work as the Annamites. Compared to the Asians, these men looked dirty and unhappy. Night was already falling when we reached Vadelaincourt. It was a small commune about 15 km southwest of Verdun and more or less insignificant before the war. However, the German offensive had suddenly turned the place into a hub of activity. Aerodromes had been rapidly constructed in the area to house all the men and machines that were being sent in increasing numbers to help defend Verdun in the air. In the fading light, we saw big Bessonneau hangars, constructed of timber and canvas for easy transportation, lining the airfield. There was no time to waste, and after stretching our legs for a bit and getting our bearings, we all joined in with the ground crews to help them in making the escadrille operational again as quickly as possible. That night, we were too busy to sleep and took full advantage of the cover of darkness to avoid any potential observation of our actions by the enemy. The front was so close to us that we no longer had the same luxuries as we had had in our previous aerodromes. As dawn approached, we could hear the guns booming in the not-so-far distance. TO BE CONTINUED...
  4. Unfortunately nothing helped, so I had to reinstall WOFF and then add Recon Wars on top of a fresh install. This time everything seems to be working as it should and I haven't received any error messages so far. Fingers crossed! Now I have two options: either recreate my DID pilot and continue his career, adding the hours from the previous install to his log, or if the powers that be won't allow it, I'll have to start a new pilot.
  5. Thanks for the suggestion. The problem definitely started with Recon Wars. I tried it again and excluded the files/folders, but the problem persists. I guess complete reinstall is the next option on the menu. But I have this nasty feeling that my pilot's campaign file has now become corrupted, and maybe even a reinstall won't help with it.
  6. Recon Wars seems to have broken my BHAH install somehow. I keep getting messages about critical database errors and cannot fly missions. I didn't have any mods installed when I applied the updates. What a bummer!
  7. Albrecht, what a great story! Raine, good to see Hawkwood finally getting a well-deserved promotion. As a "temporary gentleman", some things should be easier for him now. A fine read! The real world seems to have gone crazy again. Some escapism in the form of this flight sim hobby is more than welcome, though I confess having a somewhat uneasy feeling writing about past wars when a real one is being now fought so close to my homeland. Anyway, here's the latest chapter from Auguste! The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille N.23, part 10. The German offensive at Verdun began after the massive preparatory bombardment ended in the evening of February 21. We were not in the Verdun sector, but naturally the battle attracted most of our attention. Nothing whatsoever was happening in our corner of the front, and we were anxious to hear any news from the fortress city on the Meuse. There were hopes that the boche attack would be stopped right away before any serious progress could be made. After all, Verdun was heavily fortified and could be expected to hold against heavy attacks. However, a few months earlier we had witnessed from the air how artillery pieces had been transported from the city for use in the Champagne offensive. The effects of this weakening of the defenses became evident after three days of fighting, when the mighty Fort Douaumont fell into enemy hands. This blow was a huge shock to everybody, and we began to feel increasingly frustrated by being stuck in a sector that was missing all the action. A few days later our former army commander, General Pétain, was appointed to lead the defense of Verdun. We knew the General was a highly competent officer, and believed that if anybody could put a stop to the German advance, it was surely him. By the first week of March, it became obvious that the danger of the immediate collapse of the Verdun defenses had passed. Stiff resistance by our brave poilus had turned the boche offensive into yet another massive battle of attrition. Many escadrilles were also being sent to bolster the city’s defense – but not ours! We could see even the Captain was frustrated by this state of affairs, but there was nothing we could do about it. Our escadrille remained attached to the Fourth Army, which was not responsible for the defense Verdun. We also understood that it was not possible to strip the whole Western front of our aviation units and send them all to Verdun. It would have been logistically impossible and would have also endangered the defenses of other sectors of the front. Still, our frustration over the situation was palpable and seemed to became worse with each passing day the fighting went on at Verdun. The only exciting thing to happen to us in early March was the delivery of the first of the Nieuport 11 C.1 scout machines. We had been expecting this new type for some time, and were eager to put it to good use against the boche. This Nieuport, nicknamed the Bébé, was a small-sized, fast and extremely manoeuvrable sesquiplane design powered by an 80 hp Le Rhône rotary engine and carrying one British-made Lewis machine gun mounted on the top wing, firing over the propeller. Performance-wise, the Bébé was greatly superior to the Fokker monoplanes in every way, and we were confident that it would allow us to finally achieve air superiority over the front. We did not have to wait for long to have success with the new machine. In his second flight with the Bébé, Captain de Beauchamp surprised and shot down a lone Aviatik two-seater. The enemy machine came down quite close to our forward positions and we were hoping to capture its crew as prisoners of war, but eager poilus shot the unlucky Germans dead before we managed to contact them. It was a disappointment, but we could hardly blame the infantrymen, for the Aviatik had been guiding the fire of boche batteries upon their necks. The Captain’s success was celebrated that night and we were all eagerly waiting for more Bébés to arrive so that more of us would be given the opportunity to use this deadly new weapon against the enemy. Unable to directly support the defenders of Verdun, we were determined to make life miserable for the boche in our front. TO BE CONTINUED...
  8. Oh no! Andrews was doing so well, and I was enjoying his story a lot.
  9. End of February 1916 Stats: Sous-lieutenant (in-game sergent) Auguste Alaric Besson, Escadrille N.23, Luneville aerodrome, Nieuport 10 & 12. 33 missions 47.72 hours No claims or victories. 1 wounding The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille N.23, part 9. Time passed slowly at the Chalons military hospital. Fortunately my head injury did not show any signs of infection and steadily improved. However, effects of the concussion prevented me from flying for several weeks. The only entertainment I had was thanks to my comrades from the escadrille paying me the occasional visit. They even managed to smuggle me a bottle of Spanish red wine – an amusing reference to my nickname. While I was away, the escadrille received a new type of machine – the Nieuport 12 two-seater. With its excellent speed of 150 km/h, a powerful 110 hp Clerget rotary engine, a rear-facing Lewis machine gun for the observer on a mount designed to provide an improved field of fire, and the possibility of adding a forward-facing Lewis gun on the top wing for the pilot, the Nieuport was considered to offer more than adequate protection from the menacing boche Fokker monoplanes. I returned to the escadrille at the end of the first week of February and was soon test flying the new machines. Despite the occasional headache, and a sore spot on my scalp, I felt well enough for combat duties again. With our combination of Nieuport 10’s and 12’s, we knew the escadrille was now equipped better than ever and fully capable of bringing the fight to the enemy. Weather became terribly bad again in the middle of the month, so it was a relatively quiet period for us. There was also time for some leisure activities, the most memorable of which was a football game against the fellow aviators of Escadrille C.43 – sadly, we lost the game 5–4, though not without putting up a good fight first! I was not able to play for fear of injuring my still sore head again. Considering that I have never been much of a football player, I doubt my modest efforts would have influenced the outcome. Everything changed on Monday, February 21. The meteorologists had finally predicted us some decent flying weather, and we were prepared to fly reconnaissance missions to find out what the boche had been up to in our sector in the preceding days of rain and high winds and poor visibility. After 7 o’clock in the morning, a deep rumbling sound suddenly became audible in the distance. It resembled thunder, except that it was an almost perfectly steady and constant noise, which thunder never really is, even during the worst of storms. Everybody gathered outside to listen. A few men suggested it was indeed thunder, but no one truly believed that. The sound was coming from the direction of Verdun – a distance of about 100 km from our aerodrome, as the crow flies. No, it was clearly an artillery barrage – and a massive one at that. We had no information about what was happening, and flew our morning flights normally. However, I did have a bad feeling about the whole situation. I had seen and heard artillery fire many times before, but this barrage was something entirely different in its sheer intensity. It was still going on when we returned to the aerodrome. By then, the army headquarters had confirmed our suspicions in a telephone call to the Captain – the barrage was indeed happening at Verdun, evidently in preparation for a massive German attack. We flew no more missions that day, as things were quiet in our sector and the boche had not made any suspicious moves during the days of bad weather. Most of us pilots gathered outside to listen to the steady rumble of guns. To me, it was a deeply surreal feeling to be standing there, trying to imagine what it must be like to face such fire in person. Then, after about ten hours of constant shelling, the noise stopped. The silence that followed felt dreadfully ominous to me. A hundred kilometres from our peaceful airfield the future of France would then be decided. TO BE CONTINUED...
  10. Oh damn it, Mfair - I didn't notice that Gallagher had been killed! Sorry to hear that, he was off to such a good start in this DID. Better luck with you new pilot! Paroni, what a great photo of those infantrymen helping the aviator! *** The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille N.23, part 8. New year began with poor weather, but we still kept up our regular schedule of patrol missions over the front for as much as the conditions permitted. On January 3, we received orders from the army headquarters: our escadrille would be transferred from the Second Army to the Fourth, which was holding the Reims front on our left flank. We would also relocate to the Melette aerodrome, which was located about 15 km west of our field at Somme-Vesle, closer to the cities of Reims and Chalons and the river Marne. One of our jokers immediately suggested that the reason for the transfer must have been General Pétain’s inspection back in December: having personally witnessed our escadrille, he wanted to get rid of us as soon as possible. I found this hilarious, but Captain de Beauchamp was not so amused. The actual reason was much more mundane: the Fourth Army had received a new commander, General Henri Gouraud, the one-armed hero of the Dardanelles, and was in need of additional air units. Since it was such a short trip to Melette, we simply flew our machines over there while the ground crews took care of the rest. Melette itself was another medieval village typical of the region with very little to distinguish it from Somme-Vesle or any other similar community near Chalons. There was a field, brick buildings for housing us, and tents and huts for the machines. Moving over was therefore a simple affair for us pilots. On January 20, a flight of our Nieuports was patrolling the front close to Reims near the border between our Fourth Army and the Fifth to the west of us. Visibility was rather poor, and we were flying at about 2000 metres. Boche anti-aircraft fire was surprisingly heavy on that sector, and suddenly a shell exploded close to my machine. I remember a flash, after which everything went black for a while. I lost consciousness for a moment – it could not have been for more than a couple of seconds, or I would have surely lost control of my machine and spiralled down to my death – and when I came to I felt a pain on my left temple, my ears were ringing, and my vision was blurry. My pilot’s goggles were also partly covered in blood, which further reduced visibility. Despite everything I managed to regain control of my machine, and ignoring the pain, turned my head left to observe what damage, if any, my Nieuport had suffered. I could see several tears in the fabric of both wings, but there was no obvious of serious damage to the structures holding the wings together. Nevertheless I was in a very dangerous situation, not knowing how badly my head had been hurt or whether I would be able to stay conscious for much longer. My comrades had seen that I was in trouble, and the Marquis (Jean Casale) was flying quite close to me on my left wing. I motioned with my hand that I was injured and had to abandon the mission. Then I slowly turned my machine back towards Melette, trying to avoid putting too much stress on the damaged left wings. The cold weather and rain actually seemed to help me clear my mind, though they also did much to exacerbate then pain in my head. I could feel, and see, that I was bleeding pretty badly. Hoping and praying that my luck would hold I flew back towards Melette. It was not a long flight – only about 20 minutes – but in my weakened condition it felt like hours. When the field and its hangars became visible in the drizzle, I felt a sudden surge of renewed strength – maybe I would actually survive! I have no clear recollection of how I managed to land my plane in the end, but I was later told that it was a good landing and that I was found in the cockpit, bleeding and unconscious. The medics gave me first aid on the field, after which I was taken to a military hospital in Chalons, where the surgeons sewed my scalp back together. Apparently I was indeed lucky, for if the shell fragment had hit my head in just a slightly different angle, it would have split my skull open. However, the headaches resulting from the injury made sure that I did not consider myself overly lucky during the three weeks I had to stay at the hospital. TO BE CONTINUED... Auguste's career very nearly came to an end in this encounter with the boche flak! It's no fun trying to made it back to your own lines when the screen is red with blood and you can see the health of your pilot steadily dropping down! I took a screenshot too, but must have pressed the wrong button because it wasn't there. So Auguste is now out of action until early February, in-game time.
  11. Raine, Hawkwood's story reads like a proper novel! Really enjoying it. MFair, congrats on the victory! It's getting dangerous out there, so be careful. Albrecht, I see Herr Boelcke will have some serious competition with his Dicta. Fine work. Paroni, the quiet times will definitely come to an end in 1916, unless something has been changed in the sim in one of the recent patches. Seb, Andrews is making short work of the boches! I almost feel sorry for them. Albert, a fun read about Sid's little adventure in Paris. It's definitely a different world out there, compared to the front. *** All of you who are struggling with your claims, may I remind you of the following organization responsible for the decision making process: Made by our resident Gong Fairy, Lou, many years ago.
  12. The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille N.23, part 7. December began with poor weather that prevented us from flying. We took advantage of this break by working on our machines and making sure everything was in the best possible shape for continuing flight operations when the weather permitted them again. It rained and snowed a lot, but there were also some bright and beautiful days mixed in with the bad ones. However, the clear days were usually very cold and windy, which made flying our machines rather uncomfortable – there was a great demand for warm winter clothing. Fortunately I had been receiving regular deliveries of woollen clothes from my mother and sister and also Marie, so I was well prepared for the change in weather several weeks before it actually happened. In fact, I had so many extra pairs of woollen gloves that I was able to share them with the rest of the escadrille. I think it is impossible, or at least very difficult, for laymen to understand just how cold it can get in an open cockpit when you are flying at an altitude of 3000 metres with strong winds surrounding your whole body in freezing air! The greatest excitement we had in December was the visit by the commander of the Second Army, General Pétain, in the middle of the month. The front was quiet, so the general had time to tour his sector and make inspections of his forces and their positions, including the aerodromes of all the escadrilles attached to the Second Army. Pétain had a reputation as a demanding and competent general officer who was also interested in the well-being of the ordinary soldier – a trait that was unfortunately lacking in many other commanders. We were usually pretty relaxed about military formalities in our escadrille. There was no constant saluting or rigid protocols required by the commanding officer – after all, we all flew and lived together as a close-knit community. However, we could not receive an army commander in such fashion! So we practiced some drill and made sure our uniforms were in tip-top shape for the inspection. Since our men came from various regiments and brought their own uniforms with them, we were a rather colourful band of brothers – ”a d----d camp of gypsies” according to Captain de Beauchamp. The day of the general’s visit was marred by extremely bad weather, which alternated between rain and snowfall. Consequently the inspection of our parade formation and the awarding of decorations to deserving individuals by the general was performed in a shortened form. Then the general toured our facilities and inspected our machines. He seemed very interested in the Nieuport and asked several questions about the sesquiplane’s abilities and their best use in combat. General Pétain’s visit certainly left a positive impression on us and made us feel good about serving under a general who seemed genuinely interested in military aviation. I had been hoping to get some leave for Christmas and spend the holidays with my family in Cherbourg. Unfortunately it was not possible. Men who had been serving longer than me on the front took precedence in leave arrangements, and even they were not always so lucky. Overall, the whole system of getting leave was rather strict in our army, which I felt had a negative impact on the morale of the men. Fortunately one of our pilots, Jean Casale, Marquis de Montfort, a young nobleman from Corsica, had managed to acquire a crate of excellent Martell cognac for Christmas. We made sure these high quality spirits were not wasted during the holidays! We ended the year by flying a long patrol over the front, and succeeded in spotting a pair of boche Aviatik two-seaters that promptly turned tail and fled into a cloud formation. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to locate them again. Such unsatisfactory encounters were not rare during the dismal winter months. The year 1915 had been a challenging one for us. We had had some successes and had managed to build up our escadrille’s strength with new pilots and machines, but the general situation along the Western front, or on any front, was far from great. At best, it could be said that we were holding our own against the enemy. But victory seemed to be far away, and all hopes of the war coming to a speedy end had been frustrated by the failed offensives of the year. TO BE CONTINUED...
  13. I see two of our brave aviators have been rewarded by the generous Gong Fairy! Well done, gentlemen! And there have been casualties too. It's always a bummer to lose a DID pilot, especially when you've invested a lot of time into writing his story and flying his missions. Better luck with your new pilots, guys! I've noticed that Archie can be pretty nasty with the DID settings we're using now. There's a very real risk of getting blown to smithereens when you fly through a heavy concentration of flak. So far, this has been the biggest excitement in Auguste's DID career. German airplanes seem to be avoiding contact with him. But I think that will change in the coming months, with the battle of Verdun and everything. Once again we have some excellent writers participating in this DID campaign. So keep the stories coming, it's always nice to read them with a cup (or two) of hot tea!
  14. The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille N.23, part 6. In November, our escadrille was comprised of twelve Nieuport sesquiplanes. When I joined in the summer of 1915, we had had only eight machines. A major effort to increase the number of escadrilles and their size had been underway for many months and was bearing fruit by the end of 1915. We knew that we outnumbered the German air service, though the enemy seemed to have a technological advantage with their Fokker monoplanes, which were armed with machine guns capable of firing safely between the spinning propeller blades. In late 1915, the Fokkers were being seen in ever growing numbers along the front, scoring many victories against poorly armed and ungainly British and French observation two-seater machines. A major tragedy struck our escadrille on November 22. Captain Schlumberger was test flying a new two-seater machine, the SPAD A.1, with observer Gaston Montézuma. For some reason – probably a mechanical failure in this notoriously unreliable SPAD design – they were forced to land near the frontlines and were subsequently killed by machine gun fire coming from German positions. Their loss came as a great shock to everybody, and the memorial service held in the Châlons cathedral was a very solemn and moving ceremony. Soon after, Captain Louis Robert de Beauchamp took over as the commanding officer of the escadrille. He was also a very competent veteran aviator, having joined the air service already in 1912. Until this incident, we had been spared from suffering heavy casualties. Hence the loss of two brave men on the same day was keenly felt by everybody in the escadrille. Combined with bad news from practically every front and the lousy winter weather, this resulted in a rather gloomy atmosphere in our unit. However, this only made us more determined to prevail and get revenge on the boche for all the harm they had done to our people in the Great War. If I had to name a specific moment when there was a loss of innocence in the air war and everything began to turn into a bitter struggle for ultimate victory (losses be damned!), I would say it was that fateful day in November 1915. TO BE CONTINUED...
  15. The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille N.23, part 5. We had barely reached our quarters at Vitry-le-François when we were ordered to the depot’s field to begin our training. The Nieuport 10 was a very different beast compared to our old Parasols. It was a sesquiplane design, meaning it had a normal-sized top wing but the lower wing was considerably narrower. This made the plane lighter and improved both its manoeuvrability and the downward visibility from the cockpit. We were pleasantly surprised by the Nieuport. It was easy to handle and responded well to the movements of the controls, whereas the Parasol was overly nervous and required a constant full effort from the pilot to maintain a steady course, which made flying it an exhausting business. The Nieuport could be armed with a British-made Lewis machine gun that was attached over the top wing. This arrangement made it possible to fire forward over the spinning propeller. Unfortunately the system was far from perfect. To replace an empty magazine the pilot had to stand up in the cockpit to reload the gun – understandably a challenging feat to accomplish in a rapidly moving airplane! Our instructor at the facility turned out to be none other than Lieutenant Mangin, the injured pilot I had met at the Paris surgical hospital! However, he was no longer a lieutenant, but a captain, having received a promotion recently. He was employed as an instructor and a test pilot, which gave him the opportunity to acquire first hand experience of all of our latest machines in development. The crash had left him with an injured leg, so he walked around with a slight limp, but this had no impact on his performance in the cockpit. Most of us could only marvel at his supreme skill in handling the Nieuport! In the evenings, I had long conversations with Mangin. Despite his injury, the war had treated him well and offered him a chance to get promoted at a much faster pace than would have been possible in the peacetime army. For a man so obviously in love with aviation, it truly was the perfect arrangement. We completed our training at a very rapid speed. This was not really a problem, because the Nieuport had the same engine as the Parasol, so we were already familiar with the most complex part of the machine. There was a reason for the hurry – on September 25, our armies attacked on the Reims front, and there was a great demand for air support. Meanwhile, our escadrille was renamed N.23, to reflect the fact that we were now equipped with the Nieuport 10. After some initial successes, the new offensive also ground to a halt. No matter what the army tried, the enemy lines could not be broken. On October 3, rapid breakthrough attempts were abandoned and a battle of attrition began. Our escadrille was in the thick of it, flying every day over the battlefield to provide support to the poilus struggling forward in the autumn mud. However, heavy rainfall often made any flights impossible. The men in the trenches were not so fortunate, and had to endure the worst of it without any chance of relief. By comparison, we pilots were fighting the war from a privileged position, being able to retire into our houses and the comfort of our beds after the day was over. October 1915 was a disappointing month for us. The fighting in our own sector was not making any progress, despite heavy casualties. The enemy took full advantage of the higher ground they were occupying and their reconnaissance machines were also able to keep an eye on our movements, in spite of our efforts to achieve superiority in the air. Clearly, the offensive had not come as a surprise to the boche. In addition, there was a steady stream of bad news from the other fronts. Things seemed particularly bad in the East, where the Central Powers were dealing heavy blows to the Russian Empire. We often discussed the prospects of the war in the spare time we had between missions – sometimes a lot of it, when the weather made flying impossible. As November arrived, the offensive actions in our sector finally came to an end for the winter. This also meant an easier schedule for the escadrille, for flying became increasingly difficult in the harsh weather conditions. TO BE CONTINUED...
  16. End of month stats: rank, full name, awards presented by DiD CoC: Sous-lieutenant (sergent in-game) Auguste Alaric Besson current unit assigned to: Escadrille N.23 current location: Somme-Vesle current plane type: Nieuport 10 C.1 number of missions flown: 14 number of hours: 21.5 number of victories: 0 number of claims: 0
  17. The story of Auguste continues! The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille MS. 23, part 4. The Reims front was very quiet in August, and we did not run into any opposition while patrolling the lines. A few times we spotted some boche planes flying in the distance – mostly two-seaters doing reconnaissance work – but there were no close encounters. There was also no sign of the infamous Fokker monoplanes, which we knew had been causing an increasing amount of trouble for our machines in some sectors of the front. For us, the greatest threat at this point was not the German air service, but their anti-aircraft artillery, which often put up surprisingly heavy concentrations of fire around locations they did not want us to photograph. It was not rare for our machines to return from such missions with a few extra holes in the wings and fuselages! After only ten days at Matougues, the escadrille suddenly received an order to relocate to another airfield. Our new base was to be at the village of Somme-Vesle, about 25 km east of Matougues, on the other side of the Marne and close to the Vesle, a tributary of the river Aisne. This order, which came so soon after our grueling trip from Flanders, caused some of our men to openly question – in true grognard fashion – the mental faculties of the army leadership. However, the Captain was quick to explain that our service was rapidly expanding, and that new escadrilles had been formed and were now arriving at the front, so new bases were needed to accommodate them. Of course, military veterans were equally quick to realize what such a build-up of forces usually signified – a major offensive! We took a couple of the escadrille’s cars and reconnoitered Somme-Vesle. The place was not much different from Matougues. It was another small medieval village with adequate housing for the crews. The field itself was located in the middle of a small wood, and showed signs of being prepared relatively recently for our use. The distance was so short that we were simply able to fly our Parasols straight to the field and then waited for the ground transports to arrive. Compared to the move from Flanders, the trip to Somme-Vesle was quite easy, though obviously still required a lot of effort from our supporting troops. Everybody could only hope that we would be allowed to stay at our new field for longer than we did at Matougues. Organizationally, there was no change to the previous arrangement. We were still attached to the Second Army, which had now been moved to the sector to support the Fourth Army. We were now also closer to the fortress city of Verdun on the Meuse than we had been at Matougues. As August turned September, we kept up a regular schedule of reconnaissance missions on the Reims front. It was pleasant enough business for war, and we wondered how long such calmness could continue. All signs pointed to an offensive action being prepared in our sector. We could see that lots of artillery pieces were being moved by rail from the Verdun fortresses into new positions along our front - a sure sign of a coming offensive. If we knew about it, surely the boche military intelligence did too. And then, in the middle of September, a major change took place. Our pilots were ordered to report for training to Vitry-le-François. The escadrille was to equipped with a new type of machine – the Nieuport 10 C.1 sesquiplane! TO BE CONTINUED...
  18. Yes, it could be the settings, or maybe just luck. Who knows! Paroni, it's fortunate that the boche are so terrible at guarding their POW camps!
  19. Yes, the default command to remove the text is the Z key. I've finally caught up with all the stories! Took me a couple of mugs of hot tea to get through all of them - excellent writing everybody, as expected from a DID campaign! Sorry to see that we've also had our first losses. It's always a bother to lose a DID pilot, especially when you've invested a lot of time and effort to develop him. Good luck, and fly safe! It's interesting that some have already encountered enemy planes several times and even managed to score victories, while others have yet to spot a single hostile machine. My pilot belongs in the latter category - it has been a decidedly uneventful campaign so far for Auguste. But I enjoy the flying and getting familiar with my sector and making up Auguste's story as I go, so I don't really mind it. Besides, combat will soon become a regular thing as the number of squadrons and machines increases on both sides. So let's enjoy the peace and quiet of 1915 while it lasts!
  20. So much to catch up and comment! But first, here's the latest from Auguste... The War Diary of Auguste Besson, Escadrille MS. 23, part 3. Our offensive in the Artois sector came to an end in late July. Sadly, despite a massive effort by all of our combined forces on both land and in the air, the outcome was a failure. There were some local successes, but the boche lines held and could not be broken. By then, I was getting quite familiar with everything and was actually enjoying my duties as a military pilot, despite all the dangers inherent to the job. I had managed to find my place in the escadrille and was developing a certain daily routine, which of course depended greatly on the orders we were given. In the last week of July, the Chief of Aviation of the Second Army issued a relocation order to our escadrille. We were ordered to move to a field located at a place called Matougues, near the city of Châlons-sur-Marne in the Marne Department. The Second Army front was being reorganized following the failed offensive, and our allies the British were extending their lines to the south with additional forces. The relocation of a whole escadrille from one base to another requires a major logistical effort and also great feats of improvisation. So, in the first week of August, our ground personnel began to gather up everything for transportation. They needed a lot of cars and lorries for the job, and what equipment the escadrille lacked was rapidly provided for by the army parks. The distance from Lahoussey in Flanders to Matougues in Marne is about 200 km as the Parasol flies, so it was no small task to get everything sorted out. Obviously the distance is even greater when travelling on the roads behind the front. Perhaps we will eventually have flying cars or big transport planes to fix that problem! We kept flying missions for as long as possible, in order to not waste any of our aviation resources still present in the Artois sector. But eventually, all of our machines were dismantled for transportation too. Fortunately the Parasol is a rather small and lightweight machine, and can be easily carried by a lorry. The journey to our new field was somewhat arduous. The weather turned bad in August and constant rains made the roads muddy and slippery. There were also mechanical failures in the lorries, which slowed our progress down to a crawl. I felt nothing but admiration for the men, NCO’s and officers serving as our support troops and doing their often difficult duty without complaints. Theirs is a task that does not receive any attention by the press, nor is it written about by authors interested only in stories of heroic combat. And yet, without the mechanics, drivers, and engineers, all of our efforts at fighting a modern war would soon grind to a halt! On August 7, we were finally at our new home, Matougues. It is a small community located on the southern bank of the river Marne along the road from Épernay to Châlons. Roughly to the northwest is the major city of Reims, defiantly facing the invading boche armies. The frontlines ran about 20 km from our field. We were now in the Fourth Army sector, though still formally attached to the Second Army of General Petain. Though Matougues is just a small village, the region itself is densely populated and there is no lack of proper housing for comfort-loving aviators! So we quickly set ourselves up in brick houses and the ground crew put up tent hangars for the machines. The field itself was smaller than Lahoussey but also quite easy to locate, being so close to the Marne.Terrain to the south of Reims is heavily wooded, especially compared to the open fields of Flanders. Flying in such a region presents additional challenges to the pilot, as making an emergency landing in a forest usually ends in a disaster! As soon as everything was ready on the ground, we began flying orientation missions to familiarize ourselves with our new sector. TO BE CONTINUED...
  21. 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
  22. 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.
  23. 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...
  24. 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 1886 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...
  25. Do we use this thread, or start another one for the actual DID reports?

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