LOST IN THE CLOUDS OVER GERMAN LINES
A Nanaimo Boy, Flight Sub-Lieut. Collishaw, had Thrilling Experience and Marvellous Escape Recently. How he encountered a German plane over the enemy's lines, and, with goggles smashed by a bullet which grazed his head, he was chased into the clouds by an enemy patrol and finally landed close to a German aerodrome; how he was chased back and without a compass or knowledge of where he was heading for, he outdistanced his pursuers by flying over Fort Duaumont and finally found safety in Verdun amidst a hail of shells and bullets- is graphically told by Flight Sub-Lieut. Raymond Collishaw, R.N., formerly of Victoria, in a letter to Capt. Chas Moore, of the Restless, Equimalt Lieut. Collishaw is a native of Nanaimo, and about 23 years old, a son of Mrs. Collishaw of the Five Acres. He served in the fishery protection service for some years, obtaining the rank of first officer on the C.G.S. Restless, under Captain Moore. His greatest ambition is to destroy a zeppelin before coming home.
"I have been a long time writing again, as usual, but out here no one seems to think about writing much and I have been here six months. I think I came out almost immediately after I wrote you last. I remember I was doing ferry work then, between England and Paris; but it did not last long, and I was soon sent off with the rest of the wing in time to join in one of the first raids. Several boys were lost, but I had luck and got back all right. Then we had to go on several more raids, each one longer than the previous one, until at last we were sent to Obendorf, the Mauser factory, to bomb it. Three of us were lost, and I had a thrilling enough experience to last me some time. "We then moved further north, and began a series of raids into the different districts where munition factories are located. One day I had to go back to our base and fetch a new machine up to our new station. I had about 150 miles to go, but I was going along all right when I met another machine coming along in the same level, and apparently one of my friends. He suddenly turned and attacked me from the rear, much to my surprise. I turned to meet him but not before he had shot a bullet so near my head that my goggles were smashed and I was blinded by small particles of glass. I finally managed to get into a position of advantage and had only begun to open fire when the gun jammed. I was now certainly up against it, as I had to no observer with me to work the rotary rear gun. It was then that I noticed five other Hun machines diving to attack me from the French side. I was almost over the lines by this time, I had no choice therefore but to try and distance them into Germany. "Fortunately I had a fast machine but I had all I could do to get rid of my two pursuers. After about an hour I finally did and proceeded to climb into the clouds, and so avoid their guns and probably another machine. But I had not reckoned on a strong wind carrying me away into Germany, and I did not realize my plight until I landed and cast about me to find myself in German territory and not far away from an enemy aerodrome. I had thought myself in France. As soon as I noticed the crosses on the machines I turned on the petrol again and went off without delay, with two Germans hot after me. I could not climb now and having no map had no idea where I was. That was a great race I don't know where I went, but I managed to get away from them somehow, only to run into some awful shells. "Finally I managed to find a place where I was not fired at and I was about to land again when I was again shelled, this time worse than before. After a long time I came to a place full of smoke and shelling and now passed over the land near Verdun, where the French were attacking. I passed over Fort Douaumont about 100 feet in the air and came down on past Verdun, which I recognized, and so came down and landed in the French aerodrome there. I had been eight and a half hours in the air, mostly over Germany, and I am sure I don't want anything like it again. Although I have had a number of flights across the line (when on raids too) I have never had a worse experience."