Lancelot des. Duke
Diary. Strictly Private.
Royal Flying Corps.
British Expeditionary Force
France – 1918.
February 10th, 1918—Arrived at No. 2 Aircraft Depot Candas, Pilots Pool. Stayed here one night only: Posted to 84. Squadron at Guizencourt. S.W. of Athies
February 11th—Met Howard at 2 A.D. We came along together in my tender, I dropped him at his squadron No. 24 at Matigny: arrived 84 Squadron 2 p.m. Met Saunders Lennon & Brown who comes from Victoria, M.B. of C.
February 15th—Weather exceedingly cold. Flew for 1st time in France – gun – practice on aerodrome.
February 17th – Flew over and landed at 35 Squadron Estrees. Met Walton Rees, McPherson & Wilson (who was killed that afternoon).
February 19th – Flew to Bertangles aerodrome. Stayed with No. 6 Squadron for 2 nights. Dined at Cathedral Café, Amiens.
February 20th – Flew for 45 minutes: Course for senior officers conducted by No. 6 Squadron – rushing from Ageele. Lena Ashwells Concert party in Evening: we had a splendid dinner and excellent concert. Weather still very cold. Went to Amiens and had my hair cut in afternoon.
February 20th- Left Bertangles for Guizencourt.
February 26th – Went to Candas by tender for a new machine: lunch at Pool Pilots mess. Met Louis Grant from Victoria there. Dined and stayed in Doullens with Nel.
February 27th – Flew back from 2 A.D. Met severe hail storms & nearly got lost. Arrived safely.
February 28th – Went again to 2 A.D. & brought back new machine. Billy Khron is missing today after a big scrap.
March 1st – 1st Patrol: Led by Grovesnor & consisted of Brown, Lawson, Travers & self: saw 2 Huns 3,000 feet above but could not climb up before they turned E. Patrolled from Lafere to St. Quentin.
March 6th – Patrol. 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Saw nothing. R.E. Duke missing today.
March 7th – Patrol: St. Quentin- Cambrai.
March 8th – Patrol:
March 9th – Patrol in morning and another in afternoon: saw nothing to fight in morning,. In afternoon carried out an aerodrome strafe on Busigny& Esquafort. Aerodromes 14 miles over – Camel & Bristol Fighters went very low & fired machine guns & dropped bombs in hangars Etc
We all stayed up above & covered them: Everyone back safely.
March 10th – Patrol: Brown (leader) Clean & myself. St. Quentin to Cambrai. Came out of sun on to 3 Huns. 2 Seater D.F.W’ s well camouflaged. Each singled out our Huns: I dived on mine 2,000 ft above him. Vickers gun dud, Lewis fired ¾ drum & then stopped at the same time my Engine cut clean out: I had to leave the Hun & make for home: Went to land in a field but found large ditch, turned to come E hit another, stalled & sideslipped 150 feet into ground: machine a complete wreck & I got off with only nose cut badly & Eyes knocked about: Went to 30th Div. Hdqtrs where they were very good to me: met Capt. Clarke, Suffolk Rgt who knew Uncle William’s family well at Devenham: arrived back at squadron 8 p.m. Brown and Cleen both got their Huns: I’m much annoyed at not getting mine: lucky escape for me
March 11th – I’m feeling pretty rotten & both eyes are “bunged up” & nose cut about. C.O. says I’m to have a weeks rest: weather is simply beautiful! F.E. Brown shot down a “V. Strutter” this morning.
I did nothing all day long. “Doormouse” Travers Flew an Albatross D. III from 2 AD.
March 12th – Still pretty rotten but slightly better.
March 13th – Feeling better: Eyes very black. Cyril Swire came over in the afternoon to see me and stayed to tea: he’s with Cavalry Corps. Hdqtrs. at Villers Carbonnel. Went to dentist in morning with C.O. Lennon – in C.O.’s car.
3 Huns shot down today, Hobson got one in pieces! Weather Still beautiful.
March 14th – Still resting: letter from Dad today including one from Mother and Ruby: Started to walk to HAM with Lennon but General Charlton was passing and picked us up taking us to HAM where we bought shirts Etc & had tea: Came back partly by lorry and partly by foot. Brown went over in the mist this morning and dropped 4 20 lb bombs on and around a barge in the canal N of St. Quentin.
March 15th – Left aerodrome at 11:30 to collect a Hun 2-seater D.F.W. shot down by “A” Flight 1000 this side of our lines opposite Bellicourt. After many struggles we finally found the place and started to strip it down. Pilot was shot in the face & killed but observer was only wounded in leg & dislocated hip – I didn’t see observer. Left the lorry at Jeancourt till dusk when it started to come up the road from Le Verguier: of course it got its back wheel into a shell hole and we had a big job to get it out, got some of the 1st Royal Fusiliers to help us: we then wheeled the trailer a mile up-hill to the crash which we loaded on, working hard all night: lots of machine gun bullets coming over all the time & shrapnel. Left there at 3 am arriving back at the squadron 6-45 a.m. very cold & tired. During evening 12 Huns came over & one dived at our balloon at Roisel shooting it down: I lunched and dined with “C” Company 2/5 Manchester Regt who did me very well indeed.
March 16th – Slept most of the day & wrote letters Etc.
March 17th – The squadron shot down Ten Huns today: F.E. Brown got 2 & so did Clare who was shooting at a Triplane when it suddenly turned, crashing into a “V Strutter,” both went down locked together. The following got one each: W.H. Brown, Sorossil, Proctor & I forget the others. A beautiful day again today. 101 Squadron, night bombing F.E.’s are pretty busy tonight, one can hear their buzzing around up above. Am due to fly tomorrow morning escorting DH4’s of Naval Squadron 5 across the lines. Should be a lively time ahead of us.
March 18th – Was not allowed to fly today so didn’t go on patrol. All 84, 54 & 24 Squadrons escorted DH4’s of Naval No. 5 over to Busigny aerodrome: Number of large scraps occurred 25 miles over the line: We got 8 Huns but Payne & McCudden are missing. Nolan came over on horseback to see me, from 24 Squadron. We got our 100th Hun today: General Longcroft flew over on a Bristol monoplane.
March 19th – It rained most of today so there was no flying at all. Leask, Brown, Larson, Lennon, Hobson, Sorossil & myself went by tandem to Noyon where we had a very good dinner:
March 20th – Rained most of the day: I’m orderly officer today. a patrol went up this evening but saw nothing. Spent most of the afternoon in putting up my photos from Histed and sending them off. Lennon and I went to see the dentist at St. Creu in the morning. I had one tooth stopped. Great Hun bombardment started an hour ago (9 km) and we expect him to come over the top tomorrow morning: Looks like dirty work ahead.
March 21st – Thick mist all morning which cleared up about 3 o’clock. The Boche bombarded all last night and commenced a terrific drum-fire at 4 a.m. this morning: Lasted all day only dying away in the evening. Several large shells kept on whistling over and landing in fields near the aerodrome. We all spent all morning packing our kits up ready to move to a French aerodrome near Roye. We did 2 patrols today of an hour each. First we saw large formations of Hun Triplanes, far too great a number to attack. 2nd patrol ¾ of the squadron went out and over the lines at 16,000 ft. Several of us dived and fired into a Boche 2 seater over St. Quentin but had to leave it as several formations of Hun Triplanes appeared above us. My Engine started to cut out here and so I came down: we found that I’d got a burst water pipe and consequently had lost all my water! A Boche came over during dinner and dropped several bombs, 2 landing on the edge of aerodrome: Everyone suffered from “first up” today especially a Yankee officer who insisted on parading about all day with his Colt Revolver on his belt. This evening’s reports says the Boche only advanced 2,000 yards altogether! Saw along the front he attacked – roughly St. Quentin to Cambrai: no guns are firing at all tonight – a very pleasant rest too! Laison went on 14 days leave to Paris this evening! Lucky beggar! Lennon was shot down by 3 Pfalz but is alright.
March 22nd – A most strenuous day altogether. Commenced in the morning by packing up all our kit for moving to Champien near Roye: Mess and huts cleared of all kit, etc. and packed on lorries: of course, my Engine was “dud” and they spent all morning putting in a new one. We all went out on patrol in Squadron formation after lunch loaded with 4 20 lbs. bombs each: Only 2 of mine dropped and I didn’t see the result: I fired several rounds into Boche trenches. The Huns advanced wonderfully during the night and were only a few miles from Ham this morning: Lots of Huns over this side of the line and we saw several good scraps: a Dolphin brought a Hun 2 seater down in flames over Ham: we did a second patrol at 4:45. I led a small formation consisting of myself, Falkenburg, & Winkley: Saw lots of Huns, especially Pfalz and Triplanes: we however didn’t have any scraps as they were much above us.
After this patrol we flew straight to the new aerodrome which is huge and has a lovely surface: Started to settle our kit and I put my bed down in a room with Lawson: Had dinner with No. 5 Naval Squadron who also retreated Lede from Mons. Lots of squadrons on this aerodrome including 48 Bristol Fighters, Camels, Dophins, D.H.4’s & ourselves. Met Drewrey of Victoria here, he is in No 73 Camels. Twas a day of retreat alright most amusing to see hordes of these wretched Italians – labour parties – marching West with all their kit. The Yankee officer attached to us has had complete “wind up” all day long & has been marching about with a huge “6 shooter” strapped to his belt, he got away with the advance party too!! The Great Retreat today and Mons wasn’t in it!!
March 23rd – Another very strenuous day. We did 4 offensive patrols today a total of about 5 hours flying: chiefly strafing troops on the ground and also dropping our 20 lb. bombs on transport Etc: The Huns made a wonderful advance today and have taken Ham. Our old aerodrome which of course was burnt to the ground is well in his lines now: We were suddenly startled by machine-gun fire just about noon and on looking up we saw a Hun 2-seater coming straight for us and firing his guns as hard as possible! Too astonished to get “windy” Two S.P.A.D.s were on his tail & shot him down. A wild cheer going up when he was seen to land and then turn right over: we rushed up and collared them: I bagged the officer observers flying helmet as a souvenir.
Orders to move once more, this time right back to Vert Galant Aerodrome an old place not used since the Somme offensive! We flew here arriving about 7 a.m. Got some-thing to eat at an staminent and then went into our mission huts clothed in sidcots & waited for our kit to turn up. I luckily found an old bed which was very welcome. Everyone Else having to sleep on the floor. Our kit turned up at 1:30 a.m. and we all grabbed our own kits and laid them out then getting into bed. Simply worn out – one of the most strenuous days I’ve ever spent!
March 24th – Another strenuous day: We did an Early patrol in the morning but the weather came up dud thus cancelling the next patrol: Everyone delighted of course: Archie was excellent and he fairly put the wind up us over Ham. F.E. Brown & Winkle did not return in from their patrol: most probably lost coming back! Charles came back from leave and the Huns bombed Amiens last night! They’ve made a wonderful push & it looks as though we will have to fight the battles of the Somme over again.
March 25th – Got up Early for a reconnaissance of the villages Combles, Hardicourt Maricourt & Maurepas all N.E. of Peronne. Found the Boche troops there in the hundreds. Archie at Peronne was awfully good and he got several very near me.
I went down low to look at some troops marching along the Peronne-Albert road. I got down low and saw they were Boche. They turned machine guns galore on me, and shot my lower left longeron clean through, besides the rear span in the Landplane and several other holes: machine is a “write off” so I’ll get a new one. Dingbat Saunders came back from leave this morning, having had great difficulty in finding the squadron. Am far too busy to write any letters, can only send F.S.P.C.’s. F.E. Brown landed near Abbeville, latter crashed.
Went out at 5 o’clock on a low-strafing patrol with Shutleys Brown and Falkenburge: I dropped bombs & shot up Boche troops on the Nesle- Curchy road: it was good sport and they all scattered to the side of the road: it was fearfully bumpy up & the low clouds were bad too. A tenderful went into Amiens & we had a very good dinner at the Godbert restaurant: The Boche had bombed Amiens for several nights and the people there are very windy! It was a very cold trip back in the tender but we soon got to bed. No. 3 Squadron were pushed out of Warloy and so stayed with us last night.
March 26th – We are longing for rain but it doesn’t seem to come. The Huns are quite close to Albert and they’ve taken Roye. They are coming through in masses, hundreds and thousands of the beggars, it must be a great gamble for them and should they fail all must be up for the Boche: Ludendorff swears he will be in Paris in 10 days: I don’t really think he will although they have got on wonderfully. They’ve also actually shelled Paris with a long range gun! almost impossible we thought but its Evidently true. Leask, Soroseil, Proctor and I went out on patrol and shot up the Boche in front of Albert on the A-Bapume road. I dropped 3 20 lbs. high explosive bombs on them too: they showed their dislike by firing several hundred rounds from machine guns at me: no hits I’m glad to say. My new machine has arrived and the guns are being sighted at the moment: She will be ready for tomorrow but we are hoping it will rain as we are simply dead tired of patrols. I saw De Parcier of Vancouver on the aerodrome: he had bust the wheel on his bus – a Dolphin. I gave Stubbs 3 rolls of precious films to take home and post for me and I hear the careless little beggar has lost them in his haversack! I’m wild! Another patrol 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm Shot up Huns at Foucacourt.
March 27th – Weather fearfully cold and everyone is freezing. Didn’t go on the Early show but went with Leask & Saunders at 10 am to same place as last night: dived twice at a Hun below but didn’t get him as my guns were not working well and the Boche infantry shot me up too much from below. Lots of stuff thrown up at us and I got some shrapnel pretty near. Any amount of different machines landing on our aerodrome, all lost or else shot through: Dolphins, A.W.s RE 8, DH4, Camels Etc Etc. My new machine is a splendid one and the very best SE I’ve ever flown. Gen. Salmond sent a telegram to 84th Sqd congratulating us on our work in his battle. Went up again at 3 o’clock and strafed more Boche at Foucacourt: very bumpy indeed and Archie and field guns were good. Met 9 Huns & climbed up above them driving them down to the Camels below who scrapped them: I saw a machine gun go down in flames on the other side:
Orders to move once more and the kit has to be packed again!! I’m sick of all this moving around.
Met Hosking of 74 Sqn. on the aerodrome, he is flying SE’s and is at Savy. Went to bed very early.
March 28th – Got up at 7 oclock and went on this same old low-strafing stunt with Leask & Proctor: Dived lots of times on Huns on the banks of Somme above Foucacourt but got both guns out of action so had to come home having been out an hour: It’s very cold indeed and we are moving from here tonight to some other so-called aerodrome.
Started to pour with rain at 3 oclock and we got orders to fly over to the new aerodrome at Hiermont: we left Vert Galant at 6 in a blinding rain-storm and how we found the aerodrome is a perfect wonder: I came by myself and luckily struck the very field we were allotted . made a respectable landing & then commenced to tie down the machine on this bare open field with a driving rain & wind: then we left the field by tender for our billets in the village of Hiermont. mine is not too dusty and four of us are in the same room- Johnson Bray & Hobson – who though shot down this morning managed to get back after burning his machine. I luckily got into the room first & bagged the only feather bed in the place! Had a sort of scrap dinner in the mess at 9:30 of eggs and potatoes & they did taste good: we were all starving! Went to bed directly after dinner.
March 29th—Had a glorious night on the feather bed and didn’t get up until 9 oclock. Went up to the aerodrome by tender (4 miles) in the morning expecting a patrol to be ordered but thank goodness it never came off: however Soroseil and I went up in the afternoon and shot at a few Boche on the ground: there was an exceedingly strong W wind blowing and I’ve never been in such bumps! got back alright. Amiens is evacuated, very very few people being left and all the shops closed up! I suppose my poor old friends the Cascas from Villers, Brettoneux have fled too. Its fearfully hard luck on these poor people!
March 30th—Four of us stood by all morning waiting to escort the DH4’s of Naval Squad No 5 over to do some bombing as they’d met several Huns on their Early show. However, much to Everyone’s joy it simply poured with rain and we didn’t go. I had lunch with the Naval people and met a very nice fellow named Gamon. We got a tender into Abbeville about 5:30 and I bought a few things there and also had a magnificent dinner at the Officer’s Club: we came back about 9:30 all quite tired and plenty of rain coming down, which looks good for tomorrow. Poor old F.E. Brown crashed into the ground in the mist and was thrown out of his machine which immediately burst into flames. he got slight concussion and a broken arm. Travers was shot down by several Huns & spun into the ground: he only had a few bruises and a strained ankle! Some people are lucky.
March 31—Easter Day and no one would think it at all- I went out on patrol in the morning to shoot up Huns on the Roye- Amiens road as they were attacking there: it was very very windy and low clouds made it extremely bumpy: we ran into several “V. Strutter’s” (Albatross single seaters) and I fired a short burst at 2 of them but they managed to get away & hide in the clouds: There were 9 SE’s in our formation which must have put the wind up them!
I started off on another patrol—a patrol to strafe Hun balloons, but my Engine began to leak oil after 20 minutes flying so I came back.
Most of the chaps have gone into Abbeville tonight but I’m going to try and write some letters, the first since the battle started! I walked up to 65 Squadron to enquire after Mackinnon but they don’t know any more than that he disappeared in a mist while on patrol.
April 1st – No “April fooling” today, Everybody & Everything too serious. I got up at 6:30 and went on a patrol at 7:30. Shot up Boche on the Roye-Amiens Road and St.Q-A. road. Very nice up. No bumps at all- went up again with Proctor at 12:30 and did the same strafing. Very bumpy indeed & I was Ever so glad to come down. Poor old Winkley was shot down in flames by some Triplanes by Moreuil Wood and Leask is also missing: The whole squadron is going out tomorrow on a high O.P. and we are going to strafe these wretched Huns, who are getting far too uppish These days. Lawson came back from leave, being wired for!
April 2nd – Got up for an early O.P. but it rained and one thing or another so we didn’t start until 10:30: we got very badly Archied. S.W. of the Roye road where we crossed the lines in the clouds for some miles: Proctor led the formation & we saw no Huns at all—it was fearfully bumpy: I’m jiggered if I like these bumpy days.
Did another O.P. at 5:30 – it was beautiful up and we saw about 17 Huns in a bunch: too many for 5 of us to tackle! got archied a bit over Lamotte but not so half badly as this morning’s show- I wrote some letters & went to bed early. Leask turned up at 2:00 am this morning, his engine having seized 1,000 ft. over the lines.
April 3rd – The whole squadron went out in the morning on an O.P. and we met hordes of Huns, chiefly V. Strutter’s and Pflaz. 65 Squadron Camels joined us and we had a large scrap lasting nearly an hour altogether: we got 6 Huns, 4 crashed & 2 out of control: Did another patrol in the afternoon. Leask & Travers went home.
April 4th – Rained all day long. we had lunch with Naval No 5 and then started in the rain for Bertangles aerodrome, which we all reached safely: we then had to fly across to the other side of the aerodrome, having started our engines, ourselves in pelting rain it certainly was pretty terrible: we joined No. 3 Australian Squadron here: Hosking, who was with them, was blown to pieces the other day by direct hit of Archie. Slept in a soaking wet tent, Everyone pretty miserable!
April 5th & 6th—Did various patrols Etc but owing to a make-shift tent life, I haven’t written up for these two days.
April 7th – Went up at 12 oclock on an O.P. we climbed at once after a high 2-seater well this side of the lines but when we got above the clouds we couldn’t find him anywhere – got some good Archie – also saw 5 V.Strutters ([?]) over Lamotte. We Enticed them over our side but when we got to their level they ran away. Went up again at 4 oclock, led by Talton, our new flight commander. We again climbed right away as there was a Hun 2-seater being well-archied over Amiens: we couldn’t get to him in time and so he got away – archie of course being absolutely “dud”: we then went down the Roye road about 10 miles over the lines & at 12,000 feet. Saw a few Albatross V-Strutters miles over and on our way back we got well archied- we then came down through various rainstorms and went up to Albert: We were about 2,000 feet when suddenly 3 Hun 2 seaters came out of the mist 3,000 feet above us: we climbed to attack and I fired a drum into my Hun: Vickers gun was dud so I had to turn away when my drum was finished. He popped at me the whole time and got very close – I didn’t get the beggar- Got plenty of good Archie over Villers-Brettoneaux when ground strafing. Shut-Eye Brown went home to H.E. & Proctor went on leave today. I went over to dinner with 48 Squadron, Aste came too—Quite a strafe on the line tonight and about 12 oclock Midnight about 15 Huns came overhead to bomb us: Archie kept going the whole time & was most annoying. There is a squadron patrol at 8-15 tomorrow morning.
April 8th—No patrol thank goodness as its raining hard and a thick ground mist is on!
Played Roulette most of the morning. & at 6 o’clock I went with Aste, Tatten, Gosvenor & Lester Kaye in the C.O.’s car to Doullens: when we got there we found we couldn’t get anything to Eat so after buying a few mess things we went down to Amiens where we got an excellent dinner at Charleys. Pate de foi’s, mock turtle soup, lobster, pork & asparagus! A huge meal! Amiens is quite deserted, all shops closed up. About a dozen people looting have been shot!
April 9th—A very wet and misty day—no flying consequently-- C.O. and several others went into Amiens for a dinner at “Charleys” where we were last night but they found that his place had been hit by a Hun Shell in the morning, so they had to come back, greatly disappointed:
I walked over to 35 Squadron & saw Walton and Major Holt: they are just across the way from us.
April 10th—Went out in squadron formation: I was deputy leader of “A” Flight: very few Huns about, but Grosvenor in “B” Flight got on Pfalz. E of Albert. Tatton, Falkenburg & I went after a balloon at Lihons 12 miles over the line: we dived down from 9,000 to 2,500 but although we were using this new Buckingham we couldn’t fire it. They jolly soon dragged it down, however, and peppered us with good close Archie on our way back. Johnson, Hobson, & Proctor got the M.C. today!
The Huns are reported to have pushed between Givenchy & Laventie and to have gained ground: where Ever they get the men from is a wonder= There was continuous drum fire on this front all last night: Swede Lawson goes home today. Nobody is sorry!
We went out again on an O.P. but only stayed out 20 minutes as the weather was so dud: coming into the aerodrome I very nearly collided with a Bristol Fighter.
April 11th – Supposed to have a rest today but as the Boches hope to take Amiens by tomorrow we had to do big shows. Went up at 3-30 on O.P. over Albert Ste. Got heavily archied at first and towards the end of patrol we met 8 Triplanes & 2 Pfalz 5 miles East of Albert – we at once attacked the beggars- three of us, Tatton, Soroseil & myself – 3 Tripes got on my tail & fired quite a lot at me but no hits. I then went head on to a Pfalz firing both guns all the time. He flopped over & went into a spin. Naval people in 207 Camels saw him going down – half-way through the scrap the Camels came and helped us which saved our bacon! Tatton and Sorce both got one Each.
Lots of Huns came over this evening just before dinner to bomb Amiens. Archie was bursting all over the sky & one old Hun came right over the aerodrome – everyone fired at him with machine guns: he got away alright. Quite a lot of gun strafing going on tonight. Hun today!!
April 12th – I started off for patrol with the others but my engine went dud & I couldn’t get off the ground- I came back and got it fixed: dozens of Huns came over Amiens and our Archie was going all day long: I saw one Hun spin into the ground- Went on the afternoon patrol: we got up to 17,000 and nearly froze there- it has been a wonderful day & as clear as anything: I could see St. Quentin & Roye as plainly as possible, when we were over Amiens. Major officer of the Australians came over to see me: he is quite close by: I was glad to see him!
April 13th – “A” Flight went out 7:30 to drop bombs on Huns down to Roye road- We dropped ours on Quesnel and I never saw so much archied in all my life: also tracer from the ground which greatly put the wind up me. Archie was wonderful, & the sky was nothing but black puffs. I got some through my main spar, our bombs were very successful & we all got back safely, 3 of us being hit!
April 14th – Weather perfectly dud and a huge gale blowing so no flying: Major officer & young Birdwood came over and had tea with me in the afternoon and I went over to dinner with them at the 1st Anzac Corps Hdqts.
April 15th – Another dud day but we went out at 8-50 am as the Boche were reported to be attacking at Hangard: did some very low flying and shooting up. I got hit through the Engine when some way over but fortunately she didn’t seize up till I reached the Amiens-Corbie road where I landed successfully: went in to P battery 52 Section of the Archies and they looked after me well- C.O. sent his car out for me and when we were coming back a shell landed 20 yds in front of us blowing the place to pieces! A near one!
April 16th – A wet misty day and no flying was done till the afternoon when Saunders and I went over to Morcourt to Strafe a balloon: no one up so we shot at the village & got some good Archie coming home. Officer and Birdwood came over to tea.
April 17th – I’ve got a new Engine in my machine and its quite a good one- No flying at all today for me! The Boche guns were very busy indeed all day long!
April 18th – Got up at 5.15 as the French were counter-attacking at Moreuil however it was too dud to fly so we all went back to bed again & got up at 10 oclock played a very strenuous game of Rugger against 48 Squadron – they beat us 12-nil- after the game Tatton Soarce & I went up on patrol: not much doing: we got some good Archie over Villers-Brettoneux. Very windy and cold-
April 19th—We all got up early and “stood by” all day long: weather was too dud however and no patrols went up till the evening when “C” Flight including the C.O took the air!
Major Officer came to see me and we walked together up to Bertangles Chateux. Its very cold indeed and we have to get up at 4:30 tomorrow morning as the old Hun is expected to attack at Villers-Brettoneux!!! Sounds nasty! Am feeling very bruised and stiff after yesterday’s game of Rugger!
April 20th – Tatton, Soroseil, Falkenburg and I went out on an early patrol, having got up at 4:30 am: twas very cold indeed. We got over to Wiencourt, dropped our bombs on the station there then forced down a balloon and got very heavily archied coming home: I came straight back as my thermometer was dud but the patrol went on up to Albert where there got some more Archie: poor old Tatton was evidently hit for he came down in a fast dive from 10,000 feet and when 500 feet up & near Amiens his machine burst into flames and when we found him he was dead having been thrown clear when the machine burnt up. Poor old “Tatters” he was a splendid fellow and we all miss him fearfully, especially at the piano. We did another patrol in the evening led by Soarce. Nothing doing at all- The Boche is expected to launch his great attack for Amiens any day now.
April 21st – No attack yet by Fritz – we did 2 patrols today: I led the first one consisting of Manzer & Simpson, both Soarce & Falkenburg dropping out because of dud engines. Nothing much doing on the line. Baron von Richtofen, the crack German airman, was shot down & killed this morning: he was flying a red triplane & fell in our lines, everybody extremely glad about it.
We did another squadron patrol in the evening but didn’t see a single Hun we went a long way over and got some good Archie.
Poor old Tatters was buried this afternoon at the C.C.S. near Brie, we miss him very much indeed. I spent some of the morning in packing his kit. I’m now deputy leader of the flight. Major Officer came over to tea this afternoon and several tons of bombs were dropped into Amiens about 10 o’clock- Fritz also threw 15 inch shells over until 1:30 am They fell beyond the aerodrome so I don’t know whether he was trying for us or not!
April 22nd – The whole squadron went out and escorted S.P.A.D.S. of No 23 Sqd. over the line: there were clouds about and we got a long way over plenty of Archie flying about and 9 Triplanes whom we drove well East. We did another show this evening only with Camels of 65 Sqd. “Sorce” dropped out with a dud Engine so I led “A” flight – saw 9 Triplanes a long way over the lines.
Richtofen was buried this afternoon in Bertangles- I saw his machine which was a complete wreck.