No. 11 Sqdn
R F.C. B.E.F. France
8 Apr. 17.
Dear Ones All,
What do you think of this gorgeous note-paper? Some class to No. 11 Sqdn, eh?
Well this is my birth-day and it is also Easter Sunday and I have come to the conclusion that the Huns are not Christians and that they are not nice to know. Our peaceful little trip over the lines this morning just to take a few photographs of their pretty trenches and things, was apparently unwelcome to them, and our presence over their territory decidedly obnoxious, that is, if one is to judge by the reception we received. We went over the lines like this
[arrow to drawing] This one was me. It was a nice little formation and we were about ten miles over and clicking away with our cameras to beat the band when "Archie" started. The Hun archie is not nice. It makes a loud noise when it bursts and it is a dirty black color. Our Archie is a pretty white puff and furthermore it doesn’t come close at hand like the stuff the Huns send up at poor airmen. I don’t like the sound of those shells and I don’t like the way they bump your machine around. It made me sore when I realized that they were actually firing at me- for they fired at us each in turn and a pretty good job they made of it too for all our machines were sprinkled though not enough to do any damage. Then Archie stopped suddenly and we all looked around for the Hun machines which we knew must be approaching. They weren’t hard to find- five of them coming up from below, all single seater scouts and climbing like the dickens. We closed up as much as possible, but one of the Huns thought it worth while to try to pick me off. My observer was standing up and ready for him and potted at him over the upper plane. However, he got under our tail out of reach and potted away for a few seconds.
In that time he got a couple of bullets into our engine which pierced both intake pipes. I pulled the old bus up until she was standing on her tail and my observer, almost lying on top of me, got a good burst at him which either hit him or frightened him for he made off. The whole thing was over in less than half a minute as most air scraps are. My engine, of course, was done and I had to core down, although the faithful old creature kept ticking over at about 2/3 her normal speed and brought me back to within a few miles of our aerodrome and well back of our own lines. We were at about 10,000 feet up when we had our scrap and I was mighty glad to have the height when it came to the glide down as otherwise I would be writing this letter in Hunland to-night.
I managed to make safe landing in a field comparatively free from shell craters and barbed wire. After that we had a fine time. There was a certain divisional headquarters within half a mile of the place and we had lunch with a major general and had a whale of a meal too, best I have had since leaving England- all complete with full stage setting of brass hats, and other spectacular things.
I telephoned to the Squadron and had them send the necessary spare parts. The repairs were soon finished and with the help of a crowd of tommies got the old machine up in the air and home in time for tea. Oh, it’s a great little war! And that’s how I celebrated my birth-day. To-morrow I am orderly officer and probably will be kept on the ground all day. I am peeved that we didn’t get that Hun. However, it will be good experience for next time.
My observer to-day was a South African named Duncan and a mighty comfortable sort of fellow to have with you in a scrap. I wish I could keep him but they change them around a good deal in this squadron. As we were beating it homewards with our groggy engine, this chap saw two Huns flying 2000 or 3000 feet above us, and straightway lay down on his back in the bottom of the machine, lifted the machine gun off its mounting and popped away at them- scared them too, though the range was impossible for accurate shooting.
Must close now, Dear People, I haven’t heard from anybody yet since coming out here. Hope some letters arrive soon for I feel so absolutely in the dark about the doings at home.
Yours with heaps of love