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Title: War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator
Author: Anonymous
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eBook No.: 0701101.txt
Language:  English
Date first posted: October 2007
Date most recently updated: October 2007

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Title: War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator (1926)
Author: Anonymous





September 20th, 1917

Aboard R.M.S. Carmania in the harbour of Halifax.

Well, here I am aboard ship and three days out of New York, waiting for a
convoy at Halifax. This seems to be a fitting place to start a diary. I
am leaving my continent as well as my country and am going forth in
search of adventure, which I hope to find in Italy, for that is where we
are headed. We are a hundred and fifty aviators in embryo commanded by
Major MacDill, who is an officer and a gentleman in fact as well as by
Act of Congress. We are travelling first-class, thanks to him, though we
are really only privates, and every infantry officer on board hates our
guts because we have the same privileges they do. Capt. Swan, an old
Philippine soldier, is supply officer.

This morning when we steamed into harbour, which is a wonderful place, we
found five or six transports already here. The soldiers on them, all that
could, got into the boats and came over to see us. They rowed around and
around our boat and cheered and sang. They were from New Zealand and a
fine husky bunch they were. One song went:

Onward, conscript soldiers, marching as to war,
You would not be conscripts, had you gone before.

This is a beautiful place. I expect my opinion is largely due to my frame
of mind, but it really is pretty. Low jagged hills form the horizon and
on the south side of the river as we came up, is solid rock with a little
dirt over it in spots but the rock sticking through everywhere like bones
through a poor horse.

We went through two submarine nets stretched across the mouth of the
harbour. I wish I had words to describe the feeling I had when all the
soldiers in the harbour came over to tell us howdy. One New Zealander, I
think he was a non-com, stood up in the back of the boat and said, "You
fellows don't look very happy." And I guess our boys don't at that--the
doughboys, I mean. We've got over two thousand of them on board of the
9th Infantry Regiment of the regular army. Anyway, New Zealand beat us
cheering with their full throated, "Hip Hurrah Hip Hurrah Hip Hurrah!"
But they said they were five weeks out and knew each other pretty well,
while our boys aren't acquainted yet.

I have a stateroom with Lawrence Callahan from Chicago, who roomed with
me at Ground School, where we suffered together under Major Kraft and had
a lot of fun from time to time in spite of him. We almost got separated
at New York as he was going to France with another detachment over at
Governor's Island. I got Elliott Springs, our top sergeant, to get the
Major to have him transferred to us. We had a good crowd over at Mineola
and I saw him in town and he told me he was in a rotten bunch over there.
I was a sergeant as Springs had me promoted because I took a squad out
and unloaded a carload of canned tomatoes after two others had fallen
down on the job. We got him transferred all right and then he got mad as
fury at Springs because he made him peel potatoes for four days for
chewing gum in ranks. On the fourth day Cal told Springs how much trouble
he had taken to join his outfit and that he hadn't come prepared to be a
perpetual kitchen police. Springs said he was very glad to have him but
if he wanted to chew gum in ranks he'd have to peel potatoes the rest of
the day every time he did it. Cal said he'd already been assigned to the
job for four days. Springs said he knew it but that so far he hadn't
peeled a single potato and he was going to get one day's work out of him
if he had to chain him to the stove to do it. Cal won though, because
Springs was too busy to watch him and he never did finish one pan of
spuds.

I've got to go to boat drill now. We practise abandoning ship every day.

That's over. My platoon is assigned to the top deck and Captain La
Guardia is in charge of our boat. He is a congressman from New York City
and learned to fly last year. He is an Italian so was sent over with us.
He managed to bring along two of his Italian ward bosses as cooks. One of
them owns a big Italian restaurant and yet here he is as a cook. And he
can't cook!

I probably won't write much in this thing. I never have done anything
constantly except the wrong thing, but I want a few recollections jotted
down in case I don't get killed.

I am going to make two resolutions and stick to them. I am not going to
lose my temper any more I fight too much. And I am going to be very
careful and take care of myself. I am not going to take any unnecessary
chances. I want to die well and not be killed in some accident or die of
sickness--that would be terrible, a tragic anticlimax. I haven't lived
very well but I am determined to die well. I don't want to be a hero--too
often they are all clay from the feet up, but I want to die as a man
should. Thank God, I am going to have the opportunity to die as every
brave man should wish to die--fighting--and fighting for my country as
well. That would retrieve my wasted years and neglected opportunities.

But if I don't get killed, I want to be able to jog my memory in my
declining years so that I can say, "Back in 1917 when I was an aviator, I
used to--!" I'll probably not write any more for a week, or perhaps no
more at all.

September 21st

We left Halifax in a haze just as the sun, blood red, broke through the
clouds for an instant before it set behind those rock-ribbed hills. It
was a wonderful sight seen from our ship, one of a convoy of fourteen
strung out, as we left the harbour in a stately majestic procession. All
hail to Mars, the Kaiser's godfather!

As we came through from the inner basin down the river south to the sea,
we passed the British battle cruisers, their bands all playing the "Star
Spangled Banner" and their crews cheering with their well organized "Hip
Hurrah," the "Hip" being given by an officer through a megaphone. As we
were coming out of the inner basin, one of our convoy steamed past us
with one lone bugler playing our national anthem and every one on board
standing rigidly at attention. I never had quite such a thrill from the
old tune before and I am really beginning to love it. The bugler played,
"God Save the King," too, and not a sound was made on either ship as the
clear, sweet, almost plaintive notes stole out over the water. I am sure
every man on board was affected no matter how hardboiled he was.

There is a cottage to the right of the river going up where only three
women live. I am sure no men are there and they must be Americans for
they had a big U.S. flag. When we passed they dipped their flag on the
house and one of them wigwagged, "Good-bye, good luck, God bless you!"

September 22nd

We haven't done much to-day except watch the other ships. They changed
their formation every little while during the morning and finally settled
down in three lines of four ships each with one ship leading and the
Carmania bringing up the rear. That makes fourteen in the convoy not
counting our escort. It rained all morning but held up this evening. It
remained cloudy and the wind blew. Every one thought we were going to
have some rough weather to-night. I was just on deck and the stars were
peeping through the clouds and they were as bright as diamonds. I never
saw sky more beautiful. I tried to count the other thirteen ships but
could not. I was arrested by the guard for smoking on deck. He saw my
wrist watch. No lights, no matter how faint, can be shown except the red
and green navigating lights on the masts. A British Commander told us
that one ship was torpedoed because some one carelessly struck a match on
the deck.

There is never an intermission of cards in the smoker. We shoot crap in
our staterooms and I am gradually collecting all kinds of money--Italian,
French, English and best of all, a little American. We don't know what
all this foreign money is worth so we have to shoot it by the
colour--green against green, and yellow against yellow. The coins rank by
size. I guess it's all even in the end.

September 24th

I wrote nothing yesterday. Nothing happened except I saw a fight on the
lower deck from above and heard a quartette and a speech down below.
Quite a sea has been running to-day, or so it seems to me, and several of
the boys have been sick. Especially Leach from Tuscaloosa, who is awfully
low. They put a sign on him as he lay in his chair on the deck: "I want
peace and quiet."

We spend two hours a day studying Italian. La Guardia and the two cooks
and Gaipa are the instructors. I am way behind and will never catch up. I
am discouraged about it. I learned all sorts of queer things at Ground
School without much trouble so guess I can catch up but I sure hate to
think of the hard work I have to do.

There's a full moon to-night and the sea is beautiful. Oh, for words to
describe it! It makes me sad and makes me ache inside for something, I
don't know what. I guess it's a little loving I need. There are twenty
nurses on board but they are all dated up for the rest of the voyage.
They certainly ought to get all the attention they need.

The wind is rising and whining through the rigging of the ship. We can
hear it crying down here in our staterooms. I am going on deck to see
what goes on. It's a wonderful night, as clear as a bell and this big old
ship rising and falling, sloughing its way through the sea. This must be
a wonderful life at sea. I shall always carry the picture in my mind of
the damp decks and masts rearing along under the stars with the white
foam spreading from both sides every time she dips. I wish I could soak
it all up and keep it. God, I am young, life is before me, and if I have
wonderful memories, when I get old I will be happy. I have spent all my
life so far in harsh surroundings and had so much hard work that I think
some good time is coming to me. And I have always longed for better
things but didn't know how to go about getting them. But now Fate has
tossed me this opportunity. I must make the best of it! All I have to pay
for it is my life! I must make it worth the bargain! I am always feeling
sorry for myself, a poor habit and one I am going to cut out. Well, I'll
try this thrice accursed Italian for a few minutes now.

September 25th

Something queer went on this evening. The Painted Lady, as we call the
camouflaged cruiser that is escorting us, turned around and circled
behind us and fired a few shots. We don't know what she was firing at.
She sure is a queer-looking boat. She's painted all different colours in
lines and squares and you can't tell which way she is going or what she
is until you get close to her. Another boat in our convoy is painted the
colour of the ocean and then has a smaller ship painted over it going the
other way. From any distance it is very deceptive. Another ship has the
same arrangement except the deception is in the angle of her course.

We went below, Cal and I, to hear the Steerage Quartette, as they call
themselves. Enlisted men they are and natural born entertainers. One boy
sang "I ain't got nobody" wonderfully well. Spalding played one of his
own compositions for us. One day at Mineola, Springs was looking about as
usual for some kitchen police. He put the first six men to work peeling
potatoes. While they were manicuring the spuds he checked up their
service records. One record caught his eye. The name on it was Albert
Spalding and he gave his profession as musician. He was sent to our
detachment as an Italian interpreter. Springs went out to the kitchen and
asked him if he was the guy that played the fiddle. Spalding allowed as
how he was. Springs asked him where his pet instrument was. He said he'd
left it in town. So Springs pardoned him from the peeling and sent him
back to town after it. He isn't a cadet but an enlisted man and isn't
eligible for a commission as we are. I hear that he lost a $35,000 a year
contract. I guess he will be figured into a commission somehow, though.
He should be. They put him down in the steerage and won't allow him up in
the first-class with us. Springs and MacDill are trying to get him up but
the regular army colonel of this regiment won't hear of it. But he plays
for the enlisted men every night down below.

I feel safe from seasickness now and would enjoy myself immensely if it
were not for this Italian. I never will learn it unless I do some work so
here goes! I thought my troubles were over when I got rid of that
wireless.

September 26th

Nothing much doing. We have to do submarine watch after to-morrow and I
am sergeant of the second relief. At last I will get a chance to go up on
that little trick platform on the front of the ship and also on the
bridge.

September 29th

I haven't written anything for the past two days. Nothing really of
noteworthy importance has happened until this evening. I was sergeant of
the guard yesterday or rather of the submarine watch. We had a watch
posted at five points on the ship. Each man had a certain arc that he was
to keep his eye on. No man was to take anything to drink for twelve hours
before he was to go on watch. We were supposed to look out for gulls
which they say usually follow in the wake of a sub. Everybody has to take
their turn at it except Springs, who is sort of perpetual officer of the
day and runs the show. We did have a guard mount at five in the afternoon
but MacDill and Springs and Deetjen are the only ones that know how to do
it so we had to abandon that after the first day. No periscopes have been
sighted yet though one boy got all excited over a big piece of timber
that was sticking up. The signal for take to the boats is five whistles
and yesterday while our company barber was shaving one of the boys, it
blew three times. It scared the barber so bad that he couldn't finish the
shave. Nervousness has been growing for the last few days about subs.
There has been a kind of tension barely noticeable. No one is actually
scared but we all feel a little nervous about it. We have had to wear our
life preservers all the time since yesterday morning. They are very
uncomfortable and are a great nuisance but the order is strictly
enforced. We wear them to meals and put them beside our chairs while we
eat. No refuse of any kind is thrown overboard except at night when it is
all thrown over at one time. That's to prevent leaving any trace.

Everybody felt funny about the thing until four this afternoon, right
after Italian. I went up on deck and the sea was swarming with submarine
chasers. Lord, how happy every one was at the sight of them! They are the
prettiest little ships I ever saw, about a hundred and twenty feet over
all, I would say. They cut through the water instead of riding the waves
but there were no waves today. You can't feel the motion of the ship at
all. They say we have three American chasers with us but we couldn't tell
which they were. Lord, those little boats are fast; they fairly fly
through the water and cleave it so clear and clean. I would give a leg to
own one. They are all run by steam. I thought there would be gas boats,
but I guess we are too far out for them.

I never slept as much in my life as I have on this ship. Must be the salt
air.

I hear we will sight the coast of Ireland to-morrow about twelve o'clock
and be in Liverpool Monday. It can't be too soon for me, I'm sick to
death of this Italian.

Everybody on board makes fun of my laughing. I never knew before I joined
the army that there was anything unusual about it, but it seems to waken
every one on this side of the ship. Poor McCook, the ugliest man alive,
is worried to death about subs. The boys, Curtis and McCurry, have kidded
him until he sleeps in his clothes including his puttees and shoes.
Curtis says he'll be mad as hell if the ship isn't sunk.

We have an ex-cowboy with us named Bird, who has been having a terrible
time behaving himself. Bob Kelly was a cowboy out in Arizona for a while
when he was trying to shake off the con and every time they get together
the storm clouds gather. They are good friends of Springs's and whenever
they get started he joins them and tries to quiet things down. One night
last week Bird got tired of this paternal supervision in the bar and went
down below. Then he started giving his cowboy yell and the matter was
reported to the Major. The Major said he didn't want to be hard on
anybody but he couldn't overlook it, so he left the punishment to
Springs. Springs put him on the waggon for a week. Since then he has been
sitting around the table in the bar drinking ginger ale and looking at
Springs in a pleading tone of voice so he let him off to-night in honour
of the prospects of seeing land to-morrow. We had a big crap game later
in our staterooms. First Jake Stanley took all the money and then Springs
took it all from him and finally Stokes ended up with it all. I don't
know how much it was but there were a couple of handfuls of assorted
paper.

How I hate those Italian lessons. They finally got Spalding up in the
first-class on the excuse that he has to be there for private
instructions. All he does is play bridge with Springs, Cal, and the
Major. They say that he is the fastest bridge player in the world,
whatever that means. Crap is my game but the Major outlawed that. We can
gamble at bridge and drink all we want as long as we don't get drunk. Now
isn't that a fine distinction! I don't know how to play bridge and I like
to get drunk.

October 1st

To-morrow we will wake in Merrie England. Oh, boy! This voyage is nearly
over. I am sorry in one way and glad in another. I am growing restless
and want a change. This ship is too monotonous.

We left the other ships about nine-thirty last night and steamed off at
full speed. We are making nineteen knots now and it seems high speed
after the snail's pace we have had. We picked up a lighthouse shortly
after leaving the convoy and Cal and I fancied we saw land by the light
of the moon away off on the starboard. The sea is as green as grass and
has been all day. It's beautiful, and the foam from our wake is as white
as snow. We have only one chaser with us and it is streaking along in
front. I found out that they are not as small as they look. They are
nearly three hundred feet long. I am rather excited about arriving in
Liverpool tomorrow and going across England by train to London. I know it
will be a peach of a trip.

October 3rd

So this is England. We landed yesterday morning and took a train right at
the dock for Oxford. We aren't going to Italy after all. We've got to go
to Ground School all over again. Our orders got all bawled up in Paris
and MacDill, La Guardia, the doctors, the enlisted men and Spalding have
gone on to France. MacDill said he would go on to Paris and get the
orders straightened out and come back for us. Somebody had made a
mistake. All our mail is in Italy, all our money is in lira and our
letters of credit are drawn on banks in Rome and we've wasted two weeks
studying Italian and two months going to Ground School learning nonsense
for now we've got to go through this British Ground School here. And we
hear that everything that we were taught at home is all wrong. Gosh, I
hope some day I get a chance to tell Major Kraft that. We left all our
baggage and equipment at Liverpool because we couldn't wait until it was
unloaded. Springs left Kelly in charge of it and he picked Bird and Adams
and Kerk to stay with him to help. I'll bet they don't show up for a
month. They are fools if they do.

We came through the most beautiful country I ever saw. It made me think
of Grimm's Fairy Tales. The greenest fields imaginable and no fences,
just hedges and occasionally a stone wall. We did see some fences too,
but very few and they were board, no wire. I think the biggest field I
saw was about sixty acres and they ranged down to about one and a half
acres. Most of the fields were pasture lands or seemed so. They were
covered with this intensely green grass. I saw a good many haystacks, so
I guess they must cut this grass and cure it. There was never a frame
house, all the houses were the softest red brick, I mean the colour, and
all pretty too, or I should say, picturesque, and never an inch of ground
wasted even on the railroad right-of-way, which was all in grass except
where it was planted in vegetables.

I am living at Christ Church College in a room with Callahan, Jim Stokes,
and Springs. Stokes and Springs had a stateroom together on board ship.
Our barracks are a million years old, I know, because it took it that
long to cool off to this temperature. The stone is crumbling away and the
whole place is very ancient and has all that charm and dignity that only
antiquity can give. Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII built it or had
something to do with it. I haven't found out whether they got fired from
it or gave money to it. Either one makes a man famous. Our mess-hall is
like a chapel, with stained glass windows and the most wonderful
paintings all around the walls. The ceiling is very high and is beamed.
It's an inverted V and has the old black wood inside with the cross fancy
work showing on it.

We have champagne with our meals at $2.10 a bottle! We get the vintage of
1904. This is indeed the life! I am full of it now and that's why I can't
write very well. Every one over here is so damn polite. I know now why
they always think of us as savages. This is the most charming country I
ever dreamed of. Cal and I went canoeing on the Thames this evening and
saw some sights. I tell you this is the home of the brave and the land of
free love.

Most of the boys are pretty mad. We all came over as volunteers and we
volunteered for service in Italy and not in England. There seems to be a
good deal of prejudice against the British.

This is Sunday. I don't know the date but I am sober so it must be
Sunday. The description of this country is so far beyond me that I will
have to leave it to a better pen than I wield. It suits me!

Yesterday the old fellow, the dean of Christ Church College, took us all
through the church and showed us the interesting things there. The newest
part of the church is only about four hundred years old but it is built
on the ruins of an old Norman church and one of its present walls was
built in 700 A.D. being then a part of the priory of St. Frideswide. This
quadrangle where we live is called Peckwater Quad and where the mess-hall
is, Tom Quad. The architecture over there is Moorish and is the work of
Sir Christopher Wren. I would love to know all the old English gentlemen
who spent, or misspent their youth here at Oxford and slept in this very
room. I'll bet they love the wasted part of their youth best. I hear
to-day that we will only be here five weeks. I think that will be long
enough but I won't mind as long as the champagne holds out. Fry, Curtis,
Cal, Brown, and I took a bicycle ride over to the Duke of Marlborough's
palace at Woodstock. It is a beautiful place and was given to the old
Duke by Queen Anne, I think, for winning a battle. It fulfils my idea of
what a palace ought to be. It's on a hill overlooking a beautiful lake
with little islands in it and a most imposing picturesque bridge across
it. He has erected the statue of Victory or some such idea on the far
side of the bridge to commemorate his victory. The Duchess is an American
girl.

It's a ten-mile ride from Oxford and about every two miles there is the
most delightful wayside inn where you get this English ale and Scotch
whisky and cheese and bread. We made all the stops going and coming and I
never saw such quaint places or quaint people. We stopped in Woodstock
and had a bottle of port and lunch. The woman who ran the place could
hardly understand our American way of talking.

I went to the barber shop yesterday and asked for a hair cut. I got a
hair cut, shampoo, singe and a big revolving brush run over my head for
the equivalent of fifty cents. They don't have any regular barber chairs
over here. They sit you down in a regular office chair, and they never
heard of a hot towel.

Everything over here is dirt cheap. The English don't run up the price on
anything just because it's scarce. I think there're some laws on the
subject. There's no candy for sale except in small lots at a few places,
yet the price is the same as if it were plentiful. I tried to buy all the
chocolate they had at one little shop. They told me they couldn't sell
but one piece to a customer and when that was gone they couldn't get any
more. I told them I would buy it all and they could close up and go on a
vacation. But they couldn't see it that way and all I got was one piece.

We met a private last night in the Canton Bar who seemed to resent the
presence of American troops in Oxford. He was Irish and seemed to be
looking for trouble. I was all for helping him find it. He wanted to know
where we had been for the last three years. I wonder how much of that
feeling there is. Every one else has seemed more than glad to see us and
is more than cordial. I wonder if some of the boys have been going around
bragging. No one gives a damn, but I had rather these people would think
well of us and feel kindly towards us for after all, we are their
cousins. The British cadets are as nice as can be and go out of their way
to help us when they have the opportunity.

I am going over to the library and read some old books. The last time
troops were quartered here was in Oliver Cromwell's time.

We have no commissioned officer here so do about as we please. Springs is
a good hard worker and does the best he can to keep order but he hasn't
the proper authority to back it up. Everybody realizes that if we don't
obey him we'll catch hell from somebody else later. But there are a few
roughnecks in every outfit that will cause trouble and get the whole
bunch in wrong. I've got my eye on one of that sort and the first break
he makes is going to be his last. I can't put him in the guard house, but
I can put him in the hospital. Springs is only a sergeant so can't
legally discipline anyone and according to the Constitution no officer of
a foreign army can discipline an American soldier, so if anything goes
wrong they'd have to send to London for an American officer. Stokes was a
lawyer before he took wing and keeps finding all sorts of trouble. He may
have had a law office but I'll bet he made his living shooting crap. He
cleaned out the whole crowd last night.

Some of the boys are getting reconciled to England but there's still a
lot of cussing about it and a lot of them are looking for trouble.

October 8th

Cal, Stokes, Springs and I went to supper and a show to-night. Dismal
failure. This has been our first day of real work. I believe the course
will be easy as we've had it all once except the Vickers machine-gun and
rotary motors. Both of these are used extensively by the Royal Flying
Corps.

I hear that the Germans have the goods in airplanes and A.A. guns. I
guess it's the North and South over again. Of course, no one doubts our
winning out in the end but it will be a long hard fight and few of us
will be left to enjoy the fruits of our victory. I surely am lucky not to
be in the trenches. Some, in fact, most of the cadets have been out and
they say it's hell. "Only we young chaps can stand it," they say. Most of
these English cadets are kids and the instructors themselves wouldn't
average over twenty-one. Our machine-gun instructor has a bullet hole
through the flap of his ear. He says he's going to get one in the other
ear so he can wear ear-rings.

Kelly and his squad arrived to-day with our baggage. They look like they
had a good time. Bird was telling some story about their driving a coach
until Kelly fell through the top of it.

The only thing that confuses us is this English alphabet. Instead of
saying: A, Bee, Cee, Dee, they have a different way of designating the
letters. They say: Ak, Beer, Cee, Don, E, F, G, Haiches, I, J, K, Ella,
Emma, N, O, Pip, Q, R, Esses, Toc, U, Vic, W, X, Y, Zed. And as they call
everything by initials it's very confusing.

They also drive on the left-hand side of the street. If there was any
traffic we'd all be run over.

October 16th

I am neglecting this important volume lately, I am afraid.
The last few days have been crowded with events. A regular army West
Point major came over from Paris to look us over Sunday and straffed hell
out of us in front of the British Colonel and his staff. Besides the
hundred and fifty of us, there are sixty more American cadets over at
Queen's College that came here two weeks before we did. They have a
sergeant named Oliver in charge of them. He is a son of Senator Oliver
and is only five feet high. When, he marches along beside the first squad
it's an awfully funny sight because none of them are less than six feet
five. All the Englishmen like him and cheer every time they see him
marching the detachment around.

This major had a parade of both outfits and inspected us and then got us
in the mess-hall and pitched into us as if we were convicts. He said he
had heard that we were grousing because we had to go to Ground School
again and hadn't gotten our commissions as we had been promised. He said
if any of us didn't like it, he would send us over to France and send us
up to the trenches as privates. He said he could do what he pleased to us
in time of war and would. He said he had heard that there was some
objection to having the Colonel discipline us but that we were going to
take it and going to like it. He said he'd asked the Colonel as a special
favour to him, to give us all the discipline that his own cadets got. He
certainly did despise us in public with a loud voice.

He didn't like our uniforms. He said they were all right at home but they
wouldn't do over here where everybody has to be smart. So we've got to
buy tailor-made uniforms and pay for them ourselves. If we haven't got
money enough, we've got to borrow it and any man who refuses to buy one
of these special uniforms, is to be sent to France for discipline.
Springs has a big letter of credit and has offered to lend it to us as
far as it will go. And we've got to wear these funny little monkey hats
and R.F.C. belts. Our detachment will be the funniest thing when they
blossom forth in their bastard British-American get-up. Springs was the
first to adopt the monkey hat and we all nearly died laughing when he
showed up. Our belts were issued today and they look awfully funny with
these short blouses. We don't like the idea of adopting the British
uniform and looking as much like an Englishman as possible. But that's
what the major was after. We will sure look funny as the devil as every
man has designed his own uniform and picked different material and
colours. These tailors ought to give that major a commission. I hope some
day I meet him again. He's one man that ought to have his face shoved
down his throat. If we ever meet as equals I'm going to break my resolve
about keeping my temper. He'll always retain possession of my goat and as
an American, I'm as ashamed of him as he was of us. I'll bet he never
does any fighting! He got hightoned by the Colonel and lost his head and
indulged himself in an orgy of bootlicking. That was the reason for the
whole thing.

If he wants us to look like officers, why doesn't he get us our
commissions? They were promised to us. If we have to obey army rules and
regulations, why doesn't he? If he has authority to violate the
Constitution, why hasn't he authority enough to give us our commissions
and pay? How can he make enlisted men buy their own uniforms? By calling
us cadets. The cadets are the mulattoes of the army. They get the
privileges of neither enlisted men nor officers and get all the trouble
coming to both. MacDill dressed us as we are; what business is it of his
if the Colonel wants to doll us up like Englishmen?

October 19th

A British major with the D.S.O. and the M.C. talked to us the other day.
He said as I remember it,

"You men are starting on a long trip. It's a hard trip and will require a
lot of courage. You'll all be frightened many times but most of you will
be able to conquer your fear and carry on. But if you find that fear has
gotten the best of you and you can't stick it and you are beyond bucking
up, don't go on and cause the death of brave men through your failure.
Quit where you are and try something else. Courage is needed above all
else. If five of you meet five Huns and one of you is yellow and doesn't
do his part and lets the others down, the four others will be killed
through the failure of the one and maybe that one himself.

"This individual hero stuff is all tommy rot. It's devotion to duty and
concerted effort and disciplined team work that will win the war.

"War is cruel, war is senseless and war is a plague, but we've got to win
it and there's no better use of your life than to give it to help stop
this eternal slaughter.

"It's a war of men--strong determined men and weaklings have no part in
it."

He looked just like he talked.

None of the men I've talked to curse the Hun particularly. So far, I've
met no eyewitnesses of atrocities and not much is said of them.

I hope I can stick it through. I know I'm not afraid to die. I'm pretty
young to be ready for it and I'm not. Why, I'm just beginning to live!
And after going to all this trouble to help make history, I want to live
a little while to be able to tell about it. If we make the world safe for
democracy, as some salesman remarked, brandishing a Liberty Bond in one
hand and a flag in the other, what price salvation if we are not here to
be democratic? Glory is hardly a passport to paradise. I can't imagine a
man with a lot of rank and a lot of medals and a lot of dog, getting
through the eye of a needle any easier than a camel. I'll have to consult
Springs on the matter. He was an honour man in philosophy at college and
is the authority on heaven, hell and hard liquor.

I was talking to a little English cadet who had on an old battered Sam
Browne and I asked him was he trying to look like a veteran. He smiled
and said, "My brother wore it two years. He was killed by Richthofen."
There seem to be a lot of them after that bird. Wonder how long before
somebody sneaks up behind him and drops him. It will take a good man from
all I've heard. There's no price on his head but I'll bet the fellow who
gets him gets a lot of decorations.

Kelly and Bird got started again. We were all over in the R.F.C. Club
doing a little quiet drinking--Cal, Stokes, Jake and myself. Kelly and
Bird came in with a good start. Bird said he couldn't enjoy his drinking
unless he had Springs to watch him and tell him when he had enough. Kelly
said that in that case the best thing to do was to send for Springs. They
wanted to know where he was so we told them he was over in the room
writing some letters. They found some one who was going back to the
college and sent word to him to come right over or Bird would start
giving his cowboy yell and keep it up until he got there.

By the time Springs got there they were well oiled. They are both six
feet three and would rather fight than eat. I had visions of them both
being sent to Leavenworth in chains. They nearly killed Springs with an
affectionate greeting and he had to do some fast thinking. Bird said he
supposed he was going to be put on the waggon for another week and he
wanted his portrait painted doing it. Springs ordered a round of double
brandies. Then Kelly, who always has to pay for more than anybody else,
ordered triple whiskies. Then Bird called for some port and they started
a round again. It was a good battle while it lasted. We had to put
Springs in a cold tub before he could call the roll for dinner and Kelly
and Bird never raised their voices again until the next morning. They are
on the waggon all right and it didn't require any orders either.

We met a French officer from Chicago to-night who came over from France
to see his brother Paul Winslow, who's over at Queen's College with the
first outfit. He's in the French Air Service and says the Hun has the
supremacy of the air on the French front without a doubt. It seems that
we will be the goats as France has about shot her wad. He says we are
lucky to be here as all the cadets in France are having a terrible time.
They haven't done any flying but live in tents and do manual labour. They
help build the flying-fields and have to do the same work as the German
prisoners and get the same food. Their letters are censored and they
aren't allowed to write home how they are being treated. They had a
German spy in command of them for a while. He says he expects to hear of
a mutiny any time.

October 22nd

We have moved to Exeter College. And why? Thereby hangs a tale. Bim
Oliver and his crew had finished their course and made the highest marks
in the examinations on record. So the officer in charge of Queen's gave
them all passes Saturday night to go out to dinner and celebrate. That
was also Jake Stanley's birthday and he gave a party at Buol's that night
to celebrate it. It was a right good party. He had a private room on the
third floor and there were present: Cal, Springs, Stokes, Paul Winslow
and his brother Alan, Hash Gile, Dud Mudge, an English staff officer and
myself. Dwyer and a bunch of others came in later. Everybody was all teed
up before they got there and then we had cocktails by the quart and
champagne and then each man got a half-gallon pitcher of ale. We sang
that old song and made everybody do bottoms-up by turn. Jake had a cake
and he kept announcing that he was going to "tut the twake." When he did
cut it, Hash Gile insisted on helping Springs to eat it and got most of
it down his neck and in his ears. I never laughed so much in my life.

When the party broke up and we were all getting out, the English officer
and the French officer were assisting each other home. The Colonel came
up with a flashlight and tried to stop a bunch of them. The English
officer gave the Colonel a push and ran and the Colonel made a flying
tackle at him but missed and grabbed Winslow. The Colonel insisted on
knowing who it was that ran and when Winslow refused to tell him, he went
down to Queen's and ordered a formation of all of Bim's detachment. They
say it was the greatest sight that Oxford ever witnessed--sixty American
soldiers in all sorts of costumes, in all stages of drunkenness, trying
to get into line and stay there, in a dark and ancient courtyard,
hallowed by the scholars of the ages, with a British colonel dashing
about with a flashlight and bellowing like a bull at each man as he came
in, "Are you the man that pushed me and ran?" The first sergeant that
tried to call the roll passed out cold in the middle of it and had to be
carried off. The second one got the British and American commands mixed
up and was led away babbling something that sounded like a cavalry drill.
The Colonel tried to question them but all one man would say was: "I
wasn't on the third floor, I was on the second floor." No matter what the
Colonel would ask him, that was all he would say. Another on asked the
Colonel, "What do you mean run, sir? How fast is a run?" Finally the
Colonel had to give it up but he made the French officer leave the
college and he wants to make a complaint to the French Ambassador. It
certainly was an international mess. Bim and his crew left the next day
to go to Stamford to learn to fly and the Colonel moved us over here to
Exeter where we can't corrupt any of his cadets and turned the place over
to us. We have the whole college to ourselves. There are a million
rumours flying around about what is going to happen to us. The Colonel
sent over one of his staff officers to help Springs. And who did he send
but the very same officer that pushed him and ran! You can't laugh that
off. He and big Shoemaker, who used to drive a dogteam in Alaska, are
great friends and I foresee trouble.

Ten of us went to a dance Saturday night at Miss Cannon's. She's a real
English girl and wears a monocle. I'm going riding with her Wednesday
afternoon. Oxford isn't such a bad place after all. Stokes came to the
dance illuminated and did an Indian war dance in the middle of the floor.
He nearly passed away next day over the kidding he got. We have a way of
getting in late at night by climbing over a high wall with the assistance
of a limb of a tree that hangs over from the inside. Fulford and I were
coming in by that route and we heard a plaintive call for help. It was
Brownie and he had tried to get over at the wrong place and had got hung
by the seat of his trousers on a nail. We had a time getting him down and
putting him to bed.

We brought four boiled lobsters back with us and a couple of bottles of
port. We woke Springs up and he was as mad as hell. He said if the rest
of the crowd got on to the fact that he was letting us come in when we
pleased, he wouldn't be able to control anybody. We told him that
everybody was out anyway and to go back to sleep and forget it. So we ate
the lobsters and drank the port ourselves. About that time Kelly and Bird
came in with Capt. Swan. He had come up from London to pay us off and
they had run into him and brought him on over the wall with them. He told
us some funny stories of the Philippines. Kelly and Bird were all lit up
and had a bottle of whisky which they had brought to Springs. He wouldn't
take it so they drank it themselves with Capt. Swan. We finished the
lobster and put the shells in a big' bucket outside the door. Bird saw it
and decided it was a football and took a terrific kick at it and
scattered it all over the courtyard outside. Springs got up steaming like
a scalded hog and told Bird that he had to get a flashlight and go out
and pick up every piece or he'd have to put him under arrest in the
morning for it. Bird thought it was a joke at first but Springs made him
do it. It sure was a funny sight, that big cowboy out in the court with a
flashlight, down on his knees looking for lobster claws. We all went out
and helped him.

Sunday morning we were all just as sick as we could be from that lobster.
Cal, Stokes and I couldn't get out of bed and couldn't get to drill.
Springs was raging. Along about noon we got up and managed to stagger in
to lunch. Then Springs informed us that we were under arrest and couldn't
leave the college. And the damn fool made us stay in all the afternoon
and evening too. He said if we were too sick to drill we were too sick to
go out and get drunk again. I'll get even with him. He says he is going
to demote all three of us. He's just mad because he's missing all the
fun. Kelly and Bird go out every night and take off their white hat bands
and say that they are mechanics from this squadron outside of town. They
throw a big party and then come in and wake Springs up to tell him about
it because they say they don't want to do anything behind his back that
they wouldn't tell him about to his face. Some morning this detachment is
going to wake up and find they haven't got any sergeants.

We had a boxing-tournament last week. Springs and I went in and won our
first bouts, but got knocked out in the second round. Pudrith and Jake
Stanley each won in their classes and got a trip to London over the
week-end as prizes.

October 24th

We had mail from home to-day which seemed to sadden the boys more than
cheer them up. It sort of made us realize how far away we are. Springs
certainly had a funny collection. He ought to save them for publication
some day when people get their sense of humour back.

November 6th

Harroby Camp, Grantham, Lincolnshire.

I wish I could have stayed at Oxford for the horseback ride with Miss
Cannon but we were all suddenly sent up here to Grantham to the
machine-gun school. All except Springs and twenty who have gone to
Stamford to learn to fly. Springs had to pick the twenty and naturally
every one wanted to go. He picked those who'd done the most flying
already. He took only those who were ready to go solo and Deetjen, Garver
and Dietz because they have done a lot of hard clerical work for the
detachment. I couldn't see why he wouldn't take Cal and me and I told him
so. What's the use of having friends if you don't stick by them and do
things for them? And what's the use of having authority if you can't use
it to help your friends? I'm a Jackson democrat and I believe the victim
is entitled to what is spoiled. And when I fight, I fight to win. I don't
want to know anything about the Marquis of Queensberry's ideas. When I
fight I only hit a man once and the first thing he knows about it is when
he reads about it in the papers. And when I swing, somebody gets 199 of
my 200 pounds where they least expect it.

Mit wanted to go to Stamford and he kicked up an awful row. He claims
that he is a friend of General Wood's and he wanted to call up the
American Ambassador when Springs wouldn't let him go. He stood out in the
court and cussed for half an hour because he said there was a conspiracy
against him. Finally I went over and told him that he was about to be
crowned and that if there was any partiality in it I would be going to
Stamford myself. He says he's going to spend the rest of his life getting
even with Springs.

We all chipped in to buy Springs a parting gift. We couldn't see wasting
$75 on a cup that he couldn't use so we bought him a big silver flask.

We had to leave poor Jim Stokes behind. He was operated on for
appendicitis the day we left. He got through it all right.

We were met at the station here by a band and escorted to our barracks.
The English rank us as officers now and we don't have to salute anything
under majors. Some of us are rather embarrassed because we are treated as
officers when we really aren't, though it isn't our fault. We just aren't
nephews of the right people in Washington. Mit is in his glory. He has
blossomed out in boots and swaggers about in the bottom half of a Sam
Browne belt and cusses his batman. We have a regular servant who cleans
our hut and shines our shoes. We have our own mess--a regular officers'
mess. The classes are terribly boring and take all the daylight hours but
we do as we please in the evening and don't have to be in until twelve
o'clock.

Cal, Schlotzhauer, Leach and I went over to Nottingham Sunday and had
supper. Believe me, it is some town. There have never been any troops
quartered in Nottingham and there are no camps near it and all the men
have been gone for three years. I never knew there was such a place. The
women clustered around us all the time and talked to us as if we were a
new species.

Stillman is in charge now and I am a platoon commander still. When
Springs was trying to decide whom to appoint in his place, every one
wanted Bird as top sergeant. Springs likes Bird but isn't so particularly
keen about Stillman but he said he was afraid of Bird so he put Stillman
in as top and made Bird second in command. I guess it's just a well.
Somebody has got to hold this crowd down and Bird has been in too much
devilment already to be effective on his own responsibility. Stillman is
a fine fellow and certainly looks the part. He's six feet seven and a
half and weighs over 200. He used to play end on Yale.

McCurry came in to-night and begged me with tears in his eyes to go with
him and cut off Ken's moustache. He sure was tanked. He ran into the
barbed wire between this hut and the next one and nearly tore his brand
new uniform off.

I miss Kelly and Springs and Jim. This is the first split and I guess
there will be many more.

November 7th

We have Raftery in our hut. He is going to bed now, putting his money
belt on over his pyjamas and wearing a knitted helmet. He's the funniest
thing I ever saw.

I heard that Jim is getting on all right.

November 8th

I got four letters from home to-day and they seem to have travelled a
little bit farther than the others. Poor old Fat Payden hasn't had even a
postal since he left the States. His eyes are inflamed and he doesn't go
to classes but sits in here all day and gossips with Fry and our batman.
He laughs at everything anyone says, no matter how stale it is. I just
found out to-day that he is just twenty.

Cal, Herbert, Fulford and Fry are sitting around the table now drinking
port out of their canteens and writing home. Every one is fed up. I don't
see how we are going to stand three more weeks of this. Aren't we ever
going to fly? There was some talk of making ground officers of some of
us. Some of the married men decided they wanted to be ground officers but
nobody else would consent. An English general made us a talk and said
this war was no great adventure: you were either scared to death or bored
to death all the time.

This camp is sort of a pretty place. When I look down at Grantham
nestling between these pretty checkered hills with the sky all coloured
up by the setting sun and the clouds so low you can hang your hat on
them, it kind of gets up in my neck and I think this old world is a damn
fine place to live in. The hill on the other side of town we see from
here is checkered up with little fields--every one a different colour and
it's very pretty. If the sky wasn't filled with aeroplanes all day, you'd
never think of war. I hope I never see another machine-gun. I came over
here to fight--not to sit around and talk about it forever.

November 9th

Lord, I have the blues, the worried blues. Anderson was in here playing
his steel guitar. How that boy can play! A couple of the English
instructors have been going to see a couple of girls and not making much
progress. So they took Andy along with them and put him in the next room
and made him play soft Hawaiian music to keep them in the proper frame of
mind.

Morrison came in to-night with a beautiful bun and a new pair of boots.
They were tight too and it took four of us to pull them off.

I've got the blues so bad I think I'll get drunk to-morrow and see if
that will help things.

November 10th

One of the boys came in the other night after midnight without his Sam
Browne belt. He was last seen walking down the street with a girl and he
had it on then. So everybody got to kidding him about bushwhacking. He
couldn't remember where they had gone but he had to have a belt and was
broke so he decided he'd go back and ask the girl where he left it. But
when he went back he woke up the girl's father and he came out and chased
him down the street. But he had his belt back the next day so I guess
love found a way.

November 13th

Well, the old man is himself again. Jack Fulford, Cal, Morrison, Leach
and I went to Nottingham over the week-end. We didn't get very drunk.

Springs flew up from Stamford to see us while we were away.

Last night was guest night in our mess and we had all the English staff
over. These Englishmen sure have a funny idea of a party. They want to
smash everything. Fulford got the idea that he was a baseball pitcher and
he knocked the end out of our hut throwing whisky bottles at it. We
caught Ken and cut his moustache off at last.

November 16th

Cal and I went down to Stamford to spend the day and nearly died
laughing. Our stomachs are still sore. Springs and Kelly are rooming
together over a millinery shop. They spend all their time at a club
there.

There was a sort of straff going on that day. They had a new C.O. and he
was an ex-Guards officer and had a grudge against the Huns and wanted to
get on with the war. There were a lot of young English kids that had been
there some time swinging the lead and he sent for them all and lined them
up. He told them that there was a war on and that pilots were needed
badly at the front and that they were all going solo that afternoon. They
nearly fainted. Some of them had had less than two hours of air work and
none of them had had more than five.

We all went out to the airdrome to see the fun. I guess there were about
thirty of them in all. The squadron was equipped with D.H. 6's which are
something like our Curtiss planes except they are slower and won't spin
no matter what you do to them.

The first one to take off was a bit uneasy and an instructor had to taxi
out for him. He ran all the way across the field, and it was a big one,
and then pulled the stick right back into his stomach. The Six went
straight up nose first and stalled and hung on its propeller. Then it did
a tail slide right back into the ground.

The next one did better. He got off and zigzagged a bit but instead of
making a circuit he kept straight on. His instructor remarked that he
would probably land in Scotland, because he didn't know how to turn.

Another one got off fairly well and came around for his landing. He
levelled off and made a beautiful landing--a hundred feet above the
ground. He pancaked beautifully and shoved his wheels up through the
lower wings. But the plane had a four-bladed prop on it and it broke off
even all around. So the pupil was able to taxi on into the hangar as both
wheels had come up the same distance. He was very much pleased with
himself and cut off the engine and took off his goggles and stood up and
started to jump down to the ground which he thought was about five feet
below him. Then he looked down and saw the ground right under his seat.
He certainly was shocked.

Another took off fine but he had never been taught to land and he was a
bit uncertain about that operation. He had the general idea all right but
he forgot to cut off his motor. He did a continuous series of dives and
zooms. A couple of instructors sang a dirge for him:


"The young aviator lay dying, and as 'neath the wreckage he lay
To the Ak Emmas around him assembled, these last parting words did he
say:

'Take the cylinder out of my kidney, the connecting rod out of my brain,
From the small of my back take the crankshaft, and assemble the engine
again!'"


There were a lot more verses but I can't remember them.

We thought sure he was gone but he got out of it all right and made a
fairly decent landing but not where he had expected.

The next one didn't know much about landing either. He came in too fast
and didn't make the slightest attempt to level off. The result was a
tremendous bounce that sent him up a hundred feet. He used his head and
put his motor on and went around again. He did that eight times and
finally smashed the undercarriage so that next time he couldn't bounce.
Then he turned over on his back. The C.O. congratulated him and told him
he would probably make a good observer.

They finally all got off and not a one of them got killed, I don't see
why not though. Only one of them got hurt and that was when one landed on
top of the other one. The one in the bottom plane got a broken arm. I got
quite a thrill out of that.

A flying-field is not at all what I expected it would be like. They all
seem to do pretty much as they please, go where they please and fly when
they please. The chief occupation seems to be passing the flowing cup.

There is a cemetery right in the middle of the town and since the
Americans came the ghosts walk about it all night. Kelly has a joke on
Springs about it. I saw Horn, Knox, Taber, Roth, Neely, Watts and a
couple of others.

November 17th

Cal, Curtis, Brown, Fry and I are ordered to Thetford to learn to fly at
last. This is the final bust-up of the Italian Detachment. I am lucky to
get a good gang. I had Ken but I swapped him for Curtis. Fry said it was
just like swapping horses.

November 18th

I went to Stokes Castle this afternoon for lunch and stayed for tea. I
think this has been the best day I have spent in England. I met a Mrs.
Chapin out there from Louisiana. She is a sure-enough Southern aristocrat
and I am proud of her. She reminded me of Gramma. She dominated the whole
table at dinner and was so interesting and made every one feel at home.
She took me to her room and showed me the picture of her old home in
Louisiana. It was an old Italian villa on the banks of the Mississippi. I
certainly enjoyed talking to her. It was like a visit home. I wonder if I
will ever see the Mississippi again. It flows through another world like
the River Styx that Springs talks about.

The castle was a wonder, too. It was full of old paintings and
relics--some of them a thousand years old. There was a picture of a woman
kissing Christ's feet by Rubens. The library was about forty by eight and
lined with books and relics. The best part of the place was the grounds,
about three acres, I guess.

We leave for Thetford to-morrow at eight-thirty and at last I am really
going to learn to fly. It's over six months since I enlisted to fly and I
am not sorry they are past.

November 20th

Arrived at Thetford via Peterborough and Ely. We had about four hours at
Peterborough and went to see the Cathedral. It's the most magnificent
thing I hare seen so far. I saw where Mary, Queen of Scots was buried
before she was moved to Westminster.

Thetford is not much. We are going to start on Rumptys as these Henry
Farman planes are called. They say that you test the rigging by putting a
bird between the two wings. If the bird gets out, there's a wire gone
somewhere. They are so unstable that they never go up except when the air
is very smooth. No one flew to-day except Roberts.

These old short-horn Farmans are awful looking buses. I am surprised they
fly at all. We have the same sort of wild kids here for instructors that
we had at Oxford, only more so--wilder and younger. I was told that they
kill off more instructors in the R.F.C. than pupils and from what I've
seen, I can well believe it. I have a Captain Harrison for an instructor.
He seems to be a mere kid. He's about nineteen and is trying hard to grow
a moustache. Classes are a joke.

This is real country here. The fields are bigger and rougher. I like it
better too. This is Norfolk--I wonder if the jacket originated here.

Cal and I are posted for early flying to-morrow. He just came in and said
in a shaky voice, "Well, let's get ready for our last sleep." The fool
plays bridge all the time for the good of his soul. While he's playing I
usually do my writing on this thing. Fry is in the same room with us and
is terribly funny.

November 25th

Just returned from my first leave. I went down to London to get my teeth
fixed. It cost me forty pounds. These teeth of mine certainly are
expensive, my sweet tooth being the worst. London is a town after my own
heart. I stopped at the Savoy. I tell you it is a wonderful sight to sit
in the dining-room and see all the women in evening gowns--all the
soldiers on leave, airmen, observers, artillerymen, infantrymen, sailors
and marines. It's a wonderful sight. Think of the sacrifice laid at the
feet of the God of War!

To-day I saw my first scout machine, a Sopwith Pup. It's the prettiest
little thing I ever laid my eyes on. I am going to fly one if I live long
enough. They aren't as big as a minute and are as pretty and slick as a
thoroughbred horse. Tiny little things, just big enough for one man and a
machine-gun.

It snowed to-day and it's as cold as a nun's lips. The wind is rattling
the stove pipe. I guess I'd better turn in.

December 6th

I have been flying for three days and Capt. Harrison says I can solo
to-morrow if it's calm. I tell you it's a great life. I am absolutely
ruined for anything else. I wish I could describe it. The thing most
surprising to me is the feeling of absolute safety. I have put in two
hours and twenty minutes in the air and I would have soloed this evening
if it had been calm enough.

I have been to London again. I went to Murray's night-club with the
Chinless Wonder. Cal and Fry joined us at the Court later where we had a
suite. Then I took the Wonder to a dance we heard about at the Grafton
Galleries.

I saw Jake Stanley, who was down from Stamford. He told me a funny story.
Springs and Kelly went to a dance after a party the staff officers gave
to the Americans. Kelly didn't want to go home and threw a bicycle at
Springs which missed him. Then Kelly sat down on the side of a ditch and
said, "If you want me to go home, let's see you take me." Every time
Springs would try to pick him up Kelly would push him in the ditch. Kelly
would make two of Springs and can push him all over the place. About that
time Jake came by and Springs called for help. They decided that the best
thing to do was to knock Kelly out and then carry him home peacefully. So
Jake got behind him and put his hands under his arms and lifted him up on
his feet. Then Springs got in front of him and tilted Kelly's head back
and adjusted his jaw to just the proper angle and hauled off and took a
terrific swing. Just as he swung, Kelly's feet slipped and instead of
landing on the jaw, Springs hit Jake on the nose and they all went over
in the ditch. May Dorsey was going home with a big package of his own and
saw Springs hit Jake and thought there was a fight on and jumped on
Springs. Before he knew what was happening Springs had a black eye and
Dorsey was working on the other one. Then Springs got on top of Dorsey
and nearly killed him. He was bumping his head on a piece of cement when
they pried him loose.

A couple of Bobbies came up and helped Springs get Kelly over his
shoulder and then he carried him home quietly.

I met Dora at Murray's and had lunch with her the next day. She is very
pretty and witty and smart. She came up to Thetford and brought another
girl with her. Fry called her the Long Lean Lanky Devil. We had dinner
and they caught the eleven-thirty train back to London. The landlady at
the Bell Hotel refused to take them in at the indecent hour of
ten-thirty.

January 1st, 1918

London Colney, Hertfordshire

This is New Year's Day. I haven't written up this diary for quite a long
time--nearly a month, and many things have happened.

I have done my four hours solo on Rumptys and am done with them forever,
thank God. I have done two hours on Avros. They are entirely different
and I have to learn to fly all over again. We had four days' leave in
London before we left Thetford. Cal and I finished the same day and came
to London together. Cal rolled into a Roman dugout on his last landing
and I thought sure he was killed. Fry wrote off a bus by pancaking from
two hundred feet.

We met Jim in London and had a wild party. Jim is living there now and is
attached to Headquarters. After the show we had Beatrice Lillie and the
entire cast of "Cheap" up in our suite at the Court and they brought
along Lord Somebody or other. Cal salaamed before him and shook hands and
said, "Hello, God." He was much shocked. That was the first lord I ever
met. They all got to fraternizing among themselves so we split up. Cal
has fallen in love with a sweet little thing called Peggy. She is very
pretty but that's the best I can say for her.

We have been posted to London Colney, which is the greatest place yet. It
is only twenty miles from London and they have Pups and Spads and Avros.
There's no discipline or wind-up at all. One class a day in machine-guns
and one in wireless but we know more than the instructors and nobody
cares whether we go or not. We go to London when we please. There are
only two Avros for about thirty of us so we will be here for some time.
Americans are not popular with the C.O. and adjutant. I guess they've got
a good reason to dislike us.

It seems that the U.S. Army has bought a lot of Curtisses at home for
primary training-planes and they are building a lot of planes like
Sopwith Pups but they don't want to build any Avros if they can help it.
So they sent orders over to take the best men that finish on Curtisses
and put them on Pups without letting them go up in Avros. Springs and
DeGamo were the first two to finish on Curtisses so they sent them down
here to London Colney to be used as experiments.

The C.O. and adjutant said it would be plain murder and refused to let
them have Pups. There was a U.S. Lieutenant here named Gaines and he
forbade them to try it. The London Headquarters called up and told them
to go ahead anyway. The C.O. ordered them off the tarmac and said he was
fed up on funerals and the U.S. Army would have to conduct its own
executions. A British general came over and backed up the C.O. so they
compromised by sending Springs and DeGamo back to Stamford for further
instructions. The C.O. at Stamford got sore as a boil and said there was
nothing more he could teach them on Curtisses and that they were ready
for anything. The adjutant at London Colney tried to put it off on the
two of them so Springs and DeGamo wrote a letter and said they were
always willing to do it and were ready at any time and had been ordered
off the tarmac at London Colney but they were still ready to try it.
There was a big row over it and the adjutant caught hell for not carrying
out orders. Then the Paris Headquarters sent over orders that they were
to loop and spin Curtisses and then be put on Pups anyway--the worst that
could happen would be two funerals. Don't these non-flyers love us! What
are a couple of aviators, more or less?

Up at Stamford, Springs and DeGamo were duly ordered to go up and loop
and spin those ancient crates. They couldn't get any of the instructors
to go up and show them how to do it. They knew better! Besides the orders
came from American Headquarters and the British didn't approve of them.
But up they went and looped and spun anyway. Springs did ten loops in
succession and landed. Ainsworth went up later in the same machine and
was coming over the top of his loop when the wings fell off. He was
killed instantly. He's the first of the American cadets to go. I'm afraid
there'll be many more before the Kaiser is pushed over backwards.

The C.O. at Stamford refused to permit any further foolishness and Paris
backed down and sent orders over for DeGamo and Springs to stop all
flying until it could be decided what form the experiment would take. So
they had to sit around for a month doing nothing while everybody else was
going on. DeGamo is instructing on Sixties and Springs is ferrying. A
great system we have. Everything we have had to do so far has been messed
up. I'll guarantee our noble commanders will kill more Americans than
Germans before it is over. But what can you expect when they promote the
jackasses on seniority and put men in charge of important technical
affairs just because they have spent their lives doing infantry drill in
the Philippines and transferred to the aviation section a week ago to get
a soft berth and more pay? Why should they worry about mistakes? They
aren't the ones that get killed. An order from the adjutant general can't
make a pilot out of a quartermaster.

Last night Cal and I and four English officers went to a dance at an
Insane Asylum. Cal became fascinated with a charming young Welsh nurse.

January 3rd

There's a U.S. Lieutenant here that certainly is looking for trouble. He
enlisted the same time we did, but he did his flying first and got out of
going to Ground School and got his commission right away. He's quite
impressed with his exalted rank and makes us all salute him continuously
just because the government hasn't kept its promise to us and we are
still cadets.

The English can't see any difference between us and it makes him foam at
the mouth. He was an instructor at home and has done two hundred hours on
Curtisses. But he's no good on Avros. Two instructors turned him down and
he's got to have a lot of dual. I wish they'd send him up in a Pup as an
experiment!

Machine-gun class is awfully boring. Kent Curtis draws pictures of
everything in his notebook. One of the lecture headlines is, "The
tripping of the lock." Instead of taking down the lecture, Curtis drew a
picture of it. The next paragraph is headed, "The depression of the
seer." He drew a picture of an old soothsayer looking into a crystal ball
and biting his nails. Then he drew a picture entitled "The care of the
piece," and another, "The return of the fusee." The sergeant caught him
at it and got mad and reported him to the C.O. The C.O. had him up on the
carpet and made him bring the notebook. He nearly died laughing. So for
punishment he made him draw the same pictures on the walls of the office.
Now every time a general comes over to inspect they get in the office and
get to laughing and there's no inspection.

January 12th

Springs and DeGamo showed up to-day. They were as welcome as the measles.
The adjutant will probably file their flying wires. The experiment is all
off and they are to fly Avros if they ever get a turn. Springs looks bad
and says Kelly has been getting his revenge for that party in Stamford.
Joe Sharpe was killed over at Waddington on a D.H. 6. There was a fine
fellow for you.

January 14th

Yesterday was washout day so we all went into town and threw a party at
the Court. The travelling is so congested over the week-end that the
flying corps takes its holiday during the week and works on Sundays.

Dud Mudge had a funny crash over at Northholt. He was up on his first
solo in a Rumpty and lost his head coming in and flew right into the side
of a hangar. The nacelle came on through and pitched Dud on the floor. A
mechanic was at work in there and was smoking and he was so frightened at
being caught smoking in a hangar that all he could do was to stammer and
make excuses while poor Dud lay on the floor with a broken arm. The
engine was full on outside and the throttle was on the inside and before
anybody could get to it, the Rumpty slowly pushed the side of the hangar
in and the roof fell on top of it. No one could get to the throttle then
and it ran until the cylinders overheated and froze up. It must have been
a funny sight to see that box-kite pushing madly at that hangar and then
jump on top of it.

Hash Gile cracked up a Curtiss but didn't get hurt. His instructor had
bawled him out for not getting his tail up when he was taking off, so the
next time he started off he pushed the stick forward up against the dash
and held it there. His tail came up and kept on coming. It got higher and
higher and still Hash kept the stick forward. The poor old Curtiss did
the best it could and turned a forward somersault. When they fished Hash
out of the wreckage he was still holding the stick forward. I also hear
that Al Rothwell distinguished himself by spiralling into the ground.

January 20th

We all went into town and tore off a real raspasass party at the Court.
Everybody was there for dinner. Springs's beauty nearly broke up the
party. She got mad when he started drinking and then got insulted when
some other girls came in to join us. She said she couldn't be seen with
such girls--they were not respectable. I told her that there was only one
place in London she could go to a party and that was Buckingham Palace
and I wasn't sure about that. She referred to us as "your uncouth
friends," and made Springs take her home.

January 24th

I'm feeling pretty much at home in the air now. But after doing very many
vertical banks I feel rather sick and dizzy. If to-morrow is a good day,
I am going up to ten thousand and shut off and spin down and see what
happens. I am quite good at spinning but it makes me a little sick. I
guess I'll get over that, though, and I think a lot of it is due to the
castor oil from the motor.

Springs, DeGamo, Nathan and Barry have all finished Avros and gone on
Pups. Barry and Springs crashed the first time but got away with the
second try.

Dora and another girl, who was so big that Fry called her a Handley-Page,
came up and had dinner with us at the Peahen Inn at St. Albans. They went
back on the eleven-thirty train. There was a snow storm and we had to
walk back the five miles. Fulford and Fry insisted they were going to
sleep in the snow so we left them in a big drift.

I am afraid that this diary will not be of any value as an historical
document. I don't write it the way I date it always. Sometimes I don't
get a chance to write in it for a week or so, and then I take a couple of
hours off when Cal is playing bridge or it's raining, and then I go back
and write it up properly. I'm getting so I really enjoy writing in here.
It makes me realize how lucky I am. And some day it will be my greatest
pleasure to read it over. Maybe some day I'll read parts of it to my
grandchildren and tell them all about the war.

We went into London again last night, Capt. Pentland, the wild
Australian, Fry, Cal, Springs and myself. We went down to Jim's hotel for
dinner. Then we all went to the flying corps dance at the Grafton
Galleries. The whole flying corps was there, with a good sprinkling of
our crowd. All the American cadets manage to cluster themselves around
London. We spent the night at Jim's hotel and caught the seven-thirty
train back. Jerry Pentland and Springs stepped into the St. Pancras Hotel
opposite the station for something to eat. They couldn't get any service
so Jerry put Springs in the dumbwaiter where he promptly went to sleep.
Some maid on the top floor pressed the button and up went the waiter.
Jerry got scared and started up the stairs and climbed six flights. The
maid started to put some dishes in and saw Springs and let out a yell and
pressed the down button just as Jerry burst in. Down went Springs with
Jerry in hot pursuit. The dumbwaiter got stuck in the basement and they
had a time getting Springs out of it. The manager wanted to turn him over
to the military police, but Jerry swore that he was Russian and Springs
quoted a little Latin and the manager saw all the eagles on his buttons
and believed it and let them catch the train without any further
argument.

I saw little Halley and Newt Bevin and Matthiesen at the Savoy.

January 28th

I took my altitude test to-day. I went up through thick clouds to nine
thousand five hundred feet and damn near froze. The bus was covered with
ice where it had been touched by the clouds coming up. The sky up there
was the bluest I ever saw, absolutely glassy blue with just a few cirrus
clouds about five miles up, snow white, and this beautiful snow white
plain of clouds beneath me. I felt awfully lonely. I could see, I know,
at least a hundred miles. I saw another plane about ten miles away and I
thought it was a bird at first but it started spinning and I knew it was
a plane. I spun down and came out of the spin in the clouds. It was the
nastiest sensation I ever had. I didn't know whether I was upside down or
not. At last I got into a straight dive and came out of the clouds at a
hundred and fifty miles an hour right over the airdrome.

There's a little captain here with the M.C. and a bar named Keller, just
back from the front, who loves to stunt close to the ground. He seems to
be daring the ground to come up and hit him. He took me up with him in an
Avro and for thirty minutes we never got above fifty feet and only then
to clear the trees. His speciality is flying under bridges. The other day
one of his friends was getting married in the centre of London and he
flew down in a Pup and broke up the wedding-procession by diving on them.
He was looping and rolling between the church spires. Some general was a
guest and got excited and put in a complaint about it so the wing sent
around orders for us to stay away from London below five hundred feet.
That boy has been knocking on the golden gate for some time and if he
isn't careful as well as lucky, he's going to push too hard and get in.
He and Maclntaggart chased each other all over the country for an hour at
an altitude of fourteen inches. Scared me to death to watch them.

Roy Garver was killed on an Avro day before yesterday.

January 29th

A girl who is a friend of Springs's in New York wrote over to some people
that live near St. Albans and they called him up and invited him to
dinner and told him to bring along a couple of others. So Cal and I went
along with him to dinner last night.

They have a beautiful place about three miles north of St. Albans. Their
name is Drake and they are direct descendants of Sir Francis Drake, who
did something famous, either discovered the North Pole or licked the
Spaniards. I've forgotten which. There were three Drake brothers there,
back from the front on leave, and their wives. A fine looking trio they
were, two captains and a major, two M.C.'s and one D.S.O., three years in
the trenches. Another brother was killed.

Dinner was a very formal highbrow affair. A lot of dog but very little
food. They asked us the usual questions: How do you like England? Do you
get enough to eat? Don't you miss the sugar? Do you ever get frightened
when you are up in the air? We answered yes to all of them.

Food is getting very scarce in this country and even the rich can't get
what they need. That poor hostess didn't have enough to go around.

After dinner was over the atmosphere underwent a decided change. The
ladies withdrew and our host brought out a bottle of real pre-war whisky
that had the kick of Brown's mule. Then we all got to acting natural.

Later Cal got at a piano and the poor thing was nearly shocked off its
legs. How that boy can play! He can make "Nearer My God to Thee" sound
like "Georgia Camp Meeting." The ladies wanted to learn the latest dance
steps, so Springs and I tried to teach them how to do them. Its a long
jump from the Boston and the hesitation to the giant swing, but we had
them all fox-trotting in no time.

The party was concluded by the three Drake brothers putting on a pukka
drill with some of Sir Francis's own muskets. Gosh, it was great and
those men certainly could drill. They were in blue dress uniforms and
looked snappy as the devil. I wish we could strut a little.

We had to walk all the way back--eight miles. We stopped at the Peahen in
St. Albans long enough to get a warm drink and give Cal time enough to
kiss his Peggy good night.

Springs went back this morning to pay his party call in a Pup. He chased
the children around the yard and nearly scared them to death running his
wheels on the front driveway. I don't guess we'll be invited back again.

An Australian lieutenant was killed this morning flying a Pup.

January 31st

We put on a real circus at the Court night before last. Kelly and his
instructor, Capt. Bell-Irving, came down from Harling Road for the
occasion. Cal, Springs, Tommy Herbert, Capt. Morton and myself went in
from here and Budge Weir and Atkinson, two Scots, came down from
Thetford. Anderson and Jim and three Englishmen and a U.S. Lieutenant
named Fuller, a friend of Cal's from Chicago joined us later.

We got under a full head of steam at tea. We had the whole chorus from
the Shaftsbury theatre up in the suite. Kelly and Springs got caught out
one night last week in a bomb raid--the same night they dropped a bomb on
the front entrance to Jim's hotel about fifteen minutes after they had
all been standing there watching the searchlights. They were walking down
the Street and a bomb fell about a block away from them and they jumped
for shelter. They got in the stage entrance and went behind the scenes in
the Shaftsbury theatre. The show was over but the actors hadn't gone out
and the chorus was all huddled over in one corner of the wings scared to
death. Kelly and Springs got some one to play the piano and started a
dance and before long they were having a regular party. They got them
after the matinee to-day and brought them up to the Court for tea and
early dinner. The Chinless Wonder and Dora and Peggy were all
there--passing nasty remarks backwards and forward, and a couple of
Sheilas. All the girls in London are named Peggy or Sheila.

Cal played the piano and we had a big dance later. We had four suites on
the same floor and everybody kept running from one to the other. Next
morning we were too near dead to get out of bed before eleven. We had a
big champagne breakfast in our suite and didn't get back to the squadron
until after two.

The C.O. sent for us at once. He and Capt. Horn, our new flight
commander, were all set for a big straff because we were supposed to be
back at nine.

The three of us lined up in the orderly-room.

"Why are you so late in getting back to-day?" the C.O. asked us.

"To tell you the honest truth, sir," I said as he was looking at me, "we
had such a hang-over this morning we couldn't have got out of bed before
nine if our lives had depended on it."

"That's at least original," Capt. Horn remarked, "usually it's a bomb
raid or a sick aunt. Where were you last night?"

"In the Court," I told him.

"What suite?" he asked.

"Oh, 103, 111, 115 and some other odd ones," I told him.

"Well, you certainly made a lot of noise," said Capt. Horn, "I was in 104
myself."

"You weren't exactly quiet on your side of the fence," Springs chirps up,
"I thought some one was making boilers in there for a while."

The C.O. got to laughing and said he guessed he'd have to pardon us this
time for telling the truth. Capt. Horn says he wants to go in with us the
next time we throw a party.

February 5th

Yesterday was washout day so we all went into town again.

Springs had a big suite in the Court and was giving a private party for
his girl.

They had a big dinner and were just beginning to start to argue when the
Huns came over and dropped a bomb on the Court bar. Springs said he heard
the bomb go whistling by his window and when it exploded two stories
below the poor girl was scared stiff. She was so badly scared that she
made Springs take her home as soon as the raid was over and he joined us
in disgust later.

February 9th

I got off in a Pup yesterday. Gosh, what a thrill! They are not so
different, but they are so quick and sensitive that they will crash
taking off or landing before you know what they are going to do. I didn't
bust anything but I pancaked like the devil landing. I hate to think what
would have happened to DeGamo and Springs if they had been allowed to go
up that day. I doubt if they would have got off the ground. If they try
to take them from Curtisses to Pups back home, the undertakers will sure
do some tittering.

A horrible thing happened to-day. We were all out on the tarmac having
our pictures taken for posterity when somebody yelled and pointed up. Two
Avros collided right over the airdrome at about three thousand feet. God,
it was a horrible sight. We didn't know who was in either one of them. I
was glad I was sitting next to Cal. They came down in a slow spin with
their wings locked together and both of them in flames. Fred Stillman was
in one machine and got out alive but badly burned and Doug Ellis was in
the other one and was burned to a cinder.

As I sat there watching, I kept trying to imagine what those poor devils
were thinking about as they went spinning down into hell. It made me
right sick at my stomach to watch. We all went up later and felt better
after a little flying.

We went into town for a party with Capt. Horn. He had a girl with him
from Georgia named Halley Whatley and it sure did my heart good to hear
her talk. He couldn't understand her and Springs and myself when we
dropped into the vernacular. Springs made a julep for her and she
positively cried when she tasted it.

We all had dinner together and went down to Murray's. When it closed we
went to a dance at the Grafton Galleries. Dora and Sousa and Peggy and
the L.L.L.D. were all there. I met a sweet little thing with bobbed hair
named Lily and we went to another dance at a private place for a while.
She is a wonderful dancer and seems to know everybody that ever left the
ground.

Hash was there and he and Springs had their weekly Princeton reunion.
They drank toasts to old Nassau in enough champagne to float a
battleship. It was a right good party. Wonderful music and I'd rather
dance than eat. The British officers were either in evening dress or
wearing their blue dress uniforms, and looking very smart in their snappy
jackets with bright coloured wings and decorations. We looked like hell
in our little khaki jackets. Our army isn't worth a damn for anything but
fighting but I guess we can hold our end up when it comes to the cool of
the evening. But these American women over here get away with murder.
There was a girl there last night from St. Louis that sure was the belle
of the ball.

I have always heard that the English were a tactless blunt people. That's
all wrong. Here is an example of what I call tact. The other evening up
in the room one of the girls took off her ring to wash her hands and
forgot about it and left it on the shelf. She called me up the next
morning and told me about it and said it was a very valuable diamond
solitaire and asked me please to try and find it. I called up the manager
of the hotel and asked him about it. When I was in yesterday I stopped in
to see him and he told me it had been found and if I could identify it, I
could have it. I identified it and he gave it to me in an envelope and on
the envelope was marked, "Found in Main Dining Room." That's what I call
tact. Try and laugh that off!

An Englishman spun an Avro into the ground this morning and got out of it
alive but broke both legs.

February 10th

Big straff around here. One of our bright young cadets who is little Lord
Fauntlery in his home town, got to cussing in the bar the other night
after he got a snoutful and the barmaid objected to his language and made
a complaint. This brought on real trouble. The C.O. had to report it to
the U.S. Headquarters. The cadet got thirty days' confinement and this
American Lieutenant is put in charge of us. He takes his duties very
seriously and is going to have roll-call morning and night.

You can cuss before any lady in England and she will probably cuss back
at you, but if you let your tongue slip before a barmaid, woe be unto
you! They tell the world they are ladies and allow no liberties--during
business hours. I always heard they were good at repartee but all I've
seen so far have acted Lady Godiva holding on to her hair in a breeze.

Twelve of us were up in our suite at the Court having dinner last night
and we decided we ought to have some girls. So after dinner we all went
out in different directions to round up the girls after the theatre. As
we needed so many we thought that everybody should get as many as
possible in case the others had no success.

By twelve o'clock we had twenty-two girls in the suite! Everybody was
successful! Then they all got to fighting among themselves and each one
said that the others were not ladies and it ended up by all of them
leaving. By that time we were glad to see them go.

February 12th

I've done five hours on Pups and am ready for Spads as soon as they get
one in commission.

This Lieutenant is a prime ass net. It was raining this morning and no
one got up to answer his rollcall. So he had us all in his room after
lunch to bawl us out. He announced last week that no one could leave the
squadron without permission from him. I don't know where he got the idea
that it was any business of his because there are no restrictions
anywhere else. He wanted to sit at the head table with the instructors
but the major wouldn't let him and he hates to eat with us. Capt. Morton
bawled the life out of him the other day and stood him easy. In spite of
all his time on Curtisses, he's still on Avros, while Nathan, Barry,
DeGamo and Springs are all through with Pups and Spads and they started
after he did. He also thinks he should have the preference of machines
but he doesn't get it.

He told us that we were not taking the discipline seriously. He told
Springs that he had been to London twice without permission from him and
that he was going to punish him. Springs said he had finished his course
in flying and was ready to go to the front. He said that made no
difference. Springs said he thought that an aviator was supposed to fly
and that what he did when the weather was unsuitable was his own
business. As a matter of fact, Springs got in all his time by flying in
bad weather when no one else wanted the planes and has put in more hours
in the air than any other cadet. And he would go without lunch to get a
plane while the rest were eating. He asked what the charges against him
were. The Lieutenant said A.W.O.L. Springs said he wanted a court martial
because he knew the Lieutenant didn't know how to hold one. They argued
half an hour over the technicalities and Springs bluffed him out of it by
quoting imaginary regulations. He tried to confine the rest of us to
quarters and we all demanded court martials. He's postponed judgment
until he can go into London and find out just what he can do.

February 15th

Flew a Spad to-day. Easy to fly but dangerous as hell. Just like flying
the famous barn door that Beachy used to talk about. And it has the
gliding angle of a brick. I've always laughed at the regulars wearing
spurs to fly in but I needed a pair in this Spad. It bucked just like a
bronco.

The Lieutenant went into London and Dwyer told him to shut up and mind
his own business and do a little flying himself. So Milnor told Cal.

Springs and Nathan and Barry are through and went to Scotland at midnight
last night to the machine-gun school. Springs went hog wild yesterday
afternoon. He and a little English kid named Rogers were raising hell all
over the place in Spads. They were running their wheels on the ground and
then pulling up just in time to try and run them on the hangar roofs. It
was a great exhibition of damn foolishness. Then Springs got a Pup and
began chasing a machine-gun class in and out of the firing-pit. He'd dive
in the pit and chase them out and then run along the ground and chase
them back in. In the midst of the party he lost his pressure and before
he could pump it up his engine conked and he pancaked in a flower garden
between a windmill and a summerhouse. The C.O. called him in the office
and told him they needed fools like that in France and to pack and get
going. Then Maclntaggart made him go over and fly the Pup out.

February 16th

DeGamo was killed to-day. Nobody knows how it happened. He was up in a
Spad and it was found about five miles from here in a small field over
near Ratlett. It wasn't crashed badly but his neck was broken.

I've done five hours on Spads now and I feel I can fly them.

Tommy Herbert took us up to Bedford to a really nice dance with some
friends of his. We had a fine time and he met a sort of vamp. Tommy asked
us to go up there to dinner with him last night and we thought we were
going to his nice friend's house. Imagine our surprise when we walked
into the vamp's house. We all got lit and had a hell of a time. Cal took
up with one Helen who could dance. Tommy amused the vamp and I was alone
except for one Alice, who was the mistress of a general in private life.
She had to go home early.

February 19th

We were getting dressed for DeGamo's funeral when the Lieutenant came in
and bawled us out for being late. Cal looked up at him sheepishly and
held out a box of candy. "Have a piece of candy," he said.

The Lieutenant looked like he was going to bust. "Have you no sense of
propriety?" he asked.

"Maybe not, Lieutenant," I said, fixing a puttee, "but I can at least
thank God for a sense of humour!"

He glared at us and slammed the door as he went out. I hear he was once
an All-American football player.

February 20th

Bulkley and Carlton have been killed. Two good men gone West. Bulkley was
flying a Pup over at Hounslow and ran into an Avro. The landing-skid on
the Avro tore his centre section out and the plane came to pieces in the
air. Canton spun an R.E. 8 into the ground at Spiddlegate.

Cal had a forced landing with a Spad to-day. His elevator controls jammed
and he had to do some quick thinking. He was flying around the insane
asylum trying to see his nurse. He used his head and managed to flop down
on a golf-course. Some old duck was mad as hell when his game was
interrupted. He got behind a bunker when he saw the Spad coming and Cal
hit it and the Spad went over on its back. He said that when the Spad
settled down he was looking right into this fellow's face and it was
awful red.

Cal and I went into town again with Capt. Horn. Cal got mad at Peggy
after dinner and she went off to a dance with a Canadian colonel and he
started back for the squadron. But there was a bomb raid on and the Huns
dropped three bombs on the station so Cal had to come back.

February 22nd

Fred Stillman died after a gallant struggle. They thought he was going to
pull through but poisoning set in. A fine fellow! Also Montgomery was
killed. Montgomery was killed when the pilot fell out of the front seat
in an Ak. W. in a loop. Montgomery was in the back seat and crawled up
into the front cockpit and just had his hands on the controls when it
crashed. Think of watching the ground coming up at you for two or three
minutes while you wiggle up the fusilage. Makes my blood run cold!

March 3rd

Here we are at Turnberry in Scotland. It's on the coast and is cold as
hell. We go to machine-gun classes for ten hours a day for ten days. They
run us to death and we freeze and starve. There's a bunch of Americans up
here and a few of them have got their commissions. I wonder what's
happened to ours. Tipton got his and they had to close the bar for three
days afterwards.

Nichol was killed at Stamford on his first solo.

March 5th

No time to write. They work us too hard. I'm starved. Nothing to eat here
but Brussels sprouts and vegetable marrow.

We went down to Girvan for a party. The Woman's Army Auxiliary Corps has
a training-school there. We watched them drill. Gosh, it was funny. A
Barbados sergeant-major was giving them close order drill and he was
absolutely speechless with rage. He was used to flaying a company with
his tongue mercilessly and there was nothing he could say to this crowd.
There were no words in his vocabulary he could use. He just stood there
and sputtered like a wet wick. He had a hundred and fifty Waacs of all
sizes and contours and he was trying to line them up and couldn't because
he didn't know what part of their anatomy to line on. He had my sympathy.
It had taken him twenty years to acquire his drill vocabulary and now he
could not use it. But why try to drill women anyway? I don't see the idea
at all. They pay them the same as Tommies and give them the same
discipline. A Waac officer can't walk out with a Tommy any more than an
army officer can be seen with a Waac private. There weren't enough
officers to go around with us so we took privates anyway.

March 10th

Heard to-day that Ludwig was killed flying an S.E. He got into a spin
close to the ground.

March 12th

Thank God that's over. We are now at Ayr at the school of Aerial
Fighting. The pilots' pool is also here. When pilots are ready to go to
the front they are sent here and then sent out when needed. We are
quartered at Wellington House. Springs, Nathan, Barry, Landis, Zistell,
Oliver, Capt. Morton, Hash Gile, Hammer, Winslow, Whiting, Tipton,
Kissel, Mathews, Ortmeyer, Frost, Evans, Mortimer, Armstrong, and Clay
are all here. Most of them have finished and are waiting for commissions
before being posted overseas. We hear a lot of rumours about how we are
going out. The British won't take us unless we are commissioned and we
hear that Pershing has recommended that pilots be sergeants and not
officers and that flying pay be abolished. He has stopped it in the
A.E.F. Springs, Oliver and Winslow got Second Lieutenancies and refused
to accept them and asked for their discharges instead. Everybody here
wants to get out of the U.S. Army and join the R.F.C. where they'll get a
square deal. We certainly have got a rotten deal from the U.S.A. and the
British couldn't have treated their own Field-marshals any better. We owe
the British a lot and have a lot to get even with our own army for.

MacDill and Jeff Dwyer are the only two officers that have made any
effort to treat us decently. Jeff is sure our friend.

There's a big party going on here in spite of the wholesale funerals. Six
American Naval pilots were sent over from France to take the course here.
They thought that Camels were as easy to fly as the Hanriots they had
been flying in France and they wouldn't listen to any advice from the
instructors here. Three of them were washed out one week.

Then Ortmeyer, who had three hundred hours on Curtisses at home as an
instructor, spun a Camel into the ground and killed himself. Dealy spun
into the ground the next day and before they got him buried, two
Englishmen killed themselves. All in Camels and all doing right-hand
spins.

Col. Rees is in charge here and he tried to put pep in the boys by giving
a stunting exhibition below five hundred feet. He certainly did fight the
tree tops and he wouldn't come out of a spin above fifty feet. Then he
made all the instructors go up in Camels and do the same thing. It was a
wonderful exhibition and then he made us a little speech and told us
there was nothing to worry about, to go to it. Several of the boys were
so encouraged that they took off in Camels and tried to do the same
thing. Only one was killed.

March 16th

Everybody had gone crazy over eggnog. Springs and Oliver found a dairy
where they got some cream and they made some eggnog. Everybody demanded
more. The next day they made five gallons and it lasted ten minutes. Then
we got a big dairy vat and put all the Waacs to work beating eggs. All
the cooks and maids up here are Waacs. Springs's father sent him ten
pounds of sugar and we had three cases of brandy. It must have made
fifteen or twenty gallons. Everybody from the Colonel down came over to
drink it. By lunch time every officer in Ayr was full of eggnog.

We all went out to the airdrome after lunch and tried to fly. They are
short of magnetoes and the only way they can get more is to steal them
off crashes. There were three Spads so Capt. Foggin asked for Spad
pilots. He sent Springs up in one hoping he would crash it. He had a
quart bottle of eggnog and he took it up with him to drink. The motor
conked all right, but he made a nice landing in the field with a dead
stick without crashing so Foggin sent him up in another one.

Springs decided he'd steeplechase. The field is in an old racecourse so
he came down wide open and ran his wheels on the track. He tried to bank
with the track for a turn but they had put up some heavy wires and his
top wing caught them. He went straight up three hundred feet and stalled
and fell out of the stall right into the middle of the field. God
certainly took over the controls. He wasn't hurt but the Spad was a
write-off and Foggin got one mag.

Springs was mad as a hornet because he had the bottle of eggnog in his
pocket and when he saw he was going to crash he threw it out to keep from
cutting himself up.

The Colonel sent for Springs to bawl him out, "Ah, listen here," said the
Colonel, "I really have enough trouble running this school without you
youngsters interrupting my telephone connections. Don't do it! By the way
is there any of your priceless concoction left?"

March 20th

Cush Nathan killed. He was flying an S.E. and the wings came off at five
thousand feet. He went into the roof of a three-story house and they dug
him out of the basement. A real fine fellow. I liked him. So did
everybody. He and Springs had been rooming together and that's the second
roommate he's lost in two weeks. He doesn't want to ask anybody else to
room with him but Reed Landis said he's not superstitious and moved in.

March 22nd

Last night one of the boys had a date with a staff officer's wife and
couldn't get rid of him so brought him around to Wellington and asked us
to get him tight and pass him out.

Springs and I took him on. We would each mix a drink by turn. When it
came to my drink he did bottoms-up and got nasty about it. He said
American drinks were all too weak and he picked up a glass of it and
threw it into the fire! It exploded! About a half-hour later he went out
on a shutter. That Scotsman was so tight he couldn't hoot any more than a
dead owl.

Armstrong, the wild Australian, came in and said he had two lassies
outside and needed help. Springs went out with him. The girl he drew was
only sixteen and was sweet and innocent so he bawled her out and gave her
a lecture on the perils of folly and the danger of trusting any man after
dark. Then he took her home.

Armstrong came back tight and got into the Waacs' quarters by mistake.
There was a straff over it this morning. The Waacs saved the day by not
complaining officially. They have several rooms in the basement.

Cush's funeral was this morning. The staff officer who went out last
night feet first was supposed to have been in charge of it but he
couldn't make the grade. There was a long delay and then Springs took
charge and somehow we got through with it. One of the escort planes had a
forced landing and one of the firing party got nervous and fired too soon
and scared every one to death.

March 24th

For three weeks before Cush was killed, he and Springs had been going to
a Scot dentist here to have their teeth reworked. We went to see him
to-day to pay Cush's bill. We told him about the crash and do you know,
that Scot wouldn't accept a penny! We explained that we had been directed
by the court of inquiry to pay his bills but still he wouldn't take
anything. He said he couldn't take money from a man who'd died for his
country. Yet they crack jokes about the Scots loving money above all
else. I'm glad that my blood is Scotch. If they don't hurry up and send
us on out to the front a lot of German-Americans are going to have their
veins full of Scotch too.

Springs said he'd pay his own bill right then as he might get killed too
and didn't want to cheat him.

"But, mon," says the dentist, "I'm na through wi' yer."

"Oh, yes, you are," says Springs, "whether you know it or not. I'm not
going to all the trouble and expense of having my teeth fixed when I'm
this close to Lethe's waters. Every morning when I wake up I reach out to
shake hands with Charon."

"And dinna ye take na thought for yer soul when the day draws nigh to
return it to its maker?"

"I've been to the kirk with you every Sunday since I've been here," said
Springs, "and I'm helping to support a couple of distilleries. What more
can I do for my immortal soul in Scotland?"

"Hoot, mon," says he, "Americans must be heathens. Ye dinna ken where to
find the text in the Bible."

Springs told me later that the dentist wouldn't work on his teeth unless
he'd go to church with him. Then he shocked the dentist by pretending to
look for Matthew in the Old Testament.

These Scots may be canny but they are a trusting lot. Any of the banks
here will cash cheques without asking for any identification. Yet down in
England they won't even accept money for deposit until they've got a
picture of you and know why your grandfather had to marry the girl.

Pansy hasn't taken a step since he's been here. He rides out to the field
and back in the only taxi in town. He hasn't paid a penny to the driver
yet and that poor fellow is going to get an awful jolt some day when he
tries to collect.

This town is full of statues of Bobby Burns and bars. That's the
principal industry. The barmaids are the belles of the town. I looked
around at the show the other night and there were our three leading
social lights, all escorting barmaids. The one down at the station hotel
is the favourite. She takes a personal interest in each drink and every
drinker. The other night Springs went down to the station to see Gile and
Hammer off and she thought he was going too. She came out from behind the
bar and threw her arms around his neck and cried over him. We've been
kidding her about it and she's as mad as a hornet. Ayr is really a
beautiful spot and I'd like to stay here a while but they kill off pilots
too fast for anyone to linger very long. Springs says he's been to twelve
funerals. One more coming to-morrow. All the flying here is stunting and
we have service machines. Every time we go up, we are supposed to find
another machine and have a dogfight with it. The Colonel stays up in the
air a lot and is about the best at scrapping--he and Foggin and Atkinson.
Foggin is a wonderful pilot and only has one eye.

March 26th

Springs and Oliver got their commissions as 1st Lieutenants yesterday. It
was Bim's birthday so they decided to give a party and invited every one
to a dinner. It was a nice dinner party but our hosts never appeared
until it was all over. They were back in the bar with the Waac barmaid
experimenting with a new drink they had just invented. Every now and then
they would send us in a sample by Minnie. It was a potent beverage,
judging by the results, though it tasted harmless enough. It had
benedictine, cognac, champagne, vermouth and pineapple juice. They called
it "The Queen's Favour."

Later on the adjutant's wife and sister came over with Alec to call. Bim
came up to speak to them. He came in the door and bowed. Then he reached
out to close the door. He reached short by about four feet. You could
have knocked his eyes off with a spoon. Cal plays bridge all the time.
Curtis says he is suffering from the Woofits, that dread disease that
comes from over-eating and under-drinking.

George Vaughn cracked up an S.E. in splendid style. The engine conked
with him over the town and he pancaked in a vacant lot and climbed up on
top of a building. Later on, somebody wanted a picture of the crash and
wanted him in it. He got back in the seat and the fusilage collapsed and
the whole thing toppled over. He got his arm skinned up then, though he
hadn't got hurt in the original crash.

Pansy run into a chimney with a Camel and scored one complete write-off.
Practically every one that has been killed in a Camel has done it from a
right-hand spin.

Hagood Bostick came down here from Turnberry looking like the Queen of
Sheba's favourite husband. He had on everything but the monocle to make
him Hinglish. He had pale pink breeches, light tan tunic with skirts down
to his knees and boots and gloves and cane to match. He comes from
Charleston, S.C., so doesn't have to cultivate the accent. Plucky little
kid, he's only nineteen. He and Pansy are our sartorial stars. Pansy
really looks more dashing, due to his sabre moustache. He talks too much
about his yacht and his flunkeys.

Thank God we are through with wireless for ever. And just think of the
valuable time we've wasted learning that damn code! Eight words a minute!
Bah! An hour a day for eight months! Da-da-da diddy da! Bah some more! I
knew I was going to be a scout pilot all the time!

March 27th

I am ordered to France on Spads even though I haven't got my commission.
I leave to-morrow. Hoorah! Hoorah!

The Lieutenant from London Colney blew into Wellington last night. He was
all lit up like a new saloon. He asked for Springs and me. We weren't too
cordial. He told us that he had come to see us and he realized we thought
he was an ass and that he wanted to show us that he was a regular fellow.
He said he wanted to give us a party and prove what a good sport he
really was. We slapped him on the back a few times and carried him home
after he passed out. He's learning some of the values of this life, but a
sense of humour is a divine heritage and can't be cultivated.

Springs's little girl came back for further instructions so this time I
undertook her education. I took her down on the beach and gave her a
short lecture. She's young and innocent all right--but ambitious.

March 30th

I came down to London and was told that Spads are being washed out at the
front and replaced with Dolphins so I am ordered to Hounslow to learn to
fly them. Springs came down from Ayr with me. Captain Horn is a flight
commander out there in the squadron that the great Major Bishop, V.C.,
D.S.O., M.C. is organizing to take overseas. He wants the three of us to
go out with him. They are letting Bishop pick his own pilots and he went
with us to the U.S. Headquarters to try and arrange it. Col. Morrow said
it couldn't be done. The whole staff nearly lost their eyes staring at us
when we strolled out, arm and arm with the great Bishop.

He has a very pretty chauffeur and I made a date to take her to a dance
Saturday night. All the cars in England are driven by girls.

The Lieutenant came down from Ayr and gave his party at Murray's. Gawd,
it was terrible! He wouldn't have anything but individual bottles of
everything. He was certainly determined to be a good fellow and everybody
obliged him by getting soused to the eyeballs. He ended up the night
sitting on Lillian's doorstep singing love songs through the keyhole.

I went to a big dance and managed to collect a redhead. She gave every
indication of being ready to burn my fingers so I left while the door was
still open. I had lunch with her the next day and she sure is a
good-looking woman. But my grandfather told me never to get mixed up with
a redheaded woman who wears black underwear.

Springs went back to Ayr after a very unsatisfactory conference with a
major at headquarters, who is an officer all right but even an act of
Congress couldn't make him a gentleman.

I hear that Nial and Lavelle and Jake Stahl are in the hospital pretty
badly smashed up.

April 2nd

Springs came back down last night and has orders to go overseas to an
S.E. squadron. I got Bishop and we went into London and he arranged to
have him sent out to Hounslow when he reports to the Yard.

I have taken an apartment at the Piccadilly Mansions and am quite hot
these days.

April 6th

The dirty deed is done. Springs came out here mad as a hornet because
they told him at the Yard that he was no good and would have to have some
more instructions before he could go overseas. He didn't tumble at all
and insisted that he was a damn good pilot and offered to prove it. But
they had a report on him that was unsatisfactory so sent him out here. He
didn't find out until he got to Hounslow that Bishop had had that report
sent in. Now to grab off Cal as he passes through.

April 7th

Sanford, Kissel, Zistell, Whiting, Frost, Tipton, Campbell and Hamilton
are going out on Camels to regular British squadrons just as if they were
R.F.C. pilots. The Hun has played hell with the troops in France and they
need help. So we are to be commissioned at once and sent out to the
R.F.C. as they need us. I got my commission to-day and Cal's is here too.

Everybody is discouraged over the continued bad news that comes through.
It's clear now that the war will be won or lost in the next two months.
You certainly have to hand it to the British for keeping a stiff upper
lip.

Cal arrived this morning from Ayr and we had everything fixed at the Yard
like a greased chute.

We arrived at Hounslow in triumph and a one lung taxi. Bishop says he
doesn't care where we stay--so we are going to get some place in town and
spend our last days on this earth in peace and comfort. Halley says she
can get a house for us for less than one suite at the Court. That would
be warm.

April 8th

We have a house! You can't laugh that off! Halley had a friend, a
Lordship, who had a four-story house in Berkeley Square that he was
willing to rent to us for ten pounds a week. We also have a cook and
butler. Gangway!

We moved in and gave a big party Saturday. Major Bishop, Nigger Horn,
MacGregor, MacDonald, Capt. Benbow and Capt. Baker came in from Hounslow
for dinner and Col. Hastings and Col. Hepburn of the Canadian General
Staff.

We found out too late that we couldn't get any meat without meat coupons.
And there was little else we could buy. We got around the food problem
easily. All we had cooked was soup and fish. Then we made a big tubfull
of eggnog and a couple of big pitchers of mint julep. To make sure that
no one got beyond the fish course, we shook up cocktails too.

Our guests arrived about six and we started doing bottoms-up in rotation.
It was a riot.

Springs was at the head of the table and served. Everybody had a bottle
of port and a bottle of champagne. The butler brought in a big platter of
fish and Springs served them by picking them up by the tail and tossing
one to each guest as if they were seals. At the end of the fish course, I
was alone at the table. The rest were chasing each other all over the
place.

His Lordship has a wonderful collection of ancient war weapons. Before
going to the theatre, where we had a box, all these ruffians armed
themselves with swords, machetes, shillelaghes, maces, clubs, bayonets,
sabers, pikes, flintlock pistols and various daggers and dirks. They
looked like an arsenal. It's a wonder they weren't all arrested. Cal
dropped a club on the bass drum in the middle of the show and Benbow
nearly fell out of the box. Springs and Vic Hastings and I improved the
idle hours by taking a Turkish bath and joining the rest of them later
back at the house, as fresh as a spring morning.

April 11th

Springs has given birth to another idea. It may be all right. Some of his
are good and some are awful bad. Information has been received that the
Germans have developed a parachute that can be used from an aeroplane.
Springs got all excited about it and went to see Calthorpe the inventor
of the Guardian Angel parachute that all the balloonitics use. Caithorpe
is working on the idea. Springs offered him two thousand dollars if he
would make one for him according to his idea. Caithorpe said he couldn't
do it as the War Office wouldn't let him work for individuals, but that
he would be glad to have any assistance or ideas. Springs offered to test
out Caithorpe's and take it to the front for further tests and they are
working on the same idea.

Caithorpe's idea is to have the parachute arranged in the trailing edge
of the wing like an aileron.

The trouble with that is that it is liable to foul on the tail and it
would take some time for the pilot to get out of his seat and get the
straps on. And he would have to get out in a spin or a steep dive.
Caithorpe is developing it primarily for the big planes where there is a
crew and all of them could possibly get out except the pilot.

Springs wants one made to fit on an S.E. where the steamline for the
pilot's head is on the top of the fusilage. Then the pilot could wear the
harness all the time and all he would have to do would be to unfasten his
safety belt and jump. The objection to that again is the possibility of
fouling. He figures on having a long cord between the parachute and the
plane so that it would be free of the plane before it started to open. As
the pilot fell away from the plane the cord would open the parachute and
then the pilot could cut loose. It might be very difficult for the pilot
to cut loose and Calthorpe figures on doing it with a series of rubber
bands or an unravelling device.

I like the idea. It would certainly help at the front. Most pilots are
killed by structural defects or by having the plane catch fire in the
air. It would also be a great device for testing.

Springs tried to get permission from the U.S. Headquarters to go ahead
with it but they said nothing doing.

We also hear rumours of a new machine-gun invented by a Russian which
uses larger bullets than the present ones and they are little shrapnel
shells. This war is getting more dangerous every day. There is only one
other American at Hounslow, Loghran from North Carolina.

April 12th

We've all been up in Dolphins and they aren't so hard to fly but are very
tricky. They have the two hundred and twenty horse-power Hispano motors
and the prop is geared which reverses the torque. They don't turn as well
as an S.E. but better than a Spad. There's one great danger with them.
They have twenty-four inches of back stagger and the top wing is very
low. They have no centre section and your head comes up through the top
wing where the centre section ought to be. If anything goes wrong and it
turns over, the whole weight of the plane will rest on your head. If you
crash, the gas tank is right at your back like in a Camel and your legs
are up under the motor. There's not much hope for the pilot. Capt. White
was landing last week and a tire busted and the wheel gave way and he
turned over. The plane caught fire and he was nearly burned to death
before we could get him out. They spin very easily from a left-hand turn.
Cal gives me the willies by always taking off in a left-hand climbing
turn.

I heard a funny story about Tracy Bird. Two old maids got frightened at
the air raids in London and moved out to the country. The third day they
were there Tracy crashes into their roof in an Ak.W. and lands in their
room. They were so frightened they moved back to London. Tracy wasn't
hurt.

April 13th

Roberts and Al came around to the house last night after Murray's closed.
Sheila and Peggy and the Queen Bee and the Brainless Wonder were all
here. We were doing a little serious drinking and Al and Sheila got to
cussing at each other. Al was coming back pretty hard and Sheila was
determined she was going to have the last word. I didn't like it. I can't
bear to hear a man use bad language to a woman. I told him to shut up. He
kept on and I told him again to shut up. He said something to me and we
both jumped up and I saw blue for a moment. I took a swing at him and I'd
have killed him if Springs hadn't jumped between us and my fist hit his
shoulder and he hit Springs in the back. All three of us went down on the
floor and got tangled up in the bearskin rug and Cal jumped on me. We got
up and shook hands. Damn my temper anyway! It gets away from me in spite
of all I can do.

Middleditch and Pudrith have been killed on D.H. 4's. The Lord sure is a
good picker!

Stratton got smashed up. He was in a Camel and his machine-gun ran away
so he crashed to keep from shooting another machine.

April 14th

There's a new order out from Headquarters that no U.S. pilot can come to
London without orders. Now isn't that nice? Here we are stationed within
the city limits, the tube station is right at the entrance of the field
and yet we are forbidden to go down to the centre of the town. In other
words we are confined to our quarters as if we were under arrest.

The U.S. Army is a great institution. I have been treated like an
enlisted man for ten months though I was never supposed to be one. But I
didn't expect the treatment to continue after I became a 1st lieutenant.
I suppose if we ever get to be captains, the regulars will all be
colonels and captains will be enlisted men still. We all realized that
there was a war on and that Washington was too busy to give us our
commissions as they promised and we did the best we could in the
meanwhile in the best of spirits. We lost our seniority and our pay. A
man that was in the same class with me at Ground School and who wasn't
good enough to come over with us, went to a flying-field and got his
commission in six weeks and came over here and was put in charge of some
of us. We have all the responsibilities that the British pilots have, we
have to do the same work they do, we die the same way they do, we accept
orders from the same officers they do when it comes to duty, yet we have
none of their privileges. It isn't fair. If Bishop can order me to go up
and get killed, which he can, he should be able to give us permission to
go into town, which he can't.

I'm glad I had the pleasure of knowing Major MacDill and Colonel Morrow
but I can't understand what they are doing in the army. They are
gentlemen! There was a major out here yesterday that certainly couldn't
qualify. If we had to choose between fighting the Prussian Guard and the
West Point Alumni Association, I know where at least two hundred and ten
aviators would assemble.

I guess majors are like children around eight and ten. They are just
passing through an ugly age. And these present ones have been hatched so
recently that their gold leaves itch.

We are going to the front and get killed off like flies. Two or three get
killed in England every week. Yet these great Moguls are so afraid that
we will have a little fun before we do go West that they have forbidden
us to come to London to see a show or join our friends and try to forget
for a little while what is going to happen to us. It's an outrage. They
think we are so much dirt. We went to the American Officers' club for
lunch for a while. They ought to call it the majors' and admirals' free
lunch. They think we have leprosy. The club is just around the corner
from the house and is very convenient and the food is good but I don't
like the company. When Lord Leaconsfield donated his house for the
purpose I didn't hear anything said about what officers were to be
allowed in it. Well, we should worry.

I'd rather eat one meal with Bishop than have Admiral Sims and General
Biddle pay my board eternally. Thank God the British can recognize a
gentleman despite his rank.

These little tin majors give me a pain. They can't find enough aviators
in France to cuss at, so they have to run over here every little while
and show off their authority by cussing us out before the British. And I
must say for the British that they resent it as much as we do.

I'm an American and I'm proud of it but I'm damned if I can take any
pride in the boobs that are running the flying corps. For instance how
can we fly when our necks are being choked off by these  1865 model
collars? The staff must think they are still in Mexico wearing O.D.
shirts.

Springs called up and got permission to go down to Headquarters. He came
back with three sets of orders for us to go to the dentist until we get
our teeth fixed. I guess that will see us through. Dwyer certainly is a
friend in need. He said he's heard about our house unofficially and that
we'd better keep it quiet. We will.

Loghran has gone to Turnberry.

We are all broke at the moment and have all cabled home for funds. Cal
has a rich grandmother and he and Springs got together and composed a
letter to her that was a masterpiece. They told her about the young
aviator that had been over here for six months and had been broke and had
a rotten time. Then he went out to the front and his father sent him five
thousand dollars for a birthday present but he was killed before he had a
chance to get leave and enjoy it. If Springs isn't hung first he'll be a
great writer some day. That letter was the work of a master hand.

Wheelock and Berry crashed a Bristol Fighter at Ayr and it caught fire.
Wheelock was in the back seat and had a broken arm but managed to get out
of the wreckage. Berry was in the front seat and couldn't get out so
Wheelock went in after him and pulled him out. Both were badly burned.

April 18th

Gawd, what a life! We get up at noon, breakfast and go to Hounslow on the
tube if it's a good day, if not we go down to the Savoy bar and join the
gang there. At six we are back at the house unless there's a party at
Murray's. Vic Hastings usually comes around before dinner with Col.
Hepburn or Cecil Cowan or Nat Ayres and we all go out to dinner after
getting well oiled. Vic sent around a couple of cases of Canadian Club
from Canadian H.Q. yesterday. That ought to last at least three nights.
We went down to see His Lordship's own private wine merchant when we
first moved in and he keeps us supplied with some marvellous 1880 port.
At least he says it's port. I call it the "answer to a drunkard's
prayer."

Then we usually get in our evening dancing at Murray's or the Elysee and
then all come back to the house when they close. Anywhere from five to
twenty-five of the old detachment usually drop in and we simply can't
keep up with our engagements.

We had a full-blooded Sioux Indian in the squadron but he killed himself
yesterday by spinning into the ground from a left-hand turn.

Nigger Horn had a crash. He was flying an S.E. and had just got off the
ground when the engine conked. He was headed straight for the town and
couldn't turn back. It looked as if he was going to crash into a crowded
street but he stuck his nose down and deliberately dove between two
little brick buildings on the edge of the field. The buildings tore his
wings off clean and he and the fusilage slid, along.

Springs has a new girl and my Gawd, what a beautiful thing she is. But
she's so stupid it's ludicrous. Nothing but a doll. He says he's
suffering from a reaction. The last one had too much brains.

April 20th

It looks like we were going to be delayed. 84 squadron on the same field
at Hounslow is ready to go over but the factory is short on Dolphins as
they have been using all the new ones to replace Spads at the front. They
have taken our Dolphins and we have to refit with S.E.'s. I'm not sorry
to get S.E.'s but I hate the delay. If we don't get to the front pretty
soon there won't be much use in taking us--we'll be too busy fighting off
the purple crocodiles.

Mathews, Oliver, Eckert, Newhall, Gile and Hammer are ready to go out to
the front to-day. There was a big party last night and we went to a dance
at the Elysee Gardens. The whole flying corps was there and all tight as
a nun's corset. Hash and Springs held their usual reunion. Springs has
something wrong with his left eye and when he drinks too much it closes.
I went downstairs in the bar and found Hash holding Springs's eye open
with his hand so he could have another drink to Old Nassau. When they
meet in hell those two will organize a Princeton reunion.

Cecil gave a dinner party in honour of Peggy and the Doll the same
evening. This is a new Peggy--the third. This one came as a present in
Murray's the other night. Vic and Barney and Dora were there too. Then we
all went to the dance. We decided to go back to the house about one
o'clock and the Doll was dancing with some Englishman and Springs and I
went out to get her. She didn't want to leave and her partner got the
idea that she was objecting to me breaking in. He got very nasty about it
and told us to run along and gave me a gentle push. I saw red and took a
long swing. Springs saw me swing and jumped in the way. I knocked him
flat and then Cal grabbed me. Gosh, it's funny how we three stick
together in a crowd. But I wish they'd jump on the other fellow for a
change. That's three times they've jumped on me in a fight. We need
better team work! Hash has the right idea. He's about six feet four and
an old Princeton tackle. He saw the argument and came up and towered over
this fellow while Cal was holding me and looked him over and said,
"Listen here, young fellow, when he's through with you, I'll take on
what's left."

We abandoned the Doll and all left including Hash and Eckert. We couldn't
find but one taxi so all nine piled into it. When we got back to the
house we all got out and paid off the driver. Just as he was about to
drive off, the door opened again and out stepped Bim. Nobody knew he was
with us.

I heard that Stanberry was killed last week on a Camel. He and I were
always good friends after our fight at Ground School. There was only one
blow struck in that fight and he went out like a candle in the wind. We
both apologized and have been good friends ever since.

April 25th

We gave a farewell dinner for 84 at the Criterion. I'll bet the bill for
breakage will be more than the one for food. Mac brought back a sign,
"Ladies Room" and hung it over our spare bedroom.

A little girl came around to the house the other night that I've known
for some time, named Lily. She's a cute little kid and a good dancer.
She's been living with one of the boys for a couple of months. She went
up to his squadron and took a house for a while. He's nutty about her and
would have married her if she'd tried to make him. She has a sort of past
that wouldn't sound well at home but doesn't seem to make much difference
over here. At home every woman that isn't a virgin has a past, while over
here they've got to shoot somebody, be divorced by somebody who is
somebody or get run over by a train.

Well, this particular cadet had just got his commission and he celebrated
the happy event by diving into the ground from five thousand feet. The
poor little girl is all broken up and is scared to death because she
thinks she is going to have a baby. She wanted me to tell her what to do.
She wanted to know whether to write his people or not. I told her not to.
He had done the best he could and it would be a shame to spoil his
family's solace in sorrow. They've probably got a dozen artists busy
painting wings on all his pictures by this time. I told her if she loved
him to say nothing about it and carry on. I gave her what money I
had--not much, I'm sorry to say.

Tommy Herbert and Paul Winslow were in the other night full of rumours.
They have a scheme for getting switched from Camels, or rather Winslow
has. They are ferrying and always take a Bristol Fighter. They are going
to pass themselves off as Bristol pilots. Tommy is not so enthusiastic as
he crashed a Bristol last week and broke a couple of ribs and sprained
his back. I wish he'd sprain his throat so he couldn't sing.

The other evening before going out to dinner we heard a terrific
explosion up on the third floor and we dashed up the stairs thinking we
were being bombed. 'Twas only Springs trying to take a bath and the
geyser had exploded. The gas in the water heater had blown out and he lit
it again after the roo, was full of gas. Funny things, these geysers. The
English stick a tank over the tub and when you turn on the water it turns
up the gas to heat it. Spring is short his eyelashes and eyebrows. He
didn't have much to start with. Dora says he looks perpetually startled
and she's afraid every minute that he's going to run away.

Tom Money has been killed, So has Brader.

April 28th

Cal got a cable from his grandmother to-day which called for a hundred
pounds. A lot of famous Writers would like to get paid at that rate for
their work.

Springs and I went out to a hospital in the suburbs to see Bostick who's
back from the front all shot to hell. He flew a Camel into the ground and
his face looks like a scrambled egg. His jaw is broken in two places, his
arm is broken, and he may lose one eye. On top of that, he's had
pneumonia. He couldn't talk much but all that worried him was getting
back to the front. He'll never see the front again, poor kid. We took him
some strawberries. They are worth their weight in gold over here.

The Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service have been merged
into one service known as the Royal Air Force which is to rank equal with
the army and navy and be under neither one. From now on it will be the
Army, Navy and Air Force. I understand the Navy doesn't like the idea at
all. It ought to save a lot of confusion and duplication of work. Some of
the non-flyers will lose their jobs which will be a good thing.

May 3rd

Lily, the widow came around again. It was a false alarm about the baby
and she acts as if she might be consoled very easily. However, none of us
wanted the job. We wanted to get rid of her but we didn't know how to do
it. Then one of these bold, bad, handsome woman stealers came in to call.
With a little careful arranging we permitted him to steal our girl right
out from under our eyes. Weren't we mad? I hope he gets into trouble as
the last time he pulled that little trick he got one that didn't have any
label on her addressed to him.

If these boys can fly two-bladers like they can fly fourposters, there'll
sure be a shortage of Huns before long.

Springs had a narrow escape. He was about to  go up in an S.E. and he
just happened to notice in time that his elevator turnbuckle was broken
and the controls were held only by a safety wire. He would have gotten
off and then it would have broken in the air.

We had a game of follow the leader. Mac was the leader. We had an old
two-twenty S.E. and he took it up first. He dove it at the ground wide
open and levelled off and ran his wheels along the ground and pulled up
in a long zoom and looped. The trick of the stunt is to get over the top
of your loop. An S.E. will zoom fifteen hundred feet from the level and
that's why they are so good at the front.

Cal was next. The idea was that each man should do the stunt of the
preceding man and then set another one for the next man. Cal did Mac's
and then half rolled at the top of the loop.

Springs was next and his stunt was a full roll at the top of the loop. Of
course he was up above a thousand feet.

I was next and I put my nose down to about two hundred after I did my
full roll, and as soon as I started up for my zoom I kicked on full right
rudder and pulled the stick back into the right-hand corner. I didn't
know what I was doing but I sure did it. I whirled around a couple of
times with my nose up and then I whirled around with my nose down and
ended up stalled upside down. The motor stopped and I just did get in the
field with a dead prop.

It was Thompson's turn next. Mac said what I did was an upward spin
followed by an outside spin, whatever that is. I told Thompson how I did
it and he went up and started into it with terrific speed. The propeller
shaft broke and his prop flew off, just nicking the leading edge of the
wing. He got into the field all right. That ended the afternoon
performance. Mac and Cal certainly can fly.

About eleven o'clock last night the 'phone rang and Springs answered. It
was a lady and she wanted to speak to His Lordship. Springs got to
chewing the rag with her and ascertained the fact that there were two of
them and they were alone and would be agreeable to gargling a little
champagne. So he and Cal got some pop and went over to call. In about an
hour Cal came back without his hat. Springs came in about half an hour
later with it and kidded the life out of him. Cal says the lady made an
improper proposal to him so when she wasn't looking he departed. Springs
says Cal had been making improper proposals himself for half an hour and
as soon as the lady began to take them seriously, he lost his nerve. He
sure is funny with women. Give him a piano or a dance floor and a girl
and he's like a snake with a toad--just fascinates them! But as soon as
they surrender, he gets stag fever or stage fright or something and takes
his foot in his hand.

May 4th

London was too much for us the house was getting too crowded every night
so we decided we'd better leave for a few days and send out the rumour
that we had left for good. Everybody in the flying corps knew about the
house and came around for a drink after hours and brought their brothers
and sisters. The story goes that we three have been picked by Bishop for
his circus, which is going out to fight Richthofen's circus, because of
our great skill as pilots. Isn't that a joke? Particularly after the
stunt I pulled the other day.

Bishop had a little Bristol Scout that the general gave him to play
around in--pretty little thing, all painted silver and it had a Le Rhone
motor.

He let me fly it the other day. I took off and the motor cut out cold at
about two hundred feet. I tried to land short but I didn't have room
enough to even sideslip and I couldn't turn and there was a high fence
right in front of me that I couldn't glide over. Then I had a brilliant
idea. I pointed the nose at the ground in front of the fence and
deliberately bounced. And I bounced over that fence. All would have been
well if there hadn't been a football goal-post on the other side of the
fence. I hit the cross-bar and the Bristol was reduced to matchwood and I
got a bruised knee and a split lip.

Yes, London was getting to be too much for us and so we came down here to
Eastbourne to rest up for four days.

This is a beautiful place down by the sea, quiet and restful.

We had a funny party the night before we left. Sir Somebody or other and
Lord Somebody and their wives came around to the house to call on His
Lordship. I explained that His Lordship was in the country and that we
were holding down the fort. Then I asked them to come, in and crack a
bottle with us. They came in and I opened some pop. They were very nice
and were much interested in the American Army and asked a lot of
questions.

About that time, Cal and Halley and Nigger came in. A nice time was had
by all though no one could figure it out. I believe they thought that
Halley lives here too. But they didn't say so, and we couldn't just
volunteer the information that she didn't. The titled contingent left and
we went down in the kitchen and cooked sausage and mushrooms and made
some eggnog.

Vic Hastings came in with two Canadians and two girls. One of them was a
raving beauty and the other one wasn't so bad. The beauty and Springs
cooked up a mess that was easy on the palate. After a while the Canadians
got tired of our kitchen and their dignity got restless and they left. We
kept the girls and took them home ourselves. You can't laugh that off!

I wonder what the boys in Texas are doing for amusement. You chase me and
I'll chase you! We called the girls Cherubim and Seraphim.

May 6th

We did rest for two days and felt a lot better. Cal, the nice boy, took
up with an old gentleman and his charming young daughter. While he was
telling them all about the war this morning, Springs and I went out for a
stroll. We saw a bottle of ancient pre-war Haig and Haig in a
pinch-bottle sitting in a bar window and we went in and tried to buy it.
They wouldn't sell it except by the drink. So we bought it by the drink
and sent a messenger after Cal and started on another one. Cal arrived
and in order to catch up, he poured out half of the other bottle and took
it neat. It took effect like a dentist's drill and by the time we
finished the second bottle, we were ready to fight a buzz-saw. We hired a
limousine and told the driver to show us the sights. He took us out to
Beachy Head which is a cliff three hundred feet high and showed us
Lovers' Leap where all the suicides do their stunt. Cal and Springs began
chasing each other around and got over the side of the cliff on a gentle
slope. They slipped in the soft dirt and slid right on down the first
stage of the cliff to the perpendicular drop above the rocks a hundred
feet below. I was scared stiff. They managed to check themselves right on
the edge. Cal was all right because he was on his stomach and dug his
toes in the soft dirt, but Springs was on his back and the dirt kept
crumbling away under his heels, and he slowly slid on down to the very
edge. Cal and I were yelling at the top of our lungs but we couldn't go
to his assistance. He held on to a bunch of weeds until he could get his
knife out and dig a slot for his heels. I yelled for help and the
chauffeur got some officers to come and help us. We made a chain out of
our Sam Brownes and some rope and they lowered me and I pulled Cal up
easily. But we had an awful time with Springs because he couldn't turn
over and didn't dare let go either hand because he was still slipping a
little. I don't see why he wasn't killed. We had to lasso him and pull
him up backwards.

We decided that since our lives were in jeopardy we ought to have our
pictures taken to preserve our likenesses for posterity. The photographer
nearly had a fit at our poses. Then we went down to an indoor
swimming-pool. There was a flying trapeze over it and Springs insisted on
getting up on it as he used to be a trapeze expert at college He isn't so
good now and he missed his jump over shallow water and took all the skin
off one side of his face, where he cracked the bottom.

Then we went roller skating. That's where I shine. Everybody got off the
rink for me and I put on an exhibition for them that was an exhibition. I
had on my new pink breeches and when I tried a double reverse, I tripped.
My beautiful pink breeches are ruined! When the place was ready to close
the band played "God Save the King." Cal was sitting on the sidelines
talking to a girl and he forgot he had skates on and jumped to attention.
His feet went out from under him and he lit on the floor on his back.
Springs embraced a post for support.

May 10th

The good effects of the Eastbourne trip didn't last long. Kelly came down
to town from some ungodly hole and we had a terrible battle. Kelly didn't
have a girl so Springs called up and said he was sick and sent Kelly
around after his girl. That pair certainly are funny. They aren't
satisfied by trying to give each other the shirts off their backs but
they want the other to have everything. This time the girl didn't like
the idea so well so Kelly came back and they started out together.

We had a fine bomb raid last night. Springs, Cal and I were over at
Cherubim's flat. Sherry was there too, and they were playing bridge while
I was writing some letters. The Maron, which is the raid warning, went
off about ten-thirty. The girls jumped like they had been hit already.
They grabbed some camp stools and said they were going down in the tube
station. We said we weren't going but they begged us to go with them, so
we did. We took along a bottle of whisky and a plate of cake. The girls
were hysterical with fright. Cherry had a sister killed in a raid last
year and Sherry had some friend bumped off.

When we got to the station it was already packed. We couldn't get down to
the platform so camped on a landing half-way down. The air was as foul as
the Black Hole of Calcutta and those people certainly were scared. We
cheered the girls up and drank the whisky and felt better. Every one had
brought camp stools and it sure was a funny sight. I hadn't realized
before how successful the raids are. It doesn't matter whether they hit
anything or not as long as they put the wind up the civilian population
so thoroughly. These people wanted peace and they wanted it quick.
Possibly Lord Lansdowne got caught out in a bomb raid.

The air got so bad that we said good night and left. Outside, the town
was absolutely deserted. We waited fifteen minutes for a taxi but there
wasn't any so we had to walk home. The city was like a sepulchre except
for the terrible racket of the anti-aircraft guns. Not a light anywhere.
We didn't hear any bombs explode but Archie kept up a lot of fuss. There
wasn't the tiniest crack of light to be seen anywhere. They certainly do
enforce the law about lights. They don't have many laws in this country
but they certainly enforce what they do have.

There is a battery over in Hyde Park a couple of blocks from the house
and it shakes the panes in the windows when it fires. When there's a big
raid on, you can sit at our window upstairs and hear the pieces of
shrapnel falling in the street like hail. It's just as well to stay
indoors. Archie has quit trying to hit anything. They just put up a
barrage and hope the Huns fly into it. They have certain areas which they
range and certain areas which they leave clear so they won't hit our
planes that are up after them. Our night-flying Camels are doing a lot of
damage to the raiders and that's the only way they will ever stop them.
Armstrong, the Australian stunt pilot, was over at Hounslow the other day
in his specially rigged Camel and gave an exhibition for us. He's
certainly a wonderful pilot. He runs his wheels on the ground and then
pulls up in a loop and if he sees he hasn't got room enough, he just half
rolls at the top. I saw him land from a full roll and he glides and does
S turns upside down. I don't think he has long to live, though, just the
same. He says night flying is not so difficult after you once get used to
it. And he says it's just as easy to fire at night as in daytime. I don't
see how he figures that though.

After the raid was over an assorted crowd came around to the house. Two
of mamma's own little darlings came around with two wild women. I eased
them towards the door gently but firmly. One of the boys was highly
insulted when I told him that we were glad to have him any time but he'd
have to leave his girl friend at home. He got real nasty and said he
didn't know that we were running a nunnery and from what he heard he
didn't think we were in a position to object to anything. Then he took a
couple of nasty cracks at a few of our friends and regular callers. I
told him that after all it was our house and I was sorry that he couldn't
see the thing right. We were trying to keep our house respectable. I told
him that since we had moved in here, not a woman had spent the night in
the house and while I wasn't any inspector of the public morals and
hadn't snooped around any, still I'd be willing to guarantee that no one
had indulged in any horizontal refreshments here. I wasn't concerned with
what they did elsewhere, but this was an amateur gathering and we didn't
allow any professional talent or union workers. If he wanted to leave
five pounds with his card when he called, it was all right by me, but as
for us, alcohol was our weakness. So they left. I should have crowned
them. Gosh, it's wonderful the way I control my temper now. I used to
like that kid. I remember his mother came out to Mineola to pack up for
him and she asked MacDill to please write to her if he didn't behave.

But what I told him was the truth. Some of our guests may be a bit
unconventional in their mode of living but they have certainly all been
ladies around here. And considering the number that have drifted in and
out, I think it's right remarkable. These London women are in a class by
themselves. They are good sports, good looking, good dancers, well
educated, act like ladies, and they don't sit around and worry about
their honour all the time. They aren't a bit conceited about the matter
as they all are at home. Virtue over here isn't even its own reward.

Springs and I flew over to London Colney for lunch and heard that Waite
killed himself by driving a Spad into the Elstree reservoir. He was
firing at the ground target which is in the centre of it and his controls
must have jammed for he never came out of his dive. London Colney is sure
an unlucky place.

Clarence Fry is funnier than ever. He was telling a story on Barksdale
about how he went over in a Pup to stunt for his girl. He came out of a
spin below the tree-tops and couldn't get his motor again and crashed
right in her yard. Barksdale is so long he can hardly get in a Pup and
flies without his puttees so as not to interfere with his legs. When he
crashed he got out of the wreck and confronted his girl with his long
underwear sticking out below the breeches. He was so embarrassed his girl
thought he was knocked out and wanted to take him to a hospital.

May 11th

The lady that owns the house next door has come back from the country and
she wrote a letter to His Lordship complaining about the racket over
here. He sent the letter to us and said we had to do something about it.
So Springs went over to call on her this afternoon. He was gone a long
time and we thought she must have proved to be young and attractive but
when he came back he said she had invited him to stay for tea. He said
she was awfully nice and her son was killed last year in the battle of
the Somme. He explained to her how we were just waiting around to go out
to the front and expected to go any day now and were just trying to have
a little fun before we left. She got to crying and said that was just how
her son felt about it before he went out the last time. She ended up by
wanting to give us a dinner party and invite some nice girls for us to
meet. Springs told her that we knew too many already and that we craved
quiet just as much as she did. So we are not going to play the piano
after midnight and she is going to withdraw her complaint. You can't beat
these English women!

They are having hard luck over at London Colney again. I saw Barksdale in
town and he had a long tale of woe. A big two-engined Handley-Page landed
on top of an Avro over there the other day. The pilot in the Avro was
hurt but not killed and the pilot of the Handley was killed when it nosed
on him. The next day the Handley was still standing on its nose and a
pilot was taking off in a Spad. The Spad swung ninety degrees taking off
and flew right into the tail of the Handley. The Spad turned the Handley
over on its back and wrecked the fusilage. The Spad was a write-off, of
course. The pilot may live.

Clarence Fry killed himself by stalling a Spad over there. That's too
bad. I thought a lot of Clarence. He certainly was a peach.

May 12th

Last night we had another choice assortment of callers. Halley, as usual,
was responsible for it. 'Twas a motley crew. But one of them, oh, la, la,
what a knockout! Her name is Billy Canton. She and I got on like Antony
and Cleopatra. How that woman can dance! Well, she ought to be able to,
seeing as how she is leading lady in a musical show. She is about
twenty-three and has been on the stage since she was eighteen. She sure
is witty. She kept us laughing all evening. She had a general in tow that
wasn't at all friendly to me. There was a little monologue she gave.

"What, you coward," she would say, "how dare you strike a poor
defenceless woman! You contemptible cur, why don't you have courage
enough to hit a man? Why don't you hit me? Whow!" And with that she would
throw herself on the floor as if she had been knocked down. She had a lot
of little stunts like that."

Then she has a cockney song she sings:

     She was poor but she was 'onest,
     Victim of a rich man's crime,
     First 'e wooed 'er and then 'e left 'er,
     Ain't it all a bleedin' shime?

Chorus
     It's the sime the whole world over,
     It's the poor wot tikes the blime,
     It's the rich wot tikes the pleasure,
     Ain't it all a bleedin' shime?

     Then the girl went up to London,
     For to 'ide 'er bleedin' shime,
     There she met another squire,
     And 'e dragged 'er down agine.

     See 'er in 'er 'orse and kerridge,
     Ridin' daily through the park,
     Tho she 'as a dozen rubies,
     They don't 'ide 'er bleedin' 'eart.

     There she stands upon the corner,
     Sellin' flowers to the gent,
     She's grown fat about 'er middle,
     And 'er golden locks 'as went.

There are a lot more verses and variations to it but these are the only
ones I know.

I took her home and the general wasn't very mad! It's getting to be a
disgrace the way we welcome our friends and then put them out and keep
their girls. Well, they ought to know better!

She has a gorgeous flat and there was a supper waiting for us when we got
there and a maid to serve it. She slipped on a negligee and looked like a
million dollars.

     "I was sitting in jail with my back to the wall,
     And a red-headed woman was the cause of it all."

About ten of the boys have given it up and just quit flying. No nerve.
They never should have enlisted if they didn't intend to see it through
after they found out it was dangerous. Jeff Dwyer gets them jobs at
Headquarters or puts them in charge of mechanics. But yellow is yellow
whether you call it nerves or not. I'm just as scared sometimes as any of
them.

May 13th
The great McCudden, now Major McCudden V.C., D.S.O., M.C., E.T.C., just
back from the front to get decorated again, came into Murray's last night
for dinner and, oh, boy, what a riot he caused. All the officers went
over to his table to congratulate him and the women--well, they fought to
get at him just like they do at a bargain counter back home. He's the
hottest thing we have now--54 Huns, five more than Bishop and he's just
got the V.C. and a bar to his D.S.O. He held a regular levee. I think
there are only five airmen living that have the V.C. The first thing you
have to do to get it is to get killed.

The girl with him thought she was the Queen of Sheba. She started to
pretend she didn't know us. I should have reminded her where we met but I
didn't. I saved her life once.

Well, I'm not jealous. I'm going to be hot myself some day.

I'm either coming out of the war a big man or in a wooden kimono. I know
I can fight, I know I can fly, and I ought to be able to shoot straight.
If I can just learn to do all three things at once, they can't stop me.
And Bishop is going to teach me to do that. I've got to make a name for
myself, even if they have to prefix "late" to it.

The ground-hog captain at London Colney finally got his wish and killed
himself in a Pup. He was rolling over the tree-tops and his motor cut out
and he didn't have enough speed to get around and went into the ground.

I hear that Kissell has been shot down and killed at the front. He was
the best Camel pilot we had. He could fly upside down as well as right
side up.

Cherubim and Seraphim invited us down to Maidenhead for the week-end at
Cherry's house. Vic, Jack May, Barney, Cecil, Dora and the three of us
went down Saturday afternoon.

Cherry has a cottage right on the river with a pretty little garden in
the back. Jack brought the food down from Murray's and a good time was
had by all. Vic found attraction next door and left us for a while. We
called on His Lordship and he showed us his country place but I'm not
sure he was glad to see us. We were supposed to go to a dance but none of
us ever got there, or even came near it. Everybody went back to town
Sunday except Cherry and Sherry and the three of us. We chartered an
electric punt and spent the day on the Thames. It's a beautiful spot, a
regular fairyland. Little estates come right down to the water's edge and
at night it's beyond description. These punts are big flat-bottomed
canoes and are run by storage-batteries. They have no seats but the
bottom is filled with cushions. Anybody can paint the rest of the
picture. Somebody gave Springs a bottle of Canadian Club and he got up in
the bow and remained there all day like a bowsprit. Cal gave a good
imitation of a young man in love. We had lunch on the terrace at
Skindle's, which is a big restaurant with a terrace down to the water's
edge. We had tea in the punt up at some place above the locks. We went
back to Skindle's for dinner and Springs got chummy with a girl over at
another table and made a date with her to meet him there later.

We all got back to the cottage after dinner and then Springs got a
rowboat and went back to Skindle's after the girl. He couldn't find her
and went in the bar. There were a couple of Guards officers in there and
they all got to chewing the rag. The Guards officers began taking cracks
at the American Army. One of them, a long tall bird, said, "I've been
reading in the papers until I'm bloody well sick of it, about the number
of American troops that have come over. But what I can't understand is
why none of them will fight. Paris is full of them, London is full of
them, but they all jolly well stay away from the front. None of them will
fight."

"Well," says Springs, "here is one of them that will." And with that, he
hauls off and stretches the long tall bird on the floor. The other one
makes a pass at him but he ducks and beats it out and jumps in his boat
and shoves off. But in his haste, he forgot his oars. He floated down the
river and missed the falls by a miracle. There were no lights showing
anywhere and I don't see how he found his way back, but he did. He's got
more lives than a cat and needs all of them.

I heard to-day that Hash Gile is missing at the front.

Bob Griffith is dead. The wings of his D.H. 9 came off at ten thousand
feet.

May 14th

All aboard for France. Our orders have come through and we leave next
Wednesday.

A ferry pilot brought over my new machine day before yesterday and
smashed it all to pieces landing. He got tangled up in the wires coming
in. So I decided I'd fetch my own service machine and got Springs to fly
me over to Brooklands in an Avro yesterday and I flew it back. It
certainly is a beauty. I like these 180 Viper Hispanos made by Wolsey
much better than the 220 Peugeots. Brooklands used to be an automobile
race-track but is now the depot and test park for the R.F.C. I saw some
of the new experimental planes down there. One was the Snipe, which has
the 200 Bentley motor and is going to take the place of the Camel at the
front. Another was the Snark which has the big A.B.C. air-cooled radial.
It has a wonderful performance but I understand there's some hitch about
it. The Salamander and the Hippo and the Bulldog were all there too. The
Hippo is a sort of two-seater Dolphin.

I gave my new plane a work-out in the air to-day. It flies hands off; I
put it level just off the ground and it did 130. Then I went up high and
did a spinning tail slide. Nothing broke so I have perfect confidence in
it. I've been cleaning and oiling the machine-guns, tuning up the motor
and testing the rigging. The best part of it is that it's mine--no one
else has ever flown it and no one else ever will. It's painted green and
I have named it the Julep and am having one painted on the side of the
fusilage. Nigger has the Gin Palace II and Springs has the Eggnog First.

Larry has had trouble with his motor and is losing sleep over it.

To-morrow, I've got to synchronize my gun-gear, set my sights, swing my
compass and then I'm ready. Death bring on your sting, oh, grave hoist
your gold star!

The bus certainly is plentifully supplied with gagets. The cockpit looks
like the inside of a locomotive cab. In it is a compass, airspeed
indicator, radiator thermometer, oil-gauge, compensator, two gun trigger
controls, synchronized gear reservoir handle, hand pump, gas tank gauge,
two switches, pressure control, altimeter, gas pipe shut-off cocks,
shutter control, thermometer, two cocking handles for the guns, booster
magneto, spare ammunition drums, map case, throttle, joystick and rudder
bar. That's enough for any one man to say grace over. It has two guns:
one Vickers and one Lewis. The Vickers is mounted on the fusilage in
front of your face and fires through the propeller with a C.C. gear to
keep from hitting it. The Lewis is mounted on the top wing and fires over
the top of the propeller. It has two sights: a ring sight and an Aldis
telescopic sight. I set both sights and both guns so that they will all
converge at a spot two hundred yards in front of the line of flight. When
you aim, what you really do is to aim the plane and the guns take care of
themselves. The Vickers has a belt of four hundred rounds and the Lewis
has a drum of one hundred and we carry three spare drums. To change drums
you have to pull the gun down on the track with your hand and then take
off the empty drum and put on the full one. It's not hard to do unless
you let the wind get against the flat side of the drum, then it will
nearly break your wrist. We've practised changing until we can do it in
our sleep. The Vickers is the best gun by far.

Of course, I can't resist the temptation to add a few devices of my own
and have also put a cupboard and shelf in for spare goggles, machine-gun
tools, cigarettes, etc. I am also decorating my cockpit. When you're in
the air for two or three hours at a time, you get awfully bored.

We saw "Fair and Warmer" last night. It was opening night and Billy sent
us tickets. She's in it. It was quite amusing, especially the audience
which always laughed at the wrong time. Their idea of American slang is
about as good as our idea of theirs.

Down at Eastbourne we went to a Revue and they sang "Over There" with the
chorus dressed in Kilts. You can't beat that!

Yet it is surprising how well Americans are getting along over here--much
better than I expected. Every one that has come in contact with the
British swear by them. And the British will do more for us than they will
do for their own troops. Every club in England that is open to English
soldiers is open to Americans. We have every privilege that is offered to
their own troops. If the English soldiers are entitled to special prices
on anything so are we. We ride on the train at half-fare and are entitled
to anything we want from their canteens. We even draw what we want from
their quartermasters. Yet when the American Commissary was opened up in
London, the first rule they made was that no one could buy anything who
wasn't in American uniform. To me it hardly seems fair, not to say
discourteous. I went down to get some canned stuff the other day but I
couldn't get near the counter because the place was so full of the
Y.M.C.A. and Red Cross and K. of C. Those boys are going to have the best
of everything or know why.

As for me, I'm for the British and I don't care who knows it. Irish
papers please copy.

The three of us and Nigger flew up to Maidenhead to call this afternoon.
We ground-straffed the place and chased everybody off the terrace at
Skindle's. Vic was down there and fell off a haystack watching us. Then
we steeplechased all the way back down the river and kept our wheels just
out of the water. Nigger dipped his once. Cal missed hitting a bridge by
inches and Springs landed with about two hundred feet of telephone wire
dragging on his undercarriage. There was one funny thing. At one long
open stretch there was a punt in front of us right in the middle of the
river. A man in a bright blazer was standing up in the stern punting and
a girl was sitting in the bow with a big pink parasol. As we dove on
them, the man fell overboard and the girl lost her parasol. I looked back
to see it floating down the river and the man in the blazer floundering
about in a regular whirlpool.

We heard that Sanford has been killed out at the front.

When I think of all the good men that have been killed and then see all
the bums that are still alive hanging around town, it makes me mad.
Justice is blind, all right. And God is not fair about it. Why should he
take men like Fry and Stiliman and Nathan and all the rest of the good
ones and leave bums like me hanging around? It's not right. I feel sort
of ashamed to be here still. I'll bet what the government owes me that I
can name those that will be the survivors, if any, of our outfit.

One of our crowd got ambitious and not only got married to two different
girls, but tried to give both of them an allotment. That takes nerve!

For a while one of the boys was playing around with a very charming young
lady who more or less owed allegiance to a big diplomat who was in
Holland on a mission of state. She had a beautiful apartment and he was
more or less enjoying himself in the absence of the baron. But the
gentleman returned suddenly and he was henceforth out of luck. We were
all kidding him about it one night and Springs after listening a while
retired and penned a poem on the subject. We all told him how rotten the
metre was but he said that was charged up to poetic licence. Here's a
copy of the revised version:

A portly Roman Senator was sipping his Rock and Rye,
When a classic Vestal Virgin caught his educated eye;
"Ah, ha," he cried, enraptured, "that's just about my style,
Behold the old come-hither look, that makes the wild men wild!"

The old boy was no novice, for he'd served his time in Gaul,
And he saw she was a chicken and the flapper pose a stall,
So he flashed a roll of talents and she flashed him back a smile,
And she shrugged her architecture in a manner to beguile.

While the young bucks wagered drachmae that his game would never win,
He was letting her drive the chariot and chucking her under the chin.
They dined at the smart Lucullus, saw the Coliseum show,
Supped at the Appian Roadhouse where the party's never slow,

They drank a lot of Roman punch and shook a wicked hip,
For she taught him the Tiber Grapevine and the Herculeum Dip.

Said he, "If you're a Vestal, it's because you've had no chance.
I can see that you're ambitious by the charming way you dance.
I'm getting rather lonely and I've got a tidy bit,
Oh, really, you must come over." She answered, "Tempus fugit."
As he gave his chariot number to the chasseur at the door,
He heard the garcon whisper. "Sine qua non, caveat emptor."

He gave her a three-horse chariot, a flat with a cellar of booze,
And introduced her as his niece, who had moved from Syracuse.
He bought her Carthaginian Togas, her sandals came from Thrace,
And her B.V.D.'s were Grecian and were trimmed with Persian lace.
Her hair was bound with fillets of platinum and gold,
And she sprayed her dainty tonsils with a vintage rare and old.

The young bucks were green with envy which but aroused his mirth,
And he boasted, "To hell with all expense, I'm getting my money's worth."
But he had to go to Naples, where some rents were overdue,
While she lingered by the Tiber, complaining of the flu.

And no great time elapsed ere the wise ones slyly winked,
And they whispered, "Habeas corpus," as their golden goblets clinked,
For it was gossiped at the banquets and told o'er games of cards,
That a certain dashing Shavetail of Julius Caesar's Guards,
Was bringing home the bacon, had a latchkey to the flat,
Had soused himself in pre-war stock and was staging a terrible bat.

Now the Senator in Naples was leasing out his piers,
When the gossip from the Tiber was wafted to his ears,
He cursed his Naples real estate and paged his charioteer,
As he scorched along the highway, he pumaced off his spear.

He broke the record back to Rome and arrived with a terrible shout,
But the Shavetail heard him on the stairs and escaped by the gutter spout.
The Senator surveyed his flat, with bottles everywhere,
And picked up some scattered plumage and bits of old tinware.

The lady wept in anguish, but he only mocked her cries,
"I gave you rings for your fingers, now they're beneath your eyes."
The sweet young thing was cagy, she'd expected his return,
And she explained, "Semper fidelis, won't you ever learn!

"Dear Caesar came to see me, said Pompey's getting hot,
And the Legion's drilling badly and the Navy's gone to pot:
So to stimulate recruiting, I've been flirting with this Wop."
And she slipped her toga's shoulder strap, and displayed a fancy clock.

And the fat and portly Senator bethought himself of Gaul,
And when garrisoned in Egypt how he used to pay a call,
On a dusky amorous maiden with a houseboat on the Nile,
Whose lingering caresses made Army life worth while;
His thoughts went back to Britain, and he stroked a scarred chin,
Where an angry Celtic husband had expressed his deep chagrin.
And he recalled how his upright figure and the polish his armour bore
Had intrigued the Spanish maidens on that temperamental shore.

And his anger soon abating, he replaced the truant strap,
And she said, "Carpemus diem," as he gave her-cheek a slap;
He patted the tousled curly locks, that on his shoulder lay,
And thought, "She's not hors de combat, 'tis part of an Officer's Pay."

I hear the American Lieutenant that was at London Colney distinguished
himself the other day. His squadron ran into two layers of Huns and leapt
on the top layer. He was trying to turn his Camel to the right and he got
into a spin and down he went. He got it under control and came out of the
spin right in the middle of the lower flight of Huns. They didn't do a
thing but shoot him full of holes. He got back a sadder and wiser man.
They say he is stout enough and has made a good man. More power to him!

May 17th

We had a bunch of Brass Hats from the War Office down at Hounslow to-day
and we put on an exhibition of formation flying and stunting for them
that was pretty good. Nineteen machines in close battle formation are a
stirring sight. Everything went off well except Springs's landing. His
wheel hit a soft spot and turned him and the other wheel gave way and he
turned over on his back and his head was shoved into the mud. He was a
great sight when he came walking back to the tarmac where all the
generals were standing. He had on slacks and a white shirt and wasn't
wearing helmet or goggles and his face and head were all covered with
mud. He's got to go over to Brooklands again to-morrow after another
plane. I'm going to fly him over in an Avro.

Mrs. Bishop had a lady with her and she invited us to tea with them. We
explained that we were all pretty dirty, which we were, but she said to
never mind that and come along as we were; so we did. We all went into
the squadron office and had tea brought over from the mess. The lady with
her proved to be very nice and was very much interested in Americans and
America. She was the most patriotic person I've met over here because she
was always talking about the King. When I told her how much all the
Americans liked serving with the British, she said she was so glad and
she knew the King would be delighted to hear it. That sounded a bit far
fetched to me. We got on fine with her and we told her some funny stories
and she nearly died laughing. We had a taxi waiting for us and offered to
take her back to town with us as soon as we got dressed. She said she'd
rather take a bus and get the air and it would take her right by the
palace. I didn't get that either. As we went out we saw Cunningham-Reed's
mother and she nearly broke a leg curtsying and I noticed Mrs. Bishop do
the same thing when we left her and took the lady out to the bus. I asked
Cunningham-Reed why the gymnastics and he told me it was for royalty. I
asked him wherefore and he told me the lady was Princess Mary Louise. All
three of us have been trying to remember whether we cracked any jokes
about the King or not. Mrs. Bishop must have been laughing merrily. She's
a peach. We're all crazy about her. Well, I have pressed the flesh of
royalty now. My hand has got accustomed to the grasp of nobility and now
I know the feel of the real thing. Who said we were Democrats? We're all
snobs underneath the cuticle.

When we went into tea an American lieut.-colonel asked to see Bishop. I
think he wanted a plane. Bishop said to tell him to wait and asked us if
he should invite him in to tea. We said certainly not; no colonel would
ever invite us to anything but a court martial. That colonel got the
surprise of his life when he saw these three disreputable looking
Americans, with non-reg uniforms and slacks, coming out with Bishop and
realized what had kept him waiting. He wasn't very mad! I hope we never
see him again.

May 20th

I've been spending most of my time with Billy. She certainly is a wonder
and we get on fine together. I wish I had met her sooner.

Earl Hammer has been killed out at the front.

May 25th

France!

Here's where we sober up and get down to real serious work.

Here I am at the front, the victim of many emotions. We had a fine
send-off and come what may, nothing can ever take away from me the joy
that has been mine.

We had a series of farewell dinners and parties. Nigger's father gave us
a banquet at the Criterion. He's a fine old fellow, eighty-two years old.
He made a pile of money in the wool business in Australia and has five
sons in the British Army. Everybody had to make a speech. Bishop kidded
Springs about telling the lady next door that he knew too many nice
girls. He wanted to know if he had met any more that turned out to be
nice. Then he kidded me about playing football with the Bristol.

The next night Billy came around to the house with some friends. She
started to kid me and said I was her cave-man. She had a little actress
named Babs in too that was sweet and girlish. Springs said that if the
cave-man stuff would work with one, it ought to work with another.
Whereupon he starts to grab Babs. Babs thought that was fine and she
entered into the spirit of the game with great glee. She responded to the
cave-man treatment by hitting him playfully over the head with an empty
port bottle. She was no sylph and it didn't do a thing but knock him
cold. It was a terrific crack and he was out for some time and had a big
knot on the top of his head. Babs spent the rest of the evening making a
fuss over him and I think she meant it. Springs sent her a nice brick all
wrapped up in tissue paper the next morning and a couple of hours later a
bunch of orchids.

We left Hounslow about eleven and our take-off was a scream. Billy and
Babs were there over at one end, Dora and Lillian and Cecil were also
present in anther group. Nigger's fiancee was there with her family, and
the Princess was there with Mrs. Bishop. We nearly broke our necks
running from one group to another and pretending we didn't know anybody
else. Then the staff arrived from the American Headquarters. We hadn't
expected them--Col. Morrow, Col. Mitchell, Jeff Dwyer and a couple of
others. We tried to get in the ground but couldn't find a hole.

The Princess was very cordial. She said she told the King about us and
that he was very pleased to hear that American pilots were so
enthusiastic about serving with the R.F.C. and that he hoped some day he
would have the opportunity to decorate one of us. Mrs. Bishop made us
promise to stick to the major and not let a Hun get on his tail.

That was one morning when I would rather not have been so conspicuous.
Our style was badly cramped. Col. Morrow was very nice and spoke of the
time I had come to him to enlist and only had one letter of
recommendation. But that was from the ex-secretary of war so he wrote the
other one for me himself.

Dora was much interested in our silk skull caps that we wear under our
fur helmets. She wanted to know whose stocking mine was made from.

All nineteen machines were arranged in position for taking off in
formation and the engines warmed up. The major's machine was out front in
the centre and the three flights arranged in a V on each side and in back
of him. We'd practised getting off that way and it was all right as long
as no machine got directly behind another and hit the backwash.

Bishop lined us up before the crowd and some general made us a little
speech. Then Bishop gave us our final instructions. He told us that Lympe
would be our first stop and to be sure and take a good look at the wind
sock and to land squarely into the wind. But he didn't call it a sock. He
called it by the name we always call it on the field when there are no
ladies or gentlemen present. He turned red and the ladies lowered their
parasols and he ran and jumped in his machine and we all took off
together. I got in Springs's backwash and nearly cracked up getting off.

Cal didn't get far. He disappeared from the formation about fifteen
minutes after we took off, and didn't get here until to-day. He had an
air-bubble in his water-line and he had to land in a field south of
London to let his motor cool off and get some more water. He got down all
right and got out of the field again and decided he'd stop at Croydon and
get his radiator drained. He made a bad landing at Croydon and crashed.
So he went back to London for another night and got a new machine from
Brooklands the next day.

We stopped at Lympe near Folkestone for lunch and Brown cracked up there.
We took off after lunch and Canning cracked up on the beach when his
motor conked. We landed at Marquis near Boulogne, for tea. We had a
beautiful trip across the channel. It was as clear as a bell and we
crossed at eight thousand feet. My motor was missing a little and I kept
picking out destroyers and trawlers below to land beside in case it gave
out. MacDonald crashed at Marquis when he landed short in the rough and
turned over and Cunningham-Reed washed out his plane by pancaking.

On the way across, Springs motioned for me to come up close to him. I
flew up to his wing-tip and he took out his flask and drank my health. I
didn't have a thing with me but a bottle of champagne and that was in my
tool box and I couldn't get to it.

We arrived at our airdrome about six. It's two miles south of Dunkirk and
is an old R.N.A.S. station called Petit Synthe. We are about three miles
from the coast and there are two other squadrons on this same airdrome.
They are bombers and have D.H. 9's. We had dinner at the 211th squadron
which used to be No. 11 R.N.A.S., and they are very nicely fixed in
semi-permanent quarters. There is one American over there--Bonnalie, who
was in Bim's gang. They bomb Zeebrugge and Bruges every day trying to
damage the submarine bases there. Just across the canal is another
airdrome. There are two squadrons of night-bombers on it with
Handley-Pages and Fees and one squadron of Bristol Fighters.

We are in the 65th wing, which is a part of the 5th brigade. There is a
brigade of the Air Force assigned to every Field Army and consists of
four or five wings. A wing consists of five to fifteen squadrons.

211 is a good outfit and we had quite a party. Springs and I got a couple
of motor-cycles and went out in search of eggs and cream. We found plenty
and made a big tub of eggnog. 88 squadron came over to see us with a band
and we had a regular binge. Cap. Harrison who was our instructor at
Thetford is a flight commander over there and he invited us over to spend
the night with him. I finally went to sleep laughing over Springs and
Dora. After I told Billy good-bye rather formally as everybody was
watching us, Springs went over to Dora and they put on a burlesque tragic
parting that was a scream. Everybody nearly died laughing.

They tell me that our sector of the lines, from Nieuport on the coast to
Ypres, is very quiet as there is no possibility of a battle up here. All
new squadrons are sent here for a month's final training before going
south. 84 has just left this airdrome and gone down to Amiens.

After paying all my bills I had just sixpence left when I took off. Now
isn't that perfect! I couldn't have used any more and I couldn't have got
along on less. That's figuring pretty close. Now I am beyond the reach of
money. Eternity has no currency.

May 27th

I'm feeling exceptionally good tonight. I had a nice swim in the moat of
Ft. Mardick followed by a glass of eggnog made with real cream, and I can
smell a good dinner cooking and I just got some mail--none from home,
just from England. I am at peace with the world. What a strange place to
find peace. I can hear the roar of the guns and may be bombed any minute.
There was a letter from Dora to us all. She writes:

My dears:

I hope you have all settled down comfortably to your new careers of rape
and robbery. It was really a wonderful sight to see you all go off and
then turn and dive on us. If my eyes, ears and nose hadn't been so full
of dirt and castor oil, I should have cheered loudly but I defy anyone to
be festive under those circumstances.

Cal, my dear, I congratulate you most heartily on your somewhat short but
extremely concise demonstration of how to crash in safety. You have
filled a long needed want and I think it most unselfish of you to take
the trouble to come back and take me out to dinner when you had once
started over. However, once a gentleman, always a gentleman!

You, you bum: I don't think that in the whole course of my somewhat
varied career, I have ever seen such a peculiar figure as you made on
Wednesday. In the old days, knights took their lady's glove into the
heart of battle with them; but you, moving with times, wear your young
woman's stocking as a helmet. It would have been a touching tribute,
methinks, if you had worn a pair of her knickers as cuffs.

I hope that you will live up to your reputation as a cave-man and bite
any prisoners you secure. I expect it will soon be quite a familiar sight
to see you returning to the landing-stage, if you have one, with the
scalps of six luckless Germans, who have annoyed you, hanging from your
Sam Browne.

Springs, last but not least, my blue-eyed baby--you're a stout fellow. I
shall never forget the expression of overwhelming sorrow in your velvety
eyes as you kissed me good-bye so tenderly under the eyes of the
assembled multitude. Thank heaven, whatever happens, I have the thought
of your great love to cheer my barren life.

Well, my pinwhiskered and illegitimate trio, all the love of my
passionate southern nature. And take care that you all three sit down and
write me an epistle at once or it will turn to bitter hatred. We women of
Spain are terrible in our rage!

Thine, Dora.

We bought a piano to-day and have a phonograph so the mess is very cheery
and excellently equipped with furniture. We are allowed so much cash by
the government for furnishing and then have a big private fund. We
received several large donations that will come in well. Springs is
vice-president of the mess and O.C. drinks. We took a truck and went into
Dunkirk to stock up our cellar. We got some Scotch, Benedictine, cognac,
champagne, port, white wine, red wine and beer. Dunkirk is not in the
"zone des armees" so is under civilian control and we can get what we
please. We decided that it was too much trouble to sign chits for drinks,
so all drinks are to be free and each man will have to see that he gets
his money's worth.

I am certainly glad to be out here at last. I am now going to earn my
salt. And there are other reasons I like to be out here. Everybody is in
such a good humour and we have a wonderful bunch of fellows. We're about
the keenest bunch of fighters that have been got together in some time.
We're all very congenial and that means a lot. There are three Americans,
two New Zealanders, two Australians, one South African, six Canadians,
two Scots, one Irishman, and six Englishmen.

Over in England you never could have a cheery mess because everybody was
chasing away every evening to see some skirt or other and some of them
had wives in the offing that cramped their style. Over here, there are no
skirts on our clothes-line and there's small chance that we'll see
anything eligible for at least three months. That sounds like I am a
woman hater, which I am not, but this is the first time in my life that I
have ever been entirely removed from feminine influence and for the
moment, I like it. I don't expect anybody else would understand this. I
want to enjoy my independence a little. I suppose I'll feel different
about it before I get my first leave, but just at present, I feel as if I
had won the game by default and somebody had arranged a big party in my
honour.

Nobody at home seems to be interested in anything but promotions and
church attendance.

Our mechanics and baggage have arrived and we are all ready to start
work. We did a practice patrol to-day and had a look at the lines.

The major got a Hun two-seater to-day the other side of Ypres. First
blood!

May 29th

Nigger and Bish each got a Hun to-day. Brown and Capt. Baker each crashed
an S.E. on the airdrome. That makes an even break for the day.

Springs and I went into Dunkirk to-day to get some things and I listened
to him trying to parlezvous. He's not so good even if he is educated.

We went into one large store and strolled up to a very pretty little
clerk with a big head of blonde hair and opened fire, endeavouring to
purchase some toothpaste. She didn't follow him and couldn't interpret
his gestures. She thought he was looking for a dentist. She was quite
captivating and I commented on how nice she was. She looked as if she
knew I was talking about her, so I kept on. I said to him, "She has a
pretty face, all right, but fat ankles. Call for a new deal." She gave me
a dirty look and Springs tried to brush his teeth with his finger again
after his college French failed. I said, "She's sure got the come-hither
look in her eyes, but her figure would go better if bustles were back in
style. She'd be a knock-out then." She looked mad.

Finally Springs found some new French words that he'd overlooked and she
led the way to a counter and he got his Pebeco and paid for it. Then says
she, in perfect English, with a glance in my direction. "Do you wish me
to wrap it for you or will you take it as it is?" We grabbed the tube and
fled. She sure was keen. I'm going back to see her if I ever break my
monastic vows. I overlooked the fact that the British have used Dunkirk
as a port for nearly four years and wherever there's a Tommy, there is
English spoken. It won't be long before all the French women will be
speaking with an American accent.

The squadron amusement is diavolo. Somebody found a couple of old sets in
Calais and now everybody is concentrated on it. Cal is the champion. He
also plays tennis over on 211's court.

The major just blew in raising hell because he picked up the wrong tube
and used shaving cream for toothpaste.

June 2nd

One of the supernumerary pilots is looking at the war in my machine, so
for the present I am unoccupied and will write a little. I hate for
anybody else to fly my machine and this is the first time anyone else has
touched it. But Nigger wants Inglis to have a look at the lines and get
his bearings so when one of us goes West, he will be ready to take his
place. I wonder whose place it will be. He's a nice fellow, a New
Zealander, and got the D.C.M. at Gallipoli with the infantry.

There are six machines in a flight. Nigger leads and MacGregor and Cal
are on his right, behind and a little above. Springs and I are on the
left and Thompson is in the centre in the space between Cal and me. We
fly in the form of a triangle with the back corners high. MacGregor is
deputy flight commander and takes command in case anything happens to
Nigger. We fly pretty close together and have a set of signals. If Nigger
is going to turn sharp, he drops his wing on that side. If he is going to
dive steep, he holds up his arm. If he wants us to come up close or wants
to call our attention to something he shakes both wings. If it's a Hun,
he shakes his wings and points and fires his guns. If he means "yes" he
bobs his nose up and down and if he means "no" he shakes his wings. If we
see a Hun and he doesn't, we fire our guns and fly up in front and point.
We fly at three-quarters throttle so we can always pull up. If he has
trouble and wants us to go on, he fires a red light from his Very pistol.
If he wants us to follow him out of a fight, he fires a white light. If
he wants to signal the other flights, he fires a green light.

MacGregor has been out before. He was out on Pups for six months when
they were service machines. He came over with the Australian infantry.
Thompson has been out before too. He was out last fall on Camels but
crashed too many of them.

We've been doing rather well. We have a score board in the mess and
there's a big red 6 staring me in the face now. We don't count any unless
they go down in flames or break up in the air or some one sees them
crash. The wing commander, Col. Cunningham, is over here all the time and
is tickled to death because all this is voluntary for we aren't supposed
to get into action the first two weeks. I'm going to get a Hun this week
if I pull a wing off in the attempt.

June 3rd

I was censoring some of the men's mail to-day and I ran across this:

"Dear Bill:--
You remember the big dog back at Hounslow?
Well, he ain't got no master no more."

That was Capt. Benbow's dog and we all miss his master. He was buried
where he fell, "so what the hell, boys, what the hell!" He died with his
boots on and his grave is marked with a cross made from a propeller.

He went out the other day alone and managed to get up in the sun above a
flight of Hun scouts. He got on the tail of the rear one and would have
got him but both guns jammed. Then the others turned back on him and
chased him home. He was as mad as a hornet and spent the next day oiling
and adjusting his guns. He went back to the same place at the same time
and found the same Huns again. No one knows exactly what happened but
Archie called up and said they saw him coming out of Hunland with five
Huns on his tail. Just as he got to the lines two of them fired a burst
and his plane dived into the ground on our side of the lines and he was
killed. He was certainly a fine fellow.

The English have the reputation of being a phlegmatic unemotional race
and they certainly try to live up to the part, though I believe they are
very sentimental underneath. It is simply considered bad taste to show
it. We all felt pretty bad about Benbow but no emotion was exhibited. I
have heard that the London Times printed the story of the battle of
Waterloo on the inside sheet at the bottom of the page. That's typical.
Unless the people at home get an emotional bath every morning they don't
think the war is being conducted properly.

It seems funny for me to be censoring these Tommies' mail. The Officer of
the Day always has to censor the men's mail. Here I am, Officer of the
Day and in one of His Majesty's squadrons and this time last year I
hadn't even seen a real live Englishman and sort of regarded them as
enemies.

I'm still doing things to my machine. I've taken off the steamlining
behind my head so I can see backwards better. I've taken off the
windshield steamlining so I don't have to use goggles because the
steamline sets up ripples in the air which hurt your eyes and I've put
heavier wire on my stabilizer and fin. I've got a new way to fire my guns
now that I like much better. I've got a Camel joystick and the triggers
are fixed so I can fire both guns with one thumb if I want to. I got
tired of my drab looking cockpit, all full of uninteresting labels and
gagets. And I am now decorating it so I won't be bored upstairs. It's
quite like old times playing with my bus. But instead of the spasmodic
assistance of a negro chauffeur, I have three expert Ak Emmas, who do
nothing else but look after my bus and do my bidding. They never touch
another one and so far, I've managed to keep them pretty busy. Unless I
bring down a Hun in a few days I'm afraid they'll get fed up with their
jobs. You can tell by their letters that they like to have the machine
they work on bring down Huns. You can also tell by their letters what
they think of their officers.

They are changing the score now as the major has just come down and has
shot down two more Huns--a scout and a two-seater. He's broken the
English record and now has more than McCudden. Archie saw one of them go
down and another one broke up in the air.

I pulled a good one. Whenever we come back from a trip over the lines,
we're supposed to shoot up all our spare ammunition at a ground target to
keep in practice. I asked where the ground target was, and they told me
it was a silhouette on the beach north of Ft. Mardick. The first time I
came back I went over looking for it. I couldn't find it at first and
then I saw a rotten attempt at a silhouette of a plane over in a corner
of a field and I dove on it and emptied my guns into it. I knew my
shooting was poor but I didn't think it was that bad and it took me a
hundred rounds to get on the target. When I got back to Petit Snythe,
there was a big straff on. A Belgian major had telephoned over that a
plane with my letter on it was over shooting at their landing Tee and
they were all in the dugout and to please send over and stop it before
their mess was all shot to pieces. That's what I call good camouflage
when they can hide a whole squadron. Either that or I am blind as a bat.

There's only one objection to this locality. Dunkirk is only twenty miles
from the lines and it has a big harbour with three canals running into it
and it is just as easy to find it in the moonlight as in the daylight.
And this field is right between two canals and there's a railroad siding
back of the mess so they always know where we are. The Huns bomb Dunkirk
every clear night and it's got tiresome already. And every day about
noon, they shell Dunkirk with a long range gun from Ostend. The civilian
population live in cellars and spend most of the day down there too. I
don't see why they don't all move.

The first couple of raids didn't bother us at all. We stood out in front
and watched and thought it was good fun. But one night it suddenly began
raining nose fuses around us and some friendly Hun dropped a bomb in the
middle of the field. Since then we have swallowed our pride and taken
shelter in the dugout. It's carefully sand-bagged and has a telephone in
it and a special compartment for the officers which is fairly
comfortable. But I don't like it. You read too much about bombs falling
on dugouts and if they get a direct hit, it will kill every one in it.

We are doing regular patrols now, one in the morning and one in the
afternoon. We stay over the lines two hours each trip and our beat is
from the coast to Courtrai, which is about fifteen miles east of Ypres,
commonly known as Wipers. It's a comparatively quiet sector in daytime
but a lot of dirty work goes on at night. The French and Belgian Armies
hold the trenches so look after their own artillery and reconnaissance.
Whenever we are looking for Huns we go down south of Wipers in the
Salient where they are as plentiful as niggers in a watermelon patch on a
moonlight night.

June 4th

Everybody in the squadron has some sort of a dog. Cunningham-Reed had a
forced landing and came back with a Belgian fox-terrier that can do
everything but talk. I have a chow that was born in the hangars at
Hounslow--a real dog of war.

Springs got all full of enthusiasm and went out by himself the other day
to do battle with the Hun in spite of what Nigger told him. His ambition
was rewarded and he managed to find six Hun scouts south of Courtrai.
They chased him all over the sky and he had a time getting away from
them. He finally just put his tail plane forward and dove wide open. Not
orthodox but if your plane stays together, it's all right. Nothing can
hit you while you're doing two hundred and fifty unless they are right on
your tail and I guess it would be impossible to get there at that speed.
And even more difficult to get out alive after you get there. He tore all
the fabric loose on his top wing coming out.

He was still so excited when he landed that he ran into the major's plane
and locked wings with it on the ground. The major was all set to bawl him
out but Springs walked up to him and ran his finger across his row of
ribbons and said, "You see these medals?" Bish nodded. "Well," says
Springs, "I just want to tell you that you are welcome to them!" With
that he walked on into the bar. Bish laughed though he wasn't pleased
about having his machine smashed.

They say Archie is the most useless thing in the war, but that
machine-gun fire from the ground is greatly to be feared. That's what got
Richthofen. I think so too, for I came back to-day and found a couple of
bullet-holes in my rudder. I think I know where the fellow lives that did
it and I am going back to-morrow and fill his dugout with lead.
Machine-guns only carry up to about twenty-five hundred feet but Archie
can go higher than we can.

It's surprising how personal the war in the air gets. Whenever there's
anything going on, you know that each little lead bullet or Archie shell
is meant for you personally. And when you fire, you don't just fire
towards Berlin and then wait until some one telephones you whether or not
a Hun stopped it. No, you wait until you are in the correct position on a
Hun's tail and then you open fire and see your tracer bullets going past
him or into him and if you get him you see him go spinning down, maybe in
flames. Meanwhile Mr. Hun has been practising target shooting and is
ready to do a half roll as soon as you start your dive. Or he may have it
all fixed up with Archie to range a certain area and then lure you into
it. And Mr. Hun is on the job too. Just do a bad turn or a sloppy half
roll and you'll hear him play your swan song on his Spandaus.

Archie has a funny sound. A burst near you sounds like a loud cough and
as soon as you hear it you start zig-zagging. When you hear it you know
that burst won't hurt you--it's the one you never hear that does the
dirty work and tears the bag--but it does mean that the battery has your
range and the next one is sure to come closer unless you fool him and
sideslip, zoom, turn, or throttle down. Then he fires where you should
have been but weren't. He's easy to fool but you must do something. The
best thing to do is to change your course twenty degrees every twelve
seconds. That gives you time to get out of the way of the one that's
coming up at you that moment and doesn't give the gunners time to get
your deflection for the next shot.

I've been out baiting Archie several times and it's great sport. You can
make him waste five thousand dollars' worth of ammunition on you in no
time. And then think how mad the old Hun gunner must get! I'll never be
happy until I get a chance to open up on one of them with my
machine-guns.

The Huns use shrapnel which bursts black and the Allies use high
explosive which bursts white. There is an Austrian naval battery at
Middlekerke that bursts pink. Scared me to death the first time I saw it.

There's one Hun gunner over at Dickybush that is so good he never fires
but one salvo of four shots at you. If he doesn't hit you the first time,
he doesn't waste any more ammunition on you unless there's a big
formation where he's got a chance to get a trailer. But he knows it's
useless to fire at a plane that is trying to dodge him. He nearly got one
of us--a shell burst between Cal and myself. Cal got a piece of it in his
arm and we tried to make him put up a wound stripe but he wouldn't do it.
It was the first salvo and I was asleep and didn't even know we had
crossed the lines. The best thing that Archie does is to signal. You can
see an Archie burst twice as far as you can see a plane and our Archie is
very good about warning us of the approach of Huns up in the sun when we
can't see them. I was out the other day alone and our Archie put a burst
up close to me to call my attention to a scout formation in Hunland.

I went up to test out my new engine and landed up north of Dunkirk where
I heard there was an American squadron. They didn't seem particularly
glad to see me though the C.O. invited me to lunch. These boys certainly
are down in the mouth. They think the Hun has won the war and are
worrying about their baggage and girls in Paris. Why didn't I just write
baggage? Hobey Baker is a flight commander up there. He used to be a
great athlete at Princeton. A fine fellow he is. I've heard Hash and
Springs talking about him. Poor Hash is a prisoner now.

I asked some of them to come over and have dinner with us. They said they
couldn't as they had no way to get over there. They haven't much
transport and they have to account for every drop of petrol. I offered to
send over our car for them and they said they'd like to but didn't show
much enthusiasm. They aren't enjoying the war much. They didn't have a
bar and their mess wasn't much to boast of. I gather that Uncle Sam is
pretty stingy with his nephews on this side, particularly those in the
air. Me for the R.F.C. There's one thing about the British that I
like--they realize the importance of morale. The British try to build it
up, the Americans try to tear it down. You can't expect men to have any
pep after they've been cheated out of their seniority and pay, lost faith
in their government after broken promises and been treated like enemy
prisoners by the higher officers. Only the enormous patriotism and
determination of our young men have prevented serious trouble. Our army
seems to think that all they have to do for morale is to send along a
couple of Y.M.C.A. secretaries and a few professional song leaders. Wait
and see what happens to them.

June 5th

Springs went back after the six Huns that chased him home. Nigger and
MacGregor wanted to go hunting so they all went together. My engine was
giving trouble so I couldn't go. Just after they crossed the lines Bish
joined them and led them down on the same six Huns at the same place
where Springs found them before and at the same hour. They must have been
the same ones that got Benbow. Methodical, these Huns are. They were in
two layers of three each. Bish and Mac took the lower ones and Springs
and Nigger took the top ones. Bish and Mac each got one and Springs got
one down out of control but no one saw it crash so he doesn't score. It
must have been a good fight while it lasted. They were Pfaltz scouts and
are easy meat for S.E.'s.

The wind shifted and they had to land the short way when they came back.
There was a train on the siding when Springs came in and he just glided
over the box cars and tried to make a slow landing. His undercarriage
crumpled up and stuck in the ground and he slid along in the fusilage
like it was a canoe but didn't go over on his nose. Bish told him to
fight on our side for a change and to quit bringing down S.E.'s. Brown
washed out his third to-day trying to land cross wind. It can't be done
in an S.E. Not with the undercarriage where it is. I don't see why they
don't move it forward.

Springs says he feels like a little boy that got licked in a fight and
went home and got his big brother and came back.

June 6th

The new flight commander for A flight arrived. His name is Randall and he
is known as Randy. He was badly wounded at Gallipoli and got trench fever
when he was with the infantry. Then he was transferred to the flying
corps and was out on D.H. 2's. He was shot down by Richthofen. He says
that Richthofen may have the reputation of being a good sport but that he
showed him no mercy--shot his engine up and then followed him down while
he was trying to land and shot him three times. He got one bullet in his
rear and they had to cut off a slice. He sits down and leans like the
tower of Pisa. Cal said he'd be fine for sitting on stairs. He went up to
have a look at the lines and crashed landing and turned over on his back.
That's the trouble with these S.E.'s; they don't like the ground.

I went up and had a private battle of my own. I saw a Hun two-seater over
Roulers. I chased him a bit but I couldn't catch him. Then about three
Archie batteries opened up on me! The whole sky turned black. A barrage
grew up in front of me like a bed of mushrooms and I swung around just in
time to avoid it. Scared? Of course, I was scared. There were heavy
clouds below me and I didn't know where the lines were. My compass was
spinning around so fast that I couldn't tell anything from it. Then I
forgot whether the sun set in the east or the west and had to stop and
figure it out. Every time Archie would get close to me, my heart would
skip a beat. It has an awful sound when it's close, like a giant clapping
his hands and it has a sort of metallic click. So I put my nose down and
ran for it. First Archie would be 'way behind me and then he'd get 'way
in front and I'd zoom and he'd be a mile away. I crossed the lines down
below Wipers where I didn't know the country and for a few minutes I was
lost. I got out my maps and found a town on the map that I located on the
ground and then I came on back by Bergues.

Springs is all right until he gets mail from home, then he gets into a
terrible rage and wants to fight the wide, wide world. He and his father
seem to carry on a feud at long range. He's got so now he doesn't open
any letters until after he's had a few drinks and some of them he doesn't
open at all. His father writes him full details and instructions in
triplicate about how to do everything and finds fault with everything he
does. He showed me a couple of them and they certainly were nasty.
Springs is no saint but he isn't nearly that bad. I don't see why he
cares what's going on at home. He worries about everything his father
says and takes all his criticism to heart, though why he should worry
over it when he's three thousand miles away is beyond me. He's three
thousand miles closer to hell.

He must be awfully fond of his father to care what he thinks about things
he doesn't know anything about. And the idea of losing sleep because some
one three thousand miles away hasn't got sense enough to understand
English when you write it to them, is absurd!

There was a bomb raid on last night and the dugout was stuffy so he and I
went out and crawled under a box car on the siding. It's about as good
shelter as you can get. A direct hit will kill you any way in the dugout
and the box cars will protect you from the nosefuses and fragments. We
got to talking about home. He said that he had to get killed because he
couldn't go home. He said if he got killed, his father would have a hero
for a son and he could spend all his time and money building monuments to
him and make himself very happy and proud. But if he lives through it and
goes home, he says his father will fight with him for the rest of his
life. No matter what he does, his father will say it's wrong and worry
over it. I told him he was crazy but he was quite serious about it. He
says it's a family trait. He says he wants to last long enough to make a
name for himself so his father will have something to build a monument
to, and then get bumped off with a lot of fireworks the last week of the
war. He says if he lives through it, his father is determined to make him
go down in a cotton mill and work five years as a day labourer and live
in the mill village. Some sort of foolishness about starting in at the
bottom and working up. And the slightest mistake he makes will break his
father's heart. He says he owns one mill himself but that won't make any
difference to his father who won't want him to have it. I asked him what
he wanted to do. He said he wanted to write but his father is determined
to make a horny-handed hardboiled superintendent out of him. He's all the
time scribbling now. He's always stopping something important to jot down
a plot, as he calls it, for future reference. He's got a brief case full
of them already--plays, short stories, poems, sketches or what have you.
He's tried to read me some of them several times.

His grandfather left him a big plantation in South Carolina, about three
thousand acres, and he wants to go there to live. There's a big brick
house on it that was built by his great-grandfather and he wants to fix
it up like it was originally. We talked it all over. He wants me to come
and live with him and run the farm in case we both get through. He says
he's got plenty for both Cal and me. If he doesn't live through it he's
left a will which leaves enough to Cal and me to get us started after the
war. He damn near had me crying. I can't leave him and Cal anything but I
told them that if anything happened to me to help themselves to my stuff.

The farm idea sounds good to me. He wants to build a tennis-court and a
swimming-pool and a landing-field for a plane. He's going to build the
pool so he can jump right out of the bedroom windows into it.

Cal is in the banking business, or rather was, and Springs says he thinks
he owns a lot of stock in some bank and Cal can run it.

All that sounds fine but I don't guess there's much chance of all three
of us getting through. And judging by the letters I've seen, I can
imagine what his old man would say if we came down to live with him while
he's doing his five years' penance in overalls. Besides that, I've got
business to attend to myself after this scrap is over.

We were just about ready to jump out of the window into the pool when the
Huns arrived in force and proceeded to drop thirty-two bombs just across
the canal on the Handley-Page airdrome. That's the worst raid I've seen.
They dropped a parachute flare first that lit up the ground like an arc
light. Then they dropped a phosphorus bomb on a hangar and set fire to
it. They dropped a big bomb on a dugout and killed forty officers and
men. Fortunately most of the Handleys were out on another raid
themselves. The field was so full of holes that they couldn't land on it
and either had to stay up all night or go over and land on the beach.
Some splinters from one bomb hit one of the wheels and it rained
nosefuses.

I heard in Boulogne that Dick Mortimer has been killed.

Springs and I were sitting in the mess alone yesterday afternoon doing a
little light drinking when in walked a man in naval officer's uniform.
"Cheerio," says he. "Chin-chin," say we, "have a drink." "Thanks," says
he, joining us and reclining on the back of his neck with us. He didn't
seem like the naval officers we had met before and we gathered that he
was just paying the flying corps a social visit and came over here after
a Bronx, for which 85 is famous. He and Springs got into a heated
literary argument. I held my fire until they got on my subject. Later on
Capt. Baker told us who the bird was. It was Arnold Bennett, the writer,
who is out here getting some local colour for a book.

June 8th

This morning I arose at three-thirty--two-thirty real time--and by six I
was back for breakfast and the Huns had wasted a thousand pounds' worth
of Archie shells on us. Our hands might have been a bit steadier as we
raised a coffee-cup, but a little exposure to the hate of the Hun does
give you a wonderful appetite. This Archie gunner at Middlekerke is no
amateur--his first burst almost made me loop! After that dodging was
easy.

Before breakfast I went over to a farmhouse in a side-car and got some
cream for our cereal. Springs has taught the cook to make Eggs Benedict
and we breakfast well.

As a matter of fact we live well. We went down to Boulogne and got an
ice-cream freezer and we are the only outfit at the front that has
ice-cream for dinner every night. "In the midst of life we are in death."
And in the midst of death we manage to have a hell of a lot of fun. Bronx
cocktails, chicken livers en brochette, champagne, strawberry ice-cream,
and Napoleon brandy. That's the way we live. I don't think Bish is sorry
he brought us along.

We had a lot of trouble getting that ice-cream freezer. We went down to
Boulogne to a department store and Springs opened fire with his drugstore
French. They brought him an egg beater. He tried again and they insisted
that what he really wanted was an ice pick. They brought him a dictionary
but it wasn't in it. So he called for, "machinery to make cream hard."
They brought him a churn and then a cream whipper. We gave it up and
walked out. Then we saw one in the window and went back and got it.

Again at eleven I went out to do battle. We got into a dogfight over
Ostend and had a merry little fracas.

I was up above the main formation to see that nothing dropped down out of
the sun and a Pfaltz dove on me. He came right out of the sun but I've
learned to put my thumb up and close one eye and unless they are at a
dead angle, I can see them. I saw this one in time and just as he opened
fire, I turned quickly and threw his sights off. His tracer was going a
hundred feet behind my tail. The Hun went on by and half rolled on to my
tail. I kept turning to keep his sights off me and he followed. We turned
around and around--each manoeuvring to get into position to fire a burst
at close range. But I had learned my lesson well at Ayr and I could do
perfect vertical banks and I began gaining on him. I was getting in
position to open up when he half rolled to break away. I half rolled
after him and was on his tail like a hawk after a chicken. I let him have
both guns at close range. My sights were dead on his cockpit and I must
have got in about a hundred and fifty rounds. My Lewis jammed after fifty
rounds but my Vickers kept going. The Huh started to turn, then he
flopped over on his back and went straight down. He was last seen headed
towards his future home and breaking all records--hell bent for hades! I
couldn't see him crash so I only got an "out of control." But I know I
got him. At the speed he was diving he never could have pulled out. And I
know now that I can fight as well as fly. It was quite evident that one
of us had to die but I was cool as a cucumber and when we were turning
around each other I could almost hear Nigger through the earphones from
the front seat of an Avro telling me: "Little top rudder now. Easy. Keep
your nose level. Pull your stick back. Take off a little aileron. Now
cross your controls."

Or pink-cheeked little boy, commonly known as Lady Mary, decided it was
high time he shot down a Hun so went up in search of one. The result has
caused much merriment. He found plenty of Huns all right, enough to last
him the rest of his life if taken singly. He ran into a school of them
and didn't see them until they were right on top of him. As near as we
can figure out the Huns must have got in each other's way getting to him
or been laughing so hard they couldn't shoot straight. Anyway, he's back
and is now a member of the "sadder-and-wiser-club" of which Springs is
president. Maybe the Huns' wings pulled off when they tried to dive after
him.

Trapp also qualified for membership in that august body. He met a couple
of two-seaters and chased them twenty miles into Hunland. They saw their
own airdrome and took courage and turned around and chased him all the
way back.

Springs got in a fight and shot his own propeller to pieces and Cal had
his tyre punctured by an energetic Hun.

Late every afternoon there is the most unearthly racket back of the mess
on the tracks. Several thousand Chinese or rather Annamite coolies come
back from where they work during the day. Their camp is about a mile
below here on the canal. I hear that there are two hundred and fifty
thousand of them in France. They were brought over to fill sand-bags and
dig reserve trenches behind the lines. There are trenches all the way
back to the coast now. We can retreat twenty miles and still have
prepared positions. But just think of bringing these Chinks all the way
around the world. That just shows how scarce man-power really is in
Europe. Why don't they go over and get two hundred and fifty thousand of
our negroes? Probably because they know they'd never get any work out of
them. I talked to one of the officers in charge of the Chinks. He told me
they were organized into military companies and regiments. Each one has
an identification tag welded around his neck and they can speak a little
pidgin-English. He said they were fine workmen and give little trouble.
They are scared to death when there's a bomb raid on and that's the only
time he has any trouble with them. They have their own camp well
sand-bagged, I noticed.

This Dunkirk district certainly gets well straffed. Every clear night it
gets bombed. The Huns pass over here on their way to London, Calais and
Boulogne and use the harbour to set their sights on. If they don't reach
their objective they let Dunkirk have their bombs on the way back, or if
they have any left over they save them for us. I think they must send
over all their new men to practise on Dunkirk. We don't get much sleep
because they are over here all night. The only defence is Archie and
these cable balloons. Both are worse than useless. They send up about a
dozen balloons as soon as the last one of our machines is down and they
are held by strong cables. The idea is that some Hun might run into one
of them.

And every morning the long range gun at Ostend sends over four big shells
addressed to the major of Dunkirk. This has been going on for four years
and the civilian population seems to have got used to it. A shell hit a
shoe store the other day and knocked the front of it down. We were in
town that afternoon and business was going on as usual with the damaged
boots out in front being sold at a discount.

The Germans certainly are methodical. They send over the same number of
shells at exactly the same hour. Everybody knows when to take shelter and
Mournful Mary, the siren, goes off automatically ten minutes before.

We have a fine place to swim though the water is pretty cold. There's a
big moat around Ft. Mardick about twenty feet wide that has a canal
running down to the ocean. Sometimes we go in the surf.

The French towns with their walls and moats are awfully pretty. There's a
little town just below here named Gravelines that has walls shaped
exactly like a star and the sun, sparkling on the moat, makes it look
like a jewel. It's about a mile inland and has a canal running out to the
ocean.

June 10th

Nigger let Thompson lead a patrol. We weren't too keen about it though he
has been out to the front before. Cal, Springs, Inglis and I went along.
We were supposed to patrol the coast between Ostend and Bruges to see
that no high two-seaters came over to take photographs of the bomb hits
last night. There were heavy clouds at ten thousand feet and we had
trouble getting through them as Thompson flew a jerky pace. I didn't pay
much attention to where we were but I thought it was funny that we
weren't getting Archied. Boulogne, Calais, Dunkirk, Nieuport, Ostend and
Bruges are all along the coast about twenty miles apart and they all look
alike from fifteen thousand feet. Thompson got Dunkirk and Boulogne mixed
up and proceeded to do a very daring patrol over Fernes on our side of
the lines, thinking he was up near Bruges. We figured out that he was
doing about as much good there as anywhere and wandered off on our own. I
went over and had a good look at Wipers. It made me sick. There's not a
wall standing running north and south. And there's a stretch of country
forty miles square that's as flat as a piece of paper--no trees, no
houses, nothing! I could see the flashes of the guns and see the smoke
and dust where the shells burst. We hear firing twenty-four hours out of
the day. And down on the ground it as if some one had drawn a lot of
pencil marks in a row. That's the barbed wire! We were up over the other
day but we were too high to see electric cable.

What a nightmare this war is! I'm beginning to understand the term
"Anti-Christ." Both the Allies and the Germans pray to the same God for
strength in their slaughter! What a joke it must seem to Him to see us
puny insignificant mortals proclaiming that we are fighting for Him and
that He is helping us. Think of praying to the God of Peace for help in
War! The heavens must shake with divine mirth.

I can't kick. It's the best war I know anything about. It's been worth a
lot to me so far. Sooner or later I'll join the company of the elect but
I want to get a Hun first. I want to get one sure one--a flamer or a
loose-winged flop. I know how hard it is, but unless I get one, the
government will simply be out all it cost to train me. If I get one,
it'll be an even break. If I get two, I'll be a credit instead of a debit
on the books.

Nigger is going to play the dive and zoom game. An S.E. will outzoom
anything built and if we get above the Huns we can dive and fire and then
zoom away. I understand a Fokker can out-manoeuvre an S.E. and if you
dogfight with them they can outturn and outclimb you. A Fokker triplane
can lick anything that has ever been built but they have a bad habit of
falling to pieces in the air so the Huns are washing them out. I wonder
how long it will be before we will have the Snipe and the Snark that we
saw tested at Brooklands.

June 11th

We had a proper binge last night. We invited the C.O. and the flight
commanders of 211 over for dinner to return their hospitality and a
colonel from the A.S.C. who was a friend of MacDonald's in Saloniki.
Every one calls the C.O. Bobby. He is a great drinker and has the
reputation of being able to drink the rest of the world under the table.
We certainly gave him a good opportunity to exhibit his jewels. Springs
and I were detailed as pacemakers and we mixed up a big bowl of punch and
we all had a bottoms-up contest that was a classic. We had speeches from
every one after dinner and the colonel tried to get on the table to make
his but it wasn't strong enough to hold him. Then we had a football game
in front of the mess. Cal and Bish collided head on in the dark at full
speed and were both knocked cold. Bobby lived up to his reputation and
won the contest easily. We had to carry the colonel out and put him in
his car feet first. He came back to-day and wanted to know what was in
that punch. When we told him what was in that innocent drink he nearly
fainted. These Britishers will learn some day to respect our concoctions.
They don't think a drink is strong unless it tastes bad.

Mac sure is funny when he dips into the flowing bowl. He's very much in
love with a girl at home, or thinks he is, which is just as bad. She was
only sixteen when he left and he hasn't seen her in four years. He still
thinks she is young and innocent and sixteen. And every time he gets
plastered he gets to worrying over the fact that she's such a sweet
little thing and he's so tough. He says he isn't good enough for her and
he's going to write and tell her so. He actually sheds tears over it.
Then we get to kidding him and tell him that she probably has grown into
the wildest thing in town and he'll be too tame for her when he gets
home. That makes him cry out in agony and then he wants to fight. He
bores every one to death talking about her all the time. Then he gets one
more drink and tells us about the little widow at Malta that he used to
give a little dual to when he was stationed there. Springs pretends to
get the two mixed up and Mac spends the rest of the evening trying to
straighten it out. Mac admits in all seriousness that the widow's morals
were not what they might be, but claims that the climate of Malta is
responsible and then he admits that he was a bit insistent.

Living here together the way we do, it doesn't take long to exhaust all
the topics of conversation and unless we are talking shop we all know
what everybody else is going to say. When we have a binge everybody makes
exactly the same speech that they made before, but as long as our guests
laugh, so do we.

Cal is just like a nigger. He can wear anybody's clothes and does. He
never worries about anything and hasn't a nerve in his body. He'd be
happy in shell-hole on iron rations. All he wants is to be left alone.
He's got no ideas or ambitions beyond the next meal. He plays the piano
as if he'd never heard of a score and he never knows himself what he's
going to play next. But he can rag a piano like no one else on earth. He
can play classical stuff but doesn't very often. It's too much trouble.
The gunnery officer plays according to Hoyle and Cal sits down beside him
and jazzes the treble. He's the best natural pilot we have. Takes his
flying just like his bridge. Nigger says he has the smoothest hand on the
stick he ever saw. He's all right until he starts to figure. He and
Springs argue for two hours after every patrol. We are all getting so we
can see pretty well in the air now but at first we had to use our
imaginations to keep up with Nigger and Mac.

Mac had all his teeth knocked out in a Pup crash last year and the other
morning before the dawn patrol he lost his false teeth. Gosh, he was
funny. He couldn't talk at all and he couldn't go on the patrol because
he was afraid he'd get shot down without them.

Springs is just the opposite of Cal. He worries more over things at home
than if he was there. He was almost in tears the other day because he
found out his father had shown one of his letters about. He said he hated
not to write to his father--he felt it was his duty--but his father would
show the letters about and make a fool of him no matter what he wrote.

I told him he was the fool to worry over it. He might as well be worrying
over his great-grandfather or great-grandchildren.

June 13th

We have a steady job now escorting the Nines over to Zeebrugge and Bruges
every morning while they bomb the submarine bases. Bish leads the whole
squadron and we are just spoiling for a good flight. The Nines take a
half-hour start and we meet them at twelve thousand feet out at sea. Then
we climb together up to fifteen and come in over the Dutch border and
shoot back across Belgium wide open. We stay up above them and they drop
their bombs and one machine stays behind to take pictures of the hits. We
get all the Archie that was intended for them. There were some Fokkers up
yesterday but we were too strong for them and they wouldn't fight. We can
see the ships that the British sunk in the harbours at Zeebrugge and
Ostend. It doesn't look to me as if they are completely blocked. It was
certainly a stout effort. We hear that they are going to do it again.
They have dismantled some of the submarines and are taking them out
overland from Bruges.

There is an American Naval squadron at Dunkirk flying French machines. We
ran into a couple of the pilots and had lunch with them at the Chapeau
Rouge. We seem to be the only Americans in Europe that are really
enjoying this war. All the others I have met seem to be having to work or
sleep without sheets or eat out of mess kits or do something unpleasant
to spoil their holiday.

June 14th

You can't appreciate the R.F.C. until you see a squadron on the move. We
came back from a dose of Archie without suffering from his hate about
seven o'clock and after a good breakfast I got tired of baseball and
decided I'd take a nap. About ten my batman shook me and said, "Orders
has come, sir, that we are to move at twelve o'clock." At twelve o'clock
our baggage, transport, equipment and dogs left and at four we flew down
to our new airdrome at St. Omer. We thought we might as well pick up a
Hun on the way so had a squadron show. Bish led and we crossed the lines
at Wipers and worked on down south to the Forest of Nieppe but we didn't
see anything. It was the wrong time of day. Early in the morning or late
in the evening is best. That's our new beat, from Wipers to Nieppe. At
one place near Hazebrouck, the ground for about three square miles is
dull yellow in colour. That's where there has been a gas attack.

Or airdrome is an old French one on a plateau about three miles from St.
Omer. They are expecting a big battle down here.

Our new quarters are very comfortable. We are up on a beautiful wooded
hill overlooking the field and there's a pretty sylvan glade on the other
side where we can lie in peace and snooze in the breeze. Not bad at all
but there's no place to swim.

After our transport left, we decided we'd go for a last swim and borrowed
a tender from 211 to take us over to the beach by Ft. Mardick. Randy came
along and when he undressed he was certainly a sight. There's hardly a
spot on his body that isn't cut or shot. He ought to be in a museum. His
back and chest look like he was tattooed by one of those futurist
artists.

We were out in the surf when we heard a terrible explosion and saw the
smoke the other side of the fort. Before we could get out of the water,
there were about four more. Randy yelled that the long range gun was
shelling the fort and to get out of the water on account of the
concussion. We didn't know what to do. I never felt so naked in my life,
standing there with shells bursting two hundred yards away and the debris
flying up a hundred feet. We grabbed our clothes and ran for the tender
which was nearly a mile away. We beat all existing records getting there
and jumped into the tender and told the driver to drive like hell away
from the fort. Then he told us what the trouble was. The French were
exploding a lot of German mines that the mine sweepers had brought in.
The joke was on us.

Jane 16th

My new motor is a dud. It chewed up a valve but I got back to the drome
all right.

We're worried about Mac. When he was seen last we were going down on nine
Huns about fifteen miles the other side of the lines. He got away from
them all right, I think, but it's three hours since we got back and
there's no word of him yet. I guess he had engine trouble for there
wasn't much of a scrap. If he only gets back across the lines! We are all
rather nervous.

My dog has fleas.

June 17th

Mac was all right. He shot his own prop off but he got back across the
lines and landed about twenty miles from here all O.K. He came back on
the truck that went after his plane and brought a cow back with him, so
we have our own dairy now. Rosie has been trying to milk his goat without
success.

I got a paper from home and read a column by "Biddy Bye." She gives a
"Loyalty Menu" for loyal housewives to serve poor starved patriots. It
read like an a la carte menu at the Ritz before the war. I'd like to
find, the lad and shove her menu down her throat. Hope our "Loyal Ones"
aren't getting thin and wasting away. This is in a military zone and food
and liquor are scarce. We have to send to Dunkirk for extra supplies.

Springs had a letter from Kelly and he's ready to come out and Bish is
going to arrange for him to come to us.

We have another one of the Oxford Cadets with us, Rorison, who is
assigned to B flight. He's from Wilmington, N.C. He's a serious youth and
can figure out anything on paper with a slide rule.

We have another patrol to do and then Bish and Nigger and the three of us
are going over to their old squadron to dinner. As it is one of the best
squadrons at the front, it ought to be a cheery evening. Bish and Nigger
were both flight commanders there last year.

I had no idea there was so much to learn about this game. When you get to
the front, you are just starting. There's something new to learn about
your game every flight and then there're the idiosyncrasies of the Hun to
be studied with your ear to the ground as well as the geographical and
meteorological conditions.

For instance, there's a Hun balloon that's rather close to the lines.
They always pull down the others when they see us coming but  they leave
this one up. It looked like easy pickings and Springs and I asked Nigger
if we couldn't drop down and get it some time when the wind was with us
strong. Nigger said he'd investigate and that we'd better leave balloons
alone until we were sent after them because they were very dangerous
toys.

He got word from the brigade that this balloon is a dummy and is there as
a decoy. About four Archie batteries have it ranged and instead of having
a passenger basket, it's loaded up with amanol and as soon as some sucker
dives on it, the Runs will explode it and that will be the last heard of
him. And you have to come through the Archie barrage to get to it. Archie
has no bite at all--all bark--but it's hard on the nervous system. This
is certainly a nice friendly little war. The Canadians originated that
balloon trick.

June 18th

It was a good party. I think we won as when we left their C.O. was doing
a Highland Fling with a couple of table-knives for swords. Coming back,
we just got inside the gates of St. Omer when the Huns began, to bomb it.
And they were after the town too, no mistaking it. You should have seen
us getting out of it. Not a light showing anywhere and crooked narrow
streets. Our chauffeur didn't know the town very well and we all five
were yelling at him at the same time. A bomb burst about a block from us
and we climbed the curb twice in our haste.

We were in bad shape for the early patrol. It was pretty dud looking when
we got up at four-thirty. Nigger said he didn't think the fog would lift
and there wasn't much use going out. He went back to bed and told Springs
to take the two of us up and do a safety-first patrol if it cleared up
enough for us to get off. It cleared up about six and we took off and
worked up towards Wipers. Springs led us about five miles over between
Wipers and the Forest of Nieppe, but we didn't see anything as there was
still a pretty heavy fog. We got a lot of Archie but that was all. We had
about given it up as a wash-out when we spotted a two-seater on the other
side of Estaires. Springs waggled his wings and pointed and we waggled
back that we thought it was a Hun too and then we went down with our
motors wide open.

I warmed up my guns on the way down and was all ready. When Springs was
about four hundred yards away and a thousand feet above him, the Hun
turned and the observer opened fire on him as he came in close. Springs
got underneath him and Cal came down and cut him off from the other side
and made him turn back. I came straight down from above and he was right
in position for me and I put in a good burst from both guns right into
his cockpit. We were all firing and I could see my tracer going right
into his fusilage. I almost ran him down and just as I levelled off and
pulled up, the Hun burst into flames and went down in a dive. The pilot
must have fallen on his stick and I saw him go down like a comet. As he
hit the ground a pillar of flames and smoke shot up.

We were so low by that time that the machine-guns and pom-poms on the
ground opened fire on us and I had the pleasure of watching a few tracers
go through my wings. We were too low for Archie.

Nigger said he'd sent us out to do a safe and sane patrol and not to win
the war before breakfast. He bawled Springs out and said that by the law
of average we should all have been killed. We didn't pay any attention to
him because our heads were all swelled up over getting a flamer.

There was no use all three of us claiming the Hun and we were going to
just one of us take him. Cal and Springs were going to let me have him
but Canning who saw the fight from a distance put in a claim too, because
he said he was firing at him, so we all took one-fourth each. If Canning
had kept out one of us would have got credit for one whole Hun. Fractions
don't mean anything. But as long as Canning was coming in anyway we might
as well all stay in. But I know I got that Hun. Springs and Cal were
firing at him too but I could see my tracer going right into his
fusilage. Bish got one about noon and Lady Mary went out and bumped off
another one.

MacDonald has been missing since yesterday.

Jane 19th

We have got to get up every morning at three from now on and go down to
the hangars and stand by and be ready to leave the ground at five
minutes' notice. That means we have to keep our motors running to keep
them warmed up. The Hun is supposed to be going to start a push any
moment and everything is ready for the counter attack. We have bomb racks
fitted to our fusilage and we carry four twenty-pound copper bombs to use
ground straffing. They think the Hun is going to push in front of
Hazebrouck and try to pinch off the Salient. We aren't going to give an
inch of ground but are going to start a counter attack and push back.

We had a squadron show and Thompson, Trapp, Lady Mary and myself had to
go down and reconnoitre the road from Bailleul to Armentieres at a couple
of hundred feet looking for signs of troop movements. To protect us, were
Nigger, Cal, Springs and Mac at one thousand feet and the rest of the
squadron were at five thousand.

We flew down the road the whole way and back again but didn't see much
except a lot of tracer bullets coming up at us. And I saw some flaming
onions up close. They are nice little things--a lot of phosphorus balls
that come up in front of you like a swarm of bees, and if you run into
them, it's good night!

I saw Thompson get hit. He landed and turned over. I think he's alive as
the machine certainly was under control. Trapp is missing but I didn't
see him at all. Lady Mary found a balloon and shot it up and set fire to
it on the ground. I got a few holes scattered about the plane but nothing
serious. If the Huns are going to attack there, they are mighty quiet
about it. I dropped my four little bombs on a truck train.

The top flight got into a dogfight and Bish dropped a Fokker. A flight
lost a man.

June 20th

MacDonald is back. He got lost coming back from a patrol in the fog and
landed a hundred miles from here. He made sure he wasn't in Germany all
right. He was out of gas when he ceased to flee and it took two days to
get a truck down there to him. A Frenchman entertained him royally at his
chateau and Mac fell in love with his beautiful niece and kept the truck
waiting an extra day. Moral: Always pick a good place to get lost. He
brought a mangy-looking cur back with him. Our menagerie is growing.

Heard that Joe Trees and Dick Reed have been killed.

The colonel came over and congratulated us on our reconnaissance. He's a
brother to one of the flight commanders at London Colney, Capt. Cairns,
the fellow with one leg. He's with 74 now.

June 21st

Bish has been recalled to England to help organize the Canadian Flying
Corps. Before he left he went up to have a final look at the war. He ran
into five Hun scouts. He picked off the last one and the two in front
collided when they did a climbing turn to get back of him. Then he got
another one and on the way back he ran into a two-seater and got it.
Pretty good morning. His score is now seventy-two! That's something for
the boys to shoot at. Next to him is McCudden and then Mannock. We all
went down to Boulogne to see him off and had a big champagne lunch.

An American Division was landing at Boulogne and these boys certainly
have got funny ideas. They think they are crusaders and talk like
headlines. They are full of catch-phrases and ideals. We talked to a
bunch of them in the bar. They think they are on the way to a Sunday
School picnic.

The Japanese think if they get killed in battle they will go to heaven.
They've got nothing on these boys. They think they are going to get a
golden harp just for enlisting.

One of the boys asked me where the Red Light district was. I told him
that if God would paint the moon red, then Europe would be properly
labelled.

There were two officers at the next table to us at lunch. One of them saw
my R.F.C. wings and wanted to know why I was wearing a crown above my
wings. I told him because I was a qualified R.F.C. pilot.

"Well," says he, "you can wear a crown if you want to. But as for me--I
can't get enough eagles on. I just want eagles all over me."

They had on funny belts. I said, "Where'd you get the funny Sam Browne
belts?"

"Sam Browne belts?" said one of them. "These ain't Sam Browne belts.
These is Liberty belts!!!"

That gave the squadron a laugh. They've been kidding us about it ever
since. They call us the Liberty Boys and want to see our eagles.

We came back and had a patrol to do at five. Nigger took off down wind
and we, all followed him. Springs and Cal got to bouncing before they had
flying speed and smashed their undercarriages but they didn't go over on
their backs. Springs nearly landed on top of Cal and just did bounce over
him. Mac broke a bracing wire but came on with us.

June 22nd

I got up this morning feeling like a week-end in the city though I had no
reason to. I drank too much coffee before going up and I'm as nervous as
a kitten now. Must be getting the Woofits.

I had rather a surprise yesterday. I was some distance back of the patrol
and saw a Hun two-seater about three miles across the lines so went for
him. I expected about thirty seconds at close quarters under his tail and
then to watch him go down in flames. It looked like cold meat. I started
my final dive about one thousand feet above him and opened fire at one
hundred yards.

Then I got a surprise. I picked the wrong Hun. Just as I opened fire, he
turned sharply to the left and I was doing about two hundred so couldn't
turn but had to overshoot and half roll back. As I half rolled on top of
him, he half rolled too and when I did an Immelman, he turned to the
right and forced me on the outside arc and gave his observer a good shot
at me as I turned back the other way to cut him off from the other side.
I fired a burst from my turn but my shots went wild so pulled up and half
rolled on top of him again and opened fire from immediately above and
behind. He stalled before I could get a burst in and side-slipped away
from me but gave me a no-deflection shot at him when he straightened out.
I didn't have to make any allowance for his speed or direction and his
observer was shooting at me. The observer dropped down in his cockpit so
I suppose I killed him. But I couldn't get the pilot. He put the plane in
a tight spiral and I couldn't seem to get in position properly. Cal and
Tiny Dixon came in about that time and everybody was shooting at him from
all angles. I know he didn't have any motor because he came down very
slowly and didn't attempt to manoeuvre. We were firing from every
conceivable angle but we couldn't seem to hit the tank or the pilot and
every now and then he'd take a crack at me with his front gun when I'd
try him head on.

He was a stout fellow, a good fighter and I hope he is still alive. If
his observer had been any good I wouldn't be writing this now. He hit one
of my front spars and that was all. I left him at one hundred feet as my
engine was overheating and was sputtering and I've had enough machine-gun
fire from the ground to last me for a while and I don't like field guns
from directly in the rear. Accidents will happen. So I started back and
joined the patrol. Archie simply went mad.

The infantry reported the fight and said that the Hun was under control
when he went down the other side of Kemmel Hill.

Then we all came down low over the trenches later and had a sham battle
among ourselves. Nigger and I dove furiously on each other just back of
No Man's Land and Springs and Cal and Mac rolled and looped desperately
trying to get on one another's tails. The boys in the trenches must have
enjoyed it. None of the Huns fired at us at all and even Archie the
Avenger left us alone though we were within range. Then we spied some
field sports four or five miles back of our lines and we started for
them. They were very appreciative as they stopped the game to watch and
wave at us. Must have been a Canadian Division for they had a baseball
diamond. Mac ran his wheels on it.

We've got quite good at stunting in close formation. We fly very close
together and can loop and roll in formation. Nigger signals and loops
straight over. Mac and Cal loop with right rudder on and Springs and I
loop with left rudder. That spreads us out and then we come back in close
as we come out of the dive. Nigger puts his motor at half throttle so we
can pick up our places. When we roll, Nigger and Cal and Mac roll to the
right and Springs and I roll to the left.

A photographer with a movie camera came over last week and got some
movies of us doing it. We fly up close enough to get our wings between
the front man's wings and tail.

June 23rd

We were out on patrol this morning and just across the lines we saw a
two-seater. Nigger was leading and signalled to us to follow and dove
after him. It was a pretty silver L.V.G. and he turned and Nigger missed
his first dive. The Hun circled and I overshot and half rolled to make
sure of him. Springs missed too and Cal, who had turned higher up, came
right down on his tail as Mac went under. Cal got him and the Hun turned
over on his back and went down and crashed into the ruins of Sailly.
Archie was right put out about it but was nowhere near us. The gunners
are rotten down here.

We climbed up high and about a half an hour later saw about thirty
machines in the sky at different levels. Six machines of ours were in the
middle layer and we saw them dive on the lower ones. Then I saw one of
the Huns from above dive vertically for three thousand feet and flatten
out and open fire right on the tail of one of our machines. Most
wonderful sight I ever saw. I wouldn't have believed it possible. That
lad was good. But one of our machines jumped on his tail and while he was
firing too long at the front machine, our plane got him and he went down
in loose spin.

About that time we reached the fight on a long dive and went in. There
were plenty of Huns to go around and there were Huns diving and firing
all about us. Worst dog fight I can imagine. Everybody was firing short
bursts at everybody else. We had the advantage coming in on top and were
having a fine time. Suddenly everybody pulled out and Archie opened up. A
new bunch of ten Huns came up and we went back in again but there was too
much confusion. Nigger and Springs went down on a black Pfaltz and got
him. He went into a spin and crashed into a wood. The other S.E.'s were
from 74 and they got two Huns and lost one man.

The General came over and had tea with us and asked us who we wanted for
C.O. He wanted to send us McCudden but we don't want him. He gets Huns
himself but he doesn't give anybody else a chance at them. The rest of
the squadron objected because he was once a Tommy and his father was a
sergeant-major in the old army. I couldn't see that that was anything
against him but these English have great ideas of caste. We asked for
Micky Mannock who is a flight commander in 74. He's got around sixty Huns
and was at London Colney when we were in January. He wanted to take the
three of us out with him in February but we weren't through at Turnberry.
They say that he's the best patrol leader at the front--plans his
squadron shows a day in advance and rehearses them on the ground. He
plans every manoeuvre like a chess player and has every man at a certain
place at a certain time to do a certain thing, and raises merry hell if
anyone falls down on his job.

74 is a stout outfit. We knew them all at London Colney where they
mobilized. The other day, Grid Caidwell, the C.O. and Capt. Cairns
collided in a fight. Cairns got down under control but the whole squadron
saw Grid go spinning down. That night they had a wake and all got drunk
and turned it into a celebration. About midnight Grid walked in. They
thought they were seeing a ghost as he was all bloody and his clothes
were torn to pieces. He had set his tail stabilizer and got out of his
seat and crawled out on the wing and got the plane out of the spin. His
aileron control was jammed and part of his wing tip was gone but he
balanced it down and landed it this side of the trenches by reaching in
and pulling the stick back before he hit. The plane turned over and threw
him into a clump of bushes. It had taken him ever since to get back as he
crashed about thirty miles away. So he resumed command and took charge of
the drinking and when the squadron went out for the dawn patrol, he led
it. Then he went to the hospital.

Mannock trained Taffy Jones who was a pupil with us at London Colney.
Taffy has eight Huns now and Mick says he's the best shot in the
squadron. Mick has marvellous eyesight though he only has one eye. He's
to get two weeks' leave and then come to us. In the meantime Baker is in
command.

June 24th

We found nine Hun scouts yesterday and dove on them but they wouldn't
fight and ran for home. We chased them but couldn't catch them. Something
funny about that. It must be a new type of plane and they were just
practising. They were fast whatever they were. My motor got to acting
funny and the water began to boil. It cut out a few times and I just did
get back and landed between Kemmel and Popheringhe in a big field that
was mostly shell holes. There were some American troops up there of the
30th Division and they helped me to get some water and get going when it
cooled off. It got me home but didn't run any too well. They have retimed
it but unless it turns up better I am going to ask for a new one. These
Hispano Vipers are fine when they are all right but the slightest trouble
bawls them all up. Springs was messing around over by Messines and
flushed a two-seater out of the clouds and got him. Tiny Dixon was firing
at him too, so they halved him. Randall knocked down a high two-seater
and Hall is missing.

We have a new pilot to take Thompson's place, Capt. Webster, a quiet,
reserved fellow. He's not a captain in the flying corps but in his
infantry regiment. When any one transfers from their regiment to the
flying corps they come in as second lieutenants but keep their honorary
rank in their regiment and draw the pay of that rank. Then after they
transfer, if they prove they're good and get a flight, then they become
temporary captains and rank as captains in the flying corps and draw a
captain's pay but keep their old regimental rank. We have seven captains
now but only three of them rank as such and those are all lieutenants in
their regiments. There's one man who is known in the gazette as,
"Lieutenant, temporary brigadier general." He must be good! That's the
right system. In our army, if a major transfers to the aviation corps he
comes in as a major and bosses men who have been flying for years and
know more about it than he will ever know. I don't know who's going to do
our fighting but I know who's going to get all the rank and all the
medals.

June 25

Springs and I flew up to Dunkirk to get some champagne yesterday. We
landed at Petit Snythe and found an American squadron was being organized
there, the 17th. Sam Eckert is C.O. and Tipton and Hamilton and Newhall
are the flight commanders. They've got Le Rhone Camels and may the Lord
make His face to smile upon them because they are going to need more than
mortal guidance.

There was a brand new American major up there in a new Cadillac named
Fowler. We turned our nose up at him but he insisted on being nice. His
brother, who was killed at Issoudon, went to Princeton with Springs so
they got to chewing the rag. He was so new the tags were still on his
gold leaves and he didn't know how to salute--saluted like an Englishman.
When he heard why we'd come up he insisted on driving us into Dunkirk in
his Cadillac. We got the champagne and he insisted on taking us into the
Chapeau Rouge for a drink. We shot down a couple of bottles of champagne
and he was all right, we thought, even for a new Kiwi. He kept on asking
such simple questions. He wanted to know all about how our patrols were
led and if we led any ourselves and how we got along with the British. He
acted awfully simple, just like an ordinary U.S. major, and we did the
best we could to enlighten him as to the proper method of picking cold
meat and bringing most of our men back. His ideas were all wrong and we
concluded that he must have been reading some of the books by the boys at
home. We got a snoutful and he brought us back to the field and we
invited him down to dinner at 85 and then he left. We asked Sam what
Fowler had done to get a gold leaf and he told us that Fowler had been
out with the British since 1914 and had the Military Cross and had done
about five hundred hours flying over the lines. The joke is certainly on
us. But he ought to know better than to fill a pilot full of champagne
and then ask him how good he is. To tell the truth I think we were very
modest. And why doesn't he wear wings or his decorations? If I had the
M.C. all the rules that Pershing can make couldn't keep it off my chest.

I heard up there that about fifteen of our boys have been killed. Hooper
and Douglas are among them.

We went down to have dinner with Nigger's brother at the 2nd A.D. They
received us with open bottles. Those boys must have been in training for
the event. That's the third of Nigger's brothers that has tried to uphold
the family honour.

I heard a funny story down there. The Germans took Lille and the Allies
held Armentieres. For a long time they continued to run the factories in
Armentieres on electricity that came from Lille. A Frenchman was kept to
run the power-plant by the Germans and he didn't cut Armentieres off. It
was several months before he was caught.

June 27th

Springs is missing. He and MacGregor and Inglis were out this morning on
the dawn patrol. Mac was leading and spotted a two-seater over
Armentieres. They went after him and had to chase him a bit further. Mac
got to him first and missed his dive. Springs got under him and stayed
there. The Hun stalled up and the observer was shooting down at Springs
when Mac got back in position and got him. That was the last seen of
Springs. Inglis says he saw some smoke coming out of his fusilage when
the observer was shooting at him. It's afternoon now and no word has come
from him so I guess he's cooked. Requiescat in pace, as he would say!
I've got to go on a balloon straff now.

June 29th

Springs is back. He brought back a school of pink porpoises and a couple
of funny stories. His guns jammed when he went under the two-seater and
he was trying to clear the stoppages when the observer hit his oil-pipe.
His motor didn't stop at once but brought him back a little way before
the bearings melted. He glided back just across the lines and crashed
down wind in a machine-gun emplacement. His face is a mess where the butt
of his Vickers gun knocked a hole in his chin and he got a crack on the
top of his head and a pair of black eyes. One of the longerons tore his
flying-suit right up the back and just grazed his skin and removed his
helmet. Some Tommies fished him out and sorted the ruins. He says the
first thing he thought of when he came to was his teeth on account of
Mac. He ran his tongue around his mouth and couldn't find any front
teeth. He let out a yell. "What's the matter, sir?" a Tommy asked him.
"My teeth," sobs Springs, "they're all gone!" "Oh, no they ain't, sir,"
says the obliging Tommy, "here they are, sir!" and with that he reaches
down and pulls his lips off his teeth. His teeth were all right, they
were just on the outside of his face.

There wasn't any anaesthetic up there but somebody brought a bottle of
cognac. Every time he'd try to take a drink of it, it would all run out
of the hole in his chin. So he spent the morning with his head tilted
back and his mouth open while an Irish padre poured the cognac down his
throat for him. He said after a little while the pain let up but they
brought him another bottle so he kept up the treatment. He got back into
the Forest of Nieppe and telephoned back to the wing that afternoon for a
tender to come and get him. Then some doc up there gave him a shot of
anti-tetanus serum. The tender came up after him and they started back,
stopping at every estaminet on the way. He didn't have on a uniform, just
his pyjamas under his flying-suit but had two or three hundred francs in
his suit so they would stop and he'd buy champagne for the mechanics to
pour down his throat. They got back here about dark, all of them tight as
sausage skins. We had a celebration and made some strawberry julep to
pour down his throat and we all managed to light up. Then some one
noticed that his face needed a bit of hemstitching so we took him down to
the Duchess of Sutherland's hospital in the woods below here. The doctor
down there seemed to think the crack on his head was serious. We were in
a hot room and none of us felt too good. The doc told him to stand up and
close his eyes and then open them. Of course he couldn't focus his eyes.
I could have told the doc that. Then he told him to close them again and
keep them closed. He swayed a couple of times and then keeled over on the
floor and passed out of the picture. "Ah, ha," says the doc, "I thought
so! Concussion of the brain! We'll have to keep him in bed for a while."
So they sewed up his face and he didn't know a thing about it next day.
The doc says we can't see him for a few days as he must be kept
absolutely quiet. I'd like to see them do it.

June 30th

We got into a dogfight this morning with the new brand of Fokkers and
they certainly were good. They had big red stripes on the fusilage
diagonally so they must be Richthofen's old circus. There were five of us
and we ran into five Fokkers at fifteen thousand feet. We both started
climbing, of course. And they outclimbed us. We climbed up to twenty
thousand five hundred and couldn't get any higher. We were practically
stalled and these Fokkers went right over our heads and got between us
and the lines. They didn't want to dogfight but tried to pick off our
rear men. Inglis and Cal were getting a pretty good thrill when we turned
back and caught one Hun napping. He half rolled slowly and we got on his
tail. Gosh, it's unpleasant fighting at that altitude. The slightest
movement exhausts you, your engine has no pep and splutters; it's hard to
keep a decent formation, and you lose five hundred feet on a turn. The
other Huns came in from above and it didn't take us long to fight down to
twelve thousand. We put up the best fight of our lives but these Huns
were just too good for us. Cal got a shot in his radiator and went down
and Webster had his tail plane shot to bits and his elevator control shot
away. He managed to land with his stabilizer wheel but cracked up. I
don't know what would have happened if some Dolphins from 84 hadn't come
up and the Huns beat it. I think we got one that went down in a spin
while Cal was shooting at it but we couldn't see it crash.

I got to circling with one Hun, just he and I, and it didn't take me long
to find out that I wasn't going to climb above this one. He began to gain
on me and then he did something I've never heard of before. He'd be
circling with me and he'd pull around and point his nose at me and open
fire and just hang there on his prop and follow me around with his
tracer. All I could do was to keep on turning the best I could. If I'd
straightened out he'd have had me cold as he already had his sights on
me. If I had tried to hang on my prop that way, I'd have gone right into
a spin. But this fellow just hung right there and sprayed me with lead
like he had a hose. They have speeded up guns too. All I could do was to
watch his tracer and kick my rudder from one side to the other to throw
his aim off. This war isn't what it used to be. Nigger has noted the
improvement in the Huns and is awful thoughtful.

We went to see Springs this afternoon and he seems to be doing all right.
He's got lips like a nigger minstrel's and a mouthful of thread and a
couple of black eyes. We took him a couple of bottles of champagne but he
didn't need it as they serve it to him there. Things have been sort of
quiet at the front lately in this sector and there were only three of
them in there. One is a brigadier general who had been wounded seven
times before this last shot in his leg. He and Springs were full of
champagne and have a bar rigged up in a tent outside. The third is a
Chink from a labour battalion who has been parted from his appendix
forcibly.

There are about eighteen nurses there and it is the custom for all the
nurses from the Duchess down to walk by and ask each patient how he feels
each morning. The general says if they just had short skirts on and would
whistle he'd applaud and join the chorus. Springs's face is going to be
all right because they sewed it up from the inside.

Mac made a date to call on a pretty little nurse. That boy is a fast
worker. I'll bet he gets sick in a few days.

July 1st

I hear that Mathews is now a member of the sadder-but-wiser club. He dove
straight down on a two-seater and the observer didn't do a thing but
shoot the front end of his plane full of holes. He got back to the lines
but cracked up and lit on his neck. These boys will learn some day that
one two-seater can lick one scout any time unless the scout can stick
under his blind spot. But these Hun two-seaters haven't got any blind
spot. The long ones have a hole in the bottom of the fusilage and they
can shoot down at you and these new ones have a double tail and are so
short that the observer can stand up and fire right down at you while the
pilot simply pulls up in a stall. And you can't take them from a front
angle because the observer can traverse his guns over the top of the
upper wing. Of course, if there're two of you, that is another story, but
it takes two scouts to lick a good two-seater. These Bristol pilots say
they can lick two scouts. They fight them like scouts and the observer
simply guards the tail. If you want to go to heaven, the easiest way I
know is to dive on a two-seater. We all do it and take a chance but the
percentage of gentlemen who get cured of it is mounting.

July 2nd

Springs came back last night. He walked back in red silk pyjamas and a
pair of fur flying-boots. The doctor decided he was nutty and wanted to
send him back to England. They took his clothes away from him so he lit
out like he was. The reason the doc was so sure he was crazy was that he
overheard a telephone conversation. Major Fowler's adjutant called up to
tell him that he'd been made a flight commander in the new American
squadron up at Dunkirk. Springs said he didn't want to be a flight
commander and he didn't want to go to any American squadron. He told the
adjutant to give the job to some one else quick. The doc overheard him
refusing promotion and was sure he was cuckoo. The doc came over after
him but we persuaded him that Springs wasn't nutty and after we filled
him full of julep he finally said he could stay but that he mustn't fly
for a week. We got hold of Col. Cairns and he said he'd arrange for him
to stay here and report him unfit for duty. But G.H.Q. called up later
and said that he had to go anyway so he's to go up to Dunkirk to-morrow.
It's either that or back to the hospital and the doc will sure send him
home. But he isn't in any shape to take charge of anything.

July 5th

Cal and I flew up to Petit Snythe yesterday for a baseball game between
the mechanics of the 17th and the 148th U.S. squadrons. We couldn't stay
long as we had to get back for a patrol.

Mort Newhall is C.O. of the 148th and Bim Oliver and Henry Clay are the
other flight commanders besides Springs. Springs made some horrible punch
that knocked out everybody that got a smell of it. He wants Cal and me to
join his flight and Fowler said he'd arrange it but we said nothing
doing. I don't want to fly Camels and certainly not Clerget Camels. I
told him I'd crown him eternally if he got me put on those little popping
firecrackers. My neck isn't worth much but I want an even break.

Bobby was there and kept in the limelight by getting hit by a foul ball.
They say that his latest stunt was a bear. His squadron had been working
pretty hard and the colonel gave them a holiday to rest up. Instead of
letting his squadron rest, he decided that they ought to practise moving.
So he made them pack up everything on the place and load it on the
lorries and move it down the road ten miles. Then he drove up
magnificently in the squadron car and inspected them and gave orders to
them to move back again and unpack. They were so mad they wanted to kill
him. Imagine a practice move!

He was a colonel once but he got demoted for one of his celebrated
stunts! When the Hun broke through on the Somme in March, the infantry
retreated so fast that the mechanics on the airdrome didn't have time to
get away and joined the infantry and fought with them. At one place they
weren't able to save the planes because of a fog. Bobby was in command of
a wing, and he decided that he ought to prepare for such an emergency and
ought to train his mechanics as infantrymen. So he got rifles for them
and had regular drill. That part was all right and met with the approval
of the brigadier. But he decided that he ought to have a sham battle as
well. He had two squadrons entrenched along the canal at the far side of
the airdrome, and then he had two other squadrons representing Huns to
attack them. He was to be the hero of the occasion. About that time some
inspecting general happened by and saw Bobby, with sword waving, tight as
a tick, dashing madly across the airdrome at the head of the charge. He
won the battle but lost his job. At least that's the story I heard. I'll
say this for him. If liquor was ammunition he'd be a field-marshal.

There's quite a few of the old Oxford gang up there. Clay, Oliver,
Curtis, Fulford, Forster, Whiting, Ziztell, Kindley, Clements, Knox,
Hamilton, Campbell, Dixon, Goodnow, Dorsey, Avery and Desson. Stew Welch
is over at 211 with Bonnalie.

July 7th

The new Fokkers are giving us hell. A flight lost two men yesterday and
Webster got all shot up again. He doesn't consider the day well spent
unless his mechanics have a few holes to patch.

Capt. Baker, who is acting C.O. until Mannock gets here, put Springs in
for a decoration, the D.F.C. which is the Royal Air Force's Military
Cross. The colonel sent the citation back. He said he was a good fellow
but he'd only got four Huns and that wasn't worth a decoration. But just
think what would have happened if he'd been down on the French front with
an American squadron! He'd have got a D.S.C. and a Croix de Guerre for
each Hun.

I flew up to see him yesterday and he sure was a funny sight. He's all
swollen up like a poisoned pup and is red as a beet and broken out all
over--inside as well. The anti-tetanus serum was sour and it has poisoned
him.

John Goad is dead. He was shot down in flames flying a Bristol Fighter.
When the flames got too hot he turned the machine upside down and jumped.

Judy 10th

Springs and Oliver came down for dinner the other night. Gosh, they were
funny telling about their Camels. They had a Crossley car with a
general's veil on it to keep the wind off the back seat and were
certainly hot. The squadron has both British and American transport so
Mort has a Cadillac and the flight commanders have the Crossley and all
the rest have sidecars. Springs is a wreck. He's blind in one eye and the
other one isn't much good. He's got haemorrhage of the retina, whatever
that is, but the doc says it will clear up in a little while. He's also
got cirrhosis of the liver from that serum. He'll be a fine flight
commander. Between all that and the stiff neck he ought to be one of
their best assets. Bim says they are the tin woodman and the scarecrow
from the land of Oz and they are looking for Dorothy to put them together
again. They kept us laughing all evening and everybody got plastered.

Mannock has arrived to take charge all rigged out as a major with some
new barnacles on his ribbons, and he certainly is keen. He got us all
together in the office an outlined his plans and told each one what he
expected of them. He's going to lead one flight act as a decoy. Nigger
and Randy are going to lead the other two. We ought to be able to pay
back these Fokkers a little we owe them.

I hear that Deetjen is gone. They're going so fast now that I can't keep
track of who's dead and who's alive. I guess I'll find out before long
though. I heard in Boulogne that Alan Winslow is missing.

July 11th

One of our dashing young airmen, who, according to his own story had done
innumerable deeds of valour but had never been caught in that act,
changed his tune yesterday. He landed after he'd been out alone and his
plane had about fifty holes in it. His altimeter and Aldis sight were
both hit. He was as limp as a rag and had to be assisted to his quarters.
There he remained as sick as a dog for two days. When questioned about
what happened to him he would get hysterical and sick at his stomach
again. The wing doctor came over to see him and sent him to hospital
though there's nothing wrong with him except he's badly frightened.
That's the last of his illustrious career. He'll go home and write a book
on the war now. I always did think he was yellow. What I believe happened
to him is this. He's been telling so many lies about what he's been doing
that he believed some of them himself and decided he'd go out and really
have a look at a Hun. The first ones he saw shot him up and his
constitution couldn't stand the fright. One thing about this game out
here: those that are good are awfully good, and those that are bad are
awfully sour. Thank God the Huns have the same trouble. Six real good
determined pilots could shoot down twenty of this kind that have business
to attend to after the war.

July 18th

Mannock led a show yesterday and gave us all heart failure. He was
leading the bottom flight with three men and found ten Fokkers and played
them for fifteen minutes. At any moment it looked as if we were all going
to get shot down but Mannock knew what he was about and kept the top
flight up in the sun. He sucked the Huns in to where he wanted them and
went right under them. They knew there was a flight above up in the sun
so only five of them came down. Then Randy and three men came down on
them just as they got to Mannock, and instead of their top five getting
the cold meat as they expected, Nigger, Mac, Cal, Inglis and myself leapt
on them so that our eight below had a picnic with the bottom five Huns.
They got two of bottom ones and Mac got one of the top ones that tried to
get down to join the fight below. MacDonald got his wish and got hit in
the arm and is now in the Duchess's hospital with the world in his lap.
Lucky dog. I'm willing to compromise with the Lord on an arm or leg any
time. I'll spot Him one and shoot Him for the other. We are certainly
getting away with some good patrols. Mick is master. He has taken Cal
with him and is going to train him as deputy leader. If the Huns would
just figure with Cal instead of fighting with him he'd argue himself to
Berlin. He takes his fighting just like he takes his bridge. By the time
he and Mick are ready to go into a fight they know what the Huns had for
breakfast.

Tiny Dixon and Canning have both been promoted and sent to other
squadrons as flight commanders. Dixon ought to make a good one.

July 20th

Mannock is dead, the greatest pilot of the war. But his death was worthy
of him. Inglis had been doing a lot of fighting but had never got a Hun.
But he tried hard and Mannock told him that he would take him out alone
and get him a Hun. So just the two of them went out late in the
afternoon. Mannock picked up a two-seater over Estaires and went down
after him. Mannock has a special method of attacking a two-seater. He
takes them from the front at an angle and then goes under them if he
misses his first burst. It is very hard to do but is unquestionably the
best method. Instead of going under and getting him for himself, he held
his fire and turned the Hun and held him for Inglis. Inglis got him and
they started back but they were down low. Mannock got hit by machine-gun
fire from the ground just like Richthofen and dove right on into the
ground. Inglis went back and flew right down to the ground and saw the
wreck and is sure he's dead.

Mannock is the only man I've known who really hates the Hun and he
certainly does. He wants to kill every man that was born in Germany. He
was a member of Parliament from Ireland before the war and quite a
politician. He seems to hold the Germans responsible for the yellow
cowardly contemptible part that Ireland has played in the war. He
certainly did cuss the Germans and their Irish sympathizers. He told us
if we ever let a German get away alive that we could have killed, he'd
shoot us himself. He was also the most accomplished after dinner speaker
I ever heard.

We've had the two finest C.O.'s that the flying corps had and the general
came over and asked us who we wanted next. We are going to get Billy
Crowe. He's not so much of a pilot but he ought to fit in with this
outfit. A couple of weeks ago the wing had a party in Dieppe. There were
three majors down there in one car, Crowe, Atkinson, and Foggin. Coming
home, Crowe insisted on driving the car and he hit a tree going too fast
in the dark. Atkinson and Foggin were killed. Crowe was courtmartialed
and found guilty of driving a car against orders and reduced to a captain
for a month. As additional punishment they are going to send him to us.
We must have a swell reputation.

Tubby Ralston had a dud bus and they wouldn't give him a new one so he
decided he'd crash it deliberately. He picked out a good place to do it
and went down and pancaked. He crashed it all right and nearly killed
himself doing it.

Loghran has been killed. He was at Hounslow when we first went there.

July 23rd

I have learned many things, especially that discretion is the better part
of valour. And in this game, not only the better part, but about
ninety-nine per cent of it. When there are more than two Huns above you
and your immediate vicinity is full of lead, well, my boy, it is high
time to go home. Never mind trying to shoot down any of them. Go home and
try again to-morrow. How do you go home? You are far in Hunland and you
are lonesome. If you put your nose down and run for home you will never
live to tell it. All the Huns will take turn about shooting at you until
you look like a sieves These new Fokkers can dive as fast as we can.

First you must turn, bank ninety degrees and keep turning. They can't
keep their sights on you. Watch the sun for direction. Now there's one on
your right--shoot at him. Don't try to hit him--just spray him--for if
you try to hold your sight on him you'll have to fly straight and give
the others a crack at you. But you put the wind up him anyway and he
turns. Quick, turn in the opposite direction. He's out of it for a
moment. Now there's another one near you. Try it on him--it works! Turn
again, you are between them and the lines. Now go for it, engine full on,
nose down!

Two of them are still after you--tracer getting near again. Pull up, zoom
and sideslip and if necessary, turn and spray them again. Now make
another dive for home and repeat when necessary. If your wings don't fall
off and you are gaining on them, pull up a little. Ah, there's Archie,
that means they are behind you--woof--that one was close--you now have
another gray hair--they've been watching you--better zigzag a bit. You
can laugh at Archie, he's a joke compared to machine-guns. You dodge him
carefully and roll in derision as you cross the lines and hasten home for
tea--that is if you know where it is. That is discretion--many a man has
got one out of a fight only to lose to the others who have nothing to do
but shoot him down at leisure.

July 28th

McCudden the great has been killed. He was taking off in an S.E. and he
hit a tree. He'd just got back from England and had been flying with a
light load over there. He forgot that he had four bombs on now and a full
load of ammunition and he pulled up too steep. I guess he deserves a lot
of credit. His brother was shot and is a prisoner.

I can't write much these days. I'm too nervous. I can hardly hold a pen.
I'm all right in the air, as calm as a cucumber, but on the ground I'm a
wreck and I get panicky. Nobody in the squadron can get a glass to his
mouth with one hand after one of these decoy patrols except Cal and he's
got no nerve--he's made of cheese. But some nights we both have
nightmares at the same time and Mac has to get up and find his teeth and
quiet us. We don't sleep much at night. But we get tired and sleep all
afternoon when there's nothing to do.

I got shot up by a damn two-seater yesterday and then got dived on by a
couple of ambitious Fokkers. My tail plane looked like a Swiss cheese.
This war gets more dangerous every day. And now this colonel has got
bloodthirsty and wants some balloons. He's welcome to them. It means in
addition to other things that we will carry flat-nosed buckingham to set
the balloons on fire and if we get shot down in Hunland they will shoot
us at once on the ground if they find any of it in our guns. It's dirty
stuff and the phosphorus in it burns you so that the wound will never
heal. But the Huns use it all the time so I don't see why we shouldn't
too. Cal picked one of them out of his spar the other day and there's no
question as to what it was because it kept burning and you could smell
the phosphorus and see by the hole it made that it was flat-nosed. It's
not soft-nosed--that's dum-dum and is barred by the Hague treaty. I don't
think either side has ever used any of that. I understand that the
British have an enormous quantity of it and are ready to use it if the
Huns ever start. I carry a belt arranged with one round of tracer and one
round of buckingham and one round plain when I am expecting to go down on
a balloon. Then I am ready for anything. Since I set fire to that
two-seater with plain tracer I am perfectly content with it but I guess
buckingham is surer.

July 31st

We saved Springs's bacon to-day. He and four little Camels were over by
Roulers at nine thousand feet. Some Fokkers chased away his top
patrol--they can't get above fifteen thousand with these Clergets; and
then took their time to finish him off. The five Fokkers were above just
ready to attack and in spite of that he went down on a balloon. The
Fokkers went down on the Camels and we came up just at that point and
leapt on them. We had a merry little dogfight. Imagine these poor
benighted Camels wandering about Hunland and going down on a balloon with
no top protection! Can you beat that! Why you can't even tie it! It
turned out to be another dummy and they got a regular bath in Archie and
pom-poms. 17 and 148 may be awfully good, I guess they are, but they
can't get away with that sort of stuff. Springs called up later to thank
us and confirmed a Hun for Nigger. He said it was his twenty-second
birthday to-day but his next would be his thirty-third as he had aged ten
years to-day. I talked to him and asked him what sort of a bloody fool
had he turned out to be. He said he wasn't leading that patrol. His
deputy flight commander was leading it and was trying to show him a good
time. I told him he'd better lead himself even if he was blind in both
eyes. At least he's got a head.

Poor old 74 took an awful beating yesterday. Cairns was killed and two
others. He had a wing shot off.

We don't get a chance to scrap on this side of the lines often or even
within ten miles of the lines but one of these new Fokkers came over
after a balloon and A flight nailed him after he got two and was trying
to get back. We went up to see it. They have the new motor in them--the
B.M.W., I think it's called. It's a lot better than the old Mercedes. I
know that without seeing one on the ground. It's a beautiful plane--has a
fusilage made of welded steel tubing and has an extra lifting surface on
the undercarriage.


August 8th

Springs flew down this afternoon for tea. He's still all shot to pieces
but has been leading patrols right along and got a Fokker the other day
over Ostend. He said it was pure self-defence. The doc thinks he's got
ulcer of the stomach and he's on a liquor allowance. He claims he can
drink all right but he can't eat. That's a new disease. They must have a
great outfit in 148. They are all First Lieutenants and every one bawls
everybody else out to suit themselves. And they have about six different
bosses and get orders from all over the world. And they all hate Camels
except Clay who wants to do like Tipton and win the war before breakfast.
Springs got a couple of cases of port from His Lordship's wine merchant
and he brought down a couple of bottles to us. Longton took his Camel up
and did things with it that I didn't know any machine would do. Longton
has been decorated with the A.F.C. for developing a two-seater Camel last
year. What I can't see is why he didn't come out on Camels if he's so
good on them. His prize pupil didn't last long.

Jerry Pentland was over the other night for dinner. He's a flight
commander in 84. He was on crutches as a two-seater hit him in the foot.
We called him Achilles and kidded the life out of him about going through
Gallipoli and then coming to France and getting hit by a two-seater.
Jerry swears that he was at twenty-two thousand. No wonder we can't get
up to these high Rumplers. But a Dolphin will go higher than that if you
don't freeze first.

24 squadron got caught out by a bunch of these new Fokkers and got shot
up badly. They had to have some men with experience so we sent over Capt.
Caruthers and Rorison.

August 11th

Again I've got that feeling, gee, it's great to be alive! The last three
days have been particularly strenuous and eventful. Ordinarily I wouldn't
be able to sleep at all, but I'm so tired that I slept like a baby last
night. And I'm getting so bored at being shot at that I don't bother to
dodge any more. I sat up in the middle of Archie bursts yesterday for
five minutes, yawned and refused to turn until they knocked me about a
hundred feet. I used to be scared to death of Archie and gunfire from the
ground. Now it almost fails to excite even my curiosity.

Day before yesterday we had four dogfights. In the morning we attacked
five Huns. I paired off with a Fokker on my level and we manoeuvred for a
couple of minutes trying to get on each other's tail. I finally got
inside of him, put one hundred rounds into him and he went down out of
control. Another one was after me by that time and we had quite a scrap
but he made the fatal blunder of reversing his bank and I got on his tail
and pumped about two hundred rounds into him. I couldn't see what
happened to him as another one was coming down on me from above. This one
should have got me but he didn't. He had every advantage and one of my
guns jammed. I was down on the carpet by that time and had to come back
low for five miles with this Hun picking at me while I was trying to
clear the stoppage and do a little serious dodging.

Yesterday we did ground straffing down south. That's my idea of a rotten
way to pass the time. Orders came through after dinner and all night I
felt just like I did that night before the operation. I shivered and
sweated all night. I took off with four little twenty-pound bombs strung
under my fusilage; then we flew over about four miles across the lines at
three thousand feet. Nigger gave the signal when he saw what we were
after which was Hun transport and we split up and went down on the
carpet. All the machine-guns on the ground opened up and sprayed us with
tracer and a few field guns took a crack at us but we got through somehow
and dropped our messages with pretty good effect and shot up everything
we could see on the ground. I saw what looked like a battery and emptied
my guns into it and then chased home zigzagging furiously. As soon as we
got back, they told us to get ready to go out and do it again. So over we
went and this time I saw a road packed with gun limbers. I dropped my
bombs on them and then started raking the road with my guns. My bombs hit
right on the side of the road and everything scattered. Two planes were
shot up pretty badly and A flight lost a man. Don't know what happened to
him.

Then we did a high patrol with A flight. They got after a two-seater and
there were some Fokkers up above them that didn't see us on account of
the clouds. We went down after them and three of them pulled up to fight
us. Inglis and I took them on and the rest went on down. I got into a
regular duel with one of them and we fought down from eight thousand to
about fifteen hundred. He did a half roll and I did a stall turn above
him and dropped right on to his tail. I'd have got him if the other one
hadn't come on down after me. Then it was my turn to half roll and I was
careful to do a good one and not lose any altitude. He half rolled with
me a couple of times but the dogfight was working down and he decided to
postpone the engagement and dove for home.

Zellers and Dietz and Paskill have been killed.

August 14th

We have moved south for the battle of Amiens and have an airdrome at
Bertangles four miles from Amiens. 17 and 148 are down in this region
somewhere.

I heard that Walter Chalaire got shot in the leg on a D.H. 4.

August 17th

I'm not feeling very well to-day. I fought Huns all night in my sleep and
after two hours of real fighting to-day, I feel all washed out. Yesterday
produced the worst scrap that I have yet had the honour to indulge in. It
lasted about twenty minutes and the participants were nine little Fokkers
and myself. I say participants because each Hun fired at me at least once
and I fired at each one of them several times, collectively and
individually. We went down on a two-seater and I stuck with him and
fought him on down after the others pulled up. It was one of these new
Hannoveranners and he licked me properly. They just haven't got any blind
spot at all and the pilot was using his front gun on me I most of the
time. On my way back I spotted a flock of Fokkers about three thousand
feet above me. I didn't know what was going on, but it looked to me as if
the thing to do was to suck those Fokkers down on me and then there would
be plenty of our machines up above to come down on them and get some easy
picking. I knew I was a good way over but I thought sure there would be a
squadron of Dolphins about in addition to the S.E.'s, so I climbed for
all I was worth and waited for the Huns to see me and come down. Archie
put up a burst as a signal and I didn't have long to wait. I turned
towards the lines and two of them came down. I put my nose down and
waited for them to catch up. As soon as one of them opened fire I pulled
up in a long zoom and turned. One Hun overshot and I found myself level
with the other one. He half rolled and I did a skid turn and opened up on
him. He wasn't much of a pilot because I got about a hundred and fifty
rounds into him. He went into a dive. But that first lad was all that
could be expected. He got a burst in my right wing on his first crack and
now he was stalling up under me and the first thing I knew about it was
when I saw his tracer going by. I half rolled and sprayed a few rounds at
him and went on down out of it too. I was getting worried about where the
rest of the boys were and couldn't see any signs of an S.E. Three Huns
came down on me from above and played their new game. They try to fight
in threes. They have some prearranged method of attack by which one sits
on your tail while the other two take time about shooting from angles.
They were all three firing and all I could do was to stay in a tight bank
and pray. I thought I was gone. One of them pulled up and then came
straight down to finish me off. I turned towards him and forced him to
pull up to keep from overshooting. As soon as I saw his nose go by, I put
mine down for I saw it was time to think more about rescuing the decoy
than holding any bag for the rest of them. One Hun was on my tail in a
flash and we were both doing about two hundred and fifty. I turned around
to see what he was doing and as soon as his tracer showed up close, I
pulled straight up. He tried to pull up but overshot and went on by,
about fifty feet from me. I was close enough to see his goggles and note
all the details of his plane, which was black and white checked with a
white nose. I waved to him and I think he waved back, though I'm not
sure. I tried to turn my guns on him but he went up like an elevator and
tried to turn back to get on my tail. I put my nose down again and we
more or less repeated. The rest of his crew didn't seem to be in a
fighting mood and only picked at me from a distance so I got away. I had
to come back on the carpet and I shot up some infantry on the ground but
it was too hot for me and I zigzagged on home. I felt fine then but
before I got back I was shivering so I could hardly land. And I haven't
been feeling right since. My heart seems to be trying to stunt all the
time.

These present quarters aren't much and the food down here is terrible.
Bully beef, boiled potatoes and Brussels sprouts. I've never been able to
understand those people who go out into the woods with a tent and a
frying-pan and have such a wonderful time. And now that I am actually in
possession of a tent and a frying-pan, I understand that form of exercise
much less. Bring back, oh, bring back, my shower, and breakfast in bed!
True I can't really call this roughing it, with a valet to bring me hot
water when there is any water, and a good chef to cook for me when there
is anything to cook, and a bartender to shake up a drink when there is
anything to shake; but this is closer to nature than my table of
organization calls for. Don't bother about my liberty, give me a suite!

A general came over to see us the other day. I was down at the hangars
and he walked up unannounced and we started conversing. I didn't know who
he was as his insignia wasn't showing on his flying-suit and he spoke so
familiarly of various matters that I thought he was a captain and we had
quite a little argument about these new Hun planes. It turned out that he
was the general in London who fixed it up for us to come out with Bish.
These British great moguls are the finest in the world. They make Lord
Chesterfield appear like a truck driver for polish. He invited me over to
his chateau for dinner next week.

I hear Cheston has gone West. He was shot down in flames on D.H. 9's.

I was over, at a Nine squadron the other day and saw Clayton Knight. He
showed me some sketches he had made of planes and fights. They were very
good. That boy will be an artist some day if he lives through it.

August 19th

We got permission from the colonel to put on a joint decoy stunt with
Springs's flight. Cal and Springs worked out the details. The point of
the story was that the Hun was supposed to be surprised. Nigger led and
the five of us flew over to 148's drome and rendezvoused at five thousand
feet at five yesterday afternoon. We both climbed on the way to the lines
and they crossed at about thirteen thousand. We stayed back and climbed
up to seventeen thousand and had four planes from A flight up above us.
We stayed between Springs and the sun and kept about five miles from him
so that Huns wouldn't see us. He worked on over about twelve miles
getting some Archie. Then six Fokkers came up to see what was going on
and the Archie ceased. It looked like cold meat to the Huns but they
wanted to make sure of it and took their time. They came down to about a
thousand feet above Springs and he drove back towards us to get them in
proper position for a thorough slaughtering. Everything was working
beautifully and we were waiting for the Huns to start their dive. The
trap was all ready to be sprung when the Hun Archie opened up. They
didn't fire at us or at Springs but at the Huns. The Huns got the signal
and must have seen us as we started down for they put their noses down
and beat it back for all they were worth. We didn't get within two miles
of them.

But we'll pull our little stunt again and when we do, the slaughter will
be terrific.

I don't know which will get me first, a bullet or the nervous strain.
This decoy game is about the most dangerous thing in the world. I know
I'll never be able to shoot at a bird again. I know too well how they
must feel. I also sympathize with the nigger who dodges baseballs with
his head through a hole.

Cal is prostrated. His family passed one of his letters around and it got
in the papers. Needless to say he is going to write nothing more about
the war. I saw a letter from his father. It was a peach. He was trying to
cheer Cal up instead of making him gloomy with a lot of bum advice. I
should like to meet him some day. He certainly has a sense of humour. I
don't think he will take me off to one side and ask me if Cal took
anything to drink during the war. I imagine he will get on well with any
of Cal's friends.

We are going to form a new society--"The Society for the Extermination of
Amateur Aerial Authors," the purpose of which will be to protect the
public from a flood of bunk. "Sergeant Pilot Wright" is to be our first
Honorary Member. With each fresh paper from home we get a list of new
victims. One writer who signs himself the "Terror of the Huns" writes in
his article that he opened fire "violently." Wonder he didn't break the
trigger! He's proud because he got his Hun right over his own airdrome.
Lord, I wish I could catch one within five miles of the lines much less
across it. We have to go over to their airdromes after them.

Which reminds me that this volume is getting to be quite a book. I've
written three whole books full of it. I am a bit worried about what to do
with it. I guess some one will take care of it if anything happens to me.
Springs asked me to leave it to him, but he's on Camels and it wouldn't
be safe with him. Cal will look after it as long as he is here. It will
never do to let the people at home find out the truth about this war.
They've been fed on bunk until they'd never believe anything that didn't
sound like a monk's story of the Crusades.

Every time I get a paper from home I either break into a loud laugh or
get mad. I'm as bad as Springs. I see where all the patriotic women are
studying public speaking and bird life. I can't see the why of either.

The Women's Committee of the Council of National Defence is certainly
taking a step in the right direction. They have issued special rules
about Service Stars regulating how people may proclaim to the world at
large that a member of their family is a hero. A man is killed in
action--certainly somebody ought to be able to swank about and get his
glory! But I don't think they go far enough. Why not benefit the living
as well as swank for the dead? Why not help out those that live through
it? Let the bona fide wives of dead heroes wear a gold star with an
edging of mourning. Let the war brides of lucky cannon fodder wear two
gold stars and mourning. Let the would-be wives of eager and successful
belligerents wear a single plain gold star and black stockings. Let the
anxious and unsuccessful ones wear a gold star and coloured stockings.
Thus every woman could swank, mourn, and advertise all at the same time,
and the itinerant doughboy would be saved much curiosity and vain labour.

Yes, the Women's Committee is certainly on the job when it comes to
winning the war. The American attitude towards soldiers is without
parallel or equal and beyond the imaginative concept of even Jules Verne.
Every day I hear something new which makes me glad I am in France.

If it were the lower classes who indulged in the rotten, cheap, maudlin
sentimentality that even the French peasants scorn, I could understand
it. But no, in America our best people have proved the contention of
democracy that all are equal by showing how poor democracy's best are,
and stooping to a level that aristocracy's servants scorn. Of course,
American people are proud that their men are fighting for what they think
is right, but at the same time they must go about proclaiming it to the
world, taking credit for it, boasting of it, advertising it and
endeavouring to transfer the pride in the soldier to selfish egotism.
Will American families wear the decorations, wound stripes and service
chevrons of their beloved ones also? Why not?

One thing I will say: America's attitude has turned out a fine army of
fighters. When they go into battle they fight to the finish because the
people at home have shown them just how valuable life is. A British staff
colonel told me in Boulogne that the division of U.S. troops that have
been with them was the finest body of fighting men that he'd ever seen.
He was very flattering but he didn't think much of their higher officers.
He said they'd all be killed if they were turned loose with American
staff work.

The French are willing to let us have their share of the war cheap. They
admit cheerfully that we saved Paris and they are perfectly confident
that we are going to win the war without any further argument. We get
great news from the South, I hope it's all true. But everybody thought
the Cambrai show last Fall was the beginning of the end. Then the Huns
turned around and chased us back the whole way and absolutely wiped out
the cavalry.

My eyes are so sore that it's getting hard to write. You can't wear
goggles when you are out hunting and the wind blows your eyelids when you
sideslip or skid. And our ears are ruined forever. The sudden changes of
altitude play hell with them. Going up in an elevator a few hundred feet
used to affect mine. Now I dive five thousand at a crack and they ache
all night.

August 20th

We're doing ground straffing and go out in pairs or alone and make three
or four trips a day.

I was out yesterday afternoon and had a busy hour. And I got a chance to
see a battle from a grandstand seat. There were heavy clouds at two
thousand so I crossed over under them and looked for a target. As I
crossed the lines I saw about forty white puffs of smoke in a line, about
twenty feet apart. That was a barrage and as the puffs would die away,
more would take their places. Nothing could be seen on the ground at all.
Farther over was a village and high explosive shells were rapidly
obliterating it. I would see several buildings rise about twenty feet in
a mass, then disintegrate, muck fly about, and then as it settled, I
would hear a dull thud and my machine would wabble from the concussion.
Two miles farther I saw some Hun artillery on a road and went down on the
carpet. I dropped my bombs and then saw some troops just off the road and
put about five hundred rounds into them. Machine-gun fire from the ground
was pretty hot and then I heard a crack, crack, crack, pitched in a
higher key. I looked around and coming down out of the clouds were five
Fokkers. Two of them were firing and I could see their tracer coming
towards me. I twisted and turned and tried to work back. I was right on
the carpet and over a little ruined village. I kept zigzagging and
eventually reached a point that I knew was occupied by our troops. Then I
drew the first breath in three minutes. Shells were bursting
everywhere--shrapnel in the open spaces with its white puffs and high
explosive with its cloud of dust and debris on the trench parapets. Here
and there were tanks, some belching lead and some a mass of flames or a
misshapen wreck, hit by field guns. I was down right on the ground but
saw very few dead bodies but any number of dead horses. The ground was
all pockmarked and what little vegetation remained was a light straw in
colour from the gas. Farther down I saw the Huns using gas, a thin layer
of brownish green stuff was drifting slowly along the ground from a
trench about three hundred yards long. But no men were to be seen
anywhere. Only dead horses and tanks.

The Fokkers were hovering about in the clouds waiting on me to come back
or for some other cold meat. I looked my plane over carefully and
couldn't see any holes so started back. I was right over our reserve
lines and our artillery was banging away and the concussion was making me
bob about so I was nearly seasick. I got an idea. The Huns were up in the
clouds. Why not beat them at their own game? So I climbed up into the
clouds and headed towards where I thought they would be. The clouds were
intermittent so I had to climb up to nine thousand before I got high
enough to see any distance. I saw my Huns, seven of them now, and worked
into position between them and the sun. They went into a cloud and I lost
them. Then I got myself lost. I found out where I was and found my Huns
again, four of them this time. But before I could get into position I
lost them in the clouds.

I went down through a gap and deposited the rest of my ammunition in the
Hun trenches and along the roads and went on a personally conducted tour
of the battlefield. I saw everything--advanced trenches, reserve
trenches, tanks, reserve tanks, armoured cars, artillery in action,
support going up, demolished towns, cuts that once were railroad beds,
thousands of yards of barbed wire--in fact the whole rotten business.

The British seem to be going after the control of the air. So far neither
side has ever had the control of the air. First one side and then the
other has had the supremacy of the air depending on superiority of planes
and pilots but neither side has ever been able to do its air work
unmolested or keep the other side from doing theirs. Both sides have
accomplished certain things and had to fight constantly to do it. But the
British seem to be planning to drive the Huns out of the air by carrying
the aerial warfare back to their airdromes. I understand that the Huns
have a decided supremacy over the French and Americans. I'd like to get
down on the American Front with a British squadron and get some cold
meat. I'm tired of having to go so far over. Makes the odds too high
against you.

If I was running the war the first thing I would do would be to get
control of the air no matter what it cost. That's what's saved England
all these centuries--control of the seas. And her fleet is big enough to
keep control without fighting. The Air Force would do the same thing.

August 21st

More rumours of more battles. We were in the Folkestone in Boulogne and
Henry told us that there is going to be a big push shortly. Push? What's
a push to us? That's for the Poor Bloody Infantry to worry over. We push
twice a day, seven days in the week. We go over the top between each
meal. Oh, yes, the flying corps is the safe place for little Willy--that
is as long as he doesn't have to go near the front!

Nigger and I flew up for tea with Springs. He was not too good. He and
Bim have had tombstones made for themselves. They are hollow and if they
go down on the Hun side, they are to be filled with high explosive and
dropped over, if they are killed on this side, they are to be filled with
cognac so it will leak on them.

Mac is back with a new version of the widow of Malta.

Hilary Rex has been killed. He was in a fight with a Fokker and his
machine was disabled and he had to land. He landed all right and got out
of his plane. The Hun dove on him and shot him as he was standing by his
plane.

Armstrong is in the hospital with an explosive bullet in his back.

August 23rd

The colonel has decided that we are to pull a daylight raid on a Hun
airdrome. That's a good idea! The 5th group pulled one off up at
Varssenaere but there are not so many Fokkers up there. We'd never get
away with it down here. That was a fine show up North though. One of the
American Camel squadrons, the 17th, did the dirty work and went down on
the carpet. Here's the official report I got out of "Comic Cuts":

"A raid was carried out by No. 17 American Squadron on Varssenaere
Aerodrome, in conjunction with Squadrons of the 5th Group. After the
first two Squadrons had dropped their bombs from a low height, machines
of No. 17 American Squadron dived to within 200 feet of the ground and
released their bombs, then proceeded to shoot at hangars and huts on the
aerodrome, and a chateau on the N.E. corner of the aerodrome was also
attacked with machine-gun fire. The following damage was observed to be
caused by this combined operation: a dump of petrol and oil was set on
fire, which appeared to set fire to an ammunition dump; six Fokker
biplanes were set on fire on the ground, and two destroyed by direct hits
from bombs; one large Gotha hangar was set on fire and another half
demolished; a living hut was set on fire and several hangars were seen to
be smouldering as the result of phosphorus bombs having fallen on them.
In spite of most of the machines taking part being hit at one time or
another, all returned safely, favourable ground targets being attacked on
the way home."

August 25th

Cal was missing all day and gave me an awful sinking spell. It just made
me sick at my stomach to think of him gone. He came back late in the
afternoon with a beautiful package. He had a spar in his bottom wing shot
through in a dogfight and it broke in two and he sideslipped back and
landed in the support trenches. He wiped off the undercarriage but didn't
hurt himself. He spent the day with an Archie battery. It was a Naval
outfit and so had plenty of issue rum. The British Navy seems to do
everything but get wet. Cal spent the day swilling rum with the C.O. They
let him fire the guns occasionally and he saw a couple of fights through
the glasses and brought back a couple of shells to be made into cocktail
shakers. He says that the Archie gunners don't expect to hit anything,
they just fire for the moral effect.

August 27th

Many things have happened. I hear that Bobby got shot down up at Dunkirk
and is no more. Tommy Herbert has been shot in the rear with a phosphorus
bullet. Leach has been shot through the shoulder and isn't expected to
pull through. Explosive bullet. Read is dead and so is Molly Shaw.

Alex Mathews is dead. He was walking across the airdrome after a movie
show over at 48 and a Hun bomber saw the light when the door was opened
and dropped a two hundred and twelve pound bomb on him. They dropped
about thirty bombs on the airdrome and killed about forty of 48's men and
set fire to the hangars. They broke all the bottles in our bar. Cal and
Nigger and I were farther ahead and threw ourselves into a ditch. Nothing
hit us but we sure were uncomfortable. The night-flying Camels brought
down one of the Huns, it had five engines and a crew of six men. It came
down in flames and lit up the whole place.

Barksdale got shot down in an S.E. and landed in German territory but set
fire to his plane and got in a shell-hole and covered himself up with
dirt. The next morning the British attacked and took that sector.
Barksclale said the Scotsman who pulled him out couldn't speak English
any better than the Germans and he thought he was a prisoner at first.

One of our noblest he-men, a regular fire-eater to hear him tell it, has
turned yellow at the front. He was quite an athlete and always admitted
he was very hot stuff. He was ordered up on a bomb raid and refused to
go. The British sent him back to American Headquarters with the
recommendation that he be court-martialed for cowardice. He would have
been too, if his brother hadn't have been high up on the A.E.F. staff. He
pulled some bluff about the machines being unsafe and they finally sent
him home as an instructor and promoted him. He may strut around back home
but I'll bet he never can look a real man in the eye again.

Springs had a wheel shot off in the air last week. Ralston came back and
took up a wheel to show him and everybody ran about the airdrome firing
Very pistols and holding up wheels for him to see. He understood and
sideslipped down all right without killing himself. He said he saw a
Dolphin pilot kill himself several weeks ago landing with a wheel gone.
The Dolphin pilot didn't know it was off and the plane turned over on
him.

Bonnalie was never considered much of a pilot. He was an aeroplane
designer before he enlisted and knew a lot of theory but he took a long
time to learn to fly and no one thought he would ever be much good. He
put on one of the best shows on record and has been decorated with the
D.S.O. His citation appeared in The Gazette. Here it is: "On the 13th of
August, this officer led two other machines on a long photographic
reconnaissance. Bonnalie, in spite of the presence of numerous enemy
aircraft, succeeded in taking all the required photographs and was
returning to our lines; they were intercepted by six Fokker biplanes
which dived to the attack. In the ensuing combat Lieut. Bonnalie
perceived one of our planes making its way to the lines with an Enemy
Aircraft on its tail. This officer at once broke off combat with the
remaining E.A. and dived to the assistance of the machine in trouble. He
drove off the E.A. regardless of the bullets which were ripping up his
own machine from attacking E.A. Eventually half of Lieut. Bonnalie's tail
plane was shot away and the elevator wire shot through and the machine
began to fall out of control in stalling sideslips. Lieut. Bonnalie
managed to keep the machine facing towards our lines by means of the
rudder control while the observer and the third machine drove off the
E.A. which were attacking. Eventually with the aid of his observer who,
as the machine was tail heavy, left his cockpit and lay along the cowling
in front of the pilot, Lieut. Bonnalie recrossed the trenches at a low
altitude and managed to right the machine sufficiently to avoid a fatal
crash. The machine crashed within four miles of the lines. Lieut.
Bonnalie's machine was riddled with bullets."

Now that's what I call a good show. Who would have thought it?

There's an R.F.C. officer over at 20 Squadron on Bristols, from New York,
named Paul laccaci, who has the D.F.C. and is quite a pilot.

17 and 148 have been having a hard time. 17 has lost Campbell, Hamilton,
Glenn, Spidle, Gracie, Case, Shearman, Shoemaker, Roberts, Bittinger,
Jackson, Todd, Wise, Thomas, Frost, Wicks, Tillinghast and a couple of
others. Hamilton and Tipton were the two best Camel pilots we had. And
they have about six others in the hospital too. Wicks and Shoemaker
collided in a fight.

148 has lost Curtis, Forster, Siebald, Frobisher, Mandell, Kenyon and
Jenkinson; and Dorsey and Wiley and Zistell are in the hospital.
Jenkinson, Forster and Siebald went down in flames. Frobisher was shot
through the stomach and died later.

Of course that's not a bad showing when you consider that they have shot
down a lot of Huns and done a lot of ground straffing and have been
flying Camels which were all the British could spare them. The British
have washed out the Camels and are refitting their own squadrons with
Snipes. A Camel can't fight a Fokker and the British know it.

But we've lost a lot of good men. It's only a question of time until we
all get it. I'm all shot to pieces. I only hope I can stick it. I don't
want to quit. My nerves are all gone and I can't stop. I've lived beyond
my time already.

It's not the fear of death that's done it. I'm still not afraid to die.
It's this eternal flinching from it that's doing it and has made a coward
out of me. Few men live to know what real fear is. It's something that
grows on you, day by day, that eats into your constitution and undermines
your sanity. I have never been serious about anything in my life and now
I know that I'll never be otherwise again. But my seriousness will be a
burlesque for no one will recognize it. Here I am, twenty-four years old,
I look forty and I feel ninety. I've lost all interest in life beyond the
next patrol. No one Hun will ever get me and I'll never fall into a trap,
but sooner or later I'll be forced to fight against odds that are too
long or perhaps a stray shot from the ground will be lucky and I will
have gone in vain. Or my motor will cut out when we are trench straffing
or a wing will pull off in a dive. Oh, for a parachute! The Huns are
using them now. I haven't a chance, I know, and it's this eternal waiting
around that's killing me. I've even lost my taste for liquor. It doesn't
seem to do me any good now. I guess I'm stale. Last week I actually got
frightened in the air and lost my head. Then I found ten Huns and took
them all on and I got one of them down out of control. I got my nerve
back by that time and came back home and slept like a baby for the first
time in two months. What a blessing sleep is! I know now why men go out
and take such long chances and pull off such wild stunts. No discipline
in the world could make them do what they do of their own accord. I know
now what a brave man is. I know now how men laugh at death and welcome
it. I know now why Ball went over and sat above a Hun airdrome and dared
them to come up and fight with him. It takes a brave man to even
experience real fear. A coward couldn't last long enough at the job to
get to that stage. What price salvation now?

No date

War is a horrible thing, a grotesque comedy. And it is so useless. This
war won't prove anything. All we'll do when we win is to substitute one
sort of Dictator for another. In the meantime we have destroyed our best
resources. Human life, the most precious thing in the world, has become
the cheapest. After we've won this war by drowning the Hun in our own
blood, in five years' time the sentimental fools at home will be taking
up a collection for these same Huns that are killing us now and our fool
politicians will be cooking up another good war. Why shouldn't they? They
have to keep the public stirred up to keep their jobs and they don't have
to fight and they can get soft berths for their sons and their friends'
sons. To me the most contemptible cur in the world is the man who lets
political influence be used to keep him away from the front. For he lets
another man die in his place.

The worst thing about this war is that it takes the best. If it lasts
long enough the world will be populated by cowards and weaklings and
their children. And the whole thing is so useless, so unnecessary, so
terrible! Even those that live through it will never be fit for anything
else. Look at what the Civil War did for the South. It wasn't the defeat
that wrecked us. It was the loss of half our manhood and the
demoralization of the other half. After the war the survivors scattered
to the four corners of the earth; they roamed the West; they fought the
battles of foreign nations; they became freebooters, politicians,
prospectors, gamblers, and those who got over it, good citizens. My
great-uncle was a captain in the Confederate Army and served throughout
the war. He became a banker, a merchant, a farmer and a good citizen, but
he was always a little different from other men and now I know where the
difference lay. At the age of seventy he hadn't got over those four years
of misery and spiritual damnation. My father used to explain to me that
he wasn't himself. But he was himself, that was just the trouble with
him. The rest were just out of step. My father used to always warn me
about liquor by telling me that uncle learned to drink in the army and it
finally killed him. I always used to think myself that as long as it took
forty years to do it, he shouldn't speak disrespectfully of uncle's
little weakness. And as the old gentleman picked up stomach trouble from
bad food in the campaign of '62, I always had a hunch that perhaps the
liquor had an unfair advantage of him.

The devastation of the country is too horrible to describe. It looks from
the air as if the gods had made a gigantic steam roller, forty miles wide
and run it from the coast to Switzerland, leaving its spike holes behind
as it went.

I'm sick. At night when the colonel calls up to give us our orders, my
ears are afire until I hear what we are to do the next morning. Then I
can't sleep for thinking about it all night. And while I'm waiting around
all day for the afternoon patrol, I think I am going crazy. I keep
watching the clock and figuring how long I have to live. Then I go out to
test out my engine and guns and walk around and have a drink and try to
write a little and try not to think. And I move my arms and legs around
and think that perhaps to-morrow I won't be able to. Sometimes I think I
am getting the same disease that Springs has when I get sick at my
stomach. He always flies with a bottle of milk of magnesia in one pocket
and a flask of gin in the other. If one doesn't help him he tries the
other. It gives me a dizzy feeling every time I hear of the men that are
gone. And they have gone so fast I can't keep track of them; every time
two pilots meet it is only to swap news of who's killed. When a person
takes sick, lingers in bed a few days, dies and is buried on the third
day, it all seems regular and they pass on into the great beyond in an
orderly manner and you accept their departure as an accomplished fact.
But when you lunch with a man, talk to him, see him go out and get in his
plane in the prime of his youth and the next day some one tells you that
he is dead--it just doesn't sink in and you can't believe it. And the
oftener it happens the harder it is to believe. I've lost over a hundred
friends, so they tell me--I've seen only seven or eight killed--but to me
they aren't dead yet. They are just around the corner, I think, and I'm
still expecting to run into them any time. I dream about them at night
when I do sleep a little and sometimes I dream that some one is killed
who really isn't. Then I don't know who is and who isn't. I saw a man in
Boulogne the other day that I had dreamed I saw killed and I thought I
was seeing a ghost. I can't realize that any of them are gone. Surely
human life is not a candle to be snuffed out. The English have all turned
spiritualistic since the war. I used to think that was sort of far
fetched but now it's hard for me to believe that a man ever becomes even
a ghost. I have sort of a feeling that he stays just as he is and simply
jumps behind a cloud or steps through a mirror.

Springs keeps talking about Purgatory and Hades and the Elysian Fields.
Well, we sure are close to something.

When I go out to get in my plane my feet are like lead--I am just barely
able to drag them after me. But as soon as I take off I am all right
again. That is, I feel all right, though I know I am too reckless. Last
week I actually tried to ram a Hun. I was in a tight place and it was the
only thing I could do. He didn't have the nerve to stand the gaff and
turned and I got him. I poured both guns into him with fiendish glee and
stuck to him though three of them were on my tail. I laughed at them. I
ran into an old Harry Tate over the lines the other day where he had no
business to be. He waved to me and I waved back to him and we went after
a balloon. Imagine it! An R.E. 8 out balloon straffing! I was glad to
find some one else as crazy as I was. And yet if I had received orders to
do it the night before, I wouldn't have slept a wink and would have
chewed up a good pair of boots or got drunk. We didn't get the
balloon--they pulled it down before we got to it, but it was a lot of
fun. That lad deserves the V.C. And he got all the Archie in the world on
the way back. So did I, for I stayed with him. He had a high speed of
about eighty and was a sitting shot for a good gunner but I don't think
he got hit. I didn't.

I only hope I can stick it out and not turn yellow. I've heard of men
landing in Germany when they didn't have to. They'd be better off dead
because they've got to live with themselves the rest of their lives. I
wouldn't mind being shot down; I've got no taste for glory and I'm no
more good, but I've got to keep on until I can quit honourably. All I'm
fighting for now is my own self-respect.

17 and 148 seem to get a lot of Huns these days. That's one thing about a
Camel; you've got to shoot down all the Huns to get home yourself.
There's not a chance to run for it. Clay, Springs and Vaughn are all
piling up big scores. But their scores won't be anything to those piled
up on the American and French fronts. Down there if six of them jump on
one Hun and get him, all six of them get credit for one Hun apiece. On
the British front each one of them would get credit for one-sixth of a
Hun. Of course, what happens up here is that the man who was nearest him
and did most of the shooting gets credit for one Hun and the others
withdraw their claims. Either that or the C.O. decides who should get
credit for it and tears up the other combat reports.

Cal has five or six now and I've got four to my credit.

Springs and Clay have been decorated by the King with the D.F.C. Hamilton
and Campbell got it posthumously and Kindley and Vaughn have been put in
for it. Cal is going to get it too. Springs tells me that Clay is the
finest patrol leader at the front. He's certainly got away with some good
work from all reports. And on Clerget Camels too! These boys are lucky if
they just get back.

I heard unofficially that Clay and Springs are going to get squadrons of
their own and that Cal and I are to take their flights. Not if we can he
it! Tubby Ralston is down there in Springs's flight now and he reports
hell on roller skates.

I hear that Tipton and Curtis and Tillinghast are prisoners. I'm glad
they aren't done in for good.

Clay and Springs got separated from their men after a dogfight the other
day and decided they'd have a look at Hunland by themselves. They found a
formation of ten Hannoveranners and jumped on them. These Hannoveranners
have been licking us all so regularly that they wanted to make sure of
getting one so they both leapt on the rear plane to make sure of it and
one took him from above and the other from below. The rest of them mixed
in and they had trouble getting out of it. They kidded each other all day
about what rotten shots they were and that afternoon Rainor of 56 flew
over to tell them that he was down below and saw their Hannoveranner
crash. They thought he was kidding them at first but he gave them the
pinpoints and they flew over there again and sure enough there was the
crash. Our infantry pushed the next day and they went up in a tender and
got up to the crash. They were stripping it when the Hun artillery opened
up on them and all they brought back was the black crosses off the
fusilage and the machineguns. The pilot's seat looked like a sieve where
Clay had got a burst in from below and the cowling was full of holes from
above where Springs was decorating the observer. That's some shooting.
They said the way the plane hit it looked like one of them must have
still been alive as it wasn't smashed up badly. It had one of the new
Opal motors in it. That's the hardest plane to fight on the front.

Everybody in 17 and 148 are still 1st. lieutenants. Yet all the regulars
and politicians' sons stay at home and get their promotions
automatically.

I heard that Ed Cronin was killed on D.H. 4's down South. He was sent out
late in the afternoon and had to land in the dark when he came back and
cracked up. Jake Stanley was shot down on Bristols and is in a German
hospital. Anderson, Roberts, Fred Shoemaker, Wells, Leyson and Bill
Mooney are all missing. Touchstone is a prisoner of war and wounded and
so is Clayton Knight with a bullet in his leg. Knight got into a fight
with a bunch of Fokkers and they shot his machine all to pieces. He was
flying a D.H. 9 and his observer was wounded early in the fight so all he
had was his front gun. They thought he went down in flames but got a
postcard from him later that he was alive. Frank Sidler has been killed,
and so has Ritter and Perkins and Suiter and Tommy Evans and Earl Adams.

I saw Springs the other day in Boulogne. He said his girl at home sent
him a pair of these Ninette and Rintintin luck charms. Since then he's
lost five men, been shot down twice himself, lost all his money at
blackjack and only got one Hun. He says he judges from that that she is
unfaithful to him. So he has discarded them and says he is looking for a
new charm and that the best one is a garter taken from the left leg of a
virgin in the dark of the moon. I know they are lucky but I'd be afraid
to risk one. Something might happen to her and then you'd be killed sure.
A stocking to tie over my nose and a Columbian half dollar and that last
sixpence and a piece of my first crash seem to take care of me all right,
though I am not superstitious.

EDITOR'S NOTE

Here the diary ends due to the death of its author in aerial combat. He
was shot down by a German plane twenty miles behind the German lines. He
was given a decent burial by the Germans and his grave was later found by
the Red Cross.



THE END



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