No.4 Squadron R. F. C.
B. E. F. France
This is a beautifully bright day and there is lots of activity about. Back here everything looks glorious. The trees are in full leaf now, and the crops, in a few isolated cases, are ready for cutting. But for the most part they are still green, and with few exceptions quite plentiful. We have had some rain past week, so everything points to a good harvest, which I should think the people over here would be glad of.
Yesterday was quite cold, such a change from the past two or three weeks. I had a 3 hour job, which finished about 7:30 p.m. and when I got down I was nearly perished. Of course it was my own fault, as I did not wrap up at all, not realizing what a difference there is in the higher altitudes near the sea. In spite of the rain and days off last week, I have had quite a successful week of it. Last Monday I went up for an artillery shoot. I could not see very well, as clouds were low, so I went over to have a look at my target. I wasn't far over at all, just 3 or 4 miles, but just as I was ready to observe, my observer touched me on the shoulder and shouted Huns. I looked up and saw 6 of them making for us out of the clouds. I should have beat it immediately but thought I could wait for the burst. Anyway they didn't take long to come up and soon they were right on my tail. Then the leader dived & when he was 200 feet away fired off his rounds from machine gun. Then they all dived in succession. Of course by this time I was well away. But one of the first shots cut one of my flying wires, and it came back and hit me on the arm. I got my machine down to 120 miles per hour, but they were doing 175 easily. They simply poured the lead into the machine, and although the scrap only lasted 1/2 of a minute it seemed like 1/2 of an hour. My observer fired on them all the time too. I had to do all kinds of twists and turns, as they were in front, behind, and all around me. However I got away from them and a bunch of our fighters came up and chased them away. I went back to finish the job, but my engine was shot thru so I had to return. When I got down I was quite surprised. My machine was so badly riddled that it had to have three new planes, out of four, new centre section, new propeller, undercarriage, wheel, several holes thru the engine, and some odd wires. It was just finished yesterday, so that now I have practically a new machine. And it flies better than ever. That same afternoon I had to go up again 3 times, land finally ended up at 9:45 p.m. and had to get dinner after that. So you see when we work we do work. That same day I had two other crashes, but they were small ones. One was a bad engine which let me down in middle of a wheat field, near the aerodrome, but the ground was so rough that I had to bend an axle. The other was that in landing, it was so dark that I hit a small mole hill or something and did in another undercarriage. But they are not considered anything. But the best part of it all is, and I almost forgot to tell you, the fighters came over next day and said that we, my observer and myself, had, brought down one of the Huns. We shot one of his planes off and he dived to earth, out of control, and crashed. So we are both very happy as they certainly had the odds 6 to I and also the speed. I never got a scratch at all, by the way.
We had a church service on Friday in one of the huts. It is the first since I came out so quite a lot of us attended. I enjoyed it very much. Not a long sermon, but just a short one, the kind I like. The whole thing was just about an hour, which is quite enough if properly conducted.
We have quite a hard front now and if the hard work continues I believe I shall be ready for leave by August. Of course I am quite O.K. yet, but judging from the others around me, I don't suppose I shall be any exception.
If I can manage it this time I shall go over to Ireland for two or three days. I think the little sea trip will be nice, and I should like to see Dublin, even if it is all upset. But I am not at all sure that I can work it.
Have not heard from Alf for about a month. I expect I shall hear very shortly now. He seems to be alright. Must close now. I am feeling very fit, never better, and am enjoying my work immensely.
Lots of love for Mother, Emily and self and kind regards for Miss Smith.