Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 13

April 28th

Cal got a cable from his grandmother today 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 few 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 … Read the rest

Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 12

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. Fours. The … Read the rest

Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 11

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 everyone 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, tho it tasted harmless enough. It had benedictine, cognac, champagne, vermouth and pineapple juice. They called it “The Queen’s Favor”.

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 overeating and under drinking.

George Vaughn cracked up an S. E. in splendid style. The engine conked with him over the town … Read the rest

Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 10

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 … Read the rest

Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 9

February 12th

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

This Lieut is a prime ass net. It was raining this morning and no one got up to answer his roll call. 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 thru 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 … Read the rest

Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 8

January 20th

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 … Read the rest

Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 7

January 3rd

There’s a U. S. Lieut 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 … Read the rest

Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 6

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!

Today 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 today 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 … Read the rest

Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 5

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 today and they seem to have travelled a little bit further than the others. Poor old Fat Payden hasn’t gotten 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. Everyone 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 … Read the rest

Diary of an Unknown Aviator – Part 4

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 … Read the rest