Bishop…from Billy Bishop Goes to War
Modern – Men
By John Grey (Talonbooks: pp.61-63)
BISHOP: March 25, 1917. Four Nieuport scouts in diamond formation climb to nine thousand feet crossing the line somewhere between Arras and St. Leger. Our patrol is to crisscross the lines noting Heinie’s positions and troop movements. [The sound of an airplane engine is heard.] RRrrr. I’m the last man in that patrol, tough place to be because if you fall too far behind the headhunters are waiting for you. It starts out cloudy then suddenly clears up. We fly for half an hour and don’t see anything, just miles and miles of nothing. RRrrr. Suddenly, I see four specks above and behind us. A perfect place for an enemy attack. I watch as the specks get larger. I can make out the black crosses on them. Huns! It’s hard to believe that they are real, alive and hostile. I want to circle around and have a better look at them. Albatross “V” strutters, beautiful, with their swept back wings, powerful and quick. RRrrr. We keep on flying straight. Jack Scott, our leader, hasn’t seen them or he wants them to think he hasn’t seen them. They are getting closer and closer. We keep on flying straight. They are two hundred yards behind us, getting closer and closer. Suddenly, RRrrr! Jack Scott opens out into a sharp climbing turn to get above and behind them. The rest of us follow. RRrrr! RRrrr! RRrrr! I’m slower than the rest and come out about forty yards behind. In front of me a dogfight is happening, right in front of my very eyes. Real pandemonium, planes turning every which way. RRrrr! Machine gun fire. Suddenly, Jack Scott sweeps below me with an Albatross on his tail, raking his fuselage and wingtips with gunfire! For a moment I’m just frozen there, not knowing what to do, my whole body just shaking! Then I throw the stick forward and dive on the Hun. I keep him in my Aldis sight ’til he completely fills the lens. AKAKAkak! What a feeling as he flips over on his back and falls out of control! But wait, wait….Grid Caldwell warned me about this. He’s not out of control, he’s faking it. He’s going to level out at two thousand feet and escape. Bastard! I dive after him with my engine full on. Sure enough when he comes out of it I’m right there. AKAKAkak! Again my tracers smash into his machine. Gawd, I’ve got to be hitting him! He flips over on his back and is gone again. This time I stay right with him. EEEeeeeeee! The wires on my machine howl in protest. Nieuports have had their wings come off at 150 miles per hour. I must be doing 180. I just don’t give a shit! I keep firing into the tumbling Hun. AKAKaka! He crashes into the earth and explodes in flames. BAA-WHOOSH! I pull back on the stick, level out, screaming at the top of my lungs, I win, I WIN, I WIN!