|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||World War 1|
The position of a pilot during World War 1 was regarded as prestigious and significant in the war; however, pilots faced a higher risk of death than other fighters (Wyatt). This was mainly due to the technology of the planes which was at the infancy level posing the threat of crashes as well as attacks from enemy soldiers (Bergs). This paper will highlight the entries in a diary of a fighter pilot in French Lafayette Escadrille. During world war1, letter writing was the primary form of communication (United Kingdom Government). The essay will write a letter to a pilot's family explaining his death in combat.
The first day at the field was relatively calm. There were no major activities, but we kept assessing our crafts for any problems. As a pilot who understands the mechanical aspects of the aircraft, I spent the first week assisting the other pilots to check all the planes and ensure they are in good condition for combats. I commanded some soldier to patrol the area to avoid any ambush from the enemies. During this week, I repaired the engine of my Nieuport 11 aircraft assigned to me. I was keen to check the rotary engines to ensure they rotated properly without any signs of any mechanical problem. I informed the pilots about the importance of having a properly working plane since it will determine our success. The Vickers machine guns attached to the aircraft were also checked and tested. The machines are mounted on the top wing and should precisely fire over the propeller (Rickard). Any mistakes will lead to damage of the propeller leading to an instant crash. All the machine guns were working efficiently and ready for combat.
We spotted a surveillance balloon from the enemy camp. Balloons carry an added advantage and are used to locate potential targets (Arbuckle). The balloon created panic in the camp, but we managed to bring it down using our aircrafts. The enemy surrendered and was captured. This was a significant achievement since he was used to provide information on their plans. After the incident, everyone stayed alert, and we knew the enemy was not very far. Together with other captains, we decided to pursue the enemy and flush them out of their hiding. Efforts were made to secure our base. We dug some trenches for the cover-up. We also dug some communication trenches and planned to attack the enemy the following day. Luck was not on our side as it heavily rained. We were worried that the weather might not be conducive for attacks. The trenches were also full of water, and communication trenches become rushing streams of brown-colored water. Despite the challenges, all the soldiers were in high spirit.
After interrogating the captured soldier, we were able to get information on the location of the enemies' ammunition depot and planned for a booming. We arranged to send two bombers who were to use two Nieuport 17, while two Nieuport 11 planes were to escort the bombers. These are one of the best aircrafts for aerial attacks (Rickard). As we approached the depot, the bombers are ambushed by the enemies, and the two were killed. The third plane made an emergency landing, but the enemies followed and shot him dead. I tried to fight the enemy, but my machine gun jammed leaving me vulnerable. I made a tactical retreat back to our base. For the first time, I felt terrified while fly since I was not sure whether my plane will make it back safely after being sprayed with bullets. I could hear the sound of machine guns firing towards my aircraft. The enemy aircrafts were about 2000 yards behind mine. At the base, sorrow mood was in the air as we mourned the loss of our colleagues. Nevertheless, we were to stay focused if we had to defeat the enemy. We immediately started planning for a new and more organized attack. We agreed we should take more planes and more weapons.
We faced the challenge of unity in our camps and assigning duties became a more difficult task. Most of the members were American volunteers in the war. All the soldiers killed in the previous ambush were Americans. Most of the soldiers under my command were America. There was a need for wisdom in planning the next move without making anyone feel as the target of the war within the camp. Luckily, French soldiers decided to lead the next combat backed by the American volunteers.
As we woke and started planning our day's activities an enemy soldier had managed to enter our camp with the aim of destroying our aircrafts, but when discovered, he began to strafe our trenches with high explosives, shrapnel as well other obnoxious gadgets. One shell claimed the lives of two non-commissioned officers. It was a pitiful sight, but the attacks did not stop us from continue planning our attacks on the enemy base and this time we were going for the victory. We planned for a major attack and took eight planes towards the enemy base. I led the combat while other captains followed. All the aircrafts were well equipped with spare weapons in case some jammed. Other forms of firearms including rifles such as label 1986 and Mauser Gewehr 1898 were also involved. Mle 1892 Revolver handgun also formed part of the weapons. The reason for these weapons was to cater for fights that might result after an emergency landing (Canadian war museum). It was agreed that it is better to make an emergency landing and fight at the ground rather than crash with the aircraft. As we approached the enemy base, we dropped bombs from the aerial point. After the bombs, attack using machine guns followed. This meant that we had to lower our crafts to get better aim at the enemies. This also exposed us to attacks as the enemies started shooting at us. The whole area was filled with fire and smoking making aerial visibility a challenge. During the combat, one of aircraft was shot making it explode leading to the death of one of our pilots. This combat was labeled as successful. Apart from the one pilot, no one else from our camp lost his life.
Letter to Pilot's Family Describing his Death in Combat
By his majesty command, I regret to inform you that your son died during combat. We tried everything we could do to save him, but we were not successful. Your son was courageous and died honorable death fighting for our country. He was bombing enemy territory when his aircraft was attacked. His effort led to the victory of the combat. All his personal belongings will be sent to your home. You will receive any further information concerning the burial. A separate leaflet dealing more fully with this subject is enclosed.
Arbuckle, Alex. Balloons of World War I. Mashable. https://mashable.com/2016/03/02/wwi-balloons/#UUf.F202x8qY. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.
Bergs, Christoph. The History of The U.S Air Service in World War 1. Centenaire. http://centenaire.org/en/autour-de-la-grande-guerre/aviation/history-us-air-service-world-war-i. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.
Canadian War Museum. Canadian and First World War: Rifles. https://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/battles-and-fighting/weapons-on-land/rifles/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.
Rickard, J. Nieuport 11. http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_nieuport_11.html. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.
United Kingdom Government. Letters from the First World War, Part one. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/letters-first-world-war-1915/. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.
Wyatt, Nelson. Aces got the Glory, but Regular Airmen were Vital to the War Effort. The Canadian Press. http://ww1.canada.com/faces-of-war/first-world-war-flyers-risked-shortened-lifespan-but-have-extended-legacy. Accessed 25 Feb. 2019.
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