1916 Angels over the Somme (British Ace Book 3)

1916 Angels over the Somme (British Ace Book 3) by Griff Hosker Read Free Book Online

Book: 1916 Angels over the Somme (British Ace Book 3) by Griff Hosker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Griff Hosker
boys if the Germans are planning something.”
    We had reached the office and we went into Randolph’s den. “Any news on the attack today?”
    His face clouded over, “It did not go well and we made no more progress.”
    Archie shrugged, “We keep on doing what we do. We are doing our bit.  I know that a handful of biplanes is not much in comparison with the casualties on the ground but I am afraid, laddies, it is not a level playing field.  By denying the enemy the airspace we stop him targeting his guns.  We are saving lives.”
    “I’m sorry sir but I saw those stretchers coming back.  We are not saving enough lives.  We need to do more.”
    Archie shook his head sadly, ”If you can see a way then I am all in favour.  Until then we keep on plodding away.”
    I left the office feeling a little depressed. I had been happy to have successfully returned from the operation with no losses but now I wondered what we were doing here. After I had washed, shaved and changed I went to the mess.  I needed a drink. Ted and Gordy were already in there.  They had left one of the more comfortable seats for me.
    Ted held a glass out to me.  “I thought I would treat you.” I cocked my head questioningly. “Gordy told me about the raid on the German foot sloggers.  Well done.  We just tootled up and down wasting fuel.”
    “I am not certain what good it does.  The infantry had a bad day today and made little or no progress.  Yesterday we shot down a handful of aeroplanes.”
    Ted smacked me on the knee.  “And you call me a pessimist! And today you stopped a British battalion from being massacred.” He shook his head, “You are a daft bugger! Do you want to win the war all by yourself?”
    I took a swallow of the whisky.  It was not a great one.  This was no malt but it warmed as it slipped down. “I want to make a difference.  Don’t forget I have been on the ground and know what it is like.  How those blokes do what they do is beyond me! I was on a horse and I could get out as quickly as I got in. They have to march slowly against machine guns and if they fail in their attack, suffer the same machine guns on the way back.”
    The three young pilots who had flown with us came in and asked the mess orderly for a beer each.  Gordy raised his glass to them, “Well done today, lads! A good day’s work and no losses.”
    Johnny shook his head, “I didn’t enjoy today, sir.  It didn’t seem sporting.”
    I felt myself reddening.  Perhaps it was the whisky. “Sporting?”
    “Yes sir, we just machine gunned them and they had no chance to defend themselves.”
    “This is not a bloody game at Eton or Harrow or wherever the hell that you went! This is war and the Huns down there were slaughtering our boys.  Was that sporting? The sooner you get those silly public school ideas out of your head the better. Our job is to shoot down as many German aeroplanes as we can, destroy as much war material and kill as many Germans as we can.  The sooner we do that the sooner we win this war and get back to Blighty!”
    Johnny looked close to tears, “Sorry sir.  You are right.”
    I realised that I had ranted a little and so I smiled, “You are a good pilot, Johnny, and you will do well in this war but you need to be more ruthless and stop treating all this as some sort of game. This is not a cricket match against the Headmaster’s eleven!”
    He nodded and the three of them scurried off to a corner of the mess well away from our gaze. Ted shook his head, “I heard that most of those foot sloggers going over the top are led by blokes just like those three.”
    “And they are the ones to die first.”
    “You are missing the point, Bill. The men follow them because they think they are Toffs and know more that they do because they had a better education.  That just isn’t true.” He lowered his voice, “Look at us three.  We are all working lads and we were sergeants.  Compare that with some of the chinless

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