August 8

In the early morning we acted as escort on an aerodrome raid with X Squadron on Z aerodrome nothing particularly exciting happened until we got back to land, a thick ground mist had come up while we were on patrol. I made seven attempts to land but each time just missed hitting hangers and sheds. On my last attempt I saw an S.E. on its back across the railway which boarders the aerodrome. This decided me to land in a field clear of the ground mist. I landed and found the C.O. and Newman had landed in the same field , so we left a guard on the machines and went back to the aerodrome to breakfast, going to fetch our machines when the ground mist had cleared. At lunch time the same day we all went out singly to bomb the bridges at O—- which was then 25miles over the lines. On my first trip I went over under the clouds which were only at 1,000’ by this time nothing eventful happened on the way out. When I was looking for the results of my bombs I saw five fokkers diving on me, being above me I could not climb into the clouds and go back under their cover, so I put my engines  full on and my nose slightly down I went back as fast as I could. I out distanced those fokkers in no time. I passed under several groups of huns. These fokkers we heard were the well known Richthofen circus and an exceptionally good crowd as huns go. I had a spell for a quarter of an hour when I got back before going out again. This trip I had to go all the way there in the clouds, because the hun had collected all his anti aircraft defence on our course, and they were giving us a very hard time. The result of this was that I over shot the mark by about seven miles, when I got out of the clouds I could not see any familiar ground, at last I picked up a railway junction which I knew was about seven miles east of P—.

I had just turned west to re-trace my steps when two huns, one triplane and a fokker came out of the clouds on top of me.  As they came out I zoomed up into it, however they saw me, because when I came out of the clouds about three miles further on they both opened fire at me. I decided to go up into the clouds again. The next time I came out of the clouds was over P— where I dropped my bombs, only too glad to get rid of them, because I could not fight with bombs on.

I flew west for about ten miles then turned around in the clouds and doubled back on my tracks, intending to come out behind the huns and have a smack at them, however I did not go back far enough, because when I came out one of them was in front of me but the other was behind me so once again I had to take refuge in the clouds. I flew west for another two or three minutes when I ran into a clear patch in the clouds. Here there was no cover so I had to scrap them I started circling round the triplanes, this being the most dangerous machines the fokker pilot was useless. Between them they should have polished me off quite easily, however the next batch of clouds had drifted up so I again flew west.

I flew west until I thought I must be over our side of the lines, but my calculating was wrong, as I came out the plane stalled up at me and got a good burst in, he got a bullet through my bottom right hand longeron and another into my seat, and an explosive bullet under my engine. I went beck into the clouds, the next time I came out was over A— well over our side of the lines. I changed my course to north and got back to the aerodrome. My machine was a complete write off I was sorry to loose it that way. Having done over 180 hours war flying on it and not having broken anything. It was particularly hard lines because they had decided to give me a new machine that day however that machine still holds the record for time flown on active service. I had not to do any more trips that day and I was not particularly sorry. I had quite enough.







 The Richthofen Circus

The Flying Diary of Wallace A Smart