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Title: In the Royal Naval Air Service
Author: Rosher, Harold
Language: English
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 In the Royal Naval Air Service

 [Illustration:
 _Photo: Vandyk_
 FLIGHT-LIEUT. HAROLD ROSHER, R.N.]



 In The Royal Naval
 Air Service

 BEING THE WAR LETTERS OF THE LATE
 HAROLD ROSHER
 TO HIS FAMILY

 WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY
 ARNOLD BENNETT


 LONDON
 CHATTO & WINDUS
 1916



 _First Published_         _Sept., 1916_
 _Second Impression_       _Sept., 1916_

 _All rights reserved_

 PRINTED IN ENGLAND BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED
 LONDON AND BECCLES



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

 INTRODUCTION                                                          1

 SECTION

 I.     TRAINING                                                      11

 II.    ON HOME SERVICE                                               23

 III.   RAIDS ON THE BELGIAN COAST                                    47

 IV.    WITH THE B.E.F.                                               61

 V.     TAKING A NEW MACHINE TO FRANCE                                93

 VI.    WITH THE B.E.F. AGAIN                                        101

 VII.   ON HOME SERVICE AGAIN                                        121

 VIII.  WITH THE B.E.F. ONCE MORE                                    125

 IX.    ON HOME SERVICE ONCE MORE                                    133



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                    PAGE

 FLIGHT-LIEUTENANT HAROLD ROSHER, R.N.                     _Frontispiece_

 THE LATE FLIGHT-LIEUT. RIGGALL, R.N., ON A
 GRAHAME-WHITE "BOX-KITE"                                             14

 THE FAMOUS 873 AVRO FLOWN BY FLIGHT-COMMANDER
 S. V. SIPPE, D.S.O., AND BY FLIGHT-LIEUT. ROSHER                     34

 BRINGING THE PILOT ASHORE AFTER A FLIGHT
 ON A SOPWITH SEAPLANE                                                44

 "SHORT" SEAPLANES AT ANCHOR OFF SPITHEAD                             44

 FLIGHT-LIEUT. HAROLD ROSHER, R.N.                                    54

 SQUADRON-COMMANDER IVOR T. COURTNEY, R.N.                            76

 ONE VICKERS FIGHTING BIPLANE PHOTOGRAPHED FROM ANOTHER               84

 A VICKERS FIGHTING BIPLANE                                           84

 THE OVERTURNED MORANE                                                90

 A SNAPSHOT OF LIEUT. ROSHER                                          90

 A ZEPPELIN AIRSHIP                                                  108

 A ZEPPELIN IN THE DOUBLE SHED AT JOHANNISTHAL                       108

 A TAUBE-TYPE GERMAN MONOPLANE                                       108

 LIEUT. ROSHER FLYING A BRISTOL "BULLET"                             114

 A FIRE CAUSED BY LONG-RANGE BOMBARDMENT                             114

 FLIGHT-SUB-LIEUT. WARNEFORD, V.C.                                   114

 A BRISTOL SCOUT BIPLANE (OR "BULLET")                               136

 THE MORANE "PARASOL" MONOPLANE FLOWN BY
 FLIGHT-SUB-LIEUT. WARNEFORD, V.C.                                   136

 A B.E. 2C BIPLANE                                                   144

 A NIEUPORT BIPLANE                                                  144

 A BLÉRIOT MONOPLANE                                                 144



INTRODUCTION


Harold Rosher was born at Beckenham on the 18th November, 1893, and was
educated at The Dene, Caterham, and subsequently at Woodbridge. Although
as a boy he suffered severely from acute asthma and bronchitis, he did
well at school; and the pluck which carried him through the moral
distresses of asthma helped him to hold his own in games, despite the
fact that up to the age of sixteen he was considerably under the average
height. As his health did not cease to give anxiety, he was taken for a
holiday to India (being with his father the guest of the Maharajah
Ranjitsinhji, Jam Sahib of Nawanagar) in 1909. In 1913, for the same
reason, he made a trip to South Africa with his sister. It was his
health again which helped to decide his career. An open-air life was
considered to be essential, and he became a student at the South Eastern
Agricultural College, Wye, remaining there until the outbreak of the war.

One of Harold's greatest chums at the Agricultural College was a young
and rich German landowner named K----. At the latter's invitation Harold
spent the summer vacation of 1913 in Germany, and the two young men
toured on motor-cycles through a great part of Germany and Austria. In
August 1914 K---- was to celebrate his majority, and had asked Harold to
the festivities. But on August 2nd, when war appeared inevitable, he
wrote a letter of farewell to Harold in which he said that he did not
expect they would ever meet again. The next day he telephoned from
Charing Cross as he was leaving England, and Harold was overheard saying
to him on the telephone: "Well, if we meet, mind you don't shoot
straight."

On the day of the declaration of war, Harold applied for a commission in
the Royal Naval Air Service, and in order to save time he went
immediately as a civilian pupil to Brooklands, where several months
previously he had once been taken up in the air as a passenger. In the
few days which elapsed before the War Office commandeered the Brooklands
Aerodrome and ejected every civilian Harold progressed rapidly in the
craft of flying. He was gazetted a Probationary Flight Sub-Lieutenant in
the R.N.A.S. on August 18th and reported himself at Hendon. He remained
there about six weeks, obtaining his aviator's certificate.

The letters which form this book were written between August 1914 and
February 1916. They are spontaneous and utterly unstudied documents, and
they have been printed almost exactly as Harold wrote them. Many of them
are quite ordinary; most are spiced with slang; the long ones describing
his share in the great historic raids are thrillingly dramatic. But it
would not be wise to set some letters above others. None should be
missed. Each contributes its due realistic share to the complete picture
of an airman's life in war.

It is well that we should have every opportunity of estimating what that
life is. For the air service is still quite a new service. Its birth
lies within the memory of schoolboys. Few outsiders can imaginatively
conceive for themselves the conditions of it, conditions in which the
hour of greatest danger is precisely the hour of spiritual solitude and
separation from all mankind. Further, the air service is now actually
engaged in creating those superb precedents which members of the older
services find ready for their fortifying and encouragement when the
crisis comes, and this fact alone entitles it to a most special
sympathetic attention from the laity. So far as my knowledge goes, no
other such picture, so full and so convincing, of the air-fighters'
existence has yet been offered to the public. Here, perhaps, I may
mention that some organs of the London Press long ago desired to print
the principal descriptive letters of Harold Rosher, which in private had
aroused the admiration of journalists and literary men; but it was felt
that complete publication of the entire series within the covers of a
volume would be more proper and more effective.

Three days after the date of the last letter Harold was killed. On 27th
February, Major Risk, the C.O. of the Dover Aeroplane Station being away
on duty, Harold, as second in command, was in charge. Among other duties
he had to train new pilots on fast machines, and he would always
personally test a new machine or a newly-repaired machine before
allowing anybody else to try it. On that Sunday morning he ordered a
number of machines to be brought out of the sheds for practice flights.
Among them was one which had just been repaired after a mishap three
weeks earlier. The pilot had already got into his machine. Harold told
him to get out as the machine was untested, and himself took it up for a
trial flight of eight or ten minutes. Everything seemed to go right
until Harold began the descent about a mile away from the Aerodrome.
Then, at a height of 300 feet or less, the machine suddenly made a
nose-dive and crashed to the ground. Harold was killed instantly. The
disaster occupied seven seconds, At the inquest nothing was ascertained
as to the cause of the accident. One theory is that the controls jammed.
Harold was buried on the 2nd March at Charlton Cemetery, with full naval
honours. The cemetery is on the cliffs within sight of the Aerodrome,
and while his body was being lowered into the grave aeroplanes were
flying overhead.

It is permissible to quote a few Service opinions about Harold Rosher's
attainments and achievements during his short career as an airman.
Commodore Murray F. Sueter, C.B., R.N., wrote to Mr. Frank Rosher,
Harold's father: "In my opinion he was one of our best pilots; always
ready for any service he was called upon to perform. Mr. Winston
Churchill was very pleased with his work in the early part of the war,
and had he been spared I am sure he would have made a great name for
himself." Wing Commander Arthur N. Longmore, R.N., under whom Harold had
served longest, wrote: "You have the consolation of knowing his splendid
record at Dunkirk. He was among the finest pilots I ever had out there,
always cheerful and ready for his work. He will be a great loss to the
Air Service, which loses not only a first-class pilot, but also an
excellent officer." Major Charles E. Risk, Squadron Commander, R.N.,
wrote: "Harold, or Rosh as we always used to call him, was one of my
very best pals and a very fine officer and First Lieutenant. Everyone
loved him. He was an absolute 'Sahib,' a very good pilot, hard-working,
and absolutely trustworthy." And Captain Charles L. Lamb, R.N., wrote:
"He returned with some of the others from abroad last autumn for a rest,
and very shortly afterwards I selected him from a large number of
officers to become the Executive Officer of the Dover Air Station, which
was then starting. Although quite young, he immediately displayed great
organizing abilities, and also possessed the gift of command of men,
which is unusual without previous training, and fully justified my
selection. At his own request he was shortly proceeding abroad in
command of a Flight, and would undoubtedly have gained his promotion in
the near future. I have said little as regards his skill as a pilot,
since this was probably well known to you, but he was undoubtedly in the
first flight. This skill, however, I consider of secondary importance in
life as compared with the far rarer gifts of command and organization
which he undoubtedly possessed."

I had the acquaintance of Harold Rosher, and when I met him I was quite
extraordinarily impressed by his bearing and his speech. In age and
appearance he was a mere boy--a handsome boy, too, in my opinion--but
the gestures of youth were restrained. He was very modest, but he was
not diffident. In the presence of men older than his father he upheld in
the most charming and effective way the dignity of his own generation.
He talked quietly, but nobody could escape the conviction that he knew
just what he was talking about. All his statements were cautious, and in
giving a description or an opinion he seemed to dread superlatives. He
had the eye and the voice of one who feared no responsibility, and who,
having ruled himself, was thoroughly equal to ruling others. He was
twenty-two when he died at work.

 A. B.



I

TRAINING


I.

_To his Father._

 The Blue Bird, Brooklands Aerodrome, Weybridge.
 11th August, 1914.

DEAR DAD,

Am getting on famously and having a most amusing time. After I wrote you
yesterday I went out and had my first lesson. Mr. Stutt, our instructor
[for the British and Colonial Aeroplane Co.], sits immediately behind
you, controls the engine switch and covers your hand on the stick. He
took me straight up two or three hundred feet and then volplaned down.
He always does this with new pupils to see how they take it. I think I
managed to pass the ordeal all right. I had two or three flights
backwards and forwards, and then another turn later on in the evening.
Stutt is an awfully nice fellow, very small but very capable. On all
sides one hears him recommended. When in the air, he bawls in your ear,
"Now when you push your hand forward, you go down, see!" (and he pushes
your hand forward and you make a sudden dive), "and when you pull it
back you go up, and when you do this, so and so happens," and so with
everything he demonstrates. Then he says, "If you do so and so, you will
break your neck, and if you try to climb too quickly you will make a
tail slide." It's awfully hard work at first and makes your arm ache
like fun. The school machines are very similar to the Grahame-Whites.
You sit right in front, with a clean drop below you. We never strap
ourselves in. The machines are the safest known, and never make a clean
drop if control is lost, but slide down sideways.

When it got too dark we went in and had dinner, all sitting at the
middle table. Could get no one to fetch my luggage, so decided to go
myself after dinner. Unfortunately, I attempted a short cut in the dark
and lost my way. After stumbling round the beastly aerodrome in the dark
for an hour, I eventually got back to my starting point. I was drenched
to the knees, and the moon didn't help me much on account of the thick
mist. It was about 10.30 p.m., so I gave up my quest; the prospect of
the long walk and heavy bag was too discouraging.

 [Illustration:
 _Photo: F.N. Birkett_
 THE LATE FLIGHT-LIEUT. RIGGALL, R.N.
 _On one of the Grahame-White school "box-kites,"
 in the early days of his training_]

I turned in in my vest and pants and had a good night. Was knocked up at
4.30 this morning and crawled gingerly into my still wet clothes. A
lovely morning, very cold, and it was not long before I got wetter
still, as the grass was sopping. Had two more lessons this morning, of
about 15 minutes each, and took both right and left hand turns, part of
the time steering by myself. Stutt says I am getting on. The machines
are so stable that they will often fly quite a long way by themselves.
Am now quite smitten, and if weather continues fine, I shall take my
ticket in a week or ten days. Hope to be flying solo by Thursday or
Friday. Experienced my first bump this morning. While flying at 200
feet, the machine suddenly bumped,[1] a unique sensation. These bumps
are due to the sun's action on the air and are called "sun bumps." It's
owing to these that we novices are not allowed to fly during the day. To
experienced airmen they offer no difficulty.

There was a slight accident here this morning. One of the Blériot people
(known in our select circle as Blérites) was taxying [running along the
ground] in a machine without wings. He got too much speed on, and the
machine went head over heels and was utterly wrecked--man unhurt. With
the Blériot machine you first have to learn to steer on the ground, as
it's much harder than ours. The men look awful fools going round and
round in wee circles....

Very nice lot of fellow pupils here that I am getting to know, one naval
man with a whole stock of funny yarns. Nothing to do all day long but
sleep. Went into Weybridge this morning and got my suit case. Flora and
fauna quite interesting. I live only for the mornings and evenings. More
anon. Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


II.

_To his Father._

 The Hendon Aerodrome, Hendon.
 7th September, 1914.

DEAR DAD,

Only a few lines, as it is already late, and I still have plenty to do.
The latest excitement down here is a balloon, especially for our use. It
is to be up all night, and we have to take turns in keeping watch from
it; four hour shifts, starting to-morrow night. She has 4,000 feet of
wire cable, but I don't suppose we shall be up more than 1,500 feet. It
will be frightfully cold work, and in all probability we shall all be
sea-sick.

On Saturday night we had a Zeppelin scare from the Admiralty. I was on
duty and called out the marines, etc., etc. Ammunition was served round
and the machines brought out. Porte [J. C. Porte, Wing Commander, R.N.]
went up for a short time.

Tons of love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


III.

_To his Grandmother._

 The Hendon Aerodrome, Hendon.
 7th September, 1914.

DEAREST GRANNY,

Can only send you a few lines just now as I am so frightfully busy.
Thanks so much for your letter received two days back. Am hard at it now
from 4.30 a.m. to 11.0 p.m., and one day in five for 24 hours on end.
Our latest acquaintance is a captive balloon in which we are to take
turns to keep watch in the night. It will be terribly cold work. The
watches are 4 hours each, and we shall probably be about 1,500 feet up
in the air--the full limit of cable is 4,000 feet. I quite expect we
shall all be horribly sea-sick, as the motion is quite different from
that in an aeroplane. There is also a rumour that we are going to have
an airship down here. We had a Zeppelin scare the other night and had
all the marines out, ammunition served round, searchlights manned, and
aeroplanes brought out in readiness. It was quite exciting for a false
alarm.

It's pretty chilly work sleeping in tents now. Unless you cover your
clothes up overnight, they are sopping wet in the morning. Also there is
a plague of crane flies here, which simply swarm all over one's tent.
These are all little troubles, however, which one takes philosophically,
and at the same time tries to picture mentally the distress of those at
the front. Hope I shall be out there soon; they seem to be having quite
good fun.

Must cut short now, so goodbye, Granny dear. Heaps of love.

 Ever your loving grandson,
 HAROLD.


IV.

_To his Father._

 The Hendon Aerodrome, Hendon.
 11th September, 1914.

DEAR DAD,

Many happy returns. I started writing you last night, so that you might
get my letter first thing this morning, but was fated not to finish it.

We had another false alarm and my place was on the 'phones. I didn't get
off until 12.30 a.m., so gave it up as a bad job and started afresh this
morning.

I expect you will have seen in the papers about the accident last night.
Lieut. G---- went up in the Henri Farman, and on coming down made a bad
landing--internal injuries--machine absolutely piled up. Nacelle[2]
telescoped and the tail somehow right in front of the nacelle. The
accident is expected to have rather a bad effect on the _moral_ of the
pupils. Personally it doesn't affect me; and anyhow I didn't see G----
at all, as I was bound to the 'phones.

Things are going on much better with me. Yesterday I did five straights
[straight flights] alone and managed quite well, having excellent
control of the machine, and making good landings, except for the first
straights in the morning, when it was rather windy and in consequence
the machine was all over the place.

By the way, this is now the third successive night that we have had an
alarm. Have not yet been up in the balloon but am looking forward to it.
I never thought that we should come down to an old (1902) gas bag.

Heaps of love and don't let Mummie get alarmed. You must bear in mind
that night flying is ten times more dangerous than day.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


NOTE.

_An interesting letter, written in September, is missing. In this the
waiter described a balloon trip that he made over London in the dark,
ultimately coming down near Ashford, and having an exciting experience
while landing._

_Early in October, 1914, the aviator went from Hendon to the Royal Naval
Air Station, Fort Grange, Gosport. A letter of this date is also
missing. It described his first cross-country flight, when, owing to
engine failure, had to make three forced landings (from heights of about
4,000 feet), all of which he managed safely without damaging his
machine. The engine was afterwards found to be faulty. In this letter he
referred to the Commanding Officer's pleasure that he had made so good a
beginning._

[1] Met an air-wave.

[2] The nacelle is the short body of an aeroplane, as found in all
machines with propeller behind (usually called "pusher" machines).



II

ON HOME SERVICE


V.

_To his Father._

 Royal Naval Air Station,
 Fort Grange, Gosport.
 14th November, 1914.

DEAR DAD,

Many thanks for note received this morning. Shall try to get home for
inoculation in about a fortnight. From what I can make out, we shall not
get our squadron together until the end of January. We were to have gone
over at the end of this month. We may, however, go over in pieces, a
flight at a time. If the Germans reach Calais, we shall stay here
permanently for home defence, but at the rate we are progressing, we
shan't be ready until March, and then, maybe, the war will be over. I
must say I want to see some of it, and one would be bound to get a
second stripe if one went across.

 15th November, 1914.

Have spent quite a successful first day over at Whale Island:--squad
drill, Morriss tube and Webley Scott firing practice. I got on famously.
The Morriss tube is particularly easy. It merely becomes a matter of
getting all on the bull. It's a grand place to wake one up; everything
is done at the double.

My cold is awfully heavy and I'm feeling pretty rotten.

Best love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


VI.

_To his Father._

 The Queen's Hotel, Farnborough, Hants.
 18th November, 1914.

DEAR DAD,

Thanks so much for your birthday letter [his 21st birthday], which I had
just time hurriedly to read through this morning. Late last night we had
orders to shift, and everything has been a rush ever since. I have left
all my luggage at Fort Grange and have only a small dispatch case with
me. Am very disappointed. As the C.O.'s machine was not ready to go, he
collared mine, and I am travelling as passenger. However, it can't be
helped.

We left Fort Grange about ten this morning and arrived here after an
hour's run. It was awfully cold and we had to come down here owing to
fog. I am afraid I can't tell you where we are going or any other such
details. You must rest content with what I have told you at present. We
are very comfortably fixed up here for the night. The place is packed
with generals and staff officers, as we are practically in Aldershot. It
will be very slow here this evening. I thought of trying to get home for
the night, but it's out of the question. There is no need to be in the
least alarmed as to my safety, as I am probably not going where you
expect.

Tons of love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


VII.

_To his Father._

 Royal Naval Air Station, Kenton Lodge,
 Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
 25th November, 1914.

DEAR DAD,

Received letters forwarded from Fort Grange last night. It was much too
foggy for my trip to Hartlepool yesterday afternoon, but I went for a
short flip [flight] around, and am glad I did so, as I found out the lie
of the land.

This morning it was beautifully clear, and I started off soon after 9.0
a.m., with a mechanic, to patrol the coast up north to Alnmouth. It was
awfully cold with rather a strong cross wind. I got right above one lot
of clouds. It's a wonderful sight too, as in the distance there is a
mountain covered with snow. It was simply ripping. My engine was going
strong, and after circling round till I was 1,500 feet up, I made
straight off for the coast. It was magnificent. Anything I wanted to
look at closely I just did graceful spirals round, or zigzagged, banking
the machine up to right and left. I have never enjoyed a trip so much
before. I was away an hour and twenty minutes; quite long enough, as I
could hardly feel my hands or feet on coming down. I think we shall be
here another fortnight, with luck.

 30th November, 1914.

Have had no time to write at all these last few days. Half my birthday
letters are still unanswered.... Weather has been far too bad for flying
the past two days.

Best love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


VIII.

_To his Aunt._

 Royal Naval Air Station, Kenton Lodge,
 Gosforth, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
 27th November, 1914.

DEAR AUNT ETHEL,

Thanks so much for your birthday letter. I only received it the night
before last and have been unable to answer it until now.

You are right about flying. As soon as one gets well into the air,
things seem to take on quite a different aspect. It is the same as when
one gets on a high hill, only in a greater degree.

Our work of patrolling the coast is very interesting, but unfortunately
Newcastle seems to be either enveloped in a thick fog, or a gale of wind
prevails, so that we are not getting as much flying as I should like. It
is beginning to get extremely cold work too now, especially on a frosty
morning.

Our billet here happens to be the German Consulate, a lovely modern
house, so that we are most comfortably settled. I think we are moving
again in a fortnight's time.

Please give Granny my best love. As soon as I can get home I shall pop
over and look you all up. At present I see no chance of getting off. I
tried to get to Hartlepool this morning, but the weather was too bad so
I abandoned the attempt.

Heaps of love.

 Ever your loving nephew,
 HAROLD.


IX.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Naval Aeroplane Squadron,
 Kenton Lodge, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
 8th December, 1914.

DEAR DAD,

Have had a great day. Motored out to Redcar on business and visited
Durham Cathedral on the return journey. It's a magnificent spot. The
Cathedral is on top of a high hill with the river flowing through a
ravine on one side and two fine old bridges. It's one of the finest
sights in England. The town itself, too, is very quaint. Have heard no
more about going to the front....

 10th December, 1914.[3]

The C.O. is now in France, and from what I can gather is making
preparations for us all to go out immediately after Christmas. I don't
think there is much chance of being able to get home for Christmas.
However, one can never tell, so we will hope for the best.

I went for a flip around yesterday afternoon for ten minutes, but it was
far too thick to see anything, so came down. Best love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


X.

_To his Mother._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 30th December, 1914.

DEAREST MUM,

Another sudden move. Monday night some of us received orders to shift
here the following morning. I got all my gear packed and off in the
transport first thing, and kept my little hand-bag in the machine. Two
went off before me, as I burst a tyre to begin with--rather a bad start.
In my second attempt I got well off, but found my air-speed indicator
was not working and my compass dud, so came down again. As I could
procure no more, I decided to start. I nearly upset getting off, as my
foot slipped on the rudder and I got a bump at the same moment. The
engine was going none too well, but I pushed off towards the coast, and
all went well for a time. Then came signs of engine trouble. The revs.
[revolutions] dropped suddenly to below 1,000, and she missed badly and
back fired. I at once shut off petrol and volplaned down from 4,000
feet. I glided two miles before I could find a field to satisfy me, but
having picked it, made a good landing. Some farm hands and two special
constables soon turned up and informed me that I was miles from
anywhere. My exact position was between two small villages, Ripe and
Chalvington, and four fields away from a road (and that not a main one).
The nearest town of any size was Lewes, a matter of seven miles--no
motor vehicles, but I might possibly get a trap.

Just then a fellow turned up, and said he had a motor bike and side car,
which he put at my disposal. This I accepted, and, after trying the
engine, left the two special constables in charge, and tramped across
the four swamped fields (up to my neck in mud) to the road, and went
into Lewes in the side car. There I found a big garage, where they
professed to know something about Gnome engines. (I had landed, by the
way, at about 12 noon.) I got them to put some tools on a car, and out
we went again to Ripe. Then followed much tinkering, and I got the
engine going and started off. I had circled round once, when the engine
again back fired, bang! bang! and I made another hurried descent two
fields away from the last. All this time, of course, quite a crowd had
collected, and the vicar of Chalvington had come up and had brought me
some sandwiches, for which I was very grateful, it being 3.0 p.m., and I
had only a hurried breakfast.

We next ran the engine again, and she at once back fired and caught fire
at the carburettor. This burnt out without doing any damage, and we
diagnosed the complaint as a broken inlet valve-spring in No. 5
cylinder. By the way, when in Lewes I had 'phoned through to Fort
Grange, and they sent me on some mechanics, as the garage men could help
me no more.

I once more left the special constables in charge and returned to Lewes.
(The vicar, I should have told you, offered me a bed for the night.) I
again 'phoned from Lewes [to Fort Grange] and then returned to the
machine, which I had moved behind a hedge out of the wind, and had
pegged and roped down and covered up.

 [Illustration:
 THE FAMOUS 873 AVRO BIPLANE
 _Flown by Flight-Commander S. V. Sippe, D.S.O., in the raid on
 Friederichshafen, and by Flight-Lieut. Rosher in the two big raids on
 Ostende and in his raid with Major Courtney on Hoboken. The machine
 survived to be returned to England for school work. She is here shown
 on the point of starting for Friederichshafen_]

By this time it was 5.30 and dark and very cold, and I was greatly
cheered by five mechanics and a driver turning up. Two I left in charge
of the machine, and then drove round in our service car (in which the
mechanics had arrived) to the vicarage, where I had a belated tea and a
hearty welcome. Mrs. McElroy is delightful. Dinner followed almost
immediately, and very excellent at that. At 8.0 p.m. my car arrived for
me, the mechanics having found a satisfactory billet. I once more set
out for Lewes and rattled out the colonel of the territorials, and
requested a corporal and three men to guard my machine, as my men had
been working the whole of the previous night.

This all took some time, so I sat down and chatted with the other
members of the staff, and had a drink and smoke, and also two trunk
calls, one to Dover and the other to Fort Grange, where I heard that
Riggall[4] had also come down with engine trouble at Hastings, 30 miles
further on. This cheered me considerably. I didn't get away from Lewes
till 10.0 p.m. At Ripe I posted my territorials and gave them their
orders. It was fortunately a lovely moonlight night, freezing hard, and
with no wind. I got back to the vicarage at 11.30 p.m. and retired at
midnight--a lovely hot bath and beautifully soft bed, with a fire in my
room!

I turned out next morning at daylight and drove out to the machine,
which is an 80 Avro,[5] brand new (never been flown before, not even
been tested), and found my men at work as per instructions. I returned
for breakfast (the vicarage was a good two miles away), and then rushed
back to my machine and found that a C.P.O. [Chief Petty Officer] had
turned up from Gosport in another car, on his way to Riggall at
Hastings, with a whole new engine. I at once hot-stuffed [requisitioned]
one of his inlet valves and set the men to work changing it, while I
once more went into Lewes, looked up the colonel and used his 'phone.

On getting back at 12.30 I found my machine all ready, so went on to the
vicarage, packed up my things, had a slice of cake, bade them all
farewell, and pushed off. The wind had got up considerably and the
clouds were very low, but I thought I would try and get off. I started
up and got well away. It was awfully bumpy, and I got tossed about all
over the place. When I got to 1,000 feet it was much steadier, so I
headed straight for the coast, and as I climbed, I started getting into
the clouds. The first were at 1,500 feet, and I kept on running through
them till over 2,500 feet. The wind was stronger than I had thought, and
I fairly raced along. The engine was still a bit funny, but I stuck to
it, and was past Dungeness in no time. Then I got right above a whole
sea of clouds, and only got occasional glimpses of Mother Earth now and
again between gaps. I didn't like this, as I couldn't see where I was
going, especially as my compass was not accurate, and if I started
flying below them, I should only be a thousand feet up This would have
been worse, as I was not sure of my engine, and if it had given out I
should have had to land within a mile in any direction, as against a
four-mile radius if I were 4,000 feet up.

While thinking over all this, I passed another gap, and looking back,
caught a glimpse of Dover harbour. It was rather lucky, as I had
overshot the mark. I switched on and off, and dived down through the
opening to 1,000 feet, and then looked around for the aerodrome. I did
quite a wide circle before I spotted it. It was awfully bumpy and pretty
nearly a gale blowing. I was just going to land when I saw two red flags
ahead to mark bad ground, and then a lot more. Nearly all the ground was
bad, so I flew right over into the wind and turned to the right just
before the cliff out of the wind. All this time I was bobbing about like
a cork, gusts throwing me all over the place. I got half round my turn,
broadside into the wind at about 100 feet, when a huge gust got
underneath my left wing and tail and swept me right across the aerodrome
to the ground. It was all a matter of seconds till I hit the ground. My
aileron, or warp control, was useless (at the time I thought the wires
had broken). I just managed to flatten out and straighten up a little as
I hit the ground sideways. Both wheels buckled right up and brought me
to a standstill, myself quite unharmed, and the machine with wonderfully
little damage. I was awfully annoyed, as I was very keen on pitching
well at the end of my journey.

 1st January, 1915.

The last two days have been beastly, nothing but wind and rain. Riggall
is still held up at Hastings. I shouldn't be surprised if his machine
has blown away by now. I see in this morning's paper that I have shipped
another stripe [Flight Lieutenant], so things are looking up a bit.

There was a huge din here to usher in the New Year--bells, whistles, and
all the ships in the harbour blowing their sirens for fully a quarter of
an hour on end. The feeding here is excellent, and we have music to
accompany tea and dinner. There are between three and four hundred
rooms, and all full up. We have to take turns in sleeping up at the
sheds two miles away (my turn to-night, ugh!). We leave here at 7.45
p.m., and are relieved at 9.0 the next morning. This means 10 o'clock
breakfast by the time one has got back here and had a bath and a shave.

 10th January, 1915.

What a life we lead and how we suffer! It is now half-past six and I
have just had tea. My previous meal was a scrappy breakfast at 8.30.
Dover is the very devil of a place to fly over. It's very hilly, and so
of course one gets the most appalling bumps and, in addition, a very
poor selection of landing grounds in case of engine trouble. The
aerodrome is right on top of the cliffs, and on two sides we have a
beastly drop. If one's engine fails when getting off in these
directions, the best thing one can do is to pray, and hope the bump
won't be too big when it comes.

I was nearly caught this way to-day. Yesterday I flew an Avro to Deal
and back, while my passenger made some wireless experiments. To-day I
patrolled the South Foreland for an hour and a half (9.0 to 10.30), my
passenger armed to the teeth. Beastly cold it was too. At one o'clock I
got a panicky message saying 14 hostile aircraft were coming over from
Dunkirk, and I was ordered up at once. I had just got nicely over the
valley when my engine went bang! bang! bang! I hastily turned off my
petrol and looked around for a place to pitch. The only field reachable
was a very bad one. In addition, I pitched badly, but broke nothing, and
luckily came to a standstill a few yards from a pond! The trouble was an
inlet valve gone, the same as happened at Lewes, resulting in back
firing into the carburettor, which catches fire--most unpleasant. I get
awfully cold feet. I would much sooner come down with a bump than be
cremated. Personally I think it's worse than the crank shaft breaking,
and that puts the fear of God into you, I can tell you. My machine is
out in the open to-night. I hope to tee it up and get back to-morrow. I
did a fine spiral [spiral descent with the engine shut off] to-day.

The hostile aircraft never came, of course. We are always hearing of
Zeppelins dropping bombs on Birmingham, London, etc. All the same, they
_are_ coming, I am sure, and in a bunch too.

It's just dinner-time and I'm awfully hungry, so love to all. Could see
France as plain as Punch to-day. Dunkirk is visible from 5,000 feet.

 11th January, 1915.

Another day of toil, but no flying. It's my turn to sleep up at the
sheds too, a joy I am not looking forward to.

I wish we could get out to the front. It's rotten to keep on seeing army
machines going across. I would much rather come to a sticky end out
there than here.

 23rd January, 1915.

I am once again installed in the sheds for the night, and beastly cold
it is too. I am going to invest in a Jaeger flea bag [sleeping bag].

To-day has been the best day we have had so far, clear, frosty and dead
calm. I crashed into the atmosphere first thing this morning and flipped
around for 55 minutes. By then I was as cold as----, so pitched in the
'drome. I flew from Dover to Deal with both hands off the controls, just
correcting with a finger when necessary. I have elastic bands on the
stick which hold it where it is set. I ended up with a hair-splitting
spiral, with the machine banked up to about 55°. I only did three or
four complete turns, but kept on until I was scared stiff. When you bank
a machine over 45°, your rudder turns into your elevator and _vice
versa_. To come out of a spiral, you just shove everything the wrong way
round and wait and see what happens.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XI.

_To his Father._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 20th January, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

So you are home again at last. Did you get the letters I wrote to
Liverpool when you were going off?

There has been very little doing here lately. Awful bobbery last night
over the Yarmouth scare. We were standing by our machines until
midnight. I think they [the Germans] are sure to pay us a visit soon. I
hope it isn't at night, though. I flew for about half an hour this
morning. The French coast was as plain as Punch.

We each have our own machines at last. Mine is the actual machine that
Sippe [S. V. Sippe, D.S.O., Squadron Comdr., R.N.] had on his stunt to
Friederichshafen. Our chances of getting out to the front are remoter
than ever, and each of these silly raids puts us further back still. If
old Rumpler [the German airman] hadn't taken it into his head to drop a
bomb on Dover on Xmas day, we should in all probability have been over
the other side by now.

 22nd January, 1915.

There has been a bit of a scare on to-day, but it has resulted as usual
in nothing, except that I missed my lunch. I quite enjoyed my patrol
though. I was up an hour and twenty minutes and pottered around Deal. My
beat was from the South to North Foreland and back. It was rather thick
up [in the air], but I had an excellent view of Margate, Ramsgate, etc.
I kept at about 4,000 feet. It was a bit cold, but not so bad as I
expected.

 28th January, 1915.

We all took the air at once to-day for the Admiral's benefit; quite a
fine display.

 No. 1 Aeroplane Squadron, Dover.
 4th February, 1915.

We have four young marine officers just joined up with the Squadron to
act as observers--rather a good idea, but they had a somewhat rough
initiation this morning. Just after I had been enlarging to them on the
safety of flying nowadays, there was a damned awful smash. An Avro came
down in a nose dive from 400 feet. There wasn't much left of it and the
occupants were very lucky not being done in. B---- was pilot and came
out with a badly sprained ankle, cuts, bruises and shock; and S----, the
observer, who was in front, broke his right arm above the elbow and
dislocated his hip, besides cuts, etc. I was in the air at the time,
with Riggall as my passenger. He saw the accident, but I didn't know of
it until I got down. B---- is our flight commander, so I suppose our
move is once more indefinitely postponed.

I am putting in for leave this week-end, and think I shall get it with
luck. Am just getting rid of an awful cold. Riggall and Maude [J. D.
Maude, Flt. Comdr., R.N.] are both pretty rocky too--sort of flu or
something. Am enclosing a photo of my machine [Avro] 873. I think I told
you it was the one Sippe used on his raid [on Friedrichshafen]. The one
next it, [Avro] 875, is Babington's [J. T. Babington, D.S.O., Squadron
Comdr., R.N.], and the next belonged to Briggs [E. F. Briggs, D.S.O.,
Squadron Comdr., R.N.] who was captured [in the raid].

 9th February, 1915.

We had an old seaplane wrecked outside the harbour yesterday. The engine
failed and a destroyer went out to tow the machine in. Unfortunately,
the sea was rough and the destroyer rolled into the thing, damaging it
so badly that it eventually sank. The pilot and passenger were taken off
safely. It was quite interesting, watching from the top of the cliffs
through glasses.

Love to all at home.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

 [Illustration:
 BRINGING THE PILOT ASHORE AFTER A FLIGHT ON A SOPWITH SEAPLANE]

 [Illustration:
 "SHORT" SEAPLANES AT ANCHOR OFF SPITHEAD]

[3] About this time Lieut. Rosher returned to Fort Grange.

[4] Gordon Riggall. He and the writer both received their commissions on
the 18th August, 1914, and from that day onwards served together,
sharing the same risks. He was killed on the 16th February, 1915.

[5] Manufactured by A. V. Roe & Co., Ltd.



III

RAIDS ON THE BELGIAN COAST


XII.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Aeroplane Squadron,
 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 12th February, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

I wrote home last on Wednesday, and, as you no doubt guessed, there has
since been something on. I could not, of course, let you know, as our
success or otherwise depended greatly on secrecy. Wednesday was a very
busy day. I tested my machine for half an hour in the morning, and by
the evening everything was in tip-top running order. During the day ...
machines arrived from Hendon, Eastchurch, etc., etc., also ... seaplanes
turned up. Among the Hendon crowd was Grahame White and one or two
others I knew.

Thursday morning we were up betimes, and the weather being good, the
D.A.D. [Commodore Murray F. Sueter, C.B., R.N., Director of Air
Department] decided we should start. We had fixed up our maps, etc.,
overnight; my orders were to drop all my bombs on Zeebrugge. It was a
bit misty over the Channel, and I was one of the last to get away. We
went in order--slowest machines first, at two-minute intervals. I pushed
off just after 8 a.m., climbed to 2,000 feet and streaked off over the
Channel. We had four destroyers at intervals across the Channel in case
our engines went wrong, also seaplanes. It was mighty comforting to see
them below. I got my first shock on looking at my rev. [revolution]
counter, which was jumping from 950 to 1,200, when it should have been
steady at 1,150. The machine was, however, pulling well, so I didn't
worry.

In due course I struck Calais and headed up the coast about seven miles
out to sea. I passed Gravelines and Dunkirk where I had reached 6,500
feet. Then a huge bank of black clouds loomed ahead. Our orders were to
land at Dunkirk if clouds were too bad, but as two machines sogged on
ahead of me, I pushed on too. It started with a thin mist and then
gradually got thicker. I continued so for about ten minutes, and then
found that, according to my compass, I had turned completely round and
was heading out to sea. The clouds got thicker and the compass became
useless, swinging round and round. I was about 7,000 feet up and
absolutely lost. The next thing I realized was that my speed indicator
had rushed up to 90 _miles_ an hour and the wind was fairly whistling
through the wires. I pulled her up, but had quite lost control.

A hair raising experience followed. I nose-dived, side-slipped,
stalled,[6] etc., etc., time after time, my speed varying from
practically nothing to over 100 miles an hour. I kept my head, but was
absolutely scared stiff. I didn't get out of the clouds, which lower
down turned into a snowstorm and hail, until I was only 1,500 feet up. I
came out diving headlong for the earth. As soon as I saw the ground, I
of course adjusted my sense of balance, and flattened out. I was,
however, hopelessly lost. The sea was nowhere in sight, and, so far as I
could judge, I was somewhere over our own line behind Nieuport.

I steered by my compass (which had recovered, being out of the clouds)
and after a short time picked up the coast. I then tried to skirt round
the snowstorm inland, but it went too far. Next I tried to get along the
coast underneath the storm, but also failed at this, so, feeling awfully
sick, I started back for Dunkirk, fully expecting to be the one failure
of the party. On arrival there, however, I found them all back but one,
and all had had similar experiences. One man turned completely upside
down in the storm.

By the way, what finally decided me to come back was this. After trying
to get under the storm along the coast (I had got very low down, about
3,000 feet), I heard two or three bangs, but took no notice. I happened
to look round, however, and saw three nice little puffs of smoke about
100 yards behind me. Then came another, much nearer. "Shrapnel," says I,
and off I went to Dunkirk.

I was pretty cold on arrival, having been two hours in the air. Grahame
White came down in the sea and was picked up by one of our destroyers.
Pottered round the aerodrome for a bit, and looked at French and Belgian
machines. Anthony Wilding[7] is stationed there, also Carpentier,[8]
whom I didn't see.

Motored into the town for lunch and had a look round. Out to the
aerodrome again in the afternoon, but nothing doing. Slept on the
_Empress_ overnight. We first lay down on the couches in the saloon,
then turned in at 11 p.m., awfully tired. At 3.0 a.m. the stewards came
in to lay breakfast. At 5.30 we were all up, still tired, dirty, and
feeling rotten. Motored out to the aerodrome in the dark, awfully cold,
ugh! I was one of the first off (in the dark). I didn't relish it a tiny
bit. The weather was misty and cloudy, and very cold. Off Nieuport I was
five miles out to sea and 4,000 feet up. Before I came abreast of it, I
saw flashes along the coast. A few seconds later, bang! bang! and the
shrapnel burst a good deal short of me, but direction and height
perfect. I turned out to sea and put another two miles between me and
the coast. By now a regular cannonade was going on. All along the coast
the guns were firing, nasty vicious flashes, and then a puff of smoke as
the shrapnel burst. I steered a zigzag course and made steadily out to
sea, climbing hard.

The clouds now became very troublesome. Ostend was simply a mass of
guns. After flying for three-quarters of an hour, I reached Zeebrugge. I
had to come down to 5,500 feet because of the clouds. I streaked in
through them, loosed my bombs, and then made off. I was hopelessly lost,
and my performance of the day before was repeated in the clouds. I got
clear, however, at 4,000 feet, heading straight out to sea and
side-slipping hard, the earth appearing all sideways on. I fairly
streaked out to sea, and then headed straight home. I got back after 1½
hours in the air.

As to what happened generally, I can't tell. It may possibly appear in
the papers. Maude came down in the sea and was picked up. I got back
here shortly after 4.0 p.m. by boat. Am bringing my machine back later,
I expect. I thought of wiring you to come down for the night, but find
it's not feasible. After all, Dover isn't such a bad place, I'm
thinking. I don't mind owning that I have been scared stiff once or
twice in the last two days. They are hitting with shrapnel at 8,000
feet. They reckon to get third shot on for a cert. One machine came back
riddled with bullets. The pilot had got down to 450 feet in the mist.

With the very best love to all at home,

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

 [Illustration:
 _Photo: Vandyk_
 FLIGHT-LIEUT. HAROLD ROSHER, R.N.]


NOTE.

_The following is the Admiralty's official account of the raid described
in the foregoing letters_:--

"During the last twenty-four hours, combined aeroplane and seaplane
operations have been carried out by the Naval Wing in the Bruges,
Zeebrugge, Blankenberghe and Ostend districts, with a view to preventing
the development of submarine bases and establishments.

Thirty-four naval aeroplanes and seaplanes took part.

Great damage is reported to have been done to Ostend Railway Station,
which, according to present information, has probably been burnt to the
ground. The railway station at Blankenberghe was damaged and railway
lines were torn up in many places. Bombs were dropped on gun positions
at Middelkerke, also on the power station and German mine-sweeping
vessels at Zeebrugge, but the damage done is unknown.

During the attack the machines encountered heavy banks of snow.

No submarines were seen.

Flight Commander Grahame-White fell into the sea off Nieuport and was
rescued by a French vessel.

Although exposed to heavy gunfire from rifles, anti-aircraft guns,
mitrailleuses, etc., all pilots are safe. Two machines were damaged.

The seaplanes and aeroplanes were under the command of Wing Commander
Samson, assisted by Wing Commander Longmore and Squadron Commanders
Porte, Courtney, and Rathbone."

_Harold Rosher went back to France on 13th February, 1915, and three
days later took part in a further great raid, of which the following is
the Admiralty's official account_:--

"The air operations of the Naval Wing against the Bruges, Ostend-Zeebrugge
District have been continued.

This afternoon 40 aeroplanes and seaplanes bombarded Ostend,
Middelkerke, Ghistelles, and Zeebrugge.

Bombs were dropped on the heavy batteries situated on the east and west
sides of Ostend harbour; on the gun positions at Middelkerke; on
transport waggons on the Ostend-Ghistelles road; on the mole at
Zeebrugge to widen the breach damaged in former attacks; on the locks at
Zeebrugge; on barges outside Blankenberghe, and on trawlers outside
Zeebrugge.

Eight French aeroplanes assisted the naval machines by making a vigorous
attack on the Ghistelles aerodrome, thus effectively preventing the
German aircraft from cutting off our machines.

It is reported that good results were obtained.

Instructions are always issued to confine the attacks to points of
military importance, and every effort is made by the flying officers to
avoid dropping bombs on any residential portions of the towns."

AIR RAID, 16TH FEBRUARY, 1915.--Harold Rosher sent no written account of
this raid, as he returned to Dover immediately after taking part in it.
Describing his experiences in the raid, he stated that his instructions
were to drop his bombs on a certain place behind Ostend. On leaving
Dunkirk he flew up the coast. When he got past Nieuport, he came under
heavy fire, and headed out to sea. Off Ostend the firing was terrific,
and seeing ahead a big bank of clouds he continued past Ostend until he
got above them. Thus concealed he turned and came inland, and was able
to reach his objective unobserved. The explosion of his bombs was the
first intimation the enemy had of his presence. Anti-aircraft batteries
immediately opened fire on him, but by that time he was making off, and
flying some miles out to sea, he came back down the coast in safety to
Dunkirk. One can imagine the strained anxiety with which those who come
back from raids such as this, await the arrival of overdue comrades. On
this occasion three of them, including Harold's special chum, Flight-Lt.
Gordon Riggall, never returned.


XIII.

_To his Father._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 24th February, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

I arrived here safely in excellent time after quite a comfy journey. Mr.
and Mrs. Riggall left yesterday, but during the course of the afternoon
I received a very nice letter from him ... [Their son, Lieut. Riggall,
was "missing"].

If you can possibly manage it, come down to-morrow (Thursday) night. In
case I am unable to meet you at the station, come straight on to the
Burlington. I will reserve you a room. The Dunkirk boat was missed twice
by torpedoes yesterday. She is now running very irregularly. I cannot be
certain as to my movements, but will put you off by wire if necessary.
On arrival here I found all my letters had been forwarded to the other
side, also my Gieve lifebelt....

I think I just got away from home before you all quite spoilt me. It's
awfully bad for one, you know, and mustn't occur again or I shall be
getting quite beyond myself. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of my
leave (except the being "shown off" part, which I endured with as good a
grace as possible), but I don't want any one to run away with the idea
that I have done anything extraordinary. One has only to go across the
other side to realize that everybody out there is doing his best. Army
pilots are flying day after day for hours on end, under fire, and trench
life must be no less trying. After all, when one comes to think of it,
it was what I joined the Air Service for, and probably when all is said
and done, the everyday routine will prove a much tougher job than these
occasional stunts.

Well, I've gassed long enough, so goodbye and very best love to all at
home (mind you come down to-morrow night unless I wire you otherwise).

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

P.S.--The watch is keeping excellent time and the pipe is settling down
into first-rate smoking order.

[6] Nose-diving, making a vertical descent.

Side-slipping may occur to a machine that has lost her flying speed, and
always occurs if the bank is too great or too little when turning.

Stalling, loss of flying speed.

[7] The Tennis Champion, killed in action 12th May, 1915.

[8] Georges Carpentier, the boxer, French airman, injured in an
aeroplane accident, 12th August, 1915.



IV

WITH THE B.E.F.


XIV.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Naval Aeroplane Squadron, B.E.F.
 1st March, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

I only had time to scrawl off a few lines to you this morning, as the
mail was just going out. We have been pretty busy the last day or so
getting things shipshape. I am at last settled in a quite nice house
with seven others. Maude and I are the two senior inmates, so are
running the establishment. Unfortunately, we have no bath, but five
minutes' walk from here there are some public baths, where we can get a
hot tub any time between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.

We are acting as our own censors here, and also have to censor all the
men's letters--some of them are most amusing. There is nothing exciting
at all happening. Weather has been pretty bad and shows signs of getting
worse.

Have just run out of ink, am now writing with coffee!

 4th March, 1915.

We are settling down by degrees. Our house is really beginning to get
quite comfortable. Wilding has been staying here with us the last few
days.

 6th March, 1915.

Had my first letter from you this morning, dated the 3rd, for which many
thanks. It's the first news of any sort from home since we have been out
here. Weather still continues very bad and, personally, I shouldn't mind
a little more of it still.

Did I tell you that my Gieve lifebelt had turned up? You can't imagine
how firmly attached I am to it. I can't bear parting with it at night.
The flask I have filled up to the stopper with rum--brandy and whisky
are unprocurable.

We don't get much in the way of light literature, so any weekly papers,
such as _Sketches_, _Tatlers_, _Punch_, are looked on as great luxuries.
By the way, is the watch keeping good time? I had the chance of being
inoculated the other day, but didn't think it worth while. I may be done
later, possibly.

Love to all at home.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

P.S.--There is a rumour that we get a week's leave after being out here
three months.


XV.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Aeroplane Squadron, B.E.F.
 7th March 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

Have just got your letter of the 4th inst. It arrived late in the day,
after Dad's. I am afraid this has missed the mail; so won't go off for a
couple of days. I have just come off duty; we get three days at it on
end. There's no baccy to be procured out here, so could you send me on a
½ lb. tin of Friars' Mixture (medium)?

Am just back from a little bomb-dropping stunt over Ostend, but keep it
quiet until it appears in the papers, or if it doesn't, allow say a
week. It was bitterly cold and took about 1½ hours. I pushed the old bus
up to 8,000 ft., right above a terrific layer of clouds. It was a most
wonderful sight. I only got occasional glimpses of the earth and sea,
and was not fired at at all--in fact, I don't think I was ever even seen.

It's quite impossible for me to let you know my whereabouts in France,
but I seem to have a vague recollection of telling you where I was going
before I left. If you can remember, all well and good. If not, put two
and two together, and the answer is ----?

Heaps of love to all, and Cheer O! for my week's leave in 3 months' time.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


NOTE.

_The following is the Admiralty's official account of the raid described
in the foregoing letter_:--

"Wing Commander Longmore reports that an air attack on Ostend was
carried out yesterday afternoon (7th March) by six aeroplanes of the
Naval Wing. Of these two had to return owing to petrol freezing.

The remainder reached Ostend and dropped eleven bombs on the submarine
repair base and four bombs on the Kursaal, the headquarters of the
military.

All machines and pilots returned.

It is probable that considerable damage was done. No submarines were
seen in the basin.

The attack was carried out in a fresh N.N.W. wind."


XVI.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Aeroplane Squadron, B.E.F.
 8th March, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

I have struck rather an unfortunate day to-day. To begin with, this
morning I was taxying my machine to the far end of the aerodrome, to
start off into the wind, when I got into some very soft ground--result,
before I knew where I was, I found the machine standing up on its nose.
Fortunately, the only damage was a broken propeller, which didn't
matter, as it was already chipped and was going to be replaced. In the
afternoon I had quite a good trip, just over an hour, and quite long
enough, as it has been pretty nearly freezing all day long. I made a
good landing, but a second or so after I actually touched the ground, a
tyre burst, and I all but turned a complete somersault. For several
seconds I was quite vertical, and then the machine fell back. One or two
things were bent, but on the whole remarkably little damage. The skid
broke and leading edge of one wing tip. A wheel also buckled up, but I
should be going strong again by tomorrow.

 12th March, 1915.

Still going strong and things on the whole keeping fairly quiet. There
has been another little bomb-dropping episode, in which I didn't take
part, however, as my machine was undergoing some repairs. Please send on
my fur coat at once, as my leather one has given out suddenly--am
sending it back to Gieve's immediately on receipt of other.

 14th March, 1915.

Many thanks for letter, _Flight_, and the _Aeroplane_, received
yesterday. The days are lengthening out tremendously now, and we manage
to get in quite a good walk after tea along the front. There is an
excellent promenade, crowded with the town folk, and most gorgeous sands
with heaps of very pretty shells. The sands make a most perfect landing
ground and have already come in very useful in emergency.

I flew a Vickers gun bus [gun-carrying biplane] the other day (you saw
one at Dover, I think). I didn't like it much. For one thing it was very
badly balanced, and secondly, I don't like a monosoupape [engine] (100
h.p. Gnome). My own machine I can get so perfectly balanced that I can
let go the controls for minutes on end. Had a delightful trip to-day
to.... It's most interesting watching the shells burst. Somebody's
beginning to push pretty hard in places, I can tell you. We hear the
guns hammering away day and night now.

Our aerodrome here is a beastly small one. I have had several narrow
shaves already of running into things, and feel sure that before long I
shall "crash" something. I think that I shall shortly have an
opportunity of flying a monoplane. Am looking forward to it "some."

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XVII.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Naval Aeroplane Squadron, B.E.F.
 15th March, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

Have had a great time to-day. First thing in the morning the C.O. gave
Maude and myself the whole day off. We promptly secured a car, passports
and pass-words, had an early lunch, and then sallied forth full of hope
to see the WAR. Our password held good until we got into Belgium, and
then proved "dud." The sentry, however, very kindly supplied us with
another. We were rather unfortunate in getting a tyre punctured, but
half a dozen Belgian soldiers rushed up and asked us if we wanted any
help, and how many men. They carefully explained they would do anything
to help the English. Eventually they did everything for us. The place we
visited was the same as I went to when over here before. This afternoon
it was being rather heavily bombarded. We left our car outside the town,
shells bursting within 50 yards of it. We then sallied forth on foot
into the town--terrific bangs from the French guns firing near us, and
shells fairly whistling overhead. You can tell when they are coming near
you by the sound they make. The French soldiers are quite wily, and
scuttle away like rabbits, when they hear one coming near. In the town
several shells burst very near us, and fragments of stone and dust fell
freely around us--rather too warm for my liking. There was quite a
difference since I was last there, several more buildings being reduced
to ruins. One shell hole would have concealed 40 or 50 men easily. We
only stayed half an hour, and saw quite enough.

Two Frenchmen were killed here this evening. They stalled and
side-slipped from about 80 feet in a Voisin and were killed instantly.
From what I heard they were smashed to bits. It's all luck. B---- fell
400 feet and only sprained his ankle, and these two fellows broke every
bone in their bodies. The machine caught fire on the ground and was
burnt to bits. I saw the remains this evening. Two French machines and
four pilots are missing from a little bomb-dropping stunt of theirs
yesterday. You never hear of these things at home, but flying casualties
are heavier than one is led to believe. A short time back the R.F.C.
[Royal Flying Corps] lost five in a week!

Have just discovered that the Duchess of Sutherland and Lady Rosemary
are running a hospital out here.

French sanitary arrangements are really extraordinary. I don't believe
there is a drain in the place. Such things are unknown in small French
towns.

Am sending you a cheque for £20, as it is an awful nuisance getting cash
here. I want you to send me on £5 at once in notes and the rest as I
ask, as I don't want a lot of money about me. Also I expect I owe you
something for flea bag, etc., and I am sure to be wanting other things
later. Am sending you on the pins and brooches.

Very best love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XVIII.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Naval Aeroplane Squadron, B.E.F.
 16th March, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

Whatever induced you to do it? The tobacco, etc., arrived, but the
toffee had all melted, and a more sticky mess you can't conceive. It was
as much as I could do to read your letter. I managed to rescue some of
the toffee and the general opinion on same is that it is very good. Two
letters from Dad and the sleeping bag arrived by same mail, for which
many thanks.

I had to make a hurried landing on the sands to-day owing to an exhaust
cam [valve operating mechanism] breaking. Flew my machine back in the
evening. Have just started another three days' duty.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XIX.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Naval Aeroplane Squadron, B.E.F.
 21st March, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

Very little news of interest to tell you. I was sent out suddenly
yesterday afternoon late to look for a Zepp, but saw nothing. It was
dusk by the time I got back, and an inlet valve went just as I was
coming in. I couldn't reach our aerodrome, but just managed to scrape
into the Belgian one alongside. The French brought down a Taube to-day
and one yesterday (anti-aircraft guns). They are getting nearly as hot
as the Germans. I can tell you that some of us are beginning to think
our chances of seeing England again are somewhat remote.

To-day has been the most perfect day we have had out here so far. This
afternoon I shot a wild duck with a Webley-Scott pistol at 50 yards. It
was the 6th shot, but the others were all very close--not bad shooting,
eh?

The _Punches_ turned up alright, but much later than the other
papers--all much appreciated. Best love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XX.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Squadron, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 23rd March, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

Another fine day, and let's hope the weather will last. The town this
afternoon is crowded with small girls all in white--long skirts and
veils--confirmation, I suppose.

Have spent a very busy day tuning up my bus, and am not over satisfied
with it now. To-morrow at the crack of dawn I am off on another stunt,
this time more hazardous than ever. When I start thinking of the
possibilities, or rather probabilities, I go hot and cold by turns; so
endeavour to switch off on to something else, but it keeps coming back
to the same old thing. Am not posting this until just before I start,
but all the same can tell you no details. By the time you get this, I
shall either have returned safely or be elsewhere. The papers will no
doubt give you more news than I can at present. Suffice it to say, that
my journey will be round about 200 miles and will last 4--5 hours. It is
even doubtful whether we shall have enough petrol to bring us back. It's
a first-rate stunt though, and I suppose a feather in my cap, being one
of the chosen few.

Very best love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XXI.

_To his Mother and Father._

 No. 1 Squadron, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 24th March, 1915.

DEAREST MUM AND DAD,

Another successful little jaunt. Five of us were chosen to go--Capt.
Courtney [Major Ivor T. Courtney, Squadron Comdr., R.N.], Meates (who
travelled up to town from Dover in the train with Dad), self, and two
subs named Andreae and Huskisson. Courtney and I got there and back,
Meates [B. C., Flt. Lieut., R.N.] came down in Holland with engine
trouble, and is interned.... Andreae [P. G. Andreae, Flt. Lieut., R.N.]
lost his way in the clouds and fog, and came back, and Huskisson [B. L.
Huskisson, Flt. Comdr., R.N.] did the same, only dropped his bombs on
Ostend on the way. Our mark, by the way, was the submarine base at
Hoboken, near Antwerp.

Yesterday morning we were to have gone, but the weather was not good
enough, and last night we slept at the aerodrome, so as to get off at
the "crack of dawn." This morning we got up about 3.30 a.m. (thank
goodness, the weather was warm), and breakfast followed. It's mighty
hard to get down eggs and bread and butter at that hour. We cut for the
order of starting, but decided to keep as near one another as possible.
I went off last but one, at 5.30 a.m., and streaked out straight across
the sea. We were pretty heavily loaded, and my bus wouldn't climb much.
I saw one machine ahead of me, but lost it almost immediately in the
clouds, which were very low (2,500 feet), and it was also very misty.

 [Illustration:
 _Photo: Russell, Southsea_
 SQUADRON-COMMANDER IVOR T. COURTNEY, R.N. (MAJOR R.M.L.I.)
 _Who led the raid on Hoboken, described in the accompanying
 letter_]

Our course was right up the coast, past Zeebrugge, and then cut in
across the land. At the mouth of the Scheldt I got clear of some of the
clouds and saw Courtney behind and 2,000 feet above me, my machine then
being about 5,000 feet only. He rapidly overtook me (we were all on
Avros, but his was faster), and from then on I followed him over the
clouds. Unfortunately, over Antwerp there were no clouds. Courtney was
about five or six minutes in front of me, and I saw him volplane out of
sight. I had to go on some little way before I spotted the yards myself.
I next saw Courtney very low down, flying away to the coast with
shrapnel bursting around him. He came down to under 500 feet, and being
first there, dropped his bombs before he was fired on.

As the wind was dead against me, I decided to come round in a
semi-circle to cross the yards with the wind, so as to attain a greater
speed. I was only 5,500 feet up, and they opened fire on me with
shrapnel as soon as I got within range. It began getting a bit hot, so
before I got quite round I shut off my petrol, and came down with a
steep volplane until I was 2,500 feet, when I turned on my petrol again,
and continued my descent at a rate of well over a hundred miles an hour.
I passed over the yards at about 1,000 feet only, and loosed all my
bombs over the place. The whole way down I was under fire, two
anti-aircraft in the yard, guns from the forts on either side, rifle
fire, mitrailleuse or machine guns, and, most weird of all, great
bunches (15 to 20) of what looked like green rockets, but I think they
were flaming bullets. The excitement of the moment was terrific. I have
never travelled so fast before in my life. My chief impressions were the
great speed, the flaming bullets streaking by, the incessant rattle of
the machine gun and rifle fire, and one or two shells bursting close by,
knocking my machine all sideways, and pretty nearly deafening me.

On my return I found my machine was only hit twice--rather wonderful;
one bullet hole through the tail and a piece of shrapnel buried in the
main spar of one wing. I have now got it out.

I found myself across the yards, and felt a mild sort of surprise. My
eyes must have been sticking out of my head like a shrimp's! I know I
was gasping for breath and crouching down in the fuselage [body of the
machine]. I was, however, by no means clear, for shrapnel was still
bursting around me. I jammed the rudder first one way and then the
other. I banked first on to one wing tip, and then on to the other, now
slipping outwards, and now up and now down. I was literally hedged in by
forts (and only 1,000 feet up), and had to run the gauntlet before
getting away. I was under rifle fire right up to the frontier, and even
then the Dutch potted me.

My return journey was trying. Most of the time I had to fly at under 500
feet, as I ran into thick clouds and mist. I pottered gaily right over
Flushing, and within a few hundred yards of a Dutch cruiser and two
torpedo boats. I got back home about a quarter of an hour after
Courtney, having been very nearly four hours in the air, and having
covered, I suppose, getting on for 250 miles.

Have not yet heard what damage was done. The C.O. was awfully braced.

I had some breakfast when I got back, wrote out my report, had lunch,
and then a very, very hot bath. To-morrow I am going out with Courtney
to see the War, as we have been given the day off to do as we please.

My engine gave me several anxious moments. For some reason it cut right
out over the Scheldt, and I had actually given up all hope when it
picked up again. It was pretty risky work flying several miles out to
sea, only just in sight of land too, but our surprise (or I should say
Courtney's) of the Germans was certainly complete.

Must really stop now.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


NOTE.

_The following is the Admiralty's official account of the Antwerp
raid_:--

"The Secretary of the Admiralty yesterday afternoon [24th March] issued
the following communication from Wing Commander Longmore:--

I have to report that a successful air attack was carried out this
morning by five machines of the Dunkirk Squadron on the German
submarines being constructed at Hoboken near Antwerp.

Two of the pilots had to return owing to thick weather, but Squadron
Commander Ivor T. Courtney and Flight Lieutenant H. Rosher reached their
objective, and after planing down to 1000 feet dropped four bombs each
on the submarines. It is believed that considerable damage has been done
to both the works and to submarines. The works were observed to be on
fire. In all five submarines were observed on the slip.

Flight Lieutenant B. Crossley-Meates was obliged by engine trouble to
descend in Holland.

Owing to the mist the two pilots experienced considerable difficulty in
finding their way, and were subjected to a heavy gunfire while
delivering their attack."

_The French official communiqué gave precise details, thus_:--

"At Hoboken the Antwerp shipbuilding yard was set on fire and two
submarines were destroyed, while a third was damaged. Forty German
workmen were killed and sixty-two wounded."


XXII.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Squadron, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 26th March, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

I had quite a good time yesterday with Courtney, although the weather
was so bad. We started out gaily through Bergues, a ripping little town,
then Cassel, a most delightful spot. It is perched up on a hill in the
middle of a plain and you get a grand view around. We visited some
R.F.C. people at St. Omer, had lunch there and then went out to Wipers
(Ypres). There was nothing doing there, but even though we had all sorts
of passes, we could not get near the firing line. The Cloth Hall and
Cathedral we thoroughly inspected though--most lovely places, utterly in
ruins. The remainder of the town is really very little touched--nothing
like Nieuport, where there is not a whole building anywhere. We got back
home about 6 p.m., having enjoyed ourselves immensely and feeling quite
tired out. My troubles weren't over though, as I found a little "chit"
awaiting me, asking me to dine with the Commander.

The First Lord wired his "congrats" to us through Longmore--some feather
in our caps, what! This morning I see all sorts of garbled accounts in
the newspapers. My photo in the ---- is awful. ---- ought to be shot.

Must close as the mail is just going out. Best love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XXIII.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Squadron, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 31st March, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

We can hear the guns when the wind is our way, and on a clear day we can
see shrapnel bursting in the air. What do you think of this story, the
latest from the trenches? It's not quite a drawing-room one!

One Tommy, speaking to another over the trenches:--"Ello, Bill, got a
lice over there?" "Garn, we ain't lousy." "I mean a boot-lice."

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

P.S.--Meates did get to Hoboken and came down in Holland on return
journey.

Tell Dad to let me know when he is coming, as near as possible, so that
perhaps I can arrange to meet him. The boat does not cross here every
day, but he can also come _via_ Calais. Think I can fix up a room over
the road.


XXIV.

_To his Sister._

 No. 1 Squadron, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 1st April, 1915.

DEAR OLD GIRL,

I really feel I owe you a few lines, as you have honoured me with
several epistles lately, which I fear have remained unanswered.

Did my last letter to Mother arrive very sticky? It left here sopping
wet, and thereby hangs a tale. I hadn't time to re-write it, as the mail
was just going out. I unfortunately had the letter on me and, in
conjunction with myself, it got rather a bad ducking.

I was sent up with an observer this morning in a Vickers gun bus (a
pusher machine), and all went well until coming home, when my engine
petered out, when I was only 400 feet over the town. I hadn't much
choice of landing grounds, and preferred to come down in one of the
docks to landing on a house-top or in a maze of telegraph wires. I
pancaked [flattened out] as much as possible, but hit the water with a
bit of a biff. Things then began to happen pretty suddenly. I remember
seeing my observer shot out into the water about twenty yards ahead, and
the next thing I knew was that I was under the water and still in the
machine. I was scared "some," and the water tasted beastly salt, but I
pulled myself together, and says I to myself, ses I, "Harold, my boy, if
you don't keep your head and get out of this damn quick, you'll drown
for a cert like a rat in a trap." So I carefully thought out just where
the top plane would be, and disentangled myself from things in general.
It took a long time though, and I was relieved "some" when I bobbed up
to the surface. I was rather surprised at keeping afloat very easily, as
I had heaps of clothes on.

 [Illustration:
 ONE VICKERS FIGHTING BIPLANE PHOTOGRAPHED FROM ANOTHER]

 [Illustration:
 A VICKERS FIGHTING BIPLANE
 _It was on a machine of this type that Lieut. Rosher plunged into the
 Docks at Dunkirk_]

On arrival at the surface, I found my observer hanging on to the
machine, and it didn't take me long to get a hold on it myself. We were
only about 40 yards from the side of the dock, but didn't venture to
swim, as the sides were twenty feet high, and the ladders only just
reached to the water. There were no boats at all there, but we soon had
a hundred or so dock hands around the side, all of whom seemed to talk
very volubly, but were very incompetent. The water was icy cold and we
were very cold before coming into it. With some difficulty I managed to
undo a button or so and blow out my Gieves waistcoat, but it wasn't
really necessary as I was keeping afloat well. After a bit some life
belts were thrown out, and two men came out on a little raft. I swam to
a life belt and my observer (Collen) [Lieut. A. R. Collen, R.M.A.] got
on the raft. We both had to be hauled up out of the dock with ropes, and
by the time we got on _terra firma_, it was as much as we could do to
stand up. We were in the water about 20 minutes, and I don't think I
have ever been so cold before.

We walked rapidly off to the aerodrome, half a mile away, and there had
a stiff rum and milk, and stripped in front of a fire and had a good rub
down. We had lunch wrapped up in towels and were then rigged out in blue
jerseys and blue serge trousers. This afternoon we have both had a hot
bath and are feeling none the worse. The C.O. was very amused about the
whole proceeding and laughed heartily at us. The machine is but very
little damaged, but will take some salving. My pocket book, cheque book,
etc., are all in a nasty sticky state. Thank goodness! I hadn't my gold
watch. My clothes (including new fur coat) are, I am afraid, all ruined.

This afternoon Garros [Lieut. Roland Garros] shot down a Taube from his
Morane. The poor wretches were burnt to death. Two of our people raided
Zeebrugge and Hoboken again this morning.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving brother,
 HAROLD.


XXV.

_To his Father._

 No. 1, Naval Aeroplane Squadron, B.E.F.,
 12th April, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

Many thanks for letter received yesterday telling of your safe return. I
think you must have omitted enclosure. By the way, the papers turned up
the day after you left.

Have been very busy the last two days with our new busses. None have
been flown yet, but we are prepared for fireworks. Three men have been
killed on them in Paris in the last month. Babington and Sippe are both
back. S---- G---- turned base over apex on landing his tabloid [fast
scouting machine].

 15th April, 1915.

Sad to relate, I have decided to part with old 873. She was really
getting too ancient, and has now been packed up and is going to be sent
home for School work; too bad, isn't it? It would have been a far better
ending had I crashed her. I have written up her raids inside the
fuselage--(1) Friedrichshafen, (2) Zeebrugge, (3) Ostend, (4) Ostend
again, and (5) Hoboken--some record! I asked permission to fly her home,
but the C.O. didn't bite. I was awfully disappointed.

My new bus is a Morane parasol, 80 h.p. Le Rhone. They are supposed to
climb like fire and do over 80 miles per hour, but are very touchy on
the elevator and rather trying to fly. I have not yet been up in her.

Garros brought another machine down to-day, and a Frenchman managed to
fly back to our own lines after having one foot smashed by shrapnel over
Ostend.

 17th April, 1915.

Very little news of interest to tell you, but here goes for what there
is. My Morane parasol was ready to-day and Babington tested it. If the
weather is fine to-morrow, I shall float forth on it into the "ethereal
blue." Not having flown a monoplane before, I am all of a "doo-da."

Yesterday I went out to see the War at N----. Though a fine day, the
Bosches were not bombarding, so we went around in peace, and I brought
back a few shell fragments with me which you may find interesting. For
the rest, our miserable lives continue much as before. The Frenchmen
here have lost a machine to-day, but the R.F.C. brought down an Aviatik
at Wipers, so that makes us all square.

 19th April, 1915.

I have flown my Morane twice. It is a most comic affair, but I think I
shall like it when I get more used to it. It is very light on the
controls, especially the elevator, and gets off the ground before you
can say "squeak." Garros was missing last night, and there has since
been a rumour that he is a prisoner of war.[9] This is, of course, a
nasty knock for us.

A Frenchman had rather a bad accident here this morning. He ran over the
bank at the top end of the aerodrome in a Voisin and turned a complete
somersault. The machine immediately caught fire. The passenger got off
all right, but the pilot was badly burnt. Five minutes after they got
him out one of his bombs went off with a terrific bang. The machine was
entirely wrecked.

 24th April, 1915.

Just a few lines to let you know I am still in the land of the living. I
see in the papers that Colonel Rosher (Dorsets) has been killed in the
Persian Gulf. The Dorsets seem to have had a pretty rough time.

Spenser Grey [Squadron Commander Spenser D. A. Grey, D.S.O., R.N.] and
Marsden [Flt. Lieut. M. S. Marsden, R.N.] paid a visit to Ostend to-day
with bombs, and Sippe was turned upside down on the ground in a Morane
by a gust of wind this afternoon. He was unhurt, but the machine was
badly damaged.

 27th April, 1915.

Many thanks for the torches, papers, etc. There is nothing much doing
here at the moment. According to the papers, the Germans are making
another dash for this place. There is certainly a hell of a row going
on. We hear the guns day and night.

 29th April, 1915.

Not a line from anyone for quite three days! Whatever has become of you
all? There has been some excitement here to-day. To begin with, three
enemy aircraft came over here before breakfast, and then another between
eleven and twelve o'clock. It was most comic to see our infuriated
machines dashing off into the atmosphere in pursuit, with not an earthly
chance of catching them. Soon after eleven o'clock there was a big
explosion in the town and we all did a great leap into the air. From
then, for nearly three hours, we were shelled with the greatest
regularity at five minute intervals. We all climbed on to the roof of
one of our sheds and watched through glasses the explosions, occurring
to the second almost; big stuff it was too, 12" I should say, and fired
from the back of Nieuport, quite 20 miles away. The total bag was 40
killed and 60 wounded. They put about 20 shells into the town, one only
500 yards from the Sophie.[10] To give you an idea of the damage they
do, one shell wrecked two houses entirely and half of both houses on
either side. Windows were broken in the streets all round--"some" mess,
I can tell you.

Love to all,

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

 [Illustration:
 THE OVERTURNED MORANE
 _To which reference is made in the accompanying note. Lieut. Rosher
 was under the machine when the photograph was taken_]

 [Illustration:
 A SNAPSHOT OF LIEUT. ROSHER
 _Taken about the period of this accident_]


NOTE.

_About the end of April Lieut. Rosher crashed on his Morane at Dunkirk.
The machine overturned and was completely smashed, but he came out
uninjured._

[9] Lieutenant-aviator Roland Garros (French) was forced to land near
Ingelmunster, in West Flanders, on the evening of the 18th April, and
was taken prisoner.

[10] The villa where he was billeted.



V

TAKING A NEW MACHINE TO FRANCE


NOTE.

_In the second week of May, 1915, Harold Rosher arrived home
unexpectedly with orders to fly a new machine, a B.E. 2 C, from Hendon
to Dunkirk. He tried the machine, but was not satisfied with the engine.
On the 12th May, however, he telephoned to his father to come to the
aerodrome to lunch with him, as he intended, if possible, to make a
start immediately after lunch. The latter accordingly joined him, and
about 3 p.m. Harold got into the machine and his father bade him
farewell. As he rose, one could hear the engine missing, and at about
1000 feet, realizing that there was clearly something wrong, Harold
turned back to the aerodrome. Mechanics from the makers were sent for
and they spent a day or two on the engine. On the 16th as he was told
nothing more could be done to it, he decided to move off. He got across
to Dunkirk, and his experiences_ en route _are described in the
following letters_.


XXVI.

_To his Mother._

 The Grand Hotel, Folkestone.
 17th May, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

I was up betimes yesterday morning, but did not get away from Hendon
until about 7.0 a.m. I could only secure half a dozen biscuits and a cup
of tea before leaving. It was very thick, and clouds at 4,000 feet. I
went _via_ Harrow, Staines, and Redhill. Once at this last place, all
you have to do is to follow the railway line, which runs straight as a
die to Ashford. My engine was most alarming, making all sorts of weird
noises, and I was kept very busy the whole way spotting the field I
should land in if it petered out.

A pretty strong head wind made the going slow, and just after Redhill I
ran into rain. I stuck it for half an hour, getting very wet and seeing
hardly anything. Then the engine showed serious signs of giving up the
ghost. What finally made me decide to come down was that I couldn't get
any pressure in my petrol tank. I went on a bit and then chose a
good-looking field with a road on one side and some houses at one
corner. Here I landed in great style.

On getting down, the field was not quite so good as it looked from
above, being on a slope and with a somewhat uneven surface. The usual
crowd collected, despite the rain, and I soon had the machine covered up
with tarpaulins and a territorial guard installed. I had breakfast with
a Mr. and Mrs. R---- close by, and afterwards went into Headcorn, a mile
away, and telephoned to the Admiralty, etc. I had lunch with the R----s
and five daughters (swish, I was all of a doo-da!), and then spent the
whole of the afternoon trying to get my beastly engine to go. It's an
awful dud.

I eventually took the air before an admiring crowd at about 5.0 p.m.,
and made for Folkestone soon after. It was a wretched evening, and
though it had stopped raining, I had to come down to under 2,000 feet to
avoid clouds. I caught a glimpse of Wye when passing Ashford. Made a
very stunt landing here and met a R.F.C. officer I know. We came
straight on to the Grand, and after a drink at the Metropole, I had a
bath, then dinner and a smoke, and went to bed. To-day it is blowing a
gale and raining cats and dogs. Am proceeding to Dover first opportunity.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XXVII.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 19th May, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

I have at last arrived safely at my destination. Yesterday was a rotten
day, but I motored to Dover in the afternoon and from there into St.
Margaret's Bay, where I saw the holes made by the Zepp bombs. They were
most disappointing, being very small, one foot by six inches deep. They
were incendiary and not explosive.

I took the air from Folkestone this afternoon at 3.15 and circled round
for 15 minutes, getting to only 2,000 feet. At that I pushed off across
the Channel. My engine developed a most appalling vibration, and I
hardly hoped to reach the other side. I arrived at Calais at 1,500 feet,
and struggled on up the coast here.

Things are much as usual. I am taking an 80 Avro out to an advanced base
to-morrow morning, the B.E., of course, being useless. Maude and Andreae
are at Whale Island, the Commander in town, and Sippe and Wilson [J. P.
Wilson, D.S.O., Squadron Comdr., R.N.] in Paris. We are all at the
aerodrome and most uncomfy--Baillie [Lieut. J. E. Innes Baillie, R.M.A.]
on leave, and Courtney going on sick leave to-morrow. Please send the
gramophone at once.

 21st May, 1915.

Here I am, going strong at our advanced base, only five miles behind the
firing line. I was up yesterday morning at four, but did not get away in
the Avro until five, as it was very misty. I arrived here in due course.
We have a ripping little villa at ----. It is a most interesting place;
the King of the Belgians lives here. We were shelled the night before
last, and a Taube came over this morning and dropped a bomb at the end
of the aerodrome. Will write more later.

 22nd May, 1915.

Nothing very much in the way of news. A Taube came right over the
aerodrome this morning at about 7,000 feet. I at once went after it in
the Avro, but got nowhere near. First thing this morning I saw a Maurice
coming down vertically and spinning hard--lost sight of it behind the
housetops--pilot and passenger badly hurt--was surprised to hear they
were alive. It was a horrid sight. Anxiously awaiting arrival of
gramophone.

 23rd May, 1915.

Turned out soon after five this morning and went up for an hour and a
half waiting for Taubes. I chased several allied machines, but found
nothing hostile. Had not been down twenty minutes before one came out.
Later on in the morning two came right over the aerodrome. I went up in
pursuit, but got nowhere near them. Things are pretty lively on the
whole. Besides the regular artillery, there is an intermittent cannonade
of anti-aircraft guns, either from us at the Taubes or from the Huns at
us. The sky becomes absolutely dotted with little puffs of shrapnel,
which are visible for half an hour at least.

This evening I went into the town. It's full of life, a band playing and
all the shops open.

Babington flew my B.E. yesterday,[11] and the beastly thing nearly
caught fire. We are getting a new engine for it from Paris.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

[11] This was the machine he flew from Hendon to Dunkirk.



VI

WITH THE B.E.F. AGAIN


XXVIII.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S.,
 B. Squadron, B.E.F.
 29th May, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

Have not written for ages, but you must excuse, as we have been so busy.
This is really my first opportunity. All sorts of things have been
happening. To begin with, the Commander announced the other night that
the whole wing is going to be recalled within the next two months, so I
shall anyhow be home again before long--expect to go into seaplanes.

We had a Zep scare the other night, though it was blowing half a gale.
We were at the aerodrome all night, and went up at 3.0 a.m. for an hour
and a half--eventually got to bed at 6.0 a.m. and slept until 10 o'clock.

We have been having some lovely weather lately, except the last few
days, which have been bad. All the same we keep flying in any weather,
sometimes two and three trips a day.

I went out to the War the other afternoon to see one of our
anti-aircraft guns. We fired into the German trenches, and about two
minutes later they replied with zest. Four or five shells whizzed over
and burst about 30 yards behind us in a field. I picked up some
fragments almost too hot to hold. We were within 1000 yards of the Huns
and could see their and our own trenches rippingly through glasses.

Have given up chasing Taubes. One can never get them. We have
commandeered an old bathing hut for our office at the aerodrome, and
have rigged up an awning outside, and bought deck chairs. You should see
us all lying back in the sun with field glasses glued to our eyes,
watching the various aeroplanes, with shrapnel bursting all round them.
Our shooting is awfully bad on the whole.

Our villa is first-rate, and oh! the gramophone has arrived safe and
sound. Willing hands helped to unpack it, and we got it going in record
time. It is immensely appreciated. We had some Belgian officers to
dinner the other night, and last night we visited them. They are awfully
good fellows and we got on famously. Last night was great fun. The
Belgian C---- had unfortunately swallowed two submarines by mistake, and
the only English he knew was, "To your eyes." This we drank, also
"England toujours" and "Vive les Belges." English and French songs were
sung, etc., etc. There was a huge uproar. The Belgian C---- would insist
on wearing B----'s hat, and bestowed many kisses on the badge before
parting with it.

I do wish my camera would arrive, as I am missing some great
opportunities.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XXIX.

_To his Sister._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S.,
 B. Squadron, B.E.F.
 30th May, 1915.

DEAR OLD GIRL,

Just a line or so, which I fear will be late, to wish you many happy
returns. I suppose I shall have to forget these occasions very shortly,
or at least to pretend to. Am enclosing a pound note for you to get
yourself some oddments, as there is nothing to be had out here. I went
into Dunkirk for lunch to-day--every one was very cheery. I had a
wonderful view of part of the front this evening, every trench and shell
hole standing out with extraordinary clearness. Am hoping to be home
again before long.

Very best love.

 Ever your loving brother,
 HAROLD.


XXX.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S.,
 B. Squadron, B.E.F.
 1st June, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

Have had quite a number of thrills since I wrote last. Yesterday
afternoon I reached a height of 10,400 feet on my Avro on a
reconnaissance, which is my height record so far--some vol plané
descending.

In the evening we had a 'phone message, "Stand by to attack Zeppelin,"
and on looking out, there it was as large as life a few miles out to sea
and very high. We rushed up to the aerodrome and got off by 8.40 p.m. I
went straight out to sea after it and got to 6000 feet in 15 minutes,
but was never within ten miles of the thing. I wasn't overtaking it at
all, but on the contrary it was gaining on me, and after half an hour I
lost sight of it. The sun, of course, was right down by now and I
steered home by various lights on shore, for the coast was quite
invisible. Had some difficulty in picking out the aerodrome, although
huge petrol flares were out, but made quite a good landing. I came in
very flat but never saw the ground at all. I touched it when I thought I
was still 50 feet up, and also caught the top of the hedge coming into
the aerodrome--it was most deceptive. G----, you will remember, was
killed at Hendon through not flattening out soon enough.

We next had some dinner, but mine was spoilt through a message from the
Commander, which contained instructions for me to drop bombs on an
airship shed at Gontrode, near Ghent. The moon rose soon after midnight
and at 1.30 a.m. I started off. Things in general have a most depressing
aspect at that hour of the morning. I went out to sea _via_ Zeebrugge,
and then cut inland. When I arrived at the place, there was a thick
ground mist and dawn was just breaking. I could not see the sheds at
all, but two searchlights were going hard. I half circled round, when
lo! and behold! I sighted the Zeppelin coming home over Zeebrugge. I
turned off due east to avoid being seen, intending to wait until he came
down and then to catch him sitting. But my luck was out. One of the
searchlights picked me up, and anti-aircraft guns immediately opened
fire on me.

 [Illustration:
 A ZEPPELIN AIRSHIP BEING USED FOR TRAINING _PERSONNEL_ AT THE
 JOHANNISTHAL AERODROME, NEAR BERLIN]

 [Illustration:
 A ZEPPELIN IN THE DOUBLE SHED AT JOHANNISTHAL, WITH THE SMALLER
 PARSEVAL SHED NEXT DOOR]

 [Illustration:
 A TAUBE-TYPE GERMAN MONOPLANE]

Then a curious thing happened. The Zeppelin sighted me (I think the
searchlights were signalling) and immediately came for me. This was the
tables turned on me with a vengeance, and the very last thing I ever
dreamt of. It was a regular nightmare. I was only 6000 feet up, and the
Zepp, which was very fast, must have been ten. Without being able to get
above it, I was, of course, helpless and entirely at the mercy of his
maxim guns. I don't think I have been so disconcerted for a long time.
We had "some" race! He tried to cut me off from Holland, but I got
across his bows. He was a huge big thing, most imposing, and turned
rapidly with the greatest of ease. I hung around north of Ghent,
climbing hard, and reached 8,500 feet, but the Zepp wasn't having any.
He wasn't coming down while I was there, and I, on the other hand,
couldn't get up to him, as he had risen to some fabulous height, so
after a bit I pushed off home feeling very discontented at such an
unsatisfactory ending. What else could I do? I wasn't going back on the
chance of spotting the sheds, with anti-aircraft guns waiting for me
below and a Zepp ready to pounce on me from above.

I disposed of my bombs in the sea before landing, and got back after
three hours in the air--eventually got to bed at something after 6 a.m.
Have been in to see the Commander to-day, and he was kind enough to tell
me I had done all that was possible. He also gave me a little job, which
necessitates my getting away soon after midnight to-night. Pray the Lord
my engine holds out!

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

P.S.--I hear the Zepp dropped bombs at ----. I must have followed him
half-way across.


XXXI.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B. Squadron, B.E.F.
 2nd June, 1915.

DEAR MUM,

Just a line to let you know how I fared last night. I left the aerodrome
in the moonlight at one in the morning and I did not at all relish it. I
went out to sea past Zeebrugge and cut in over Northern Belgium. Could
see the lights of Flushing quite plainly, but it was quite hopeless to
find my destination, owing to a thick ground mist, so I returned,
dropping my bombs on Blankenberghe on the way. I was only away 1¾ hours,
and it was just getting light as I got back. I landed with the help of
flares and got to bed by 4 a.m.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XXXII.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B Squadron, B.E.F.
 5th June, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

Very little news to tell you, but thought you might like a line or so. I
saw in the papers that poor old Barnes[12] has been killed and Travers
[H. C. Travers, Flt. Sub-Lieut., R.N.] slightly injured. You remember
meeting them both at Hendon. Their names appeared in the casualty lists,
so I presume it was not an ordinary smash. Have heard no particulars,
but I should fancy they both went up at night after the Zepps, and
either had an engine failure or misjudged landing. That's another old
Hendonite gone, though he wasn't one of the original ones, and don't
think he is in the big photo group.

We lost a seaplane pilot out here the other day. He was brought down off
Ostend. Also an awfully nice Belgian I know was taken prisoner two days
ago.

Have returned my Avro to headquarters and am now flying my B.E. again. I
only hold the controls just on getting off and on landing. I don't like
them [the B.E. machines] in bad weather. They are too automatic. I have
been getting some fine views lately of the lines. It's most interesting
up this way.

Babington went home some days ago and Sippe is now in charge here. He
has been unwell the last three days, so I am left in command of the
station--four officers under me, over 30 men, machines, and seven or
eight motors of various descriptions.

Have hopes of being given a Nieuport in a day or so. They are fast
scouts, supposed to do over 90 miles per hour, and should get a Zepp
with one with any luck. Don't know when I am rejoining Babington.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XXXIII.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B Squadron, B.E.F.
 5th June, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

I think you cannot have been getting all my letters, as I have never let
10 days go by without a line or so. You are so insistent on numerous
letters that you must really excuse the margin or I shall reduce to
postcards. Yes, I got the five pounds all right and am urgently wanting
the other. You don't seem to fully realize yet that I have left Dunkirk,
and that there is not, and never has been, such a thing as a bank within
miles of the place. The camera and papers turned up yesterday, for which
many thanks. Do send _Flight_ and the _Aeroplane_. I have not seen them
for weeks. Am just about fed up with this place. We are being turned out
and having tents up at the aerodrome.

Big haul last night. Warneford [R. A. J. Warneford, V.C., Flt.
Sub-Lieut., R.N.] caught a Zepp at 6,000 feet and did it in, and another
was caught in its shed by Wilson and Mills [J. S. Wilson, D.S.C.; F.
Mills, D.S.C., both Flight Comdrs., R.N.].

There was also a huge fire at the hospital here last night. All the
wounded men were got out, and the sands were strewn with them in beds,
etc.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XXXIV

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B Squadron, B.E.F.
 8th June, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

We are now in tents. Great news about Warneford, isn't it? He certainly
deserves the V.C. Am going to fly a Nieuport to-morrow.

 12th June, 1915.

Things have been going on much as usual the last few days, but to-morrow
I am going down south somewhere (I don't yet know where) to do some
spotting for the army. Expect to be away about ten days or perhaps two
weeks. Address all letters as usual. It will probably be some time
before I receive them. I quite expect I shall run across a number of
people I know. It should be an interesting visit, plenty of shell fire
though, no doubt.

I flew a Nieuport the other day and hope later to get one of my own.
Have not yet heard from Babington. Fear our chances of getting away with
him are very slender.

Gramophone going strong.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

 [Illustration:
 LIEUT. ROSHER FLYING A BRISTOL "BULLET"]

 [Illustration:
 A FIRE CAUSED BY LONG-RANGE BOMBARDMENT
 _Photographed from an aeroplane_]

 [Illustration:
 FLIGHT-SUB-LIEUT. WARNEFORD, V.C., AND HIS MORANE "PARASOL"]


XXXV.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B Squadron, B.E.F.
 19th June, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

It's ages since I wrote, but it can't be helped, as I have been so
awfully busy. For the last week I have been in the neighbourhood of La
Bassée, and of course by now you have seen in the papers all about the
heavy fighting there. The bombardment was terrific, quite impossible to
describe. One day, in the afternoon, I saw it all from above. The small
section of trenches they were shelling was simply a mass of smoke and
dust, a perfect hell. In the evening of the same day I went out in a car
to a point of vantage about three miles behind the line. It was a
wonderful sight. Though not near enough to see the infantry advancing,
we had, all the same, a fine view. Whenever there was a slight lull in
the firing, we heard the maxims and rifles hard at it.

There is no mistaking the battle line in this part of the world--a long,
narrow winding blighted patch of land, extending roughly N. and S. as
far as the eye can see. In the middle of it two rows of trenches, in
places only 50 yards apart, stand out very conspicuously. These are our
first line and that of the Huns. Behind each are the second and third
lines, with little zigzag communicating trenches between. It is most
interesting. There are some beastly Archies [anti-aircraft guns] though,
which come unpleasantly near first shot. Machines are being hit day
after day.

Am more or less comfortable on the whole, but running short of socks and
hankies. Am also being bitten to death and "hae my doots" about their
being mosquitoes. Terrible trouble with machines. I crashed an
undercarriage the other day and cannot get an engine to go. Isn't it
terrible news about Warneford? He fell out of his machine, not being
strapped in. Babington is in hospital. His foot is giving him trouble
again, so fear we shall not get away with him yet awhile.

The dust out here is appalling. Will write again as soon as I can.

Best love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XXXVI.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, B.E.F.
 24th June, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

Very little news. From what I can see, we are likely to be down here for
at least another two weeks. I don't much mind, as in a way I would
sooner be here for a little. The change though has rather worn off. Am
not a bit comfortable, my billet being a horrible dirty place, with all
sorts of weird odours. Food pretty fair, but none too clean, and all
eating utensils invariably very dirty.

I suppose tennis is in full swing at home. Pity I'm not due for another
spot of leave yet. I got the parcel of papers all right, but not
_Flight_ and the _Aeroplane_. Think they must have gone astray.

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 21st July, 1915.

I flew my old B.E. back here [Dunkirk] yesterday, as it has been hot
stuffed [requisitioned]. I admit it is rather a dud, but I had no wish
to exchange it for a Voisin. After some little trouble I persuaded the
Commander to let me have a Morane instead, and tried quite a nice one
this morning, the first time I have flown one since I smashed. They are
beastly unstable things, and I fully expect to turn this one over before
the week is out. The Commander is keeping me here for a few days' rest
before returning to the R.F.C. Dunkirk is quite a lively place nowadays.
The Huns have dropped bombs on the aerodrome twice in the last week, but
fortunately none of the lads were killed.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


NOTE.

_On the 25th July, 1915, Harold Rosher arrived home on two days' leave,
having come across to attend a conference._


XXXVII.

_To his Father._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 28th July, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

Have had a ripping journey back. The country down to Folkestone was just
too lovely for words, especially round Ashford. Saw Milverton [the house
where he was born] on the way. Had a first-rate crossing, and was met by
one of the Rolls [Rolls-Royce car] at Boulogne, so your wire arrived all
right. Had lunch at the "Folkestone" before starting back, and then a
topping run here. Went out to see the lads at F---- in the evening.
Sippe is back again and Baillie in great form. He sends his chin chins,
and I gave him yours.

A Hun came over at midnight last night and bombed us. His eight bombs
fell nearly a mile away, though.

 31st July, 1915.

More excitement. I was due for an anti-aircraft patrol this morning, and
just as I was ready, a little before 4.0 a.m., a Hun machine came over
and bombed us. Three bombs fell within a hundred yards of me. I went up
after him at once, but lost sight of him in the air, so continued the
usual patrol. When I got back, I found that six other machines had
followed the first, arriving about fifteen minutes after. None of their
bombs did any damage at all. They seem determined to _strafe_ this
place. A regular cloud of machines goes up after them whenever they
appear, but we haven't had much luck as yet.

Expect to be stationed at Dover again in about ten days, for a little
while anyhow. The Commander seems to think I don't look fit enough to go
out to the Dardanelles. Apparently they are being bowled over with
dysentery.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

[12] Flight Sub-Lieut. Henry Barnes, killed in an accident near London,
4th Oct., 1915.



VII

ON HOME SERVICE AGAIN


XXXVIII.

_To his Father._

 R.N. Flying School, Eastchurch.
 3rd August, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

I left Dover yesterday afternoon on B.E. 2 C, and had a convenient
engine failure at Westgate. Landed in the aerodrome and had a chat with
Maude before proceeding. Arrived here in due course--it is a most
desolate spot. Shall be here anything between three days and three
weeks. Saw Babington here soon after I arrived.

 10th August, 1915.

I don't seem to be able to get away from this damn war. Last night "old
man Zepp" came over here--"beaucoup de bombs,"--"pas de success." Two
machines went up to spikebozzle him, but, of course, never even saw him.
A sub went up from Westgate and came down in standing corn. He turned
two somersaults. Have just heard that he has since died. I knew him
slightly. We have a terrific big bomb hole in the middle of the
aerodrome and numerous smaller ones at the back. Expect to be back in
Dunkirk on Sunday next. "Pas de Dardanelles." We are going into khaki
though.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XXXIX.

_To his Father._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 12th August, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

Have just arrived here from Eastchurch, having been suddenly recalled,
and am now told to be ready to cross to Dunkirk in half an hour--no
gear, dirty linen, "pas de leave"--what a life!

Shall try hard to get some leave in a week or so's time. Anyhow I must
get my khaki outfit.

Love.

 Your loving son,
 HAROLD.



VIII

WITH THE B.E.F. ONCE MORE


XL.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 13th August, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

Got aboard and were off by 8.0 p.m. last night--our ship a comic old
tramp with absolutely no accommodation. It took us 6 hours to make
Dunkirk and we were not allowed off until 8.0 a.m. this morning. Spent
the night walking about or trying to get a little sleep on deck--thank
God! it was not rough. We are all "fed to the teeth!" In all probability
we shall remain out here another six months now.

The Zepp that was bombed from here had actually been towed right into
Ostend harbour. Everyone that went had his machine hit, and one man is
missing. This place was bombarded again the other day with the big gun.
Expect we are in for a merry time.

Love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XLI.

_To his Mother._

 No. 1 Wing R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 26th August, 1915.

DEAREST MUM,

I am being kept very busy out here. Last night there was a comic raid on
the Forest of Houthulst. It is six or seven miles behind the lines near
Dixmude, and the Huns use it as a rest camp--beaucoup de stores and
ammunition there too. The French idea was to set it on fire with
incendiary bombs. Over forty machines took part, including self--perfect
weather conditions--no clouds but very hazy, so when one got high up one
was almost invisible. I got just over 11,000 feet, but even then had one
or two shots near me. Below me the air was simply a mass of bursting
shrapnel. French artillery also opened fire on the place. There must
have been beaucoup de noise in the forest. Most amusing--a really soft
job as some one remarked.

Love to all.

 Your loving son,
 HAROLD.


NOTE.

_The French official account of the raid described in the foregoing
letter was as follows_:--

"A remarkable series of air raids against German positions or works of
military value are reported in yesterday's Paris _communiqués_. In two
of them the air squadrons were larger than any previously reported since
the beginning of the war.

In one 62 French airmen took part....

The other great raid was undertaken by airmen of the British, French,
and Belgian armies, and the British and French navies, to the number of
60. Acting in concert, they attacked the Forest of Houthulst, in
Belgium, north-east of Ypres. Several fires broke out. All the
aeroplanes returned safely.... Previously the largest squadron of
attacking aeroplanes was one of 48 machines--of which 40 were
British--which attacked the Belgian coast on February 16th last."


XLII.

_To his Father._

 No 1 Wing, R.N.A.S., B.E.F.
 26th August, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

What do you think of the 40 warships bombarding Zeebrugge? We were all
due out there, of course, some spotting, and fighters to protect the
spotters. As luck would have it, the weather was dud--clouds at 1,500
feet--with the result that no one got there except a solitary fighter,
and he was rewarded by a scrap with a German seaplane. I got just past
Ostend, but gave it up as engine was running none too well.

By the way, Bigsworth [A. W. Bigsworth, D.S.O., Squadron Comdr., R.N.]
this morning dropped a 60 lb. bomb bang on top of a German submarine and
completely did it in--jolly good work.

 29th August, 1915.

As things stand at present I understand I am not going out to the
Dardanelles. I must say I am awfully disappointed, as I was always
rather keen to go out there, but I may possibly have a better job. For
all I know it may be to rejoin Babington.

Went out to Furnes yesterday afternoon to collect more of my gear. While
out there, a German machine came over and dropped six bombs on us. One
went right into our tent and three fell within forty yards of me. No one
was hit. We all ran like stags.

 2nd September, 1915.

Many thanks for your numerous letters, including two forwarded, and
beaucoup de periodicals. With luck I shall be home in time for your
birthday.

Many alterations are taking place here and we are being sadly split up.
Andreae and I are very soon going to Dover to join a mythical "C" group.
At present Andreae and I are its sole components--even a Squadron
Commander is not yet appointed. I am to be 1st Lieut., good for me, but
fear they may yet put in a Flight Commander. In all probability we shall
be in England over two months. Shall know a heap more in a few days.

 9th September, 1915.

Very little news except that we had the monitors bombarding Ostend the
day before yesterday. It was a fine sight from the air. A Frenchman was
badly hit in the leg going out there, but went on, dropped his bombs and
got back. He is not expected to live. Another Frenchman broke his leg
this morning in an accident. Four new subs have turned up here and I am
to go home as soon as they can fly the fast machines--it should be
within 10 days. I ought to have gone home by rights about two weeks ago.
Am flying over when I eventually do come. The last two machines that
went over both crashed at Folkestone--shall probably do the same.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.



IX

ON HOME SERVICE ONCE MORE


XLIII.

_To his Father._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 13th September, 1915.

DEAR DAD,

Am back again in England at last and am expecting to get two weeks'
leave in a day or so. I got here at midday yesterday, having flown over
from Dunkirk on a Nieuport. Drove out to Margate yesterday afternoon
with Spenser Grey. Shall probably go out again on the 1st December.

 14th September, 1915.

Just a line to let you know my probable movements. Though I am due for
two weeks' leave, it seems improbable that I shall get it just yet
awhile, but shall not be returning to Dunkirk until December 1st, when I
shall remain out there for two months.

I have just taken over the 1st Lieutenant's job on this station, and
this is keeping me busy no end. I am the senior officer, bar the C.O.,
in fact 2nd in Command, and am responsible for everything going on at
the station, _i.e._ all executive work, etc. It is, of course, all new
to me, and I find myself at sea every now and again. It is, however, a
great opportunity. You should see me take parades (divisions, we call
them), swish!

Please send me on, as soon as possible, my new monkey jacket and new
pair of trousers, also new hat. My present uniform is most disreputable,
covered in oil, etc., and must be scrapped at the earliest opportunity.

 29th September, 1915.

I knew I should forget it, your birthday I mean. I suddenly remembered
it whilst shaving this morning. I have been carrying a two-year-old note
book about with me too, to remind me, as it was marked in it--pas de
good though, and it's such a long time ago now. Beaucoup de work, or I
would have written sooner.

I have just heard a nasty rumour that I am returning to Dunkirk on
October 15th. We are getting 40 subs down here in a few days. That means
tons more work for me.

 4th October, 1915.

I think I shall get my leave (10 days only) next week. Risk [Major C. E.
Risk, Squadron Commander, R.N.] asked me if I would like to remain here
as 1st Lieutenant, an awful question to decide. I think I shall let
things stay as they are and take my flight out to Dunkirk on October
15th. It seems too much like giving in to stay here.

 30th October, 1915.

You picked me out a ripping train! It took me four hours to get down
here with a change at Faversham. When I arrived at the Priory Station I
was told it would be half an hour before the train could proceed to the
Harbour, so had to get out and walk. I got in here at ten past ten, and
the last straw was that Betty had no sandwiches left.

Graham [C. W. Graham, D.S.O.,[13] Flt. Lieut., R.N.] nearly killed
himself this afternoon. He got into a spinning nose dive on a Morane
parasol, and by the Grace of God got out again at 500 feet. In all
probability I shall get my leave after this next lot of pilots have gone
out to Dunkirk, but that remains to be seen.

 14th November, 1915.

Am postponing my leave until still later, as it is rather important for
me to stay here at the moment. Good things so very rarely come off
though. I shall be most bitterly disappointed, however, if another two
months does not see me on Active Service again.

 30th November, 1915.

Can you come down this week-end? I have great hopes that Husky and
Baillie will be back from the other side.

Apparently they had quite a good bag a day or so ago, one Hun seaplane,
one submarine, and a bomb bang in the middle of a T.B.D. [torpedo boat
destroyer].

Risk is away most of this week, but should be back by Saturday. He flew
a Maurice over from Dunkirk last week and made quite a landing on
arrival.

 15th December, 1915.

I so much enjoyed my too short week-end. I fear I shall not be able to
get up to Town again until after Xmas. Had quite a nice journey down,
making Stewart's [W. S. Stewart, Flt. Sub-Lieut., R.N.] acquaintance on
the way, likewise his wife's.

Risk said he thought I had been away months, and seemed quite relieved
to see me back again. Graham and Ince [S. Ince, D.S.C., Flt. Sub-Lieut.,
R.N.] have put up a first-rate performance. They were not shot down.
Graham came down low to see the Huns in the water, and his engine never
picked up again. The Hun machine caught fire, and must have had bombs on
it, for it exploded on hitting the water. Both machines fell bang in the
middle of the fleet, which was duly impressed. Graham, of course, turned
a somersault, and both he and Ince were nearly drowned.

 1st January, 1916.

Had a great evening last night. A crowd of us went to dinner with G----
to see the New Year in. We did it in style. To-morrow I am lunching with
the Bax-Ironsides.[14]

I looped on a B.E. 2 C. in great form the other day. If I had not been
very securely strapped in, I should have fallen clean out. As it was,
the cushion in the passenger's seat fell out and vanished. One seems to
be upside down for a frightfully long time. I did the trick out in the
country at between three and four thousand feet. The first time I had
barely enough speed, so had a second shot and got up to over 100 knots.
I really thought the wings would fall off! We had two topping crashes
yesterday, but neither of the pilots hurt.

Tons of love and a prosperous New Year.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

 [Illustration:
 A BRISTOL SCOUT BIPLANE (OR "BULLET")]

 [Illustration:
 THE MORANE "PARASOL" MONOPLANE
 Flown by Flight Sub-Lieut. Warneford, V.C., when he destroyed a
 Zeppelin]


XLIV.

_To his Grandmother._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 27th September, 1915.

DEAR GRANNY,

Am so sorry to hear you have been having such a rotten time, but trust
you are by now well on the road to recovery.

I have been having an awfully busy time lately. The King came down here
to inspect us on Thursday, and shook hands with all the officers in the
afternoon.

Am by degrees helping to get together another squadron to go out to
Dunkirk. We are due across there half way through next month. I am not
particularly anxious to go out again just yet, unless we can really get
a move on.

I hope before I go to get a little leave. I am due for two weeks, so may
see you in the near future.

Heaps of love.

 Your loving grandson,
 HAROLD.


XLV.

_To his Father._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 3rd January, 1916.

DEAR DAD,

I have got wind of something rather priceless ... for when the war is
over, I will tell you a little about this scheme, only remember it's
strictly private and confidential, so you must not mention it to any one.

In a nutshell it's this, a flight from ---- to ----. It sounds rather
impossible at first, but I think quite a number of people would have a
shot if they could get some one to pay expenses. This is where I get a
look in. The experience anyhow would be wonderful. One of the subs here
has just put me up to it, and says he has everything arranged. That
sounds rather rapid, but he has written for an appointment, so I shall
be able to let you know later how things go. In the meanwhile lie doggo
and do come down this week-end, if possible, so that we can talk things
over.

Very best love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XLVI.

_To his Mother._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 4th February, 1916.

DEAREST MUM,

Just a short line to let you know I am crossing to Dunkirk to-morrow,
weather permitting. I am flying a R.A.F. B.E. across and returning the
same day, in a Nieuport if available, otherwise in a destroyer. Am quite
looking forward to the trip. Have already crossed the Channel three
times by air and about twelve by water.

Beaucoup de love.

 Your loving son,
 HAROLD.


XLVII.

_To his Father._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 5th February, 1916.

DEAR DAD,

Had a most interesting day yesterday. Started off across Channel for
Dunkirk soon after 8.0 a.m. in a R.A.F. B.E.--engine running badly at
first, but picked up. A most priceless morning with a slight following
wind--5,000 feet at Calais, and made Dunkirk in about ¾ hour from here.
All the lads in great form, but Petre [J. J. Petre, D.S.C., Flt. Comdr.,
R.N.] and Peberdy [W. H. Peberdy, F. Sub-Lieut., R.N.] in Paris, and
Mulock [R. H. Mulock, D.S.O., Flt. Comdr., R.N.] in hospital with a
chill. Baillie going strong, also Beard [G. H. Beard, D.S.C.,[15] Flt.
Comdr., R.N.], Haskins [F. K. Haskins, D.S.C., Squadron Comdr., R.N.],
Graham, Peal [Lieut. E. R. Peal, D.S.C., R.N.V.R.], etc., etc. Breakfast
and then a good look round. The Baby Nieuports are priceless. I flew one
and went up the coast to La Panne and Furnes. When I got back I drove
out to Caudekirk to the new aerodrome, and then back for lunch.

At 2.0 p.m. I started home in a Nieuport and made Folkestone in just
over the hour--rather a strong head wind. At Folkestone I spent 1½ hours
trying to restart my engine, but with no success, so telephoned for a
car--tea at the Grand and back here in time for dinner. Have been to
Folkestone this afternoon with Ince and his brother and Husky.

Heaps of love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

P.S.--Flew back at 2,000 feet.


XLVIII.

_To his Mother._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 9th February, 1916.

DEAREST MUM,

Many thanks for letter. Am still going strong. Flew four different types
of machines to-day, two of them new ones, one a Shorthorn Maurice, and
the other a Blériot. The Blériot is the first monoplane I have flown
other than a parasol.

You have heard me mention Graham (with Ince he brought down the German
seaplane). Well, he has just had an awful bad crash at Dunkirk. Penley
[C. F. B. Penley, Flt. Sub-Lieut., R.N.] also has crashed badly twice
out there, and is now back on sick leave. Ford [E. L. Ford, Flt.
Sub-Lieut., R.N.] too is home on sick leave with his head cut open, as
the result of a bad crash, and his passenger is not expected to live. If
one goes on flying long enough, one is bound to get huffed [killed] in
the end.

By the way, Commander Lambe [Capt. C. L. Lambe, Wing Captain, R.N.] has
shipped another stripe. He is now Wing Captain and acting Captain.

Yesterday I flew to Chingford in a B.E. 2 C. with Blanch [N. C. Blanch,
Flt. Sub-Lieut., R.N.] as passenger. It was awfully cold. It took 2½
hours going, _via_ Ashford, Redhill, Brooklands and Hendon. Blanch took
the B.E. back, and I took a new Bristol Scout and did the return journey
direct (east of London) in an hour. Saw the Pemberton-Billing
quadruplane at Chingford.

Best love.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

 [Illustration:
 A B.E. 2C BIPLANE]

 [Illustration:
 A NIEUPORT BIPLANE
 (_Commonly known as a "1½ plane" owing to the small lower plane_)]

 [Illustration:
 A BLÉRIOT MONOPLANE]


XLIX.

_To his Father._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 11th February, 1916.

DEAR DAD,

Had hopes of seeing you for a few minutes to-day. Had the weather been
fine, Husky and I were motoring to Town in the morning with Capt. Lambe
in a Rolls, and both bringing machines back in the afternoon from
Chingford. As it is, of course, the weather is impossible.

I was away first, in under three minutes, the other day when the Germans
were reported over Ramsgate. I was over the North Foreland in quarter of
an hour at 6,000 feet. Was just turning, when I sighted a seaplane miles
below me, so cut off my petrol, and did a spiral vol plané towards it.
At 4,000 feet I ran into mist and lost him temporarily, but picked him
up again and chased him up the mouth of the Thames almost as far as
Herne Bay. Then he turned and shot under me, and I'm blessed if it
wasn't a Schneider Cup, one of our own machines from Westgate! I did not
hear that bombs had been dropped until I saw it in the papers the
following morning. I thought the scare was about our own seaplane.

Visited the Blimps [small airships] this afternoon at Capel. They are
really most interesting.

 13th February, 1916.

Many thanks for note received this morning. As far as I can see, there
is no chance of my going out to the other side yet awhile. Husky goes on
the 25th and Andreae a little later. Two good crashes to-day. First
Blanch on a new Avro--engine failure and landed down wind in a ploughed
field. The second was better still. A man hit the one and only tree
within miles, in getting off on a B.E. He left half a lower plane in the
tree and carried a branch or so on with him for some little distance
before crashing to earth.

I hear Graham is no better. He fractured the base of his skull and also
has internal injuries.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.


L.

_To his Mother._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 20th February, 1916.

DEAREST MUM,

Another raid on Deal to-day, five bombs dropped and one man killed. I
took over the War flight this morning, and had a patrol in the air at
the time. I myself and others were off within a few minutes of receiving
the signal, but no one even saw the machine.

Over sixty ratings arrived this morning without warning, and I had to
make all arrangements for them to be fed, housed and washed. All of them
were Derby recruits and had been in the Service 24 hours, mostly graded
as A.M. 2nd class. None had seen an aeroplane before. They were
butchers, grocers, cotton spinners, weavers, etc.

The C.O. goes away to-morrow for 2 weeks. Sippe, Andreae, Husky, Viney
[T. E. Viney, D.S.O., Flt. Lieut., R.N.], etc. go to Paris in a day or
so, and I am left to run the Station, School and War flight, keeping up
a continuous patrol with four machines.

Love to all.

 Your loving son,
 HAROLD.


LI.

_To his Father._

 Hotel Burlington, Dover.
 24th February, 1916.

DEAR DAD,

Many thanks for letter received yesterday.

Risk is still in town. I would far sooner get out East somewhere than
any home station or Dunkirk. I understand shortly there will be great
alterations in the R.N.A.S. Rumour has it again that we are to give up
land machines entirely and stick to seaplanes.

Drove over to Eastchurch yesterday on business, roads in places 18" deep
in snow. Coming back I had a priceless skid and finished up in a ditch.
No one hurt or even shaken. Returned here by train, and car came on
to-day. It was very little damaged, steering arm bent, and one wheel
slightly out of truth. It was really rather comic.

Did you hear how Usborne and Ireland[16] were killed? If not, will tell
you later. T---- was burnt to death.

Love to all.

 Ever your loving son,
 HAROLD.

[13] Since this book was first published Lieut. Graham has died.

[14] Sir Henry Bax-Ironside, late Minister in Bulgaria.

[15] Since this book was first published Flt. Comdr. Beard has been
killed.

[16] Wing-Commander Neville F. Usborne, R.N., and Squadron Commander de
C. W. P. Ireland, R.N., were killed 23rd Feb., 1916.


 THE END


 PRINTED IN ENGLAND BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
 LONDON AND BECCLES.

 [Illustration:
 "CW"]





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