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Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 24 January 1919

Link - Posted by David on December 30, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter and then to the 496th and eventually attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes just before the end of the war and stayed on with the occupying forces.

A PANARAMA. Old Glory flies over Ehrenbreitstein fortress looking down on Coblentz, lying peacefully on the juncture of the Rhine and Moselle. Germany 1919.


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 24 January 1919

Elmiran Sends Interesting Description of Chief City in American Sector and Portrays Feeling of the Doughboys When They Show That Kaiser Had the Wrong “Dope.”

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton, former Elmira newspaperman, writes an interesting account of the American army’s crossing of the River Rhine and the occupation of Coblentz. the chief city in the American sector of occupation. Sergeant Painton is now attached to “The Stars and Stripes,” the official paper of the American soldiers in France and is afforded an excellent opportunity to see the things which he describes.

He writes:

“Coblentz, Germany,
“Dec. 13, 1918.

“Today, in a very quiet undramatic marched into Coblentz, the chief and by far largest city included in the territory of occupation. Facing me not fifty yards away is the historic and much sung Rhine, not the German Rhine in our sector, but the American Rhine for the time being. By nightfall the streets swarmed with doughboys. To them came no emotion, this was an everyday job: the Argonne. Chateau Thierry, it was all the same. To the list of tiny unknown French villages, whose names later on were blazed across the papers through the deeds of the A.E.F. is now added that of Coblentz. To those who have never toured Europe. Coblentz is as much of a secret as is La Ferte.

“As Coblentz has been made the headquarters of the 3rd Army and everything of importance centers here, it would not go amiss to give a brief description. Coblentz, with Treves or Trier as the Germans call it, rate as two of the oldest cities in Germany, dating back to the time of Caesar. Although situated at the junction of the Rhine and Moselle, it has never grown much in population. In the Thirty Years War Coblentz was, in turn, besieged and garrisoned by the Swedes, French and Prussians.

“Slipping quickly to the era of Napoleon we find it, after Valmy, made the capital of the new French province of Meurthe et Moselle. It is thus that we can account for the dual names that are horn by all the towns rivers and departments. They have, after Waterloo, been all Germanized. Now, for the first time in over a hundred years, a foreign flag Old Glory, now flies from the City Hall and also from the Ehrenbreitstein, the fortress guarding Coblentz. Does this not give one a feeling of passionate pride in our country?

“I can not resist the temptation to describe for you the Ebrenbreitstein as it looks at the moment perched high on the rugged cliffs on the opposite bank of the Rhine. As I look out the window, the sun, which shines today for the first time in weeks, sets off this monstrous fortress in all its grim and powerful lines. On its highest tower, gently waving in the springlike breeze is “Old Glory.” flaunting in the Kaiser’s face a refutation of his remark that “The Americans will take no important part in this war as they will arrive too late.” We were late, but American speed brought the train in on time.

“Ehrenbreitstein—the name is reminiscent of three balls—has been called and rightly “The Gibraltar of the Rhine.” It was commenced about the time that Napoleon made his exit from the European stage and has been strengthened and improved from year to year as new modes of killing came into vogue. In a way it resembles Verdun, in that it has been hollowed out of the rock. The huge underground chambers will easily billet one hundred men. Monstrous supply rooms occupy the base and by means of spiral stair cases one finally rises to the height of 385 feel and gazes from the cement battlements down on the fair city of Coblentz, lying peacefully on the juncture of the Rhine and Moselle. On clear days one can see Andernach lying further down the Rhine. Up to the time we took possession of the fortress, no foreign soldiers had ever made its will resound with the tread of their footsteps. Now the case is reversed: No German soldiers are allowed inside.

“The city proper lies on the peninsula formed by the juncture of the Rhine and the Moselle. We were much impressed with the civic upbuilding. Each building and private residence were beautiful examples of German architecture and everything was scrupulously neat and clean. The city is laid out very beautifully, with long gardens and promenades running along the banks of the Rhine. Being on that great inland waterway, there is considerable business done in cargo carrying.

“It is rather amusing to run into a newcomer and have him ask eagerly, “Is that there river the Rhine” Upon receiving an affirmative answer, he usually stares long and thoughtfully at it and then with a smile and shake of the shoulders, remark: “Well, that’s sompen to tell the folks at home, by Gosh. I saw their old German Rhine.”

“You can well imagine our thoughts when, as we stood on the now historic pontoon bridge, about ten o’clock at night, we heard the sweet strains of “Taps” wafted over the swift flowing waters beneath. That we would eventually stand here none of us had any doubts, but who would have thought a few short months ago that the curtain would have been rung down so quickly?

“Today is the 14th of December, a day that will go down in the annals of historv as the day on which our olive drab columns crossed the Rhine to finish occupying our area. We were all up before daybreak, eagerly awaiting the moment when the advance would be sounded. The streets were crowded with the boys of the gallant First. As the dim gray crept across the sky announcing the approach of another dismal, rainy day. the brief command. “Forward March” was given to the leading battalion and the great moment had arrived. Who can say what emotions pierced our breast as battalion after battalion swung into line and the boards began to rattle with the impress of hundreds of steel shod boots? Who can say that we had not received our reward for all the hardships endured as we watched the grim, gaily painted guns go thundering over the bridge quaking beneath their weight? What could we think when we remembered that the remnant of Germany’s fighting machine were slinking away a few short hours ahead of these boys, whose deeds at Monfaucon, Cantigny and Soisson will live forever in the memories of all Americans? All felt the same desire to yell with joy, toss their caps, anything to give vent to their superexuberant spirits brought on by witnessing such a show of a nation’s power as was this. Further up on another bridge of more substantial construction, the lads of the famous second were also taking their place in line. Hundreds of the civilian population left their beds to witness this great event. To those who took stock in Kaiser Wilhelm’s statement that aside from two or three regular divisions, there were no American troops in France, this sight must have been well nigh incredible. Can you wonder that, instead of being angry at having to remain a few months longer, we are intensely proud?”


A few weeks later, The Star-Gazette reported that Sergeant Painton was to be shipped home after suffering injuries from gas attack in the St. Mihiel Drive.



Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 18 February 1919

Elmira Soldier Collapses Several Months After Having Been Gassed in St. Mihiel Drive—Has Been Attached To Staff of the Stars and Stripes.

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Painton, former Elmira newspaperman, whose interesting letters from France have been widely read, is enroute home, suffering from the effects of gas, which he received during the St. Mihiel drive by General Pershing’s troops. Painton has lately been attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes and was having a most interesting experience as a reporter with the American Army of Occupation when he suddenly collapsed and was forced to give up his work.

He writes: “A year ago today I landed in Glasgow, England, and now, on the anniversary, I find myself scrapped, war’s cast-off and en-route home.” Painton was gassed several months ago. and at the time paid no attention to the matter. He says “now I am getting the real effects, my stomach is gone, my nerves are gone, and, as you know, I already had a bad heart, so here I am feeling as bad as the Kaiser. I expect to sail in about a week and should be in Elmira by the first of March.”

Painton was evacuated from Coblentz on the Rhine and was forced to leave all effects in his trunk at Paris. He says he fears he will have to spend his first month home in bed, but he hopes to soon be tearing off copy for local papers before very long.

Painton was thrown by the concussion of a shell while at Troyon, during the St. Mihiel drive, and believes that he suffered an injury to his side. Because of the condition of his nerves, he is unable to sleep at times without the aid of an opiate. The former reporter declares he dislikes very much to leave at this time, because he was having a wonderful experience with the American Army. However, he looks forward to the trip home as a tonic, although greatly disappointed because he must leave his trunk full of war souvenirs behind. He hopes to have a friend take care of it for him until he can have it sent home.

Painton was a reporter in Elmira at the time the United States entered the war. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction. He was not accepted in the draft without an argument, and so eager was he to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. He was again rejected at Camp Dix, but finally was allowed to go to Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way across in the transport service with an aviation section.

Finally an opportunity came to him, after the armistice was signed, to become attached to The Stars and Stripes, the official publication of the American soldiers, published in Paris. His articles, which have appeared in the local papers, have been widely read.

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 3 January 1919

Link - Posted by David on December 26, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter and then to the 496th and eventually attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes just before the end of the war and stayed on with the occupying forces.

TREVES. Locals turn out to watch the allied occupying forces come through town.
1 December 1918


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 3 January 1919

Boy Tries to Sell Helmet for Meat—Entire A.E.F. Envious of Those Who Make Up the American Army of Occupation—Does Not Expect to Be Home for Several Months.

“It is tiresome work, this making history for our kids to study.” is the apt way in which Sergeant Frederick Painton writes of his experiences, in one of the first letters received from Germany since the American Army of Occupation took up its march to the Rhine.

Sergeant Painton, who is now attached to the Staff of “The Stars and Stripes,” the official paper of the American Epeditionary Forces, writes from Treves, one of the tirst of the German cities occupied by the Americans, he writes that the German people appear glad to see the Americans and are quick to barter souvenirs for something to eat. Sergeant Painton writes:

“Treves, Germany,

“December 6, 1918.

“Dear Friend:

“When I walked out of the office a little over a year ago who could have said that a year later I would be in a German city, sleeping in a German Hotel, and not a prisoner? But such is the case, which proves that truth is stronger than fiction. At present I rest, covered from head to foot with the mud of two nations and the Duchy of Luxemburg. We drove all the way from Verdun, which we left early this morning.

You cannot imagine the mental sensation of being actually in Germany and seeing German soldiers walking down the street unguarded. And what irony of fate to order and eat a meal in a German hotel and pay for it with French money! In spite of all that has been written in the negative, there is not a doubt but what the lower classes are in a hard way for food, which I will prove by the following incident:

We entered Treves at S o’clock, French time, swearing like pirates. It was blacker than Hades, foggy, slippery, and to cap the climax we had two flat tires and an empty stomach. Wc stopped to try and find some place to cache the car for the night and while my companion was trying to find one a little German lad came up to me and offered to sell one of those Dutch picklehaubes, or spiked helmets, which the boys are so crazy to get as souvenirs. I asked him how much, and he said “Das Fleisch,” which means meat. He did not want money, as money will not buy meat in this country. In this hotel, however, we had plenty to eat for five marks and 30 pfennig.

German money is used entirely, which means learning a new money system and I am becoming a shark when it comes to rates of exchange. I talk in halting German, so halting, in fact, that it stands still most of the time. I have become so used to talking French that the little German I learned in school has completely left me. It is like a Ford, though, it may start again at any time.

I can’t say when I will be home. Being with the Army of Occupation means not within three or four months at any rate. I don’t mind though, this is a privilege and the whole A.E.F. is envious of us. As we came across the bridge over the Moselle, which is the frontier. I saw by the dim light a tall, grey-cloaked, spike-helmeted man walking down the road. As we came closer I also saw that he wore an up-turned mustache a la Kaiser. As the swirling fog eddied around him I was forcibly impressed with the likeness to the ex-Kaiser and also that we were victors. This was doubly brought home when he glanced over his shoulder and then slunk out of the road. Vanished hopes and bitter memories, indeed. Here was the incarnation of them.

In the city, however, the people are gay without being noisily so. Children laugh and imitate our salute as we walk down the street. The people are for the most part well dressed and have a relieved air about them.

I am enclosing a German identification tag which you may wish for a souvenir. In our Ford at present we have ten or twelve helmets, six guns, paper bandages, caps and the Lord only knows what else. But how to get it home, that’s the question.

German time is an hour later than French and it now registers 11 o’clock, so here is where I hit the hay. It is tiresome work this making history for our kids to study. I prefer to sleep just now.

Auf wiedersehn, as they say here!

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 24 December 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 24, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter and then to the 496th and eventually attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes just before the end of the war and stayed on with the occupying forces.


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 24 December 1918

Writes That One Day’s Meals Cost $12, but the People of the Duchy Appear to Eat Well Just the Same—Is Attached to Third Army.

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton, former Elmira newspaperman, now a member of the staff of The Stars and stripes, the official paper of the American Expeditionary Forces, was in Luxemburg November 26, the date of his last letter. According to the Elmira soldier, Luxemburg is no place to sojourn on a private soldier’s salary, unless the latter carries his own canteen along with him. One day’s meals cost about twelve dollars.

Sergeant Painton writes:
November 26, 1918.

“Dear Friend:

“I think that my presence in Luxemburg will take you by surprise, but, anyway, here I am enroute for Paris. This is sure some beautiful city, but talk about the high cost of living, this takes the brown derby. The Alaskan gold rush couldn’t even touch it. Here are some of the prices in American money that I had to pay today: Two dollars for breakfast, four-dollars for lunch, and five-fifty for dinner. Remember, this is for one only. There is a candy shop near here where a bar of chocolate of ordinary size costs $16 each. Beer is fifty cents a small glass, and four sticks of licorice costs two dollars. Ice cream is fifty cents a glass and ordinary wine like we buy in Paris for three franc a bottle costs twenty here. These were the prevailing prices before we came and in some cases they were even higher.

“All the citizens have a sleek, well-fed appearance, and, as I found no signs of paper clothes or wooden shoes here, I think I will have to go further into Germany to find them I shall go further as I shall be attached to the Third Army. There is a great deal to tell you, so I shall put most of !t off until I get back to Paris. That trip following the German retreat was the greatest thing in my young life.

“I saw Jack Wilkinson in Paris and have a date with him for Wednesday night if all goes well. If you would like a Boche helmet for a souvenir I can send you one. We came upon hundreds of boxes of new helmets that were ready to be Issued. We all had Mauser rifles for souvenirs and plenty of “ammo.” so shot holes through some of them for practice.

“Well, it is time to hit the hay, so will close. This is the first time I have slept in a bed in two weeks, so I will make it a good one. I was stationed in Verdun for three or four days and had to sleep in an old shack on the floor.

“Every sign in this town is painted in both French and German, although the latter language is in more use.”

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 30 November 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 18, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter and then to the 496th and eventually attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes just before the end of the war.

ARMISTICE DAY Parisians flood the streets and party hard after hearing the war was over.
11 November 1918


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 30 November 1918

Sergeant Frederick Painton Tells of Being in Paris, When Good News Is Received—City Declares Three Day Holiday and Wild Scenes Are Enacted.

Sergeant Frederick Painton, formerly of the 496th Aero Squadron and now attached to the staff of The Stars and Stripes had the enjoyable experience of being in Paris when the news came that the war was over. His description of the seen that followed in the French capital gives an indication of the great joy the end of the war brought to the Frenchmen, and not the least enjoyment for the American soldiers, who happened to be in Paris was the enthusiasm of the girls, or the “flappers,” as Sergeant Fred calls them. With their streets lined with war material captured from the Huns and the street lights operated again after four years of darkness, the Frenchmen gave themselves to celebration in utter abandon.

Fred Painton is a son of Mr. and Mrs. George Painton of this city, and a former Elmira newspaperman. He was among the first Elmirans to land in France, being attached to the aviation service as an automobile driver. As a result of his newspaper experience, young Painton has secured a place on the American soldiers’ official paper, The Stars and Stripes.

His description of the celebration in Paris, written the day after the armistice was signed, follows:

“I arrived in Paris Sunday night, so I was here yesterday when the announcement came that hostilities were over and that the armistice had been signed. From that moment yesterday morning, when the Parisians were informed that the war was over, they went mad, simply mad, with joy.

“Never before have I witnessed such a demonstration as took place, commencing yesterday afternoon, and still in progress. As I sit here typing, this letter to you, I can hear the yells and cheers of the people as they promenade ceaselessly back and forth on the Boulevard Des Italians. It has been said that the French government has declared a three days holiday, and I can well believe it, as I doubt much whether anyone would work at any price.


“The town, the people and the vehicles are bedecked with streamers, flags and ribbons of the colors of the various allied countries. Yesterday afternoon about 5 o’clock as I left the office, the boulevard was a seething mass of swaying, demonstrative humanity in the midst of which were several taxicabs and fiacres stalled and unable to move. Impromptu parades were formed and the howling mob chanted the national anthems of the Allied powers. To use a hackneyed phrase, the scene was beyond description. If you can picture Elmira on an election night and then magnify it a thousandfold, you may perhaps be able to visualize the sight I have witnessed for the past two days. Coincident with the announcement of cessation of warfare, the lights of Paris, which have, for the past four years been turned off or darkened, were turned on full blast and tonight, the boulevard almost puts in the shade our “Great White Way.”

“On both sides of the Champs Elysee, the place de la Concorde and the Fuileries Gardens have been placed captured artillery and airplanes. They range from a machine gun to a grim siege mortar and from a giant Gotha bombing plane to the tiny dragon fly of a Fokker. There are literally thousands of pieces and to one unaccustomed to seeing large displays, perfectly appalling.


“When it comes to “taking joy out of life”, a Frenchman takes the “brown derby”. After four years of repression, they have cut loose with an abandon which, if tried in the United States would land them all in jail. As I was walking down to the hotel in company with another chap, we were violently assaulted by vivacious French girls and strenuously kissed to the intense enjoyment of the bystanders and our distinct embarrassment(?) It’s said, and I can well believe it, that two hours after the glad news was unknown that one could not buy a flag or piece of bunting in Paris. It is very amusing to us, who take our enjoyments more or less quietly, to watch the violent and hysterical manifestations of joy of these volatile French. All places of business were closed except the cafes and restaurants which did a pre-war business.

“It has been one of the great moments of my life, and I would not have missed it for any amount of money and will always owe The Stars and Stripes a debt for being instrumental in getting me here in time.

“The intense enthusiasm seems to be catching, for Italian, American, British, Aussies, Canadians, Portuguese and other soldiers yell as loud as the French and festoon themselves just as fantastically. In a way it reminds one of the Mardi Gras of New Orleans, as there is no limits placed on anyone’s wildest eccentricities. The kissing of the very pretty French “flappers,” at any rate, is contagious to say the least.

“Of course, with my change in stasix for which I am in a way genuinely sorry, as the old girl and I covered 10,000 miles of French soil ranging from end to end, on good roads and bad. I can at least say when I come back I have taken a personally conducted tour of France which covered everything very thoroughly.

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 23 October 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 16, 2019 @ 11:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter.


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 23 October 1918

Former Elmira Newspaper Man, Now Serving in France, Gives Detailed Descriptions of Sensations Experienced in First Air Voyage.

Sergeant Fred Painton, former Elmira newspaper man. now attached to the 496th Aero Squadron, with the American Expeditionary Forces in France, in his latest letter describes his “most wonderful experience,” a trip in an airplane. His account of the journey through the air makes the reading almost as thrilling as the ride itself.

Sergeant Painton recently enjoyed a furlough in Paris, an experience to which he had long looked forward to, and, next to Elmira, he declares it the most beautiful city in the world. It was shortly after his trip to Paris that he was given the opportunity to ride in an airplane.

His letter follows:

“496 Aero Squad. Amexforces. France.
“Oct. 1, 1918.

“Dear Friend:—

“Well I shall have to tell you the many experiences that have happened to me since I wrote from Paris.

“To begin with I have made my initial trip in an airplane and that to me is the most wonderful thing that could happen to anyone. The day after I wrote you from Paris, I took some high officials of the air service to a aviation camp. After the business, which called them there was transacted they decided to take a “joyhop.” Forthwith we proceeded to the flying field, where they made ready for the trip.

“I waited my chance and then when one of the aforementioned high officials came close to me, I heaved a deep sigh and remarked to the empty atmosphere that I would give my right arm, if only I could get a chance to take a trip in a “ship.” The said H.O. turned to me and asked if I had ever been up, and upon my answering ‘no’, he yelled to one of the pilots, and told him that it would be all right for him to take me up in the next two seater he flew. The ‘airgnat’ said that he was going to fly one of the two sealers right away and motioned for me to follow him. I did and you can believe that I was all afluter. To think that I was going up there, where all the rest of those white winged planes were lazily running in circles. It seemed almost to good to be true.

“As they had no helmets to spare, I simply took off my overseas cap and left on my goggles. The pilot told me that it would give me a good shampoo. They are glad to take anyone up at this field, when they have occasion to fly a two-seater, as it does away with the necessity of putting in a two hundred pound sack of sand. I very gingerly climbed into the rear cockpit and waited for them to crank the motor. This is done very carefully as the slightest mistake means the life of the mechanic, who is cranking. The pilot calls out “coupe.” The mechanic repeats it after him so that there can be no mistake. That means that the switch is off and then the propeller is turned over to draw a charge of gas into the cylinders. Then the mechanic yells “contact,” and again the pilot repeats after him. Then with one foot braced that he may jump away from the terrific suction caused by the churning of the propeller, the mechanic gives a quick twist and with a roar the powerful motor starts. The noise was deafening and the wind from the propellor seemed more than likely to tear the hair from my head. Eventually the pilot nodded his head and then by means of long ropes, the blocks were withdrawn from in front of the landing wheels and we “taxied” across the field for the start.

“I have no distinct remembrance of the exact moment, when we left the earth, but suddenly saw the tops of the hangars and the trees drop away beneath me. Then I knew that I was actually for the first time in my life off of terra firma, with nothing but a bit of canvas and wood between me and—what? There were no straps, as the observer usually stands up. All I had to rest on was a little folding seat on the side and a couple of grips. We were then about 600 feet up. and climbing all the time in wide spirals. The sensation is something that I shall always remember. The view itself was wonderful, of course, but it reminded me of the time when I first saw a moving picture taken from an airplane. But then came the realization that it was I, really I, in this machine, and that there was the earth below me, falling away gradually as we continued to climb. At 800 feet the buildings, trees and hills stood out somewhat, and made the scene unequalled for grandeur, but when the little dial on the dash registered 1,200 feet, things became flat, and the earth resembled a multi-colored checker board. The wind was terrific. I had to keep my neck and head craned forward to overcome the terrific pressure.

“The roar of the motor was deafening, but after a few moments I paid no attention to it; my mind being taken up with the different emotions that assailed me. I had no sense of fear, this machine being a large roomy craft, with a wireless key, clocks and other intricate machines for telling the aviator where he was and how high. No more did I have that qualmy feeling in the “basement” that so many fellows tell about, who have taken their first ride. This, however, may be explained by the fact that it was about five-thirty when we went up and at this time there are no “air pockets,” or diverging stratas of air that cause the ‘plane to sway. When we would bank around the ‘plane would roll gently like a ship in a heavy sea, although the former rolls more quickly. After twelve minutes had elapsed the roar of the motor ceased and we “peeked over” for the long volplane to the field. The wind whistling through the wire braces sounded like a thousand ghosts trying to shriek at once. The earth still resembled a flat, many colored checkerboard, but when we had dropped to about seven or eight hundred feet, the hangars, buildings and trees began to assume depth. This is a very strange phenomenon and is truly wonderful to watch. It seemed to me as we rapidly neared the earth that we would not clear the hangars, but suddenly they passed beneath me and the next thing I felt was a slight bump. We bounced into the air, but the pilot turned on the motor in order to keep her nose up and we came down again with another bump, this time to stay. I had been in the air just fourteen minutes, that is counting the time that we started “taxiing.” The experience is one that will ever be green in my memory and although it is just possible that I may get a chance to go up again, the sensations experienced will never be the same as they were on this, my initial trip.

“I was going to tell you about Paris, too, so will do my best. Aside from Eimira, N.Y., it is the most beautiful city in the world, at least I think so, and so do all the rest. The bridges across the Seine are beautiful examples of architectures and the goldened domed invalides when viewed from the Place de la Concorde, is magnificent beyond description. Unfortunately the Arch de Triumph has been divested of most of its wonderful sculptoring for fear of destruction in raids but even what is left is very wonderful.

“Paris in war time is the most cosmopolitan city that one could ever see. Uniforms of all nations are to be seen on its boulevards at all times. There are representatives of all the relief societies, that I ever heard of and some that I or anyone else never heard of. There are associations for the relief of all the ailments that mankind is heir too and a few that we are not. Bizarre and gaudy uniforms are worn by these people. I really believe that thev have got a “society for the rehabiliation of asphyxiated cooties” and an association for the education of shell shocked trench rats. No disease misses their eagle glance

“If the night life of Parts is called quiet
now, I certainly would have liked it here 
before the war. The life centers mostly
 around the “Folies Bergere” and the 
Casino des Paris. I really enjoyed myself
 six days there very much. As It Is time 
for “taps” I must close. Your friend.


Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 13 May 1918

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THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter.


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 13 May 1918

Sergeant Painton Learns Much Regarding Atrocities Accomplished as Result of German Invasion—German Posters Given Publicity.

Sergeant Frederick Painton, who was a member of one of the Chemung county draft contingents, and who is now in active service with the expeditionary forces in France, has written to friends in this city telling of the horrors inflicted upon the Belgians by the German hordes during the latter’s first rush toward Paris. He says:

“I suppose that you think that the letters are following themselves very fast, but honestly, there has been so much of interest that has happened that I must tell you about it. After my adventure with the Harley, I went to the Y.M.C.A. with the intention of seeing the movies. The show had started when I got there. The first reel was the world’s series photoed by the Universal. It was good. Then came the surprise. The Y. secretary introduced Countess De La Tours San Marie, who showed up the most wonderful collection of German posters that has ever been gathered together. A collection is being made for the British museum. Her’s is the only other one in existence, besides that one, and is to be presented to an American museum at the end of the war. These were posted in Belgium and invaded France at the beginning of the war. As she exhibited them to us she translated the meaning of each one and some of them were enough to make a man’s blood run cold, or hot.

“The first one was headed “Proclamation,” and signed by Von Der Golz, that inventor of exquisite torture. It was put out in the first advance of the Germans into Belgium at the time that the tiny but heroic Belgian army was contesting every foot of the ground given. The Belgians had been destroying railroad bridges, tearing up railroad tracks and barricading everything that would impede the advance of the Boche. That of course, was war, and countenanced by all articles of war. But it was not in the Huns code. Speed was necessary above all things so Von Der Golz, not being able to get at the plucky little Belgian army, tried different tactics. He immediately had printed thousands of posters stating that all villages within the immediate vicinity of railroads would be held to strict accountability for the preservation of the railroads and bridges. If the latter were, in any way damaged, all the inhabitants of the village would be shot. At the time such a proceeding was unheard of, so it was thought to be a scare, so the destruction still continued. Then without any pretext or excuse other than this infamous order, Belgian peasants were shot down in cold blood. Not hundreds, but thousands. There it was in black and white. No denial is possible.

“The next poster, when explained, proved to be the most senseless thing I that the Germans ever done. For some reason or other that was not mentioned, they suddenly became suspicions of French chickens. Not the chickens in the sense that we mean, but real hens with feathers. The proclamation said, in part, that ell the inhabitants within the jurisdiction of the German imperial government should immediately render to the local headquarters an accurate list of all chickens that they owned. This was to be kept up-to-date, and at any time one died, the remains should be brought in to headquarters to find the cause of death. All eggs from the hens should be surrendered to the Germans and if, upon examination, any were found to have been needlessly cracked, the owner of the hen should be severely punished. If at any time the German officials in charge, thought that a hen was not laying enough eggs, the owner of the former should immediately put the fowl to death. Sounds crazy, don’t it? It is. However, if any one reading this piece should know of a way whereby a hen can be made to lay more eggs than she wants to, that person can save many Belgians severe punishment.

In all the principal villages of Belgium, the most prominent citizens were sent to Germany as hostages for the good behavior of the town. Most of these will never return. You can take it from me, this dame had my goat for fair by this time. This stuff seemed to get home.

For the first few months that the Germans occupied the invaded country, they were half way reasonable in their demands. All they required was six pounds of wool per person from every one. Recently they confiscated everything of any value whatever. The populace is destitute.

There were lots of other posters, including the one put out by the German government announcing the capture of Paris. There was another one announcing the fact that poor Germany had been picked on by the British pigs and it was the Imperial command of the German Emperor, that Germans fight to the last that they may strafe England. It also mentioned they had with them the help of God, who had especially appointed him (Kais Bill) to wipe the British off the map.

Well, I must close. I gotta go to work.

      Your friend.

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 23 April 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 9, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918 as part of the 229th Aero Supply Squadron. He was transferred to the 655 Aero Squadron in France shortly thereafter.


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 23 April 1918

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton Near General Pershing in France When Picture Is Filmed—Says Pershing Is “Big” All Around.

Sergeant Frederick C. Painton of the 655th Aero Squadron in France, formerly engaged in Elmira newspaper work, has written to friends in this clty, telling of his experiences in France.

Sergeant Painton was recently close to General Pershing, when a motion picture camera man “shot” the latter as he was leaving a hotel. His letter follows:

Headquarters 655 Aero Squadron,
Amexforces, France,
March 15, 1918.

“Yesterday was a regular day around this man’s town. We all had the honor of seeing General Pershing and Secretary of War Baker. In fact, I stood so close to him that I could have reached my hand and touched him on the shoulder. I had been down to the station to see about something or other and got back to the Hotel—just after he had gone inside. So being right on the job I got right up on the door step and waited until the first full-fledged General since Grant should come out.

“While looking around I saw that there was a moving picture camera up in the window ready to start the minute that the General came out. I was right in the direct range and there is no doubt but what I registered joy on the celluloid. Then he came out.

“Black Jack Pershing” looked just like his pictures, Except that they never do him justice. He is a big man. Big in physique; big in mind; big in heart and is holding down a big job.

“We are organizing a baseball team in our squadron and in the near future intend to play the flying cadets. When we do I will have something interesting to write about as it promises to be some game. We have several near pro’s on our team and several of the cadets have been playing pro’ ball.

“I guess that that is all this time as I have got to get to work. I will have something more of interest to write when I get on my other Job that I told you about. For the present bunch that I say ‘comment allez vous mes amis,’ which same means ‘Har hunch, how’s tricks.’

“So Long.      

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 12 March 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 4, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918. Fellow Elmiran “Jake” Golos, a well known newsboy, also arrived in France on January 31st.


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 12 March 1918

Sergeant Painton Says the Trolleys “Over There” Remind Him of Elmira’s Work Cars—Meets Elmiran.

Sergeant Frederick Painton, Elmira boy, now attached to the 655th Aero Squadron in France, has written an interesting letter to friends in this city describing his experiences in France. Sergeant Painton left Elmira with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix and was later transferred to the aviation camp at San Antonio, Tex. After a short period of training, he was ready for the trip across to England, where he landed a few weeks ago.

In one part of the letter he speaks of meeting Jacob Golos, an Elmira boy, who is “over there.” Sergeant Painton says In part:

“I think that since leaving the states I have traveled by every mode of conveyance except airplane and submarine. The most excruciating of those was a two-day trip in a French freight car with a flat wheel and me riding over the flat wheel. Though I was not seasick on the trip this certainly made me feel funny. I met Jake Golos a short time back, but was separated from him shortly after. Since then I have not seen a single Elmira fellow. We are at present quartered in a city of some size which has a history that would fill a book. One of the cathedrals was built in the 15th century and is a wonderful structure. There are many points of interest which, believe me. I am going to get to see before coming back to the old home town.

“Streets are not streets here such as we know. They are alleys. The road, especially the middle of the road, is the walk. It is a good thing, too, because as I was going back to the barracks the other night I walked along the sidewalk. By the time I got to the barracks I had a cheap skate on from trying to follow the crooks in said sidewalk.

“Oh, I almost forgot the trolley cars. Those razzle dazzle things of beauty which are identical with the E.W.L. & R.R. Co.’s sand car and made in the same year. They are called a tram car. Two or three times I have seen one going at full speed, which is about nine miles per hour. I don’t mind riding on them. however. Peachy-looking dames come to garner in the sheckles. Whenever we get on one we always remark that we don’t know where we’re going but we’re on our way.”

Painton’s Letters Home from WWI | 2 March 1918

Link - Posted by David on December 2, 2019 @ 6:00 am in

THIS month we’re featuring Frederick C. Painton’s letters he wrote home while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI. Portions of these letters were published in his hometown paper, The Elmira Star-Gazette of Elmira, New York. Before the war young Fred Painton had been doing various jobs at the Elmira Advertiser as well as being a part-time chauffeur. He was eager to get into the scrap, but was continually turned down because of a slight heart affliction and was not accepted in the draft without an argument. He was so eager to go that he prevailed upon the draft board to permit him to report ahead of his time. Painton left Elmira in December 1917 with the third contingent of the county draft for Camp Dix but was again rejected. He was eventually transferred to the aviation camp at Kelly Field as a chauffeur, and in a few weeks’ time was on his way to England in the transport service with an aviation section, where he landed at the end of January 1918.

FREDERICK C. PAINTON’S Armed Forces Registration Card. June 5th, 1917


Elmira Star-Gazette, Elmira, New York • 2 March 1918

Sergeant Frederick Painton Writes Parents From England That “Sub” Tries to Sink His Transport.

Mr. and Mrs. George Painton have received interesting letters from their son, Sergeant Frederick Painton, who recently arrived in England with a detachment of Expeditionary Forces from Camp Dix. Portions of his letters relating to details across and his experience follow:

“Somewhere in England. Jan. 31. 1918.

“Well, here I am in the land of grandfather’s birth, right side up with care, as usual. Many thrills I have experienced, but that of mounting guard on a liner, with giant waves running a 60-mile lee wind eclipses them all. A sub (tin fish) chased us and was chased off by our destroyers.

“The song, ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ is very apt and applies at all times to us. We know, less than outsiders. Oh, I feel so good to get off the old tub of a liner. I hope that you people did not worry over me. I knew 1 would land all right.

“February 2.

“I was so terribly busy yesterday I could not write, but will finish this today. We were paid off yesterday, the first since I entered Uncle Sam’s army. From now on I will draw about $40 a month.

“It rained all day today and I had to drill my platoon at that. Well, they would not stop a battle just for rain.

“All a soldier has to live for is what he gets to eat and believe me I am going to pamper my inner man. The stuff costs like the deuce. A six pence here, and eight pence there soon amounts to a pound. I have learned the money already. We sleep in planks over here—no cots. When we get to our destination, of course, we will, have our own cots, but that is not yet. I have been drilling my men in squads right and left and other drill pertaining to squad formation. This is the stuff I learned at Camp Dix. I am supposed to be a duty sergeant, but as they are shy on ‘non-coms’ I have been pressed into service, for I am supply sergeant.

“229th Aero Supply Squadron,
“via New York.”

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lt. Luigi Olivari

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AMIDST all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time it’s the inimitable Italian flying ace, Lt. Luigi Olivari’s Most Thrilling Sky Fight!

Luigi Olivari was born in Milan and educated in Switzerland in a military school. Although but a boy in his minority when the war began, he left home and school immediately and enlisted in the ranks of the Italian Army. He rose swiftly in the ranks and was commissioned a Lieutenant in tho Alpine Corps, those rugged mountain troops that did so much to protect the fertile Italian plains from Austrian army raids. After brief service as an officer in that branch he was transferred to the flying corps. Sent to the front he was assigned to a squadron flying little Pomilio monoplanes with Fiat engines. These were the fastest but trickiest of front line lighting machines of their day. Luigi Olivari downed three Austrian planes in his first sky battle. When killed on October 15, 1917, he had run his score to 12 official and was the third ranking Italian ace. The account below is taken from an interview he gave to an American correspondent.



by Lieutenant Luigi Olivari • Sky Fighters, October 1936

FIGHTING by day and fighting by night are not at all similar. Of course, one uses his guns in the same manner in both cases; but tactics and strategy are entirely different. In day time one maneuvers to secure the advantage of the sun, so that he may come down in the path of the sun’s rays unseen by his antagonist. To try the same tactics at night, say to maneuver into the path of the moon’s rays, would be fatal. For instead of being hidden you would only succeed in revealing your presence to the enemy. Then another thing, in day fighting one usually tries to gain position behind and above the enemy. In night fighters against bombers such a position is fatal. The glare of your exhausts gives your presence away, and the night bombers are so arranged that many guns can be brought to bear on the rear, in front and to all sides. The only proper way to attack is from directly beneath.

One has to unlearn most of his day fighting tactics when he goes on night patrol. I had had good schooling before I ever went on night patrol. That accounts, I believe, for my success in my first night flight, when I succeeded in bringing down an Austrian Gotha that was attempting to bomb one of our ammunition factories,

A Moonlit Night

Front line patrols had reported that a formation of three Gothas had crossed our lines, proceeding in the general direction of T——. The night was one of bright moonlight, ideal for bombing. And I must also say helpful to us, the flyers of the night patrol, who were supposed to keep them from laying their eggs—and down them if possible.

With Captain M——, Lieutenants S—— and G——, and Sergeant T——, I took off from our airdrome and flew to intercept the night raiders. Even in moonlight one cannot see far at night, hence the Gothas passed us unseen. They came over at a much higher level than they had been reported. It is only when the anti-aircraft battery protecting the factory at T—— began to fire at them, that our formation located them.

We all dashed in then with full power. Our instructions were to split the formation if possible. That we managed to do even before the night raiders had a chance to drop their bombs. Captain M—— and two others went for the Boche leader. Sergeant T—— and I then attacked the Boche on the right. The sergeant went up above and the Boche gunners opened up on him with a heavy fire which he returned. I could see the tracers from both ships racing back and forth like a streaking shuttle in power loom.

Firing at Close Range

Taking advantage of the Boche gunner’s momentary distraction with Sergeant T——, I dived down and came up with full power immediately beneath, my sights fastened on the Boche’s black belly. Knowing that they were armored in places beneath I waited until I was very close before firing. Then when I did, I rooked my stick fore and aft, so that my tracers traversed the whole length of the fuselage.

The Boche gunners saw me now, however, and they switched their fire to me. But their tracers went harmlessly through my outer wings. They couldn’t reach me in a vital spot, for parts of their own plane intervened. I was hovering under their blind spot.

With speed lost, my ship began to wobble. I had fired a whole belt of ammunition into the Boche’s belly and still nothing had happened. I thought my surprise attack from beneath was going to fail and was sick at heart. But no!

A little tongue of fire began to lick along the fuselage. Fanned by the air blast it leaped into a giant flame, the heat of which I felt against my cheeks as I fell off into an uncontrolled spin. Then there was an explosion. My own plane seemed to suddenly thrust sideways. It groaned under the sudden strain and the braces crackled.

But my motor was roaring, so I soon managed to regain control.

There below and to one side of me was a night raider falling in flames. The other two Gothas were streaking homewards with my comrades darting in at them and sniping from all sides like swallows attacking a hawk.

The bombs that were dropped did not do any damage, and I had succeeded in gaining my first victory over a night raider.

At Home with Robert J. Hogan, 1948

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Five years ago we posted a great article about Robert J. Hogan at home from 1962. We’ve come upon another great article about Hogan as he sets out on his book writing career in 1948. He wrote a number of hard cover westerns for Dodd, Mead & Company, three of them historical westerns featuring a cowboy named Smoke Wade who rides a pinto horse name Jake!

Here’s the article from The Bergen Evening Record, July 14, 1948:

Pulp and Slick Author of More Than 13,000,000 Words Commences Task of Writing First 2 Book-Form Novels

The Bergen Evening Record, Bergen, New Jersey • 14 July 1948, P.20

Describes Office Boy Literature As An Escape And Good Clean Fun

One of Americas most prolific fiction writers, Robert J. Hogan, a man who has written more than 13 million words yet never has had a novel published in book form, is spend-ing the summer in Tea neck while he works on two novels, his first to be published between stiff covers.


Hogan started writing for pulp and slick magazines in Florida 18 years ago. 8ince that time this word artist has written enough material to fill 35 “Gone With the Winds”. His efforts during this time were directed toward creating mystery stories of the China Seas or thrilling young and old with stories of racing drivers and airplane pilots.

The present work Hogan is doing is along the lines of the stories he has been working on throughout his career but he is gaining the added recognition of having them put in book form rather than the usual style of the pulp magazines.

He says that people today have a false opinion of the type of literature found in the news stand mystery magazines and that because of an early black eye the magazines have been forced to toe the mark of decency closer than many of the leading magazines of the day. He has received letters from children telling him that their parents would not allow them to read his stories. His advice to the young ones was to allow their parents to read a few of the stories and then abide by their decision.

According to Hogan, after father read the story the children had difficulty in getting the books away from their parents. He believes, that many persons in the country look at his work and similar work of other authors as a complete escape from the realties of the problems at hand.

The writer says that many of his Wall Street friends discovered that the literature of the office boys was a wonderful escape and a way to be completely consumed in good clean fun. According to Hogan, the Wall Street trycoons first became aware of his stories in the early thirties, those days when business was slower than ever before on the exchange. Since that time he has had many devoted followers from the region of finance.

Robert J. Hogan, one of the most prolific fiction writers In the country, poses at his Teaneck home where he will work on two novels, with his attractive wife, a fiction editor, and pretty daughter, Betty. (Bergen Evening Record Photo)

Hogan was born in a parsonage in upper New York State, but left the small town of Buskirk to attend Blair Academy in Blairstown, and then 8t. Lawrence College, where he majored in agriculture.

During the years that he has been turning out his 115 or more novel-length mystery stories he has been living in Florida and Lake Mohawk. Once quizzed on why he preferred to live at Lake Mohawk and Teaneck in the off seasons he stated “I find the local yokels much more interesting than the summer colony people or the Winter vacationers of Florida”. The statement appeared in an article in the Saturday Evening Post about his home at Lake Mohawk, a home built and designed by the writer.

After a time Mrs. Hogan caught the writing bug and has since been fiction editor for the magazine Institute of New York City. Along with caring for her family, writing and editing, Mrs. Hogan also finds time to do some painting.

Hogan has become quite interested in the historical background of the Bergen County area since he has resided in Teaneck. Bent on doing a historical novel of the area Hogan is presently compiling facts about the early homes and historical sights.

When his pretty 19-year-old daughter, Betty, who attends Ogelthorpe University in Georgia, was asked if she too wished to follow a writing career the answer was an emphatic no. She hopes to be a Kindergarten teacher when she completes her studies.

The Man Behind The Mosquitoes

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BACK in 2015 during our first Mosquito Month, we ran a series of articles from The Pocono Record that covered Oppenheim’s Magic Puppet World. Recently, I came upon another article about Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim and their Magic Puppet World—this time from nearby Allentown, PA’s The Morning Call from 1967—complete with a picture!

Monroe Puppeteers Automate Their Art

by WEALTHY KORTZ | The Morning Call, Allentown, PA • 8 February 1967

Oppenheim’s Music Puppet World near Snydersville takes the age-old art of puppetry and harnesses it to automation to depict in pantomime stories full of whimsy, humor and absorbing action.

Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim create new doll exhibits,

The work of Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim represents 15 years of creative effort and study. It is an enchanting, completely new entertainment medium with an appeal to young and old alike.

Marionettes perform without puppeteers. Their strings are pulled by automatic precision machinery, giving them more versatility of flowing motion.

Although self-educated in the field of electronics and other necessary components, the Oppenheims achieved their success—admittedly—by trial and error.

Both native New Yorkers, the Oppenheims decided to settle in the Poconos because they like the area and it was familiar to them since childhood.

Bought Farm

They opened their Magic Puppet World about three years ago shortly after purchasing the old Rupert farm along business Route 209 about six miles west of Stroudsburg.

The couple polished the 110-year-old barn discreetly to preserve the original meaning of the landmark and set up 17 exhibits. Each is self-contained within its glass-enclosed cabinet stage and electronic impulses to present the series of pantomime stories that have been tastefully arranged.

Tedious hours were spent perfecting the impulses for complete synchronization; the careful uniting of silk threads to as many as 13 joints of the single puppet with its mechanical puppeteer levers and cams; the careful lighting effect and art work. It takes the husband and wife team a minimum of from two to four months to perfect a single exhibit.

Dancing Ballerinas — a small segment of the “Doll Ballet.”

The largest exhibit in “Ballet Square” of the old barn is the “doll ballet.” This took several years and nearly threadbare patience to master the movement of the seven eight inch high marionettes that perform in true ballet technique.

There are more than 200 strands of silk thread and 32 working levers with companion cams that control the precision. Another problem was synchronizing the “thought1ess” ballerinas with the music.

Backstage Peek

Visitors are invited “backstage” by the Oppenheims at this particular performing exhibit so they may view the automatic machinery controlling the miniature dancers.

Because of the intricate mechanism and its complications, the exhibit is personally attended by its creators at each performance.

Mrs. Oppenheim, a former ballet student, worked closely with her husband in perfecting the movements.

The beautifully hand-painted verse at each exhibit is the handiwork of Mrs. Oppenheim, who is a professional artist. The verses, describing the action, were composed by her husband.

Verse adds a warm appeal. For example, at the “Rival Romeos” Oppenheim composed:

“Two Romeos, not one but two!
Came to Juliet’s house to woo!
One wooed her with a simple song
Until the other came along;
From him she tried to take a rose,
And nearly fell upon her nose.
Which one would save her?
Watch and see
Who puts her back on the balcony
And see what kisses this one got.
See the other one get . . . a flower pot!”

The rustic road that visitors take leads them through Lilliput, “The Littlest world in the World,” where a four-foot Gulliver introduces the Lilliputian marionettes less than three inches high.

Children’s Stories

In another area exhibits are devoted to favorite children’s stories about Miss Muffet, Cinderella and the like.

Taped music box melodies enhance the background for the over-all atmosphere.

Oppenheim, who sports a flattering mustache and goatee left over from the Stroudsburg Sesquicentennial, is a former pulp fiction adventure story writer.

Holder of several patents, Oppenheim invented a textile machine to make raffia. The ingenious operation of his magic puppets is also under patent.

The puppets were almost a first love of this gifted man — dating back to boyhood in a boarding school.

The stall area of the old barn has been transformed into a comfortable workshop for the couple. Shared only by their two schnauzers, Bridget and Maggie.

It is in this area that the couple develop their “dolls” from chunks of white Canadian cedar, pine, birch and virgin maple. They also make clever items of jewelry and souvenirs of their exhibits. A craft shop that is a part of complex is open during the off season of the Magic Puppet World which is open to the public from May to October.

Ralph and Shirley Oppenheim are the originators of automatic puppetry. They have won national recognition for their new medium of special projects commissioned by some of the country’s leading industrial companies — for such showplaces as the New York World’s Fair and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

They had been approached by a representative of Walt Disney a couple of years ago — but declined all offers rather than lose their individual identity.


With Ralph’s death in August 1978, Shirley closed up the Oppenheim Gallery and Puppet World and moved back to New York City to be near family. She passed away in 2006.

“Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat” by Paul Bissell

Link - Posted by David on December 24, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS week we present “Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”—The story behind Paul Bissell’s April 1933 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the April 1933 cover Bissell put us right in the action as Lt. Paul H. Niebling shoots his Colt .45 at an oncoming Fokker while parachuting to the ground!

Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat

th_FA_3304UNSWERVING and terrifying, like a messenger from hell, the red plane, its guns blazing, bore down on the hapless young American swinging dizzily in his parachute harness. He heard the whine of the German bullets as they whizzed by, cutting another of his shroud cords. He clutched desperately at one of the loose ends as the wind began to spill out of his chute, at the same time twisting in his leg straps to empty the rest of his magazine into the red machine as it roared by him in a wild zoom.

Five times the Colt .45 spoke sharply, and then the mechanism jammed . . . .

Less than two minutes before, this young American, Lieutenant Niebling, and his companion observer, Lieutenant Carroll, had been quietly watching the enemy positions from their basket, some two thousand feet above Maixc. Not a plane had bepn in sight. The clouds hung low. Then, without warning, nosing out of a cloud, its motor picking up with a full-throated roar, had come this red devil, spitting flaming bullets into the big silken bag above.

At Niebling’s command, Carroll had jumped. But Niebling, an old hand at the game, had decided to stick to the last minute. Three times before this, he had gone overboard as the balloon above him went up in flames. He was sick of just going over and putting up no fight. So this time he had swung out of the basket that he might be in the clear if he felt the whole balloon give suddenly, as it does when it finally explodes. He was determined to get in a few shots at the Boche before he let go.

So, as the red plane had banked up sharply and came back for another go at him, Niebling had freed his automatic. If only he could put a bullet in that damned red nose, that came on relentlessly, shooting flaming darts which bit into the silken folds above! Damn him! And Niebling’s automatic had pulsed as he squeezed the trigger. Like a trip-hammer he felt it kick in his hand. The plane, apparently untouched, had nosed up and put a last fierce burst into the big bag. “Great God, how futile!” had thought Niebling, and in anger almost threw the partly empty automatic at the German plane. A sudden return of caution, however, had warned him that he had hung on as long as he dared. He released his hold and dropped like a stone, turning over and over in his plunge down.

The first seconds of a jump, even to the most experienced old jumpers, are seconds in which life seems suspended. Whether or not it will go on depends on the chute. If it opens—good! If not—well, c’est la guerre. So with Niebling, for a few seconds life stopped.

He himself, when first at the Front, had seen a French lieutenant carefully tuck the parachute into its carrier, demonstrating just how it should be done, had seen the parachute attached to sand-bags placed in the balloon basket, had seen the balloon ascend three thousand feet. Then, from the ground, he had seen the bags pushed over the basket’s edge, drop and rip the chute from its container—had watched breathlessly and vainly for the chute to open, only to see those bags plunge three thousand feet down, to crash in a cloud of dust with the folded chute trailing hopelessly behind. Yes, sometimes it didn’t open.

But this time it did, and with a rush and a snap, life was on again for the young lieutenant, and he found himself floating gently earthward, still gripping his automatic. Above him, and to one side, his balloon, now a mass of flames, was falling slowly to pieces. The Fokker had swung off and was attacking the other balloons. Even as he watched, Niebling saw the second, third and fourth bag explode, and then the German banked up in a sharp turn and headed back toward him.

ONCE before when Niebling had been shot down, the enemy had returned to the attack and passed so close that the American had made some excellent snapshots of the German plane with a tiny vest-pocket kodak. This time, however, Niebling longed not for pictures, but for blood. So he had waited for the German to get closer. Already the fixed gun, shooting through the Fokker’s prop, flashed steadily. What a chance! Just a service .45 against a Spandau.

Yes, but if only he could get one bullet in the right place—one, just one! And Niebling’s teeth gritted as he squeezed the trigger and butt of his Colt. Five times the automatic spoke, square into the red body, so close now that Niebling could almost have touched it with a fishing pole.

That was the moment when the mechanism jammed. The plane, apparently untouched, turned and headed back toward Germany, while the American, cursing with rage, worked feverishly to clear his gun. Watching the fast-retreating Fokker, he saw something suddenly go wrong.

Slowly at first, then more rapidly, the plane headed downward. Quickly it was apparent that the headlong dive was uncontrolled, as if death’s hand were on the stick. The motor roared, pulling the ship into a tight spin from which it never came out. Twisting faster and faster, it finally crashed, burying its nose deep in a hillside.

Yes, Niebling got down. With the wind still spilling out of his chute, he landed fast but safely. Modest always, he says that he was never able to prove positively that his bullet brought down the German. But evidently America and France thought that he had done a good job, for First Lieutenant Paul H. Niebling, 1st Minnesota Field Artillery, A.E.F., attached to the 73rd Company, French Balloon Corps, today wears a D.S.C. and Croix de Guerre, with Palm for exceptional valor, and is, we believe, the only man of the war who, in a head-on duel in the air, with only a sendee automatic against a Spandau, came away the victor.

The Ships on The Cover
“Niebling’s Phenomenal Feat”
Flying Aces,April 1933 by Paul Bissell

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Maurice Boyau

Link - Posted by David on July 25, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

AMIDST all the great pulp thrills and features in Sky Fighters, they ran a true story feature collected by Ace Williams wherein famous War Aces would tell actual true accounts of thrilling moments in their fighting lives! This time we have French flyer—Lieut. Maurice Boyau!

Maurice Boyau was France’s fifth ranking ace. Fonck, Guynemyer, Nungesser and Madon, all ranked above him in actual victories scored. Maurice Boyau combined all the best qualities of these four aces and wan in addition the most ingenious. If death had not cut short his flaming career long before the war ended, it is very possible that he might have attained the honor of being France’s ace of aces, for he had every qualification for that distinction. He was struck down when he had run his 35 victories, but not before he had won every medal within the power of his native country to bestow. These Included the Legion d’Honneur, Medaille Militaire and the Croix da Guerre, with numerous stars and palms. The following story taken from his diary gives a striking and vivid example of his ingenuity. The translator has made no attempt to polish the language of Boyau’s script, feeling that to do so would take away from the charming simplicity of the document.



by Lieutenant Maurice Boyau • Sky Fighters, September 1936

DOWNING enemy avions is one thing. It requires a certain technique that one learns only by experience. I have much experience in such fighting up to date with considerable luck thrown in. But until today I had never challenged any Boche Drachens or the anti-aircraft crews ordered to guard them. In order to augment my battle experience I decided to tackle one of those big rubber cows which are much like a youngster’s carnival gas balloon of grotesque shape held with a string.

I went out on a solitary balloon hunting expedition behind the Boche lines. But as was my usual habit before taking off I filled the side pocket of my petite Spad with hand grenades. These were mainly, of course, to destroy my own machine if I should be forced to land behind the enemy lines. Today I used them for a much different purpose, a most unusual purpose….

Allons! It is of no interest what I am writing. I should be specific, otherwise there is no point in keeping a diary. I proceed to the action.

A Dot in the Sky

I flew for almost a full hour before finding what I set out for. Finally I spied one, just a grey, elongated dot in the blue and white sky, maybe ten kilometers ahead and to my right.

I swing up on each wing alternately to search the sky lanes for hidden enemy aircraft. But I see none, so I straighten out and make for the area behind the Drachen. I hope to surprise by attacking from the rear in the glow of the sun. My strategy is successful, for I almost reach it in a silent dive with throttled motor before the crew sees me.

The archies start firing and the puffs blow around me. I have my sights on the balloon though, and press my triggers. Sacre! My mitrailleuse! It jams with the first shot. I chandelle and try to clear, but it is useless. The breech is plugged tight. The archie shells puff like corn in a popper! Only the kernels are black instead of white. I struggle vainly.

The Drachen begins to descend in swift, jerky movements. The winch on the ground is hauling it in. The archie fire intensifies, and I hear the flutter of machine-gun bullets from the ground as they sift through the fabric of my wings.

Defeat is Unthinkable

I have come many kilometers into enemy skies and have spent a whole hour in search of this Drachen. To return in full defeat is unthinkable. Suddenly I think of my little souvenirs in the side pocket. The grenades! I pull one from the pocket and dive again through the hail of fire. Pinching the stick between my knees I pull the firing pin with one hand and toss the grenade with the other.

But I miss by many meters! Two, three times I climb off, only to return and dive with the same trick. But each time I miss. And then I have only one grenade left. The Drachen is almost to the ground, and the gunfire is terrific. My poor petite Spad has been riddled like a sieve.

Ah! A sudden thought strikes me. “Why not?” I say. “The tail skid is like a knife. It’s a steel shoe. . . .”

I chandelle again, dive down for another attempt. But this time I hold my dive until my avion almost touches its nose to the quivering Drachen. At the last moment I pull back swiftly, kicking my tail down and hear nothing, feel nothing. But when I look back over my shoulder I see that I have slashed the Drachen with my tail skid. Some of the balloon netting is dangling from my skid and whipping backwards.

I renverse swiftly, take my last grenade. As I sweep over the sliced balloon, it spreads apart like a cleaved sausage. I toss the grenade into the yawning chasm. Over my shoulder I see a burst of orange-red flame, then a blanket of smoke. The huge envelope fails over lazily in the sky and goes streaking down.

It is my first balloon victory. And to think that I win it with jammed guns. C’est un miracle!

“Last Flight” told by Eddie Rickenbacker, O.B. Myers and Harold Hartney

Link - Posted by David on July 4, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

TO COMMEMORATE the fourth of July this year, we bring you the story behind Lt. Wilbert Wallace White’s final flight. White was a flight commander with the 147th Aero Squadron, part of the 1st Pursuit Group, First United States Army. The squadron was assigned as a Day Pursuit (Fighter) Squadron and White was the leader of C Flight. At 30, White was the oldest pilot at the 147th and the only one who was married with children. He was to be reassigned stateside, but set off on one final flight before he was to leave—sadly, it was a flight from which he didn’t return. If this sounds familiar, it’s because this same story was featured several months earlier on Frederick Blakeslee’s cover for the January 1932 issue of Battle Aces and the following year as the July 1933 cover of Flying Aces as imagined by Paul Bissell. From the pages of the June 1932 issue of War Aces, it’s Lt. White’s “Last Flight” as told by Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, Col. Harold Hartley and our own, Lt. O.B. Myers!


More than thirteen years have passed since Lieutenant Wilbert White gave his life for a friend. His body lies buried in France, but the broken joystick with which he drove his Spad head-on into a German Fokker rests on a mantel in the fatherless home of his widow and two children in New York City.

A daughter, now sixteen, and a son, fourteen, treasure the joystick, along with other splintered parts of the wrecked Spad, salvaged from the bank of the Meuse by Lieutenant White’s father, The Reverend Dr. W.W. White, of the Biblical Seminary in New York. The children are both in private schools now and their mother is engaged in scientific research for which she prepared after her husband’s death.




as told by Eddie Rickenbacker, O.B. Myers and Harold Hartney
to James Martindale • War Aces, June 1932

147th Aero Squadron

WA_3206THIS is the story of Lieutenant Wilbert White, of the 147th Pursuit Squadron. It is the story of his last flight. Whitey died on the last flight—he dove head-on into a Fokker to save the life of a youngster whom he had promised to protect on the youth’s first flight over the lines.

Eddie Rickenbacker, diving from above to join him, saw him die. The picture still haunts him, and he remembers Whitey as “the bravest man of the war.” Reed Chambers saw it, Jimmy Meissner and a half dozen others, but not one of them can talk of it without tears filling his eyes.

The War Department lists Lieutenant Wilbert W. White as “killed in action,” and on the records at Washington is a second citation, bestowing an oak leaf cluster for a previously awarded Distinguished Service Cross. The citation says:

“In command of a patrol of four planes which was attacked by a large flight of German Fokkers, Lieutenant White attacked the enemy plane which was hard pressing a new pilot. The German Fokker had gotten at the tail of the American plane and was overtaking it. Lieutenant White’s guns having jammed, he drove his plane head-on into the Fokker, both crashing to earth 500 meters below.”

There are similar citations in the archives of the British and French War Offices. But none of them tell, as do the words of Rickenbacker, Colonel Harry Hartney and others who know, the real facts behind that last flight, the facts which make Whitey’s death one of the greatest sacrifices of the war.

Why did he do it?

Rickenbacker answers, “If you had known Whitey as we knew him you would understand.”
In the first place Whitey was a minister’s son and when he enlisted, killing Huns became his religion. War was no game to him—it was a war between right and wrong, and with God and right on the side of the Allies Whitey regarded his guns as weapons of the Lord. Strangely, for all of his six feet or more of bone and muscle and the tinge of red in his hair, he had little use for violence. In the recollection of his pals, he used his fists only once, and on that occasion—an excellent portrayal of his character—to strike a bunkmate for ridiculing a young cadet flyer on his knees in prayer.

In the second place, and this fact probably had a lot to do with his actions, Whitey was thirty years old, an old man in the eyes of his companions just out of their ‘teens. He was the oldest man in the squadron and its only married man. He left a wife and two small children to make the world a safe place to live in and when he reached the Front he immediately wrote his minister-father that at last he felt he had “something to live for, and, if necessary, to die for.”

Whitey died October 10, 1918, while the 147th, a unit of Colonel Hartney’s First Pursuit Group that included Rickenbacker and his famous 94th, was stationed at Rembercourt behind Verdun. Dawn of that same morning found Whitey, already a wearer of the Distinguished Service Cross and the leader of 147’s C Flight, in the midst of an attack on a German observation plane over the lines.

THE stream of lead from Whitey’s Vickers was ripping up the tail of the slow-moving Halberstadt. Another burst from the diving Spad and the German gunner slumped in his cockpit. An incendiary found its way into the Halberstadt’s gas tank and the Hun burst into flames.

The American victor straightened out as the flaming mass crashed into the ridges behind Montfaucon, and with a beckoning wave of the hand reformed with his four companions. A flip of the tail of his Spad and the early morning patrol of C Flight turned for home and breakfast. It was Whitey’s seventh Hun. He signed the combat report with a sense of satisfaction, as of a duty well done, and with the rest of his flight—Ken Porter, O.B. Myers, Billy Brotherton and Pat Herron—trekked down the muddy road from the hangars to the mess hut. There usually, Whitey shared doughnuts and coffee with Rick and Jimmy Meissner, his own commander in the 147th; but this morning Rick and Jimmy were in conference with Colonel Hartney at Group Headquarters. Captain “Ack” Grant of the 27th and Johnny Mitchell of the 95th were there too, for the group commander had called in all four of his squadron leaders.

“I don’t get the idea of the job, colonel,” Rickenbacker was objecting. “And why Whitey?”

“It’s this way, Rick,” Hartney answered. “General Kenly wants an accredited ace to serve on the staff of the Chief of Air Service in Washington. He Wants an inspirational type, a man who can stand as a model to younger men; he wants to send him over the country making speeches, to stir up a little patriotism, I guess. Of course, he will serve in a technical advisory capacity as well.”

“But why do they have to take White?” persisted Rickenbacker. “That crowd of generals-”

“I know, Rick,” Hartney temporized. “You can’t deny though—Whitey fits the bill.”

“He’ll never do it,” broke in Meissner.

“He’ll have to,” responded the commander. “The orders came through from General Patrick at Tours this morning.” Hartney hesitated a moment, then added, “You’re forgetting, fellows, Whitey has a wife and two kids back there. That’s not the reason he’s going back, but his wife probably will be glad even if we are reluctant to lose him.”

“She won’t if she’s anything like Whitey,” interjected the 94th’s leader. “You’ll have a swell time convincing Whitey that that’s not the reason he was picked, and I for one don’t want to be here when you tell him. Is there anything else, colonel?”

Hartney shook his head. The four squadron commanders filed out, and after them went Captain Cunningham, operations officer, to summon Whitey to headquarters. The pilot returned with him and found Hartney standing beside bis desk, tapping a pencil.

“Whitey,” he began. “I’ve some good news for you—”

“Yes, I know, colonel, Meissner told me. Young Charley Cox is coming up with us. I’m glad, colonel.” Then more seriously he added, “You see, I sort of feel it a duty to take care of that kid. I knew him you know, and his father and mother. That’s why I asked you to help me in getting him here with us. I just got a letter from his dad this morning.”

Hartney’s face clouded; he walked behind his desk.

“Yes, Whitey,” he said. “Cox will be up sometime to-day, and he’ll be assigned to the 147th. But that’s not what I called you over for.” The commander hesitated as a look of doubt spread over the pilot’s browned and wind-burned face. “It’s this, Whitey—there’s no use trying to put it in softer words—General Patrick has ordered you back to the States for special duty on the staff of General Kenly, Chief of the Air Service at Washington.”

THE orders left the younger man speechless. The amazed, hurt look in his eyes caused Hartney to turn away and to finish his order in short, staccato sentences.

“Your new duties will be varied—advisory work partly and other special stuff. You can take my word for it you weren’t picked at random. You were chosen because of your excellent record. It’s an important job. I’m sorry, more sorry than I can say, to lose you. We all are, but it comes from above me, and I haven’t anything to say about it.”

Hartney tried to end it there. It wasn’t easy, nor pleasant, ordering a fellow like Whitey back to the States; ordering anyone, for that matter, from that reckless crowd of fighting youths. He couldn’t refuse to listen as the amazed flyer regained his tongue.

“I—I don’t understand, colonel.” The good-natured smile was gone now. In its place was a look of doubt, as if he questioned the truth of Hartney’s explanation.

“I can’t leave, colonel—not now anyway. You’re sure” —he spoke more quickly as the thought occurred to him— “You’re sure the fact that I have a family has nothing to do with it? ”

There was only one way for Hartney to deal with the situation. That was to be brusque. As difficult as that was, Hartney spoke sharply.

“I can’t help it, White. Orders are orders. Here they are.” He handed over a sealed envelope. “They date from to-morrow. Better get packed up. The boys, I understand, want to throw a little party for you to-night, and you can leave early in the morning for Paris.”

Hartney turned away, indicating dismissal, but as the bewildered pilot walked slowly toward the entrance of the hut there came one more command from his senior officer.

“Just one more thing, Whitey. I’ve instructed Meissner to take you off the regular patrols for the rest of the day. I—I’d stay on the ground if I were you. That’s all. I’ll see you again before you leave for Paris.”

Whitey did not answer. He walked out slowly, the sealed orders in his hand unopened, and wandered unseeing in a circuitous journey that finally led him to 147’s barracks across the Sacra Via that ran from Rembercourt to Verdun.

He was sitting on his cot, staring at the floor, when Ken Porter and “Obie” Myers, his companions of the morning patrol, found him. They walked up quietly, and both cleared their throats significantly before they uttered a word. Porter spoke first.

“What’s the use of our trying to say anything, Whitey? It’s a lousy trick to play on any man, especially you.”

Whitey seemed not to hear. He sat unmoved, his head pressed tightly between his hands, his elbows on his knees. Porter continued.

“There is this about it, though, old fellow. You’ve got to think of the wife and kids. You’re the oldest man in the squadron, you know, and the only one with a family. This suicide club is no place for a fellow like you; it doesn’t matter about the rest of us bums.”

The mention of the word “family” brought the first response from the flight leader.

“That’s just it, Ken.” He dropped his hands from his head. “If I thought—if I thought for one minute that that was the only reason, I’d never go back.” The flash of anger faded then, and more soberly he continued, “It isn’t that I don’t care about my family—God knows I do. It’s just that this is my duty; this is what I’m trained for, this is something that I can do to help. Why, then, why should they keep me from doing it?”

Porter, the youngster of the 147th, whose youthfulness had won him the fatherly protection of the older man, had no answer, and with Myers stood glumly silent as their flight leader searched his mind for some answer, some explanation. Suddenly Whitey leaped to his feet. The set of his jaw startled his two listeners.

“Listen to me, you two!” Whitey’s voice rose almost to a shout. “Orders are orders, Hartney said. All right, there’s no way out that I can see. But if I’ve got to go back, I’m going to finish up my job here first. I’ve got seven Huns now, haven’t I? Alright, I’m not going back without another crack at them, and you two have got to help me?”

Myers spoke now for the first time. There was a pleading note in his voice.

“But Whitey, don’t be a damned fool.
You’ve got your orders in your pocket. 
You’re alive now, you’re all whole. 
Stay that way. You’re only asking for 
it if you—”

“Are you going to help me or do I have to go out alone? ” demanded Whitey.

There was only one answer when Whitey spoke like that. And Porter and Myers knew that if they didn’t go along to help and protect this Hun hater, that he would go alone, and that he probably wouldn’t come back alive. They promised, although reluctantly.

“Fine,” Whitey responded, his spirits reviving. “We’ll do a reconnaissance patrol. Meissner won’t keep me down. I’ll notify him and we’ll meet at the hangar in twenty minutes.”

MEISSNER argued for fifteen of those twenty minutes before he gave up trying to dissuade his flight leader from going’aloft. Rickenbacker, too, pleaded. It was all to no avail.

“You’d feel the same way, Rick, in my place.”

“Yeah? I’d stay right on the ground!”

“No you wouldn’t,” and Whitey smiled and walked away.

There was, of course, Hartney. Hartney could have stopped him with an authoritative command had he known. But who was there in all that group who would have cheated the pilot of his wish? He had said, had insisted, that he’d rather die than go back without one more journey over the lines, and there was in the refusal of his fellows to notify the commander almost the resignation of allowing a dying man his last wish. No, Whitey could go if he must; putting themselves in his place they all felt they probably would have wanted to do the same thing. Nevertheless they all watched his take-off with dubious shakes of their heads.

The trio of Spads, Porter on the left and Myers on the right of their flight leader, cleared the wooded slopes at the north end of the muddy field and followed the ravine toward Dun-sur-Meuse. Over Montfaucon again, and the hill that had been the quarters of the German Crown Prince before the Americans broke the Hindenburg Line, and the woods where only the week before Whittlesey and his famous “Lost Battalion” had stood off the surrounding Huns for five days.

Whitey led his companions on a steep climb over Bantheville as they flew into enemy territory. Above and below him the sky was clear of the enemy, as far as the eye could penetrate the mist and fog. Where were they? Why didn’t they come out and fight, the rats! Didn’t they know this was his last day at the Front?

He fondled the triggers on his joystick. It was almost a caress. The States! What was the “special duty?” Why? What for? Even thinking of it was enough to drive a man mad! And why, of the whole lot, did he have to draw the assignment? Whitey could have unleashed a few bursts of his Vickers just to relieve his pent-up anger.

Behind him, to the left and right, flew Ken and Obie, their minds also burdened with their thoughts, too burdened and preoccupied in fact for the safety of the tiny flight of Spads.

It was Ken, not Whitey whose eye and sense of the enemy’s presence usually was so keen, who first saw the Fokkers; and even he did not see them until the red-nosed biplanes were well into their dive out of the protective rays of the sun that was poking its way through the clouds. Ken grabbed his triggers, gave one short burst as a signal of warning to Whitey and Obie and sideslipped away from the dive of one Fokker and caught a quick burst at a second Hun that swept across his bow.

They were seven, the Fokkers, Stenay Fokkers from the late Baron’s own circus and they dove through the trio of Spads with their twin Spandaus spurting flame.

Whitey turned at Ken’s warning burst. Damn! Caught asleep! He jerked at his stick and strained his Spad into a roll that saved him from the opening fire of the Hun leader. He saw two of the enemy tearing at Obie and two others at Ken as he climbed with the Fokker leader on his tail.

Spandau tracer was licking at his tail. His motor! Hit! It was missing. He rolled over instinctively as the whizzing bullets reached out for his cockpit. Something was wrong with him—he couldn’t shake this Hun. Another burst of Spandau lead. A worthy opponent. It was time to start fighting, if he wanted to live.

WHITEY was climbing now, seeking a cloud, and from it he dove for the Hun. For the moment he had him in line of fire. But no, his guns jammed. Was everything against him to-day? A balky motor—now a jam! Whitey dove for safety as he struggled to repair his weapons.

But escape was not so easy. Not that he wanted escape, but the Hun was on him again now. Lead was streaking over his head. Another roll, another loop? Where was Ken? Obie? He had lost them; no, he had deserted them, deserted the two who had come out to protect him, abandoned them to the mercy of six other Fokkers. Two against six.

Fool! Selfish fool! Whitey’s jaw set. He slapped the obstreperous Vickers, and turned on his opponent with a vengeance that was not to be denied. It was an aroused, red-haired Yankee at the stick of the Spad now, a pilot whose fingers fairly itched at the triggers of his joystick. The old Whitey.

They were some distance apart now, coming at each other head-on. The German triggered first. His bullets were wasted. “The fool,” muttered Whitey. The Vickers were silent. The Hun was getting scared. The rat! He was wavering now, too. “Turn out, you Heinie! Turn out and die!” Whitey held his course, straight for the red nose of the Fokker. It was turn out or die in collision. “Make ‘em turn out,” was Whitey’s motto; “they’ll turn.” And the Fokker’s master turned, turned out to avoid collision and he died in the first burst of Whitey’s deadly aim.

Triumphant, the Spad leader grinned with satisfaction as he watched the Fokker slowly circle into its last spin, its pilot dead at the stick. But the grin faded suddenly with the thought of Ken and Obie. Where were they? Whitey cursed himself, and with a shameful sense of desertion sought for the Spads of his companions. In vain he scanned the sky above and below. He covered the lines with the same result. Fokkers or Spads, there were none to be seen. With a sinking heart he started for home.

He circled the drome twice before landing. His heart leaped as he saw a Spad being pulled into the hangar. But was it Ken’s, or Obie’s? He swept down to a sloppy, dangerous landing on the muddy field.
His first words were to the mechanic who helped him out.

“Porter—Myers! Are they back?”

The mechanic seemed not to hear.

“My God, tell me, you fool! Porter and Myers—did they get back?”

The mechanic looked up.

“Porter? Myers? Oh, yeah, they got back. But there ain’t enough left of their two ships to make one good training crate.”

The mechanic’s lightly given assurance left Whitey weak in the knees. He felt a little sick.

“Thanks,” he mumbled, and with his helmet dangling in his right hand, he stumbled toward barracks, not even waiting to make out a combat report.

He found them drinking coffee. Their cheerful greeting was lost on him. He walked straight up to them, his eyes filling up with tears.

“Ken,” he mumbled, putting his hand on the younger pilot’s shoulder. “Ken, I ought to be shot. And you, Obie, I can’t tell you how I feel. It was rotten, just plain selfishness. I should have been killed; I deserved to be, for running out on you like that. And when the two of you came along just to help me with my silly pride—”

Words failed him then, and he sank down on a bench, his head in his hands. Porter and Myers exchanged glances, and nodded. Porter spoke up first. His words came in pseudo-sarcasm.

“What’s the matter with you, Whitey? Gone haywire or something?” He slapped his flight leader on the back and pushed a cup of black coffee at him.

” Come on now, come out of it. We’re all here, aren’t we? All alive? What the hell does it matter? It wasn’t your fault because the damned Hun leader happened to pick on you. We managed it okey. We just ran around until we saw you were on top, then we tore for home. That’s all there was to it. Forget it!”

The play-acting had its hoped-for effect. Whitey shook his head, uttered another apology and then relaxed with a sigh of relief and drank his coffee with a lighter heart.

“Okay, Ken,” he said finally. “I guess I was a little worked up about it. But I’m sorry, anyway, and that apology goes to you too, Obie.”

“Forget it, Whitey,”responded Myers with a reassuring shove. “Now let’s do a little serious thinking about this party to-night—it’s a farewell party, Whitey, and we ought to make it a good one. This crowd needs a party. There’s been too damned much thinking going on around here.”

“Madame Mourot’s, huh?” suggested Porter.

“Now wait a minute, fellows,” in
terrupted Whitey. “You know, hon
estly, I’d just as soon pack up my stuff
and then sort of drop around quietly 
and shake hands with everybody. This 
dinner and party stuff—”

“Too late, son,” cut in Myers, rising to his feet. “You’re overruled. Mr. Porter and Mr. Myers of the committee on arrangements are already on their way to Erize la Petite to negotiate. So long, Whitey, see you hence.”

THE two pilots left immediately for the village. It was nearly 2:30 when Porter returned alone. He found Whitey in barracks, finishing a letter to his wife telling of his orders home.

“Everything is set, Whitey,” he said and started off for his own bunk, but the other pilot, rising from the floor, called him back.

“What’s the hurry?”

“Got a little work to do, sir,” Porter answered, picking up his flying togs. “Hartney detailed A Flight to stick a balloon over at Dun-sur-Meuse, same one you took a crack at the other day, I think. But A Flight hasn’t any balloon gun in working order, so Billy Brotherton drew the job, and he prefers C Flight men for company.”

“Who’s going?”

“Well, you’re not down.”

“Who’s going, I said,” Whitey repeated.

“Well, Meissner, Pat Herron, myself and this Cox kid that just came up.”

Whitey scowled, more with disbelief than surprise.

“Not Charley Cox, the kid ”

“Well,” responded Porter with a shrug, “he’s down on the list. Meissner said the kid insisted on going along, and that he didn’t have the heart to refuse him.”

Without another word Whitey turned and reached for his own flying clothes. He had started changing before Porter noticed.

“Now what?” Porter demanded.

“I’m going along,” said Whitey, slipping on a heavy shirt.

Porter slammed his heavy gloves to the floor and strode over with his hands on his hips.

“For God’s sake, Whitey! We’ll take care of the kid, if that’s what’s worrying you. You’ve had enough. I thought we settled all that a while ago.”

The older pilot shook his head. “I know, Ken, but—well, I got the kid up here, and I want to see him over the lines for the first time. I promised his people that, and I want to do it, that’s all.”

Ken started to argue but he gave up in exasperation as Whitey calmly finished changing.

“What’s the use of my arguing with you, Whitey? All I hope is that Meissner or Hartney keeps you on the ground. I can’t,” and he strode out of barracks.

But Meissner’s argument was no more successful than it had been earlier in the morning, and when three o’clock came around Whitey was ready to lead his flight. He greeted Cox for the first time out on the field, took him aside for a brief chat and a bit of advice and then returned to the corner of the hangar where he waited with Porter and Brotherton while mechanics warmed up their Spads.

The assignment was more extensive than Porter had described. It called for simultaneous attacks on two balloons, the one at Dun-sur-Meuse and another near Bantheville. Brotherton, C Flight’s balloon strafer, was to stick the balloon at Dun-sur-Meuse under Whitey’s protecting flight; Reed Chambers, guarded by another flight, was to tackle the other bag while his teammate, Rickenbacker, with a flight from the 94th, was detailed to cover both flights from above and rendezvous with them over the line at four o’clock.

Porter and Brotherton chafed impatiently as the Spads warmed up, but Whitey was silent. He leaned against the corner of the hangar, drawing slowly and deeply of his cigarette, his eyes scanning the clouds above. His thoughts seemed far away. Not until the signal from the mechanics came did he speak, and then it was only a parting word of instruction to Porter.

“My adieu to the Huns, Ken,” he said. “I’m glad you’re along. Keep an eye on the kid, keep him in close.”
They parted on the line, the three of them, but the flight leader was the last to climb into his ship. First, he walked clear around the plane, surveyed each patched spot on wing and tail, each nicked strut or repaired brace. He came around to the side of the cockpit and was ready to climb in when Rickenbacker came up.

“Whitey, for God’s sake listen—”

“It’s okay, Rick, this is the last trip. We’d better get going.”

The 94th’s leader was reluctant to leave. Whitey climbed in the cockpit smiling and reached up for Rick’s hand.

“All right, Whitey. Lots of luck. I’ll be upstairs looking out for you.”

“Thanks, Rick.”

The five Hispanos of C Flight roared in unison. Whitey took off first from the emergency sod runway laid on top the soggy field. Cox followed, then Herron, Porter, Meissner and Brotherton, but Porter’s Spad faltered as it was clearing the trees at the edge of the field and he barely made it back to the drome with the high-speed jet on his left bank of cylinders clogged by an aluminum shaving.

ALOFT the five Spads moved into formation with Brotherton underneath as the grounded Porter climbed into another ship to rejoin them. But they waited in vain, for as Porter sent his new mount over the soggy runway a clod of mud splintered his prop and both Spad and pilot landed nose up “in the soup.” Whitey gave the signal now to move on, but he gave it reluctantly. He wanted Ken along this last trip, might need him; somehow it was comforting to know that Porter was back there on his left. Ken could catch up, though, maybe, before they hit the lines. But Ken never caught up—an overheated motor turned him back for the third and last time as his companions passed out of sight.

They crossed the lines and pointed for Dun-sur-Meuse with the sun over their left shoulders. Brotherton flew at about four hundred meters, ready to snag the balloon with his 11-millimeter guns. Six or seven hundred higher, and slightly back, came the others, Whitey leading with his newly arrived protege in the rear between Meissner and Herron.

The air was fairly clear of the enemy as they went in, but the Huns were not idle; even as the flight of Spads crossed the lines eleven Fokkers were moving in from Stenay behind the youthful Lieutenant Pfaffenritter who carried in his pocket a leave that was to take him home to Berlin that night for a visit.

Rickenbacker, wide of his own flight, saw them first, and he tackled the rear of their formation as they swung out of the rays of the protecting sun.

Whitey saw them, ahead and above. He turned toward them, the best tactical move to cover up Billy down below. For a moment nothing happened. It looked as if there was to be no scrap, except that single duel which had taken the rearmost German and Rickenbacker a mile to the west. Then Brotherton, his heavy balloon guns spitting out their streams of incendiaries, dove through the rain of Jerry fire for the descending bag below. His attack was the signal for the attack of the Fokkers.

The watchful Spad leader turned again to meet them but the red-nosed Fokkers swerved for the rear of the Spad formation and, avoiding its leader, swarmed over Meissner, Herron and Cox with the German leader singling out the inexperienced Cox for his victim.

Whitey looked over his shoulder. Meissner was deftly rolling out of the path of one German; Herron, both guns blazing was tangling with two of the enemy. Whitey challenged one of them, and avoiding his opponent’s initial swoop, turned to meet him at closer quarters.

The German was too hasty. His Spandaus were blazing wildly. Whitey grinned confidently, withholding his own fire. His Spad strained and bent as he twisted and came out of a roll on the Hun’s tail. Whitey gripped his triggers, ready for the kill. A short burst of Vickers tracer caught the Fokker cockpit; another burst now and it would be over. But the Vickers jammed! Whitey cursed as he fought with the stubborn gun.

A Spad screamed past overhead. It was Cox, and on his tail was the Fokker leader with both guns spitting flame.

Whitey forgot his jammed guns; he forgot his own opponent and allowed him to slip away to safety. He came about on a wing-tip, his eyes glued on the red-nosed plane that was dropping into deadly position on Charley Cox’s rudder. Spandau lead was eating up the fuselage of Cox’s Spad. It was a matter of split seconds now and Cox would be gone. Whitey tore in head-on, his Spad with its useless guns pointed straight for the Fokker leader.

The move succeeded. The breathless Cox, so close to death an instant before, climbed to safety as the Hun leader turned to meet the onrush of his new enemy. Twice his Spandaus barked out. The Vickers of Whitey’s Spad were silent but the bulletlike directness of his drive never varied. Head-on they
raced, Whitey and the youthful German.

Rickenbacker, tearing in from victory over his opponent, saw it. Reed Chambers, fleeing from his successful attack on the other balloon, saw it. They watched with bated breath. They could almost hear the Spad leader’s chant, “Never turn out for a Hun—make him turn out!” Whitey was holding his fire, they thought, for the German to turn out. But the Hun never wavered; nor did Whitey. Two of a kind, they were—the same methods of combat, equally matched in nerve and skill, except that Whitey’s guns were useless. A brave determined Yankee, a brave determined German. Turn out and die. Neither turned out. Both died.

THE Spad and Fokker struck head-on. There wasn’t much of a crash. Their wings just seemed to melt together, and they locked in one crazy tangle. There was no fire; no smoke. It was just a floundering mass of splintered wood and fabric that fell swiftly down and down. A few splinters of wood, a few shreds of canvas fluttered around as if lost. That was all.

Somehow there was no combat after that. Not a trigger was pressed from the moment that Whitey swept into that headlong drive to force the Hun from his protege’s rudder. The stark tragedy of it all took everybody by the throat, Boche and Yankee alike. Two brave men had gone to their end in that brief moment that had encompassed one of the most supreme sacrifices of the war. No taste for fighting remained, and the leaderless formations of Spads and Fokkers turned for home.

Rickenbacker was the first to reach Hartney’s office with the news. He staggered into the headquarters hut, his eyes blinded by tears.

“Whitey—” he mumbled, and sank weakly into a chair. It was several minutes before he found his voice.

“A Hun got on young Cox’s tail— Whitey went to his rescue—his guns jammed and he drove head-on into the Hun. They fell together just east of the river. I tried—I tried to get down, but too late.”

Hartney swallowed hard and walking to the pilot’s side, shook him roughly.

“Brace up, Rick. Get yourself a drink.”

“I—I can’t, colonel, I’m sick,” and Rickenbacker staggered out the doorway.

Meissner came in next; then Chambers and all the rest except young Billy Brotherton who never came out of his dive on the balloon. Young Cox, whose life had been spared by Whitey’s sacrifice, couldn’t tell his story until the next day. And he told it while virtually every patrol sought through low, dangerous flying, to find where Whitey had fallen. They hunted for days but not until next April, months after the Armistice, was the search successful.

Reed Chambers, who remained in command of the 94th after Rickenbacker returned to the States, found the body on the east bank of the Meuse near Dun. With Whitey’s father and two members of the Graves Registration Department, he searched for three days along the bank where he had seen the interlocked Spad and Fokker crash. A shred of Spad fabric, caught on the remains of a stretch of barbed wire, led him to a spot where beneath a shallow layer of earth the heroic American pilot had been hastily buried by villagers. Not far away was another grave bearing only the marking, “An Unidentified German Aviator.”

Ironically, the two bodies were identified by papers found in the pockets of their uniforms, and the papers in both instances were orders for home—for Whitey, his orders back to the States; for Lieutenant Pfaffenritter his leave for a visit with his mother in Berlin.


The 147th
The 147th Aero Squadron They are, standing, from left to right, 1Lt Oscar B Meyers, 2Lt Arthur H Jones, 2Lt Edward H Clouser (adjutant), 2Lt Ralph A O’Neill (five victories), ILt James A Healy (five victories), 2Lt Charles P Porter, Maj Harold E Hartney, commander 1st Pursuit Group (seven victories), Capt James A Meissner, commander 147th Aero Squadron (eight victories), 1Lt Heywood E Cutting, 1Lt James P Herron, 2Lt Francis M Simonds (five victories), 1Lt George H Brew, 2Lt G Gale Willard, 2Lt Cleveland W McDermott and 1Lt Collier C Olive. Squatting, from left to right, ILt Walter P Muther, 2Lt Frank C Ennis, 2Lt Louis C Simon Jr, 1Lt G A S Robertson, 2Lt Stuart T Purcell, 2Lt Thomas J Abernethy, 1Lt Horace A Anderson (supply officer), 1Lt Josiah P Rowe Jr, 2Lt James C McEvoy and 2Lt John W Havey (armament officer)

AS A bonus, we present “Lieutenant White’s Supreme Sacrifice”—The story behind the cover of Paul Bissell’s July 1933 cover for Flying Aces! Bissell is mainly known for doing the covers of Flying Aces from 1931 through 1934 when C.B. Mayshark took over duties. For the July 1933 cover Bissell recreates Lt. White’s headlong dive into a German plane to save a young pilot he was looking out for on his squadron—The spectacular crash captured in a freeze-frame. The story behind it is Lt. Reed Chamber’s account of events.

Lieutenant White’s Supreme Sacrifice

th_FA_3307“SO THIS was the stick he used to guide his plane! It’s hard to realize that my boy’s live hands once held it as I hold it now.” And the man dressed in clerical garb revolved the broken joystick slowly in his hand as he turned sadly to the young lieutenant with him.

The speaker was Dr. W.W. White of the Biblical Seminary in New York. He had come to France to search for the body of his son, Lieutenant Wilbert Wallace White of the 147th Squadron who, on October the tenth, 1918, in one of the most dramatic sacrifices of the war, had crashed head on with an enemy ship high above the lines. The Doctor’s companion was Lieutenant Reed Chambers, American ace, who had taken charge of the 94th Squadron when Captain Rickenbacker had returned to America.

Now, six months after Lieutenant White’s death, these two sat in a little pension near the village of Dun on the banks of the Meuse. For three days they had searched up and down the banks of the river for some sign of the wrecked ship which Reed Chambers himself had seen fall, twisted and tangled with the German plane.

Only this afternoon had their search been rewarded by their finding the scant remains of the wrecked planes half-buried in the muddy banks of the Meuse. From peasants in the neighborhood they learned that the two aviators had been buried in a near-by field, and, in the morning, with two members of the Grave Registration Department present, the bodies were to be disinterred for identification.

“I’m sure it is his stick, sir,” Chambers answered, “and to me, too, it hardly seems possible that that useless bit of wood still remains much as it was, while Whitey, with all that he could and would have done, is no longer with us.

“You see,” he continued, “that’s where you who have faith have it over the rest of us. To you, it is all a part of some plan, even if you don’t understand it completely. We at the Front soon became fatalistic, feeling, as the French would say, ’C’est la guerre,’ or else we feel like blaming some one in some way or other for it all.”

“Certainly there is no one to blame in this case,” the older man replied.

“No, I don’t think there is, really, but we all felt a little bit to blame, sir. Perhaps particularly Colonel Hartney and Jimmy Meissner. Either of them could have ordered Whitey to stay on the ground, but you know how he was. To begin with, when first he heard of the orders sending him back home, he was stunned and angry. He knew that all of you back there felt as he did, that he belonged here where he was best able to serve. He resented what appeared as perhaps a choice, granting him safety and life, while other chaps were sent out to be bumped off.”

“Yes, I can understand that,” replied White’s father.

“God knows he had already done his duty,” said Chambers. “He had seven Germans to his credit already, and had been in a hundred scraps. That was what we all tried to get over to him—that he had done his bit here, and that real work was awaiting him back in Washington. It took a lot of talking, but he was convinced at last, and keen on getting back to see all of you. He had no intention of making that last flight. It wasn’t a foolhardy gesture, I’m sure of that, sir. But you know, he was somewhat older than a lot of the kids that came up and he liked to look after them, not only in the air, but on the ground.

“And, you see, he had looked forward to Cox’s coming. In fact, he had helped get Cox assigned to the 147th. Only that morning he had heard from the boy’s parents, and so, when he learned that Cox had been assigned to immediate patrol, he wanted to go over with the youngster on his first flight.

“YOU, too, were on the patrol, were you not?” asked the Doctor.

“Yes,” replied Chambers. “I had a crack at a balloon just below here at Bantheville. Whitey, with Meissner, Pat Herron, Cox, and Porter were to keep the Germans off Brotherton’s tail, while he went at a sausage just above this village here. Rickenbacker, with a flight from the 94th, was upstairs, keeping an eye on both of us. Ken—that’s Porter, you know—didn’t finally fly the patrol at all. Three engines went bad on him in succession. “So, after waiting a short time for him to join the formation, we all headed over in this direction, Whitey leading his flight, with Brotherton below and Meissner and Herron behind, riding their planes on either side of Cox.

“As we came over the lines, things were pretty clear, but just as we got a short distance from here, eleven Heinies came flying in from Stenay. This bunch was part of Richthofen’s old crowd, you know. Whitey turned to meet them, which was the only thing to do in order to cover up Brotherton below, who was then all set and ready for his dive on the balloon.

“The Germans did not attack at once, though Rickenbacker up above slipped in on the rear of their formation and after a short scrap got the last one of the crowd. Just then Brotherton dived on the balloon and, as if this were a signal, the whole flight of Germans dropped on Whitey and his crowd. I was pretty busy over Bantheville at this minute, but Jimmy tells me that the Jerries swung off, avoiding Whitey’s head on attack, then turned quickly and came at them from behind, the German leader apparently singling out Cox for his victim.

“Jimmy and Herron both had their hands full, what with the enemy outnumbering them about three to one, and Cox got separated from them. Whitey, it seems, turned and had just rolled himself into a swell position on one of the German’s tails when his guns jammed. I guess that’s what did the trick, sir.

“Having his guns jammed was no new experience for Whitey, and ordinarily, even against the odds, he could have slipped out of the fight, fixed his guns, and been back at it in a minute. But just when his guns jammed, he caught sight of Cox, tipped up on one wing, heading toward him, striving desperately to get away from the red-nosed machine on his tail.

“The kid was putting up a swell fight, but he was up against old hands at the game, and the odds were against him. Whitey had no time to clear his guns now. In another moment it would be all over. No one knew that better than Whitey, and as quick as a flash he had left his own German and was diving headlong at Cox’s opponent.

“Maybe he forgot his guns were Jammed. Maybe he thought the German would turn out. He used to say, ‘Never turn out for a Hun. Make him do the turning out.’ But if you ask me, I don’t think it was that either, he was responsible for the kid, and the kid must be saved, let the cost be what it would. And there was only be way, since his guns were jammed, and that was to make the German turn.

“Well, I had finished my job and was just heading back, trying to get into the scrap, when I saw Whitey go for the red machine. I didn’t know his guns were jammed. I thought he was holding his fire, holding it till the Jerry turned out and he could give him a burst.”

Chambers looked up at the older man, who stared fixedly at the broken stick in his hands. Then the lieutenant rose to his feet and, putting his hand on his companion’s shoulder, continued.

“Well, the German didn’t turn out, sir. And this I’m sure of—if it had to be done over, there would be no hesitation on Whitey’s part, and he would again crash any German that ever flew if that was necessary to save a comrade in trouble.”

NEXT morning the sun shone down from a clear April sky. A soft spring breeze stirred the new-sprung blades of grass in the small field just at the river’s edge. To the right a row of tall poplars lined a road that wound over a hill to the small village beyond, hidden except for the thrust of its church spire, above the trees.

In the corner of the field the earth had been thrown back from two shallow graves, and here a small group of men were gathered.

“There can be no doubt about it, sir. These are the orders we found in his pocket. You can see that they are papers ordering Lieutenant Wilbert Wallace White to return to Washington for special duty on the staff of General Kenly, Chief of Air Service.”

There was a hush as the elderly civilian, taking the crumpled and worn papers from the officer, read them through slowly and carefully. In the distance the soft peal of the church bells could be heard.

“Yes,” he said, finally, “I am sure there is no question about it. It is my boy. And what of the other lad?”

“His name was Pfaffenritter,” they answered. “We identified him also by his orders.”

But they did not go on to say that this lad, too, held in his pocket a reprieve from death. On the following morning he was to have gone on leave to Berlin to see his mother.

The Ships on The Cover
“Lieutenant White’s Supreme Sacrifice”
Flying Aces, July 1933 by Paul Bissell


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