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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.

 

THE BALLOON SLASHER

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.

 

LAST FLIGHT

WITH A REPRIEVE FROM DEATH IN HIS POCKET, LIEUT. WHITE GAVE HIS LIFE THAT A COMRADE MIGHT LIVE
THE TRUE STORY OF ONE OF THE WAR’S GREATEST HEROES

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


LIEUT. WILBERT WALLACE WHITE
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

 

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Captain Linke Crawford

Link - Posted by David on June 27, 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 Austrian flyer—Captain Linke Crawford!

Captain Crawford was one of the most brilliant and scintillating of all the flying aces. Most everyone knows that Captains Brumoninski and Linke were the ranking Austrian flyers and carried on a duel for top honors all through the war with first one, then the other, on top. But what most informed people do not know, is that Captain Crawford and Captain Linke were one and the same person! Son of an English father and an Austrian mother, Linke Crawford was born and raised in gay Vienna. When he began to win fame as a fighting pilot he had dropped the Crawford part of his name and was known as Captain Linke. although he was listed on the army rolls as Captain Crawford. He fell victim finally under the guns of Colonel Barker, famous Canadian ace. Up to that time, however, he had scored 27 victories and won all the awards possible from his country. The story below is taken from the archives of the Austrian Imperial Air Corps in Vienna.

 

BRINGING THEM DOWN ALIVE

by Captain Linke Crawford • Sky Fighters, July 1936

OUR Intelligence had given us word that a crack British squadron under command of one of the most famous Canadian aces was being sent overland to Italy to operate against the Austrian Imperial Air Corps.

“Very well,” I said to the high staff officer who so informed me. “I shall watch for them and try for the initial victory. It might take some of the stiffness out of their British necks to see one of their ace pilots get it in the neck the first crack out of the box.”

The Chance Soon Comes

My chance came very soon afterwards. While on patrol with my staffel we encountered the British formation flying over a narrow defile in the mountains. They were just under a bank of overhanging clouds. I sized up the situation immediately. One enemy flyer was straggling somewhat, slightly beneath and behind the others. Before their squadron leader had caught sight of me I had dived from the sun and cut off the straggler from his mates. My first burst was wide of the mark, but I zoomed up again quickly, Immelmanned, and went at him again, both guns blazing.

The enemy pilot turned and dived to get away from my fire. I laughed. I knew that narrow defile, every twist and turn of it. My quarry had dived right into it. I followed behind him, keeping just on top. My mates up above engaged with the rest or the enemy formation. I kept herding and pressing my quarry down.

Forced Landing

When he was down to 100 meters I knew I had him. Steep mountains hemmed him in on three sides. I guarded the only exit. The Britisher decided to run for it. I held steady and pressed my triggers. The fusillade of machine-gun bullets poured into his nose. I saw debris slash off and whip back in his slipstream. He banked. His motor stopped. Down he went to a forced landing.

I set down behind him and stalked over to capture pilot and machine intact. The poor fellow looked scared, then I noted he was just a boy. “Well, I guess you got me, old chappie,” he said and smiled wanly, hopelessly. Holding both hands in the air he stepped down on the ground and came toward me. The next thing I knew his machine burst out in flames. The youngster had completely disarmed me with his sickly smile and presuming salutation. I cursed myself for being tricked by him.

But first blood was ours. The initial victory was mine. I made up my mind then to tackle the British leader next time and make up for my dereliction in allowing the youngster to fire his plane.

(Editor’s note: He did—but came out second best. Barker shot him down in flames two days after this initial victory.)

C.B. Mayshark and Flying Aces

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

THIS May we’re celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over doing the covers for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and picked up Flying Aces with the December 1934 issue. He would continue with Sky Birds until its final issue in December 1935 and Flying Aces through to the June 1936 issue.

1934

 

 


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May is Mayshark Month!

Link - Posted by David on May 1, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we’re celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! On Mondays we’ll be exploring his combat maneuver covers he did for Sky Birds in 1934; Wednesdays bring his “How The Aces Went West” feature from 1935 issues of Sky Birds; and Fridays bring his covers from Flying Aces (1934-1936) and a story attributed to him from Dare-Devil Aces!

We featured his first Sky Birds cover yesterday to get the month rolling a day early. Today we have a bio of the man from Age of Aces’ resident art historian, David Saunders. Saunders’ Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists is an excellent site profiling any pulp artist and illustrator you can think of. Here is his entry for C.B. Mayshark:

CASIMIR B. MAYSHARK
(1912-1978)

CASIMIR BENTON “DUKE” MAYSHARK was born Casimir Mieczyslaus Mayshark, Jr., on January 3, 1912 in Sacramento, California. His father, Casimir Mieczyslaus Mayshark, was born in 1881 in Poland and came to the U.S. in 1893 and settled in San Francisco, California.

The family name Mayshark is an English transliteration of the Polish name in the Cyrillic alphabet, so U.S. immigration officials had to assign approximate phonetic equivalents. Other members of the same family who came to the U.S. were assigned various names of similar sounds, such as “Maycherczyk,” “Marzajek,” “Majchrzak,” and “Mazureck.”

The father was a commercial artist in the advertising industry of San Francisco. It was the father’s second marriage, the first one having ended unhappily, after he deserted his wife and two sons in Missouri.

The mother, Oreon Gracie Page, was born in 1875 in Mississippi, so she was six years older than her husband. She was also and artist. She designed and decorated Art Nouveau china. It was also her second marriage, the first one having ended after one year, when her husband, Percy Frank Wilson (1878-1906), the city editor of the Memphis News Scimitar, died of typhoid fever on January 15, 1906. After his death she lived with her parents in El Paso, Texas, where she operated a private art school.

In 1908 she advertised her classes in the local newspaper. By 1910 she had moved to Los Angeles, California, where she met and married Casimir Mieczyslaus Mayshark on May 7, 1910. They had two children, Casimir Mieczyslaus Mayshark, Jr., (b.1912), and his younger brother, James Page Mayshark, born June 5, 1913. The family lived at 278 29th Avenue in San Francisco.

On May 25, 1913 The San Francisco Call reported in the Art Notes column by Porter Garnett, “Casimir M. Mayshark has recently shown a landscape at the Bohemian Club. This is the first easel picture that Mr. Mayshark, who has specialized in scenic decoration in European and Eastern theaters, has exhibited here. It arrests the attention immediately by its personal quality, its quietness and its altogether delightful color.”

In 1913 the San Francisco Sketch Club organized a poster contest to commemorate the city’s patron saint, Saint Francis. On November 1, 1913 The San Francisco Call published the results of the contest. Casimir M. Mayshark was listed as an entrant but failed to win the $500 prize, which went to the NYC artist Adolph Treidler (1886-1981).

In 1914 Casimir M. Mayshark, with his wife and two sons, moved to El Paso, Texas, where they lived with the mother’s family and the father worked as a manager of the Tuttle System outdoor advertising agency.

In 1915 Casimir M. Mayshark, with his wife and two sons, moved to the East Coast to pursue his career as a Commercial artist in New York City. The family lived at 24 Van Dyke Place in Summit, New Jersey. The father commuted by ferry boat to NYC, where he worked as a freelance commercial artist.

On September 12, 1918 during the Great War Casimir M. Mayshark registered with the draft board. He listed his occupation as Poster Designer. He was recorded to be of medium height, slender build, with blue eyes and brown hair. He was thirty-six, married and supporting two young sons, so he was not selected for military service.

In 1919 the father deserted the family and was never heard from again. Casimir, Jr., was age seven and James was age six. After the marriage was legally dissolved, Casimir Mieczyslaus Mayshark, Jr., was renamed Casimir Benton Mayshark.

The mother and two sons moved to Chatham, New Jersey, where they lived at 222 Hillside Avenue. She supported the family as a commercial artist designing decorative wall paper for a manufacturer.

The father had moved to Atlantic City, NJ, where he worked as a sign painter.

On September 15, 1920 Casimir M. Mayshark addressed the 11th Annual Convention of the Outdoor Advertising Association, held in Cleveland, Ohio. His lecture topic was “Color in Outdoor Advertising.”

In 1925 Casimir M. Mayshark married his third wife, Jesse Whitney. She was born in 1889 in New Hampshire. They lived with her brother’s family at 54 Turner Street in Boston, Massachusetts, where he worked as an Interior Decorator. They had two children, Cyrus, born August 3, 1926, who grew up to become an author, and Mary, born May 5, 1928, who grew up to become Mrs. Mary Mayshark Perkins.

In 1929 the father, Casimir M. Mayshark, lived with his third wife and two children at 54 Conant Street in Roxbury, MA, but the following year he again deserted his third wife and two children, after which that marriage was legally dissolved.

In June of 1930 Casimir Benton “Duke” Mayshark graduated from Chatham High School. He had always liked to draw, but by high school he had become interested in a career as a commercial artist.

In 1931 he attended the University of Alabama, where he completed his freshman year. The Great Depression brought hard times to most American families, which made college difficult to afford. By 1932 his younger brother, James Mayshark, had graduated high school with a promising record in football and a dream to play in college, so Casimir Benton “Duke” Mayshark entered the work force instead of returning to Alabama after his freshman year. His brother became a star player with the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA.

In 1932 C. B. Mayshark began to work as a commercial artist in NYC publishing and advertising. He attended night school art classes at the Art Students League at 215 West 57th Street, where his best teacher was Morris Kantor (1896-1974).

In 1934 C. B. Mayshark painted covers for the pulp magazines Sky Birds and Flying Aces. He also drew pen-and-ink interior story illustrations for these two titles. In addition, he wrote several descriptive articles about his cover paintings, which were featured inside the magazines. He signed his work for pulp magazines “C. B. Mayshark” and “C.B.M.”

The 1940 NYC Business Directory listed the art studio of C. B. Mayshark at 15 West 51st Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

In 1941 he was hired as a staff artist at the James M. Mathes Advertising Company in the prestigious Chanin Building, at 122 East 42nd Street, where Street & Smith, Ideal Publishing, and Decker Publications also had offices. While working at the advertising company he met Helen Lucille Dunaway. She was born December 30, 1919 in Yonkers, New York, and was a graduate of Smith College. She worked as a clerical secretary at J. M. Mathes.

By 1941 his estranged father, Casimir M. Mayshark, had moved to San Diego, California, where he worked as a draftsman for the Simpson Construction Company at the San Diego Naval Training Station. He lived in a lodging house at 432 F Street.

In 1943 Casimir Benton Mayshark was drafted. Before entering service he married Helen Lucille Dunaway. They eventually had three children, Joseph (b.1944), Cassandra (b.1946), and Sanford (b.1951). The family lived in Forest Hills, Queens, NY.

During WWII C. B. Mayshark served as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, 17th Bomber Wing, Second Air Corps, Radio Division. He was stationed at an air base in Idaho, where he painted a mural in Building 23 of the air base. He was not sent overseas.

His younger brother, James P. Mayshark, served as a Captain in the Army Tank Corps and was wounded in North Africa.

On 1943 nationwide newspapers covered the poignant story of his mother, Mrs. Oreon Page Mayshark, and her remarkable experience as she sat in a Times Square movie theater and watched a wartime newsreel with dramatic battle scenes, and suddenly recognized her son as he was wounded in combat.

After the war, C. B. “Duke” Mayshark started Mayshark & Keyes Advertising Art Company with a partner, Bill Keyes. The company grew successful during the post-war years.

His brother, James P. Mayshark, became a salesman of Pneumatic tools and moved to Buffalo, NY.

In 1950 C. B. Mayshark sold his share in the business to his partner and retired to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he designed and build the family home.

In 1952 he was appointed Director of the New Mexico State Tourist Bureau, of the State Department of Development, under Governor Ed Mechem.

In 1954 that political appointment ended, after which C. B. Mayshark started Mayshark Lithographing Company, which printed jobs for the public, but also won contracts to print posters for the New Mexico State Tourism Bureau.

In 1962 Casimir B. Mayshark’s mother, Oreon Gracie Page Mayshark, died at the age of eighty-seven in Santa Fe, where she had lived with the family.

In 1962 C. B. Mayshark closed the printing company when he was appointed Administrative Assistant for New Mexico Governor Jack Campbell.

In 1964 C. B. Mayshark became Executive Secretary to the Governor of New Mexico, in charge of Promotion of Business and Tourism with national advertising campaigns, New Mexico Magazine, and the organization of the New Mexico State Exhibition at the 1964 World’s Fair in NYC.

The father, Casimir Mieczyslaus Mayshark, returned to San Fransisco, where he lived at 715 Clementina Street, and continued to work as a Commercial Artist, until he died at the age of eighty-four on November 5, 1965.

In 1966 C. B. Mayshark was the Director of the New Mexico Department of Development.

In 1968 C. B. Mayshark retired from New Mexico State politics and concentrated on making art. His work was exhibited at the University of New Mexico, St. John’s College in Santa Fe, and the University of Hawaii.

C. B. “Duke” Mayshark (age sixty-six) and his wife, Helen Lucille Mayshark (age fifty-eight), were fatally injured in an automobile accident in Albuquerque, NM, on September 28, 1978.

 

David Saunders included many photos and illustrations in his entry for C.B. Mayshark on his site. Please check them out and come back frequently this month for more from C.B. Mayshark!

 

© 2015 David Saunders. David Saunders is the son of pulp artist Norman Saunders and an artist himself. The above article is from David’s website A Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists and is used with his kind permission.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Capt. Allan R. Kingsford

Link - Posted by David on March 7, 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 Australian flyer—Capt. Allan R. Kingsford!

Captain Kingsford enlisted as a simple private in the Australian Army. The troop ship carrying his contingent was torpedoed by a German submarine and he was cast adrift in a heaving sea at midnight with only a frail spar to buoy him up. He served for over a year as a Lance Corporal of Infantry in Mesopotamia, he determined upon obtaining a transfer to the Hying corps, and after many setbacks he finally was ordered for flight training and sent to England, He became pilot of the Zeppelin night patrol guarding London, later joining that strange organization, the British Independent Air Force, as a bombing pilot attached to 100 Squadron. As a member of that group which served under no army, but roved about from point to point, he took part in 270 night bombing raids and became known as the Ace of night bombers. This account of his most thrilling flight is taken from his private memoirs.

 

DESTROYING THE BOULAY AIRDROME

by Captain Allan R. Kingsford • Sky Fighters, November 1936

BOULAY! That is a name to conjure up grim thoughts. Boulay Airdrome … the home nest of the Hun Gothas that rained so much terror on Paris and London! When our C.O. told us Intelligence had discovered that the Hun Gothas were planning to put on a massive parade over Paris that bright August night and that 100 Bombing Squadron had been ordered to forestall their show, Bourdegay (my observer) and I danced with glee.

We had tried to destroy Boulay before but something had always been against us . . . bad weather, tricky engines, faulty bombs or too many enemy planes and archies for protection, that we had failed in our efforts. Still Bourdegay and I thought it could be done.

Loaded with sixteen bombs I took off with my flight at midnight and flew over the valley of the Moselle River toward Boulay 90 kilometers behind the front lines. Because of the great distance there and back (180 kilometers) I knew it would have to be a short show on a hot spot. We would have no time to waste when we got there, and we would have to go down through hell fire and brimstone to lay our iron eggs.

Lights Flash on!

Flying at a great height, masked by a convenient layer of clouds that hid our approach from the enemy, I managed to guide the formation intact right over Boulay. Our “Fees” (slang for F.F. 2B’s, the type of bomber they flew) were running perfectly that night.

Just as we appeared over the airdrome the take-off lights on the field flashed on. There were the flights of Gothas running across the field in take-off just below us! And all lit up conveniently like churches for us to pepper at!

Bourdegay hooped and yelled at me to dive down on the nearest one. I threw the Fee into a steep dive. A searchlight flashed on, another and another. The landing field went suddenly dark! The wind whined through the brace wires and struts of my diving plane like shrieking demons, A searchlight beam caught us full. Archie puffs blazed clear as Christmas lights around us. I slipped the Fee, tried to get out of that dazzling light, but the searchlight crew held us in their beam. “I’m going for them!” Bourdegay yelled, swinging his Lewis around and spewing out a long burst.

There was a dazzling flash. The searchlight seemed to explode, spread apart like a pinwheel in a million dazzling fragments. The Gotha ahead of us showed its red exhausts. I was down to three hundred feet now and almost over it. Other “Fees” were following behind me. I could hear the snort of the motors above the roar of my own. Machine-guns on the ground opened up in murderous volley, their tracer streams shooting up like light rays from a setting sun. “Pull her up!” Bourdegay yelled, bending over his bomb sights while his fingers tensed on the trips. I pulled back and he let go. A direct hit! The Gotha exploded in red flames.

I zoomed for the ceiling with all the sauce I had, managed to get up to a thousand feet before another probing finger of light caught up. Bourdegay had dropped two more pills on the way up. One set a hangar on fire. Another exploded on the field and hurled up a geyser of earth which a running Gotha tore into and up-ended on its nose.

Crashing Bullets

I slid the Fee again, but couldn’t escape the beam. Bullets crashed through my wings. Archie blasts rocked us mercilessly. I banked and zig-zagged, stood on my wingtips and dropped three hundred feet, but I couldn’t shake that light; so I determined on a ruse. I dropped a landing flare through the tube, cutting my engines at the same time. It exploded in flame beneath the plane. The Hun gunners thought they had made a direct hit on my ship. They ceased firing and the searchlight beam swung away seeking my mates.

All was bedlam now below on the earth and in the skies above. Boulay Airdrome was in flames. Fed by a fitful wind the flames leaped this way and that, igniting one hangar after another. Several of the Gothas, however, had succeeded in getting into the air.

Bourdegay spied one of these and yelled at me to go for it. He still had two bombs left.

A Fountain of Flame

I sent the Fee around in a split air turn, straightened out and streaked for the running Gotha. Just as I got over it a fountain of flame blossomed under my wings—flaming onions! Up they came like luminous dumbbells in their crazy, erratic trajectory. I lifted the nose and leaped over them, then piqued for the Gotha. Bourdegay tripped his first bomb. It missed.

But the second made a direct hit. The Gotha fell apart in the flame-ridden sky. And just in time—for a formation of night flying enemy fighters thundered in from the east, swarming around my flight like bees and attempting to cut off our return.

Boulay was destroyed, however! We had accomplished our mission. Not a Gotha reached Paris that night, nor any night thereafter. We had scotched that last parade before it began.

How Bourdegay and me got back, I don’t know. I guess we were just lucky, for most of the boys with us did not return.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell

Link - Posted by David on February 21, 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 member of the LaFayette Escadrille—Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell!

Kiffin Rockwell was a true soldier of fortune. Born and raised In Aaheville, N. Carolina, young Rockwell got the wanderlust soon after graduating from the University of Virginia. When the Germans made their surprise move on the forts of Liege, Rockwell was serving in the ranks of the Foreign Legion. For a heroic exploit in hand to hand bayonet fighting, he was awarded the Medaille Militaire. For a whole year he served with the Foreign Legion in the trenches, then transferred to the aviation and went into training at Avord. When Norman Prince formed the first American Flying Squadron in Paris, Rockwell was one of those invited to join. He proved out to be one of the best and most daring pilots of that original band. His career was cut short by his untimely death on September 23rd, 1916.

Rockwell ran up a score of three official victories before being killed in action and was awarded the Croix de Guerre with additional citation for his Medaille Militaire. The following is taken from a letter to his brother in Asheville.

 

WHY WE CALL THEM LES BOCHES

by Sergeant Kiffin Rockwell • Sky Fighters, August 1936

YOU asked why we call the Germans les Boches, or butchers, in our language. There are many reasons. I shall relate a recent experience so you can determine for yourself.

Captain Thenault, Prince and I had taken young Balsley out for his second trip over the front. We were cruising along behind the Boche lines when we suddenly found ourselves face to face with about 40 Boches. They were grouped together in a close formation but at different altitudes. On our level there were about 12 or 15 Aviatiks.

These Aviatiks had about the same speed as our Nieuports, but they carried a gunner behind the pilot. The pilot shoots as we do, but the gunner has a movable gun which enables him to fire in all directions.

A Mêlée of Battle

We were but four and on the German side of the lines, but none of us turned and ran away. For ten or fifteen minutes we flew over and around the Aviatiks, being fired at constantly, some of their bursts being at very close range. Finally we saw an opening. One of their machines raced toward our lines. The rest were behind us.

We plunged after this isolated Boche. A general mêlée resulted, for the whole swarm of Boches pounced on us, coming from above and all sides.

One of our planes dived and fell as though streaking to death. I wondered if it were Prince or Balsley. Tough in either case, I thought. Then in the mêlée I lost sight of another of our little Nieuports. Now both Prince and Balsley were gone. Only Captain Thenault and myself remained and the Boches were giving us plenty.

Thenault signalled to draw away and we ran for our lines, confident that both Balsley and Prince had been shot down.

An Exploding Bullet

We managed to run the gauntlet. Later Prince showed up. He had followed down after Balsley when he saw the youngster falling. It appeared that poor Balsley had darted in on a Boche and just as he pressed his Bowden to fire his gun, it jammed.

He swerved off to clear and just at that instant a bullet struck him in the stomach and exploded against his backbone!

Balsley’s machine went into a dive as he fainted over the stick. But the rush of air in the dive revived him. And as he had kept his feet on the rudder he was enabled to redress and land right side up. The machine, however, smashed to bits. Prince got Balsley out. Twelve pieces of the exploded bullet were removed from Balsley’s interior. Balsley will live but he will never fly again.

So, you see why they are called les Boches? This is the second time we have run into explosive bullets. First it was me, and I am not entirely recovered yet, now it is poor Balsley.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Col. William Barker

Link - Posted by David on February 7, 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 Canadian Flyer with the R.C.F.—Lieutenant Colonel William Barker’s most thrilling sky fight!

The plain unvarnished truth of William Barker’s career on two flying fronts reads more like fiction than fact. Born in the prairie province of Manitoba in 1894, he enlisted as a Private in the Canadian Army at the age of 19. He served in the cavalry before transferring to the flying corps. Barker began as a simple private. But he skyrocketed swiftly through all the grades to that of Lieut. Colonel. His training for a pilot was limited to two flights with an instructor. After that he was turned loose to begin piling up an amazing record. On October 27, 1918, he crowned this amazing record with the most astounding aerial feat of the whole war . . . fighting and escaping from a surrounding net of 6O enemy planes at the dizzy altitude of 20,000 feet.

With one leg useless, shattered by an explosive bullet, one elbow torn away by another, and two bullet wounds in his abdomen, he nevertheless maneuvered his plane in such a masterful manner that he downed 4 enemy aircraft and managed to escape to his own side of the lines. For this, his last and most terrific fight against stupendous odds, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. When he departed from the front he ranked fifth among the British Aces with 50 official victories. He was killed in an airplane accident 12 years after the war. Barker picked the following encounter as the most thrilling of his experiences.

 

WHIPPING THE FLYING CIRCUS

by Lieut. Col. William Barker• Sky Fighters, September 1935

WHEN I was assigned to the 28th Squadron, I was made a flight commander. I decided on an immediate test to prove my right to the assignment. Richthofen’s Flying Circus was operating in our area, the Hauptmann himself was away on leave, but those remaining to carry on were crack air fighters. I called my boys together for a foray over their lines.

It was late afternoon and the ceiling was less than 1,000 feet, but I picked my way across the lines by following the Memi road, vaguely discerned below by the twin rows of tall poplars on either side. Malloch, a high caste Indian, who always insisted on wearing his colorful turban with his regulation uniform, flew at my right. Fenton was at my left. Three other boys filled in the rear, 6 of us in all.

For almost an hour we dodged back and forth among clouds behind the Hun lines without having any luck. Our Sop Camels were ticking along smoothly but somewhat futilely . . . when suddenly it happened! We had slid from a cloud only to run smack into the whole Flying Circus. Malloch was closest and drew fire first, three Fokkers of dazzling hue pouncing in on him simultaneously. I split-aired to his assistance and cleaved the Hun attackers in two. But another Hun arrowed from nowhere, fastened on my tail and began pumping hot lead.

Diving for the Earth

I kicked rudder abruptly, glanced swiftly at the sky and ground, came to a sudden decision. I could spin or turn my light-engined Sop Camel on a half penny. The Fokker with its weighty Mercedes motor in the blunt nose was heavier and faster. The ceiling was low. I decided on a new adaptation of an old trick. Pushing the stick forward I dived for the all too close earth with full sauce. The Hun peppered away at my tail and I let him have it. When my lower wingtips almost touched the topmost leaves of the waving poplars I tugged the stick abruptly and went into a tight loop.

An old trick, yes. And easily countered—usually! It had been worn thin since Ball first used it two years before. But this was a new adaptation at an ungodly low altitude! The heavier Fokker couldn’t follow me. I came out sitting smack on his tail with my sights on the back of the pilot’s helmet. One Vickers burst was enough. The pilot crumpled over the controls and the Fokker fell.

I zoomed up again, just missed being hit by a tumbling Fokker coming down in flames. Fenton was going at it with two Huns. I lured one of them away by flashing my tail in his face. We went around and ’round in an ever tightening circle. The Spandau bursts swept harmlessly beneath my trucks. The Hun pilot was not able to bend his Fokker far enough to get my range. That was where our Camels were superior to the Fokkers. While circling that way I slid off on a wing nearer and nearer to the ground. When I could descend no farther I straightened out and let my antagonist line me in his sights. With his first burst I pulled up and went over in a loop to come out on the Fokker’s tail. Two bursts accounted for it. It exploded in flames. The pilot was a victim of the same trick I had pulled on the first Hun.

Four Missing Men

It was too dark now for further fighting and my squadron mates had swept away through the clouds, I could see neither friend nor enemy anywhere, so I turned homeward. Malloch was there when I landed. He reported getting one Hun. I had downed two. But four of my mates were missing! It was a sad and bitter ending to my first encounter with the Circus.

Later on, however, Fenton phoned in from a nearby field where he had been forced to land in the darkness and reported a victory. Two others had landed with him, but one of my men would never return. Fenton had seen him fall in flames behind the German lines. But I had won my first joust as a single-seater flight commander. The final score was 4 to 1 in our favor. But what pleased me most was the working out of my new tactic.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Norman Prince

Link - Posted by David on January 24, 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 the founder of the LaFayette Escadrille—Lieutenant Norman Prince!

Born to the purple on August 31, 1887, scion of one of the blue-blooded families In old Boston, was Norman Pslnce, the founder of the famous LaFayette Escadrille. Educated at Groton and Harvard for a career in business with his wealthy family, he hazarded his promising future and used his wealth and family prestige in overcoming obstacle’s to form a squadron of American aviators for battle at the front. With him in the beginning were Thaw, Chapman, Rockwell, McConnell, Hall and Cowdin. These Americans with Prince made up the roster of the original squadron sent up to the front at Luxeuil in May, 1910.

Later on it became known as the Escadrille de Lafayette and 325 fighting pilots flew under its proud banner before the war came to an end. Prince’s career on the front was short but meteoric. Before he was killed, however, on October 15, of the same year, he had engaged in 122 aerial combats and won every award possible for his many acts of bravery and heroism. The story below is taken from the records of a French war correspondent.

 

SOLO TO DOUAI

by Sous-Lieutenant Norman Prince • Sky Fighters, May 1936

A HIDDEN Boche artillery emplacement was holding up the French advance on the captured fortress of Douai. The General des Armees became frantic. His cavalry scouts had failed. Infantry patrols had learned nothing. The Boches had command of the air. But locating the hidden emplacement was imperative. Though the weather was far from auspicious, the General demanded that the avions de chasse break through the Boche net and discover the hidden guns so that our 75s could destroy them.

It was a grim, desperate order. The sky was on the ground in spots. It was rain and sunshine alternately, and the wind blew in whirling tempests across our front . . . very bad weather for flying. And much, more worse for reconnaissance. Twenty-four avions took off on that desperate mission, 4 from our squadron; the rest from other squadrons nearby, including the famous Storks.

Little Hope of Returning

I had few hopes of returning when I lifted wings into the air on that bleak day. But one thing I vowed: no Boche in the sky or on the earth was going to force me to turn back until I had won through to Douai. I did not fear death. I feared only that I would not be able to accomplish the mission; that no one of us would.

The first half hour it was a battle against wind and weather. My frail avion tossed up and down like a cork. For a few minutes I saw my comrades on either side of me, then they gradually faded into the dismal sky and I found myself alone in a dripping, grey-black void. My thoughts were somber and the whirling rotary engine seemed to sob out a sinister cadence: “Solo to Douai! Solo to Douai!”

I caught myself mouthing it aloud in rhythm with the moaning exhausts where I was rudely awakened from my lethargy by the stitching, ripping sound of Boche bullets tearing into the fuselage at my back. Instinctively I whirled off in an abrupt virage and saw black spots that were enemy planes dotting the grey sky all around me . . . and the fortress of Douai was immediately beneath!

Enemy Avions

I took in everything with a single, darting glance. My Lewis coughed sharply as I spiraled down through the converging black specks. Some of those black specks puffed and mushroomed . . . shrapnel bursts! Others grew wings and blue smoke spouted over engine nacelles . . . enemy avions!

How many I did not know. There was not time to count. I circled, dived, zoomed; firing my piece when Boche shapes slid by in my sights. I got one I know, for I saw the avion sway and fall away in a lazy zig-zag glide with black smoke pluming from the cockpit.

But that was not important. More important was the blinding flash of firing guns just below me . . . the hidden gun emplacement! There it was in a wooded copse beyond and to one side of the fortress of Douai.

There was no need of me tarrying longer over Douai! Back I whirled with my avion not more than 500 meters off the ground. Bullets from sky and earth rained around me like hail.

Ages passed, it seemed, before our trench lines loomed beneath me. But finally they showed, then my own airdrome, the green turf glistening like an emerald in the sudden sunshine.

I set down safely to find that of the 24 who tried to reach Douai, I was the only one to succeed. And I had returned with what the General ordered. Fate had favored me, but I know that she shan’t always do so. Some day I shall not return.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Paul Marchal

Link - Posted by David on January 10, 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 Lieutenant Paul Marchal of the French Flying Corps!

Paul Marchal joined the colors on the first day war was declared, and it was he that answered the challenge of that bold German, lieutenant Max Immelmann, when the latter bombed Paris with leaflets calling for surrender. Immelmann had to fly a matter of but a hundred kilometers, or less, to get over the city of Paris. But when Marchal answered his challenge with an identical flight to Berlin, he had to fly 8QO kilometers.

The fact that Marchal succeeded in bombing Berlin with leaflets proves his unusual courage and daring. Marchal was the first sky fighter to be captured by the Germans. Likewise he was the first to make his escape from a German prison camp and rejoin his squadron after a trek through hostile Germany that reads like a page from epic literature. Before his flaming career on the front was inadvertently halted, young Paul Marchal was awarded the Croix de Guerre, the Medal Militaire, and the Cross of the Legion d’Honneur. He told the story below upon his return to France after escaping from Germany.

 

BOMBING BERLIN

by Lieutenant Paul Marchal • Sky Fighters, April 1936

THE idea of a flight over Berlin bloomed suddenly in my dumb brain. Of course, if my motor should fail, or the avion falter, or should I run into contrary winds and had weather, I was doomed to failure. But I was willing and anxious to try.

Finally mon-commandant reluctantly consented. Then began the period of preparation. I had charted my course over Germany, intending to fly down the valley of the Moselle into the Rhine, then along the Rhine until it veered off suddenly to the left. After reaching Berlin, and dropping my leaflets, I was going to bend off to the right and make a try for Poland, the terrain of our Russian allies.

To lessen weight, I dispensed with all guns except a small pistol with a single full cylinder of ammunition. The day was just dawning, when my avion was wheeled from the hangar and faced toward the east. I shook hands all around, then took my place in the cockpit. After a long run I got into the air, and headed straight for the trenches, waving back over my shoulder as I left my comrades behind. Would I ever see them again? I did not know.

Over the trenches I was fired at. Some of the bullets made holes in my wings. One or two enemy avions I spied, or thought I did. But in the half light they did not see me. When it was fully light, I was far behind the enemy lines.

Over Unknown Terrain

The winding Moselle heaves into view. I course along it until it empties into the Rhine, then I follow up the Rhine. It is a splendid day.

I have been hours in the air it seems when I must leave the Rhine and strike out over terrain unknown to me. But I have studied my carte Taride well, and I recognize the cities as I fly over them.

Finally Berlin looms beneath me. I am very high now. Over the Unter den Linden I fly, tossing my leaflets out on both sides. They flutter down like snowflakes.

But I am not to get out of Berlin without being shot at, and enemy avions come up, too. But I am so high that I run far from Berlin before they can reach my elevation . . . and they give up the chase.

Flight Toward Poland

Kilometer after kilometer, I fly in a straight line for Poland. I think I am going to make it when I see the Polish villages across the border line far ahead of me. But no, I am still 30 kilometers or so away, when my engine starts to spit.

I am still 20 kilometers from the Polish border when I am forced to spiral down and light on a plowed field. Being so near the border, there are many soldiers, and they run towards my avion as it volplanes down. I consider if I should use my pistol and make a fight of it. But I decide not to. There are too many against me.

That is all there is to it. I was taken prisoner and sent to a prison camp in Silesia, but I have made the longest flight in the war. And I have scattered French leaflets over the German capital. I had delivered my answer, France’s answer to Max Immelmann and the Imperial Army. The people of Berlin knew now that they were no longer safe from attacks by air.

Next Time: LIEUTENANT NORMAN PRINCE

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Jan Thieffry

Link - Posted by David on December 27, 2017 @ 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 Belgian Air Ace Lieutenant Jan Thieffry!

Little Belgium played as heroic a part in the war of the air as she did in the war on the ground, when her brave soldiers held up the advance of the German hordes at the gates of Liege until the British and French armies could mobilize and get to the front to begin their counter-offensive. Corporal Jan Thieffry was a motorcycle despatch rider at that time. He was taken prisoner by a flying squadron of German Uhlans, but after some months made his escape.

He was later assigned for aviation training, and after graduation served as a bomber pilot for a brief period, In December, 1916, he was transferred to a chasse squadron, and on March the next year got his first official victory while flying a Nieuport Scout.

Before long his score of victories had grown to five. Thus he became the first Belgian Ace, and held that position as Belgian Ace of Aces until he was killed behind the German lines on February 23rd, 1918. His final total of victories mounted to 10. The story below is taken from his diary.

 

AN UNUSUAL VICTORY

by Lieutenant Jan Thieffry • Sky Fighters, March 1936

THERE are many ways to down les Boches when on the wing. I have used many ways, but today I discovered something new—and quite by accident. A machine-gun, I find, is not always necessary. Always, when going out on patrols, it has been my habit to carry along a half dozen or so hand grenades. If I am forced down behind the enemy lines, I figure they will serve me in destroying my machine before it falls into their hands.

It was over Passchendale that I encountered a patrol of three Boche avions. For several minutes we flew along together, waiting for the other to make the first move, I guess. As for me, I forced a show of bravery to show them I was not scared. The Boches were probably waiting for me to turn my tail, so they would have a better target. I cocked my gun and waited, wary. I was going to make them fire first.

Defiant Battle

The shot was not long coming. The leader wheeled suddenly and came at me from the side, shooting as he came. I dropped my nose and piqued, then swiftly pulled up again and trained my gun on the other’s belly. The two other Boches circled around me from different directions.

I had the first Boche in my sights so I pressed the trigger. But the pilot must have anticipated my fire. He banked off just ahead of my bullets, and the burst went wide past his lower wing. I fell off on a wing and slid into a spiral that brought me in range of the second Boche who opened fire at me from in front. I pressed my trigger again. Two-three, bullets stuttered out, then my gun went silent.

I reached up and tried to clear, but the bullet was stuck tight in the breech. “C’est fini pour moi!” I gasped with a sudden feeling of panic. For one without guns to battle three with guns, I knew was impossible. And les Boches had my range-now. Their bullets sieved through my wings and fuselage. Then a sudden light struck my befuddled brain!

The Fateful Grenade

I reached for a grenade, looked back over my shoulder, saw the Boche kiting behind me, right on my tail. I turned around again, pulled the firing pin on the grenade, then tossed it back over my shoulder. Then I counted silently and prayed that my aim would be true. But nothing happened!

I glanced back again. The Boche was nearer and it seemed that I could see the bullets streaming from the muzzle of his rapid firer. I pulled the pins and tossed two more grenades back at him.

And le Bon Dieu flew on my side. I heard a sharp explosion—a shearing, crashing noise that sounded even above the roar of my motor. I glanced back. The Boche plane was wobbling. The propeller had shattered, and the engine was tearing loose from its base, because of the uneven torque and terrific vibration. My grenade had scored a clean hit!

I banked sharply, and the stricken Boche plane wobbled past me and into a spinning nose dive, then it up-ended suddenly and fluttered down like a falling leaf. Before the two other Boches could pick up where their leader had left off, I was on my way home—and they were not quick enough to catch me.

Next Time: LIEUTENANT PAUL MARCHAL

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Andrew McKeever

Link - Posted by David on December 13, 2017 @ 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 Canadian Air Ace Major Andrew McKeever!

Andrew Edward McKeever was one of the many daring young sky fighters that came from Canada to add fame and lustre to the deeds and exploits of the Royal Air Force, He put in almost a full year in the infantry before he was transferred for flying training. He joined the R.F.C. in December, 1916, was commissioned a lieutenant and sent over to the 11th Observation Squadron in France on May 16th, 1917.

As a two-seater fighter he was without a peer. Beginning his career of victories just as he turned 19, this brilliant young man brought down his first enemy aircraft a month after he went to the front. When the war ended he was credited with 30 official victories, more than any other two-seater pilot in any other army.

He won the British D.S.O. and M.C, and the French conferred upon him the Croix de Guerre. He survived the war without ever receiving so much as a scratch in sky battles, only to be killed in an automobile accident in his home town on Christmas Day in 1918. The story below is his own account of a battle with 9 Huns 60 miles behind the enemy lines.

 

TWO HUNS WITH ONE BURST

by Major Andrew McKeever • Sky Fighters, February 1936

IT WAS soupy weather when my observer and I took off. There was a drizzling rain and the clouds over the trenches were almost on the ground. But H.Q. had ordered a picture of an ammunition dump 60 miles behind the lines. I volunteered to get it, and took advantage of the soupy weather in sneaking into Hunland. All the way in we saw no Huns. And we saw none at the dump. I flew above the clouds all the way by compass, and nearing what I thought should be my destination I dropped down through a hole in the clouds to get my picture. Odd as it sounds, I was right over the ammunition dump. Flying without sight of the ground I had hit the target of my flight right on the bull’s-eye.

The pictures were easy to get. My observer snapped them at 500 feet altitude, then we turned back for the long trip home, only to be met by 9 Huns, who had apparently been waiting for us. Two of them were painted a brilliant red. The other seven were black. They lost no time attacking when we turned for our own lines.

“Shall I run for it, or shall we try to fight them off?” I yelled back through the phones at my observer. “They’ve got the speed on us,” he shot back. “We can’t run. We have got to fight!”

His own guns were stuttering even before he finished, and tracer from the leading Hun attacker, a red Pfalz, was clipping through my upper center section. I lifted the Bristol’s nose and aimed for the Hun’s belly as he shot over me. I had time for just one short burst. But it was enough for that Pfalz. It went over and nosed into the ground, bursting in flames when it crashed. Gilbert, my observer, kept the Huns from sitting on my tail as I split-aired and dove for the other red Pfalz. A black Fokker cut across behind the Pfalz just as I fired. The Pfalz pilot wilted if his seat. My burst almost tore his head off. His ship went down, spinning erratically.

But the strangest thing was that the Fokker behind him fell apart in the sky at the same instant. One wing came off and fluttered down slowly. The fuselage and other wing sank like a plummet. That single burst of mine had passed through the Pfalz pilot’s head and sheared the Fokker’s wing off.

Gilbert, meanwhile had got one of the Fokkers, trying to attack from the rear. But two more pounced in on him, while I dived for one below me. There was terrific clatter and I looked over my shoulder toward the back pit. I couldn’t see Gilbert. I turned back again to get my sights on the Fokker and spray out a burst. It never came out of the nose dive it was in, just hurled on into the ground. I looked back again, and was relieved to see Gilbert standing in the back pit. But he was pointing at his Lewis guns. They were useless. A Spandau burst had wrecked them completely.

I swung around again and went for a persistent Fokker who was trying to get at me from below. I got my sights on him and pressed the trips. But it was no go! My guns didn’t answer. I reached up to clear what I thought was a jam. But it was worse than a jam. The whole breech had been shot away. My own gun had been rendered useless while I was staring at Gilbert’s.

We couldn’t fight any longer, so I ran for it. We hedge hopped in and out of the clouds all the 60 miles back, with those four Fokkers hi-tailing after us. But the clouds served in good stead. The Fokkers followed me right to the drome, and didn’t leave until I sat down.

Death whispered in our ears all the way back, but my old Bristol had just enough speed to keep one jump ahead of the grim spectre. It was my hardest and longest fight . . . and closest shave. I don’t want any more like it. And for once Gilbert agreed with me.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieutenant Joe Wehner

Link - Posted by David on November 29, 2017 @ 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 Frank Luke’s tail gunner, Lieutenant Joe Wehner!

Lieutenant Frank Luke was the most daring sky fighter in the American Air Service. But it is hard to say whether he would have established the record he did without the aid of Joe Wehner, his constant and steadfast companion and buddy in the 27th Squadron. He was Luke’s alter ego.

When war was declared by the United States, Joe Wehner hitch-hiked his way from Boston, Massachusetts to Kelly Field, Texas, to join the flying service. Wehner was finally dropped from his squadron when it left Kelly for overseas because he was suspected of being a German spy. He managed, however, to get reinstated at the point of debarkation. His fellow officers, however, never ceased to look upon him with suspicion. That is, all except Luke. Luke stood up for Wehner and this made him an outcast in the 27th until he began to compile his flaming and meteoric record. Flying with Luke on those record-making flights was Joe Wehner, and Luke himself admitted after Wehner was killed in action, that if it hadn’t been for Joe Wehner, who served as his protection when he went Drachen hunting, he doubted if he would have been able to down the number of Drachens credited to him.

Wehner shot down three enemy planes while flying this rear guard duty for Luke. As a protection flyer, there was none better in the American Air Service than Joe Wehner.

From on of Wehner’s letters to his boyhood friend in Boston, the following account is taken.

 

STALKING THE DRACHEN

by Lieutenant Joseph Wehner • Sky Fighters, January 1936

FRANK and I have developed a specialty. We are sausage hunters. Sausages, you know, are anchored observation balloons. The Boche call them Drachens. One day when I was flying rear guard for Luke, he shot down two of them within two min-

In addition to the Drachens he got two Bocke planes, and I was lucky enough to down one myself. In one swift, hectic fight, we accounted for five Boche, and we were outnumbered three to one. But Luke never takes account of odds.

We went out just at twilight, saw two Hun Drachens straining against their cables and weaving in the wind near Vieux. Frank held up his arm and signaled me that he was going down to get them, one after the other. I saw a patrol of Boche Fokkers further back across the lines, so I began to climb for ceiling as Frank started down toward the balloons. I aimed to get between him and the Fokkers to keep them off his tail when he started firing at the balloons.

Frank got the first Drachen before I could get between him and the Boche. He split-aired through the enfilade of machine-gun and anti-aircraft fire, and made a bee line for the second Drachen less than a kilometer distant. He scooted along at terrific speed not more than a hundred feet off the ground. But the Fokkers having height streaked even faster for him. There was a full Staffel of them. I piqued to head them off. The Staffel separated then into three flights. One went to my right, the other to my left and the center flight came at me hell for leather.

I picked the first Fokker and gave him the works. My aim was true. It wobbled for an instant. Then the pilot slumped down in the pit, and the Fokker slid off in a spin. I was watching it fall when a clatter of leaden hail rattled through my upper wing tank. The gas began pouring out in a blinding spray. Then black smoke enveloped me. For an instant I thought my Spad was aflame. The fumes were choking. But the smoke instantly cleared, and I realized it was the smoke of the second Drachen which I had winged through. Luke had made swift work of that sausage and was going round and round now with a Boche, while two more were darting in on him from different angles above.

I went down for the Boche on Frank’s tail, and we went at it hot and heavy. The whole sky seemed to be a kaleidoscopic whirl of diving, zooming, shooting black-crossed planes. Then one of the black-crossed ships burst into flame. Luke had ridden it almost to earth, firing with both guns. Zooming up when it crashed, he made for another Hun’s blind belly, and brought it down before the pilot knew what had happened.

The wind had drifted us across our own lines now, and the Boche Staffel leader called it enough, I guess, for all of a sudden they beat it for their own lines. Frank chased them until he ran out of ammo, and I coursed along on top of him. But we got in no more licks.

Next Time: MAJOR ANDREW McKEEVER

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Lieut. Jules Vedrines

Link - Posted by David on November 15, 2017 @ 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 Lieutenant Jules Vedrines’ most thrilling sky fight!

In the year before the great war broke out Jules Vcdrines was the most famous flyer of France. He had twice won the Gordon Bennett speed trophy, and held both distance and altitude records. It was through his efforts that France wrested supremacy of the air from the United States and Great Britain. Along with Garros, Pegoud, Marechal, Le Blanc, Audemars, and other famous French flyers of his day, he enlisted in the French Flying Corps the day after war was declared.

The war was in its last stages before the nature of Vedrine’s work was revealed to his admirers. He had been engaged in doing special missions, and had established his reputation as being the Ace of Aces in that specialty, which consisted in leaving and picking up French spies behind the enemy lines. He received every decoration possible . . . but had to wait until the war’s end before he could bask in the glory of his achievements, for only then were his many honors divulged. The account below is from an interview with Jacques Mortane, great French war correspondent and flyer extraordinary himself.

 

SPECIAL AIR MISSIONS

by Lieut. Jules Vedrines • Sky Fighters, December 1935

THESE special missions are sometimes exciting. There was that time when I flew behind the enemy lines to pick up Sous-Lieutenant Huard. Three times before I had landed in this same meadow and picked up agents of the intelligence in full daylight. I thought our secret field was safe from German eyes. But I was to be surprised! I crossed the lines at a great altitude, over 6,000 meters. Then high over the meadow I cut the motor and sneaked down silently. I circled the meadow once at low altitude. Everything looked all right, so I volplaned in.

It was only when I got down to ten feet above the grass that I saw what the Germans had done. They intended to trap me. They had stretched wires across the meadow just high enough above the ground to make my avion nose over when the wheels touched earth. But I saw the wires just in time. I fed all essence to the motor and jerked the stick, zooming upwards.

At the same instant machine-guns hidden in the woods surrounding the meadow opened up at me at point blank range. Bullets splattered into my avion like hail from two sides, and German soldiers came from the woods firing rifles!

In another meadow several hundred yards away, I saw a man garbed in peasant attire running and waving his arms over his head. I looked close, saw that it was Huard waving me in to land on the next meadow. It appeared like certain suicide for both of us, but what was I to do? I cut off and nosed down. Bullets still hailed all around me, and I could see them kicking up patches of turf at Huard’s feet.

My wheels touched the meadow. Huard stumbled and fell on his face. When he struggled up, his leg folded beneath him and he fell again. He had been wounded. I shouted to Huard to grab the outer wing strut as I passed over him. He struggled up on his knees, reached out his hands. I could see his face. It was white and contorted with pain.

But he succeeded in grabbing the wing edge with one hand, and the forward strut with the other. I shot on the motor then and coursed along the ground to get away from the German bullets. Huard was dragging by the heels. A barb wire fence loomed ahead. I had to cut the motor. Before the avion stopped rolling, I leaped out and grabbed the strut Huard was holding. Together we swung the avion around in the opposite direction.

We would run into the fire again, I knew. But Huard only smiled when I mentioned that to him as I helped him in the rear seat. “C’est la guerre!” he replied lightly.

We escaped through that gauntlet of German fire. Neither of us even got scratched. An exciting mission, yes, but I wouldn’t say my job was one half as hazardous as Huard’s.

A brave man, Huard. And isn’t it preposterous? For that flight I was awarded the Medal Militaire. And Sous-Lieutenant Huard, he was not even mentioned in the day’s orders.

My Most Thrilling Sky Fight: Major Edward Mannock

Link - Posted by David on November 1, 2017 @ 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 British Flyer Major Edward Mannock’s most thrilling sky fight!

Edward “Micky” Mannock was serving the British postal department, Turkey, when the war broke out. He was immediately made a prisoner by the Turks, and spent almost a year in an enemy camp before he was repatriated to England in 1915. He first served in the Royal Engineers, was commissioned as a lieutenant and transferred to the flying Corps in August, 1916. Major McCudden, the great British Ace, was his first instructor.

At the end of the war Mannock ranked as the British Ace of Aces, with 76 victories to his credit, more than Bishop, Ball, or McCudden himself. Flying a Nieuport Scout he downed his first Hun June 7th, 1917. On July 25th, 1918, he got his 76th victory in an S.E.5. The next day he was seen to fall in flames behind the enemy lines. Before he was killed he was awarded the D.S.O. and the M.C, and was swiftly promoted to to the rank of Major. He was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. The following account of his fight with do enemy aircraft is taken from the report of a British journalist.

 

ONE AGAINST FORTY

by Major Edward Mannock • Sky Fighters, November 1935

I HAVE seldom been taken by surprise in the air. “Jimmy” McCudden schooled me well on that score in my early flight training. But one time I did get caught good and plenty. Forty Huns plopped in on me at once. I was flying solo over Villers-Bretteneux. It was a bad day for flying. There was rain and low-hanging clouds. The Huns had a big landing field at Villers, but our bombers had played it hot and heavy, and word came through to us that the Huns had abandoned it.

Right over the field there was a big hole in the clouds, so I dropped down for a look-see to ascertain the truth of the report. The field and hangars looked deserted. There was not an E.A. in sight. I dived low, got beneath the cloud layer. Then I saw why the field looked deserted. I had had the ill luck to drop down through that hole in the clouds just as the Hun staffels were leaving. Four flights of Huns had just left the ground, and were circling just beneath the clouds. The intervening clouds had hidden them from my view. When I did see them, it was too late for me to make my escape into the protecting clouds, for the Huns slid over on top of me.

There was nothing else for me to do but fight my way out of the trap.

Lead was rattling into my turtleback before I had a chance to shift into a climbing turn and bring my guns to bear upon any of the enemy. And one burst of slugs knocked my helmet askew so that my goggle glasses were wrenched across my eyes, blurring my vision.

When I did get them in place again, a purple-nosed Hun was diving at me head-on, both his Spandaus spewing out blue white streams. I maneuvered, pressed my trigger trips, then went up on one wing and slid down in an abrupt sideslip. The Hun ship shattered above me, exploded in flames. The blazing ship just missed mine as I nosed out of the slip. By now all the Hun planes had closed in tight on me.

But the Huns made one error. They hemmed me in so tight on all sides, above and below, that they couldn’t use their guns advantageously. I got two more of my attackers. But cheered as I was when I saw the E.A.5s fall, I knew that I couldn’t hold out against them for long. If I could pull up into the clouds, I knew I could lose them. Getting there was the problem. I went into a steep power dive, letting all that wanted to get on my tail. After a thousand foot dive, I pulled back on the stick and shot straight for the clouds.

Bullets raked my S.E. all the way down and up, but none of them had my name and address. I was just plain lucky, I guess, for I managed to make the clouds without getting popped. Once in them, I straightened out for my lines with all the sauce on. Believe me, my own airdrome looked good when I sat down there. I had got three of the full forty I had tangled with, but I didn’t regret not staying for more.

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