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“Black Flight” by William E. Barrett

Link - Posted by David on November 20, 2020 @ 6:00 am in

THIS November we’re celebrating William E. Barrett’s Birthday with one of his pulp stories each Friday.

Before he became renown for such classics as The Left Hand of God and Lilies of The Field, Barrett honed his craft across the pages of the pulp magazines—and nowhere more so than in War Birds and it’s companion magazine War Aces where he contributed smashing novels and novelettes, True tales of the Aces of the Great War, encyclopedic articles on the great war planes as well as other factual features. Here at Age of Aces Books he’s best known for his nine Iron Ace stories which ran in Sky Birds in the mid ’30s!

On Easter Sunday, April 9 , 1917, the greatest British offensive of the war got under way. A blazing line of steel whipped across France and into Belgium; from Croiselles to Loos, from Ypres to the Nieuport Canal and to the sea. Under the greatest artillery barrage in the history of the world a grim horde of muddy infantry hit the Hindenburg Line.

April ninth was also the day on which Second Lieutenant Teddy Campbell, R.F.C., reported for duty to the headquarters of Fifth Wing at Albert. He came up jauntily with the pinkest breeches in the entire, air force, with his monkey hat at the correct angle and with the glow of training-camp victories still upon him. His heart raced madly but he strove to capture in his expression an attitude of casual indifference to everything. Like all of his breed he succeeded merely in looking like a raw kid.

However, by the next day he was a veteran and suspected of murdering his flight leader! From the August 1931 War Aces, it’s William E. Barrett’s “Black Flight!”

Every man but one in that flight hated their commander. When they pulled a murderous blade from his heart all were forced to shoulder the guilt, until the Reaper’s Scythe hacked the secret from one man’s wings.

Editor’s Note: The story is referred to as “The Raiders” on the cover which does not seem to be applicable to this story at all. A more apt title than “Black Flight” would have been “The Murder Flight!”

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