[Received July 5, 1918]



June 9, 1918

Dear Mother and Father:

As Grandmother used to say “The better the day, the better the deed.” This being Sunday. I often think that if I could write frequent details about our doings here you all would go through the same process of getting used to it that I have, and then you would not think it dangerous. When I went on my second patrol and had a bit of a scrape it made a rather exciting impression on me that lasted several days. Now I am still a very young chick at the game, so do not pretend to be a hardened trooper, but since I have had several Huns on my tail and heard and seen their pills rattle by, and have sat on theirs and poked everything I had at them with no results other than the usual “wind up” and spinning antics. I have begun to realize that we all have a lot of chances to play over Hun land.

We had some set to the other day. Four of us with other groups of mates just within sight, let seven new Hun scouts drop on us. It was some dog fight. We were all at close range and firing at each other from all angles. It is surprising how fast we seemed to go when we were charging nose on all guns and engine full out just grazing by each other at a relative speed of about 260 mi./hr. My flight commander shot down one who was on my tail, and also got another. I followed one down and got him spinning for a couple thousand feet. He would not break up but I thought he was done for and foolishly pulled out at 4,000 because we were pretty well over. From the looks of some of our own busses when we got back I got to thinking that perhaps the old Hun got to land almost safely after all.

We are getting a wonderful variety of clouds and mist. Sometimes we can see where we are and sometimes we just imagine it. Some days it is great fun climbing up through the various layers of clouds. The top dog gets pushed up into the cloud and if he thinks the leader is coming up he goes on through, looks around for Huns and then watches his mates pop up one at a time in unexpected places. We very often spiral down through holes in them and it seems like a bunch of rabbits playing tag in the snow.

I suppose you have read weeks ago about the push the Hun started this morning. I was routed out at 4.30 and had my first taste of the low stuff. There was a very heavy ground mist over 75% of the ground and generally misty all up to 3,000. We could hardly tell where the lines were. I was supposed to be leading one chap. When I started out I decided not to worry about anything, but to enjoy stunting as I have never stunted before. Going to the lines we had a lot of fun trying our busses out, skidding climbing turns and rolls seemed to be the style. After we got over the lines I made my first spiraling dive and I never saw my mate again until the end of the show. It was some show too. Believe me I was glad I was a pilot and not down in that mess. It just so happened that my mate and I were the only ones of the first party of six to come directly back, although all the rest were eventually heard from or returned. I don’t remember much of the details of the geography, but I seem to be able to tell in what general direction I ought to go whether I can see any ground or not. Your compass is a rather useless thing at best, but when they are treated like ours were this A.M. they might as well be imitation.

Well I had my first taste of a deputy leadership the other day. Six of us went out in two groups of three, and I led the top rear group. It is a lot more fun than following, and gives you a much better chance to see what you want to. I got them back to within sight of the airdrome when my engine conked and I put her down in a field. I have had a couple of forced landings here in France, and have a terrible time getting someone to talk French over the phone for me. I went over again after dinner and we have a show on now.