31 March 1918

Sunday March 31.  Tootsie’s birthday.  Easter Day.  Quiet morning.  Nothing doing.  Wrote home in the morning saying that I would have liked to have been with them at Early Communion.  So I would have though I was asleep in bed at that time.  Topping day.  Finished off gutter round tent (if we could only foresee, somebody else could have done that gutter).  Had a topping lunch followed by a few chocolates.  Just walking up to tea when word came through for two or three machines, Pybes, Grimes and Hanna, to go on usual job.  In addition we had to do a special low reconnaissance of a certain wood.  This was at 4.50.  Asked McPherson to have tea for us at 6.  Late getting off on account of dud Petot.  Appalling take off, probably for same reason.  Had my stomach in my mouth and my heart in my boots for several minutes.  Recovered as we approached [Amiens].  Machine still right wing low.  Did job – were just going back when I noticed that 

the sky was absolutely clear of machines.  Decided to fire off my last drum of ammunition.  Waved Hanna back.  Fired off drum when machine started spinning to left in a flat spin.  We fell rapidly and I had given up all hope when Hanna switched off and managed to pull her out and throw her on one wing as we crashed just behind a trench full of German infantry.  German officer ran up.  I talked to him in French – so that Hanna mistook troops for French troops, and calmly asked me for a match to set machine alight.  Concealed by a fold in the ground from front line, otherwise we should have been killed by M.G. bullets of our own side.  Treated very courteously by this company commander, who sent us under escort back to Batt. H.Q. about half a mile back.  Rather an exciting walk.  Shells dropping round all the time.  Lost flying helmet and gloves (Glad I didn’t buy a new pair on leave). 

Country fortunately  of quite a hilly nature.  Batt. Commander not too pleased at finding us alive and unwounded.  By this time I could scarcely walk.  Told to stand to attention (in English).  Sent by him to Brigade H.Qs. in a little house a mile or so back.  Brigadier (Iron Cross) an exceedingly courteous and gentlemanly officer, rather elderly; knew little English.  Talked to him in French.  Asked where aerodrome was, declined to say.  Sent by him to Divisional H.Qs.  Met by two staff officers there, who both talked fluent English.  One had been a wool merchant in Bradford.  Nearly fainted.  Was given coffee.  Wondered what they were thinking back at the Squadron.  Officers were very surprised to find English and German time the same.  Taken by wool merchant staff officer to Corps H.Q. in a staff car.  He wanted to know the chances of his partner, a married man of 38, not being called up.  Very cold ride punctuated

by moments of considerable excitement (we carried no headlights, and there were several shell holes in road).  Sent from Corps H.Q. to a neighbouring house, where we were left under escort to the sorrowful company of our own thoughts and a guttering candle.  Two hours later, about 1 A.M., put on a lorry full of wounded.  Got out at a place which we recognised instantly, not so far from the old drome.  Put into huts there for the night.  In the morning.