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28 Jan 1916. Imbros


Bunnie flew a couple more sorties yesterday and the day before, both in 1264.

His entries throw a great deal of light on the technical difficulties which they spent so much time and energy trying to overcome.

On 24th, he writes:

Escorting Nieuport over Ak Bashi Liman. Nieuport landed, thinking her wireless was wrong; I had seen strips and thought she must have a dud engine, so landed as well. She went straight off again and I followed. There was a thin cloud which was not very noticeable until one was in it, and then we could not see anything. I dived out of it, made a left handed circle and went over it and could see down through it perfectly. I was with the Nieuport most of the time, but was continually losing sight of her and then picking her up again. However I was flying over the target and saw a good many of the shells falling so I knew she was not far off. I fancy I saw one archie, but it was a good way below me. Every time I fly B.S. I like them more. Landing a bit bouncy.

The Nieuport would have been a Nieuport 10 or 12. Both were two-seaters, and therefore capable of taking a wireless. Because the single-seaters had no radio (and in any case they could only communicate in crude slow Morse code) Bunnie could only surmise what was happening in the other machine by watching it and guessing. The Nieuport was obviously spotting for the naval big guns; partly because Bunnie mentions the fall of shot which he could see himself, and partly because the Nieuport only needed the wireless for this activity. it was unnecessary for reconnaissance.

Bunnie’s experience in the Scout more or less matches mine, at least in terms of the number of landings, and I can entirely echo his sentiments. Every time I fly B.S. I like them more.

And his flight yesterday also has a ring of familiarity.

He writes:

Flight Commander Littleton was escorting the M.F. over Ak Bashi Liman, but came back because the engine was missing. When he got back the engine appeared to be all right, so I continued the escort, but did not arrive until after the M.F. had left. I found that the petrol fine adjustment kept opening itself. Littleton had not noticed this; perhaps it was the cause of his trouble.

And we’ve had exactly the same issue with the engine control lever slipping back with the vibration! Ours is finally fixed, though it makes the mixture control really too tight for in-flight adjustment. Thankfully it doesn’t seem to need much.

I have just taken delivery of a wonderful book, ‘Voices in Flight: The Royal Naval Air Service during the Great War‘, by Malcolm Smith. It contains extracts from the diaries and contemporary records of men who served in the RNAS. One of them is Flt. Sub Lt Dickinson, who served at Imbros at the same time as Bunnie, so starting in a couple of weeks, I may be able to compare his diary entries with Bunnie’s day by day.

  1. Andrew Willox permalink

    David, Voices in Flight is a great book and I am sure you will find it most informative – especially the entries discussing the role of the ‘observer’. Your blog is always a great read.

    Never got to meet you whilst in Britain last year due to many issues and now back in Aus. I have Camel aspirations currently…

    Sincerely, Andrew Willox PO Box 46 Rokewood 3330 5346 1493

    • Sorry to miss you. Theo was always inspired by the Camel, but had to make do with the Scout. But I think we are rather pleased with something that is a good deal rarer than the Camel!
      Good luck with it.

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