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18 March 1916. Imbros

20/03/2016

17 March

Dickinson. Stood by between 6.00am and 8.00am. After yesterday’s performance Thorold and Portal on Gunbus (Nieuport 10 or 12) and Hooper as escort (in Nieuport 11 or Bristol Scout) took evening patrol hoping to bring down Fokker. Returned with Thorold badly hit in the back, Portal with two bullets in wrist and leg and four other slight wounds, Hooper with engine hit and half a dozen other places too. Thorold did a glorious landing and it’s a positive marvel how he got back, being quite unable to move. Pray he may be alright. This Hun must be some pilot and it has shaken us up a bit.

In fact, Portal had borrowed Bunnie’s map holder, having forgotten his when he came out on the field. I believe it too was damaged by the bullets.

Bunnie in Nieuport 11, s/no. 3984. Practice flight. First time on any type of Nieuport. Very easy to fly, there was no tendency to slip out on turns. Inclined to put her nose down on right hand turns. The speed indicator was wrong so came down a little too fast and gave one long hop. I also had rather too much engine. I cut off engine still more and made quite a nice slow landing with tail fairly well down. No spin. Must use less engine next time. A very nice machine in the air, but heavier and easier to fly than a Bristol. Fair North breeze.

The Nieuport 11 in the TVAL Collection in New Zealand

The Nieuport 11 in the TVAL Collection in New Zealand

Bunnie in 1264. Escorting M.F. Suvla to Helles, flew right on her tail all the time. Excellent slow landing. Fair North breeze.

18 March

Bunnie in 1259. Practicing vertical banks and sharp turns. Strong northerly wind. Made a perfect landing, I don’t think I rolled a foot after touching ground. Of course the wind helps this a great deal.

Dickinson. Very windy from north. Thorold and Portal to be moved to hospital ship, so their gear went off at eight. Talked to Thorold for some time and the surgeon told us that it was a piece of metal and not a bullet and that it had been found wrapped around his kidney and about 1/8in (3mm) off it!

Bunnie in 1259. More practice. Did more plum vertical S turns, also practiced with Reid and Burnaby in the gun bus (Probably the Nieuport 12). Nearly made a good landing but had a shade of drift on and pancaked a little with the result that I went onto my left wing tip. I was about stationary at the time, so no damage done.

Nieuport G12 Gunbus - Adams launching

Nieuport G12 Gunbus – Adams launching

Bunnie in 1259. Started to accompany Savory on evening reconnaissance, but I got to just 1000 ft over K beach when the engine suddenly cut right out. I turned right and glided down wind and then turned right again and attempted to land. I turned in a bit too late and turning into the wind at first away all control over machine. I managed to get just into the aerodrome, but could not stop the drift and was obliged to pancake a bit. My undercarriage carried away and I went first onto my left wing and then turned completely over, the machine still pointing up the aerodrome. She went over very slowly and I did not hurt myself a bit. Machine pretty well wrecked. If I had only turned sooner it would have been all right, but I did not like the sand dunes and the new Bessoneau, and I had a sort of instinctive desire to get over the salt lake, because I knew I could pancake into that without hurting myself much. There was a very strong northerly wind. The failure of the throttle mechanism on the carburettor seems to have been the cause. My first smash. I did not mind it in the least.

This is a different accident, photographed by Bunnie in 1917, but it gives you an idea of what 1259 must have looked like.

This is a different accident, photographed by Bunnie in 1917, but it gives you an idea of what 1259 must have looked like.

It’s interesting to note how Bunnie is starting to gain confidence and to explore his potential as a pilot. He’s been allowed up in a new type of machine, and started throwing Bristol Scout 1259 around. It’s a well-known phenomenon – these days it typically occurs at around 100 hours, but in his case, having done so much so quickly, he’s getting to the confident stage at under 50 hours. And the result is the end of poor 1259, but Bunnie still full of confidence.

Incidentally, Nieuport 3984 was captured intact by the Germans in 1917 and displayed as a war trophy.

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