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25 March 1916. Imbros. Action!


23 March.

Bunnie in 1264. Machine repaired so started her with le Rhône again. One plug oiled up soon after I came down. Landing fair, rather bouncy. I went up again and flew alongside Savory in Nieuport 8983. Speed the same, my engine showing 1150 and his 1175. Airspeed 80 knots. Landing again fair. She is a little nose heavy when the engine is on, but not bad in gliding. She does not drop her tail automatically the speed gets low, so she is rather harder to land.

This must have been such a great day for Bunnie. Three days before he’d been convinced that both 1259 and 1264 were written off, and here he is, back in the air again in his favourite machine. Magic!

Escorting gunbus on evening reconnaissance. Used 6 gals (27lt/hr) of petrol. Landing fair but a shade on the fast side and rather bouncy. 

Dickinson. Very hot sun. Oxley returned to replace Portal. In the afternoon took up Davey for 30 minutes in 3911 to practise bomb-dropping, and as she would not throttle down and I switched off too soon, nearly landed on the football field, but Davey luckily reminded me to switch on again. Went with Hooper to see Thorold and to arrange for a working party for the tennis lawns. Late again. This is awful. I shall have a collapse soon!

24 March. 1264.

Bunnie in 1264. Escorting gunbus on evening reconnaissance. Appallingly bumpy from three thousand upwards. Coming back over Anzac saw Davey (gun bus observer) wave his arm and point back and up so I guessed there must be a Fokker behind. I looked round but could not see him. The gun bus put its nose down and increased its speed so I did ditto. Landing excellent, slow and did not bounce.

Dickinson. Strong south wind. Still very hot. More bomb dropping practice with Davey for 40 minutes. Much pleasanter than yesterday. Went to K Beach with Blandy to get roller. I am now talking with Barney, Belton and of course Reid at 10.00pm and it almost looks as if I might get to bed before tomorrow. Cheerio!

25 March 1264

Bunnie in 1264. 9200ft. 1hr 12min. Escorting gun bus on evening reconnaissance. Savory flying above us at 12000. Beautiful day up. Coming over Q line? ???? on way back I saw Oxley waving, but could not see the Fokker. Reid turned right and I followed and then I saw the F. I zigzagged behind the gunbus a bit to draw F. on and then turned round and flew straight at him. He came over me, but before he got to me he started to turn left. I waited an instant and then whipped round left. The result of this was that he was crossing my bows from right to left. I fired a few rounds at him and I think I hit him, but too far aft to do much damage. We circled round a bit and he then dived away and flattened out. I was than at 9000 ft. Savory then flashed past and engaged him, and I dived after them. I believe Savory’s second tray jambed, and I caught up F. at 4000 ft. and finished my tray at him, but I could not get right behind him. I am doubtful if I did him much damage. I then lost sight of him, so I looked around a bit and could not see him, and seeing that I was well under 4000, I made for home. I saw Savory behind me as I left the peninsula. I fired off one tray and F. never fired once. Getting some of my own back for poor old Voisin! Landing quite fair, but a bit left wing down.

Bunnie letter home.

It has been a fairly uneventful week with a very pleasing little break in the monotony on Saturday last when I had a really delightful little scrap.

A couple of us were escorting one of our machines and were just coming off the peninsular when I saw the observer (I always fly very close to the machine I am escorting) wave his arms and point up and straight behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and could not see anything. Then the pilot of the big machine changed course a bit, and so I had to change mine to keep behind him (rather a smart move on his part, as he knew I could not turn round altogether without going some way from him) and then I saw a Fokker, rather an old type I think, coming up at us. I waited a bit to entice him a bit further from his home, and then swung round and went straight for him. He also came straight at me and went above me. I let him do this as I guessed his game. (The usual Fokker trick is to come over a machine and then turn very sharply indeed and so swing round just behind the other machine). Sure enough just before he got to me he started to turn left. I said to myself, here’s a fool showing his hand in that manner, so I judged a pause so to speak, and then did a vertical bank left hand turn. In consequence, instead of his coming out on my tail, I came out jolly near his and I gave him a little dose of machine gun medicine.

He started to dodge and swerve all over the place like a frightened pigeon, but I was all over him and he could not get behind me, also unfortunately I could not quite get behind him, so I had to fire with a good deal of deflection and I don’t think I hit him in a vital place. He then suddenly went into a devil of a nose dive and got away from me. He was just flattening out a good way below and I was just starting after him when there was a flash past me and the other escort, who had been flying a bit above us, came by in a nose dive, got behind him, and gave him beans good and proper.

I was then about 9,000 feet so I up with my tail and let her go. I had a glance at my speed indicator, but that only goes up to 95 knots, so it was not much use, and in what seemed to me to be an interval of a few seconds only, I found myself at 4,000 feet, and once more about 30 yards behind old Fokker. He had by this time dived away from my pal and I don’t think he quite expected me, for it seemed to startle him somewhat when he got another go of medicine. Again I could not get quite behind him, and he dived away and I lost sight of him.

I was very low then, and I was not over keen on looking for him amidst the “Archies” so I trotted off home and soon picked up the other fellow who had also lost him.

Our other machine was immensely amused at it all, as it got a beautiful view from topsides and of course it was not fast enough to join in the scrap.

That dive of mine, 5,000 in one swoop, was one of the most exhilarating things I have done, my little bus fairly hurried down. We are both pretty certain that we hit the old Fokker, and of course we may have wounded the pilot, but Reid saw him some time after a good way off and very low down, so we evidently did not succeed in finishing him off properly.

This was the only time Bunnie got to fire his gun in anger, and was clearly one of the highlights of his flying career.

This is the event Ivan has painted – the second encounter at 4,000ft, Savory having just had a go at the Eindekker, and Bunnie blazing off the remainder of his drum ,while the Eindekker is making for his aerodrome at Chanak on the other side of the straits as fast as he can.

01231 Encounter Over Gallipoli

One Comment
  1. “Finish him off properly”
    Lovely expression!

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