The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
Fights in The Air
It was just before lunch one hot, still day, when everbody who was off duty had collected to drink shandies as their thirst dictated, that "bang! bang! bang! bang!" from an "Archie" battery near by sent us helter-skelter outside to see the fun. Eager questions sprang from lip to lip: "Where is he?" "Can you see him?" "Is he near the 'Archies'?"
Meanwhile, pilots and observers, who had been standing by to chase this particular Hun, who, with colossal cheek, had sailed overhead alone each day, scrambled into flying kit, and inside five minutes from the first "Archie" burst the machines were in the air with throttles full open. We watched them closely as the pilots pushed their machines up, climbing against time 1000 feet per minute, hoping against hope that they would head him off and fight it out over the aerodrome for our especial edification. No such luck. All were quickly out of sight, and we adjourned to the mess to finish our interrupted drinks.
Dinner was just over when the "Archies" once again caused a turn-out. Suddenly the boom of our particular engine could be heard above the cough of "Archies." With both machines visible to us from the ground, it was a thrilling quarter of an hour as we watched our "bus" circling round, looking for the Hun, who, unfortunately, keeping well in the sun, managed to escape.
However, the Hun's satisfaction at dodging the fight was short-lived. Two days later, just as those who had been on early jobs were settling down for the after-noon snooze, the "rat-tat-tat" of machine guns overhead brought us quickly to light with field glasses to watch the fight. One of our Scouts was diving on the Hun again and again, the firing being almost continuous as they fought it out nearly over the aerodrome. We watched in breathless excitement for the result. Most of us, at odd times, have participated in an aerial scrap; but in these days of Hun modesty, when the average enemy machine prefers to hug his own lines, opportunities of witnessing an aerial duel from the security of terra firma are extremely limited, and we were naturally keen to see the enemy pay the penalty of his audacity.
With the Scout always above, the fight gradually drifted away until the drone of the engines could no longer be heard, and the rattle of machine guns was softened by distance. The Hun was putting up a game fight to win home by continually getting into a spin, but the superior speed and climbing power of the Scout was too much for him. Finally, just as we thought the Hun was going to get away, the Scout came down on him like a bolt from the blue, and finished the fight by forcing the enemys "bus" to land in our lines with a bullet through the petrol tank. The excitement amongst the watching airmen as the Hun glided to earth was intense; and when it was realized that victory was ours, the air was rent by a ringing cheer.