Boyeffles, September 5, 1917

Wednesday         up at 5 am The night was clear & cold we cleaned up today. shall be going up to the line tomorrow night[.] today was very warm we met some of the 81st boys tonight I am in the pink saw an aircraft duel this evening [written in pencil]

© Canadian War Museum © Musée canadien de la guerre CN8651

The Battery historian  remembers it as a battle between some enemy “Archies” (anti-aircraft guns) and an Allied plane. “We watched excitedly as the little black puffs spotted the sky, expecting the plane to fall any minute – which proves the depth of our ignorance, expecting an ‘Archie’ to hit anything.” (1)

The 81st boys are members of Percy’s old battery — the 48th, which became the 81st last October, and which went to France  in March, leaving behind those, like Percy, who were in quarantine for mumps.

Officers went up to the firing line today in advance of the rest of the battery. “The whole outfit marched, or straggled, into Cité St Pierre in full view of Fritz from Sallu-Mines [Sallaumines] Hill. How he missed such a chance for sniping is uncertain — beginners’ luck, perhaps. In the evening one section brought their guns up and changed over without any mishaps. ” (2)

As the crow flies — and as shells are fired — Sallaumines is about 2 3/4 miles (4.4 km) to the southeast of Lens, as Cité St Pierre is to the northwest.

(1) MacArthur, D.C. The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA. 1919. 15-16
(2) MacArthur, 16.

The painting, by C.R.W. Nevinson, depicts an air battle involving Canadian ace W.A.(Billy) Bishop, who won the Victoria Cross earlier this year. The painting belongs to the Canadian War Museum.

Copyright 2017. See “More about this project.”

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