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Aces Up by Covington Clarke

But Siddons was not among them


I say, Siddons!" Hampden exclaimed, pained and surprised.

"I am going to make out my report," McGee answered, simply. "I wonder if you would like to give me a confirmation, Lieutenant Siddons?"

The question took Siddons off his feet. "Why--er--do you really want me to?"

"Not especially; I just had a feeling that you would be pleased to have your name brought in it somehow."

Several of the pilots followed McGee into the hut used for headquarters, but Siddons was not among them. Whatever his feelings, following the little instructor's pointed rebuke, he concealed them behind the cool indifference which marked all of his actions. At the door to headquarters he turned down the gravel walk that ran in front of the row of huts used as quarters and was soon lost to sight in the darkness.


McGee's report of his victory was characteristically laconic. Not a word did he employ that was not necessary to the report. No fuss, no feathers, no mock heroics. He had engaged an E.A. (enemy aircraft) and had sent it down in flames. Reading the report, one would find little enough to lift it out of the usual run of reports. Another meeting; another victory. No more, no less. Only in the last paragraph did he depart from his usual method of reporting. He wrote:


Camel carried no ground flares. Twice signaled for landing lights with no response. Circled field. Entire personnel was gathered around burning E.A. and making no effort to extinguish fire, which by this time had nearly consumed plane. Forced to land in dark. Wiped out landing gear and shattered prop.

"Recommendation: That all commands advise ground crews that a live pilot is of more importance than a dead enemy."

Having finished, he looked up at those who had followed him into headquarters. They were gathered in little groups, excitedly discussing the victory, which had actually been the first encounter they had witnessed. Fortunately, the victory had been on their side and they were considerably bucked. It seemed dead easy. Why, one man had gone aloft, bagged a plane, thwarted the plans of the enemy and was back on the ground before you could tell about it. The war was looking up! And this instructor was no slouch. What this squadron wouldn't do to the enemy when an over-cautious Chief of Air Service said "Let's go!"

Hearing their comments, McGee smiled. He knew, better than they, the great element of luck in his victory.

The enemy, whose aim it had been to thoroughly frighten and subdue this green squadron, had succeeded instead in greatly increasing their confidence in themselves. The enemy had come to sow destruction; they had actually planted a seed that sprang instantly from the ground, bearing the bold and sturdy flower of self-confidence. Old dogs of war had been unleashed, and now a new pack was yelping on the trail.

"Where is Major Cowan?" McGee asked.

"Over at the hospital tent," someone answered.

"Oh, I see. Perhaps it's just as well. He might not care to sign a confirmation after reading my recommendation. Which one of you will give me a confirmation?"

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