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Aces Up by Covington Clarke

Yancey grinned and scratched his head


Yancey

voiced the thoughts of every man present when he said: "It wouldn't be so tough if he could get it in the air. But this way--at a wall--is tough."

"What about von Herzmann?" Fouche asked. "I guess it was tough for him, too."

Yancey grinned and scratched his head. "You know," he drawled, "down in my home state, we sometimes make a mistake and slap a brand on a calf that's not really ours. Well, that's not so awful. But when somebody else makes the same mistake, it's stealin'--pure and simple. War's a lot like that. We only see one side of it, and for my part, I'm fed up with seein' that side. Boy, I hone for Texas."

5

McGee and Larkin, as flight leaders, had been called to Major Cowan's headquarters for the usual evening conference. The Major declared himself as displeased with the work of the day, but both of the young pilots, experienced in the ways of the army, realized that Cowan's displeasure was but a reaction from pressure being put on him by the "higher ups." The General Staff, they knew, must be gratified with the success of the day, for all objectives had been taken and the enemy sorely pressed. It was true, however, that communication had been far from perfect. Liaison had broken down, and the ground gained, therefore, was the result of the grim determination of the soldier of the line to end the thing speedily rather than to a

perfect coordination of all arms.

"But, Major," McGee was defending the work of the squadron by pointing out the unusual and unforeseen obstacles, "we couldn't see our wing tips until after nine o'clock, and when we could see, those doughboys wouldn't display their panels. They acted like they thought we would drop bombs on them. It's hard, Major, to get men to show white panels when they are under fire. They are afraid that the enemy will see them, too, and blow them off the face of the earth. It is always a hard problem."

"All battle problems are hard," Cowan replied. "The commanders of the troops in the line are being ridden just as we are. The General Staff feels that victory is in sight. They will accept nothing but the best of work, and we must do our full share."

"Yes, sir, of course. But I think the troops are to be congratulated for their success, and certainly this outfit was lucky in that we didn't hang any planes on the top of Vauquois or in the woods. Four balloons and three E.A. is not such a bad record for a day like this. We held complete supremacy."

"Congratulations will be in order after a complete success, Lieutenant. Now for to-morrow--here, see this map." Larkin winked shrewdly as Cowan led them over to a detailed wall map. "The lines of departure are here. Our most advanced positions, now, as near as we can tell, are well beyond the Hindenburg Line, with the Hagen Stellung line of defense facing our troops to-morrow. Montfaucon, the enemy's strongest point, and for months headquarters for the Crown Prince, blocks the way for the 5th Corps. It is a commanding and strong position. No one knows just how strong it is."


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