It was just after dawn when Captain Parker Knoll saw the Hun crossing the lines at 4000 feet. A pair of Eindeckers led by the infamous Helmutt Rasche. The Captain looked to his right at The Sprog. He was in two minds about the lad who had recently transferred from to 266 Squadron but he’d given him the pep talk in the mess. “Stick by me, don’t try anything fancy, I want you on my wing the whole time. I want to see how you can fly, not die! And remember, any nonsense and you’ll be transferred back to Major Savile at 247 Squadron, and you won’t like that!”
Well, now was the time to see. He signalled down to the left where he could see the Boche already climbing to close the few thousand feet gap. “Tally Ho!”.
Pushing forward the control rod he swooped down, using his altitude to increase his speed as he dived round towards the rear of the German duo.
Parker-Knoll dropped round neatly. Now was the time to see how the Sprog flew. He side slipped neatly onto the tail of the German wingman. Remarkably the Sprog stayed with him. This was encouraging.
Helmutt Rasche was a veteran pilot and realised that the RFC chaps were looking to take put his wingman before turning on him. Von Klinker had been with the Staffel for nearly a month now and could look after himself. Rasche peeled away to line up his own attack.
Von Klenker threw his controls forward and shot down several thousand feet in a few moments. He was determined to use speed to get away from the British Ace, but shaking off a man of Parker Knoll’s ability was no easy task. The German swore as a few rounds from the Lewis gun tore the fabric of his wing. “Sheisse!”
Rasche could see he had left it too late. Down below him he could see von Klenker weaving and turning in an attempt to shake off the Briton, in doing so making it difficult for Rasche to get a bead on his foe. At just 2000 feet the German was running out of sky.
Parker-Knoll let loose again. He was firing his fourth drum of ammunition and thus far he had been less than fortunate. Again the beastly Boche threw his craft to one side in an attempt to avoid the fire, but in an instant it was clear that he had lost control of his craft. The white Fokker hurtled towards the deck.
As von Klenker’s plane hit the earth Captain Parker-Knoll signalled upwards with his thumb and the Sprog responded. Remarkably he had stuck like glue to the flight leader throughout the whole dogfight, but now a simple and clearly unexpected side-slip in order to avoid the fast approaching Rasche broke the formation. The Sprog was on his own now.
Frantically Parker-Knoll signalled to head for home, but Rasche was on the hunt. Hungry like a wolf with a spring lamb in his sights.
“Bloody Sprog”. Parker Knoll sighed. The boy had done well, as far as he could tell the lad hadn’t fired a shot but had just done as he’d been told. He had no choice. “Bloody Sprog” he repeated as he moved the control rod to the left and the DH2 swung easily round, its left wing down.
It was a difficult shot, and it was the Captain’s last magazine but he aimed carefully and took the Boche high like a pheasant. Helmut Rasche’s engine stuttered as a fuel line was cut and his craft shuddered noticeably as his speed dropped. “Verdammt Englander”. He shook his fist as the pair of DH2’s swooped low back across British lines. He turned and headed for home. It had been a bad day and it wasn’t time for breakfast yet.
It was Friday evening when the terrible news about the demise of Battlegames came through on Nick’s Blackberry. We were sat in the lounge of the Holiday Inn in Antwerp discussing the next day’s game and the mood around changed from boistrous fun to real shock. It has been said that as a hobby we’ve