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Postville Herald (Newspaper) - August 30, 1918, Postville, Iowa
The Postville Herald Postville Iowa. It outwitting the Hun by lieutenant Pat o Brien copyright 1918. By Pat Alva o Brien preface there is a common idea that the nge of miracles is past. Perhaps it is but if so the change must have come about within the past few weeks after i escaped into Holland. For if anything is certain in this life it is this this Book never would have been written but for the succession of miracles set Forth in these pages. Miracles Luck coincidence Providence it does t matter much what you Call it certainly played an important part in the series of hair breadth escapes in which i figured during my Short but eventful appearance in the great drama now being enacted across the seas. Without it All my efforts and sufferings would have been quite unavailing. F no one realizes this better than i do an3 i want to repeat it right Here because elsewhere in these pages i May appear occasionally to Overlook or minimize it without the help of Providence i would not be Here today. But this same Providence which brought me Home safely despite All the dangers which beset me May work similar miracles for others and it is in the Hope of encouraging other poor devils who May find themselves in situations As hopeless apparently As mine oftentimes were that this Book is written. When this cruel War is Over which i Trust May be sooner than i expect it to be i Hope i shall have an Opportunity to revisit the scenes of my adventures and to thank in person in an adequate manner every one who extended a helping hand to me when i was a wretched fugitive. All of them took great risks in befriending an escaped prisoner and they did it without the slightest Hope of Reward. At the same time i Hope i shall have a Chance to pay my compliments to those who endeavoured to take advantage of my distress. In the meanwhile however i can Only express my thanks in this ineffective manner trusting that in some mysterious Way a copy of this Book May fall into the hands of every one who befriended me. I Hope particularly that every Good Hollander who played the part of the Good Samaritan to me so bountifully after my escape from Belgium will see these pages and feel that i am absolutely sincere when i say that word3 cannot begin to express my sense of gratitude to the dutch people. It is needless for me to say How deeply i feel for my fellow prisoners in Germany who were less fortunate than i. Poor poor Fellows they Are the real victims of the War. I Hope that every one of them May soon be restored to that Freedom whose value i never fully realized until after i had had to fight so hard to regain it. Pat o Brien. Momence til january 14. 1918. Chapter i. The Folly of despair. Less than nine months ago eighteen officers of the Royal flying corps which had been training in Canada left for England on the Megantic. If any of them was Over Twenty five years of age he had successfully con Lieut. Pat o Brien in the uniform of the Royal flying corps. Sealed the fact because they Don t accept older men for the r. P. C. Nine of the Squadron were British subjects the other nine were americans who tired of waiting for their own country to take her place with the allies had joined the British colors in i was one of the latter. We were going to England to earn our wings a qualification which must be won before a member of the k. F. O. Is allowed to Hunt the huns on the Western front. This was in mar 1917. By August 1, most of us were full fledged pilots actively engaged at Vyrl Ous parts of the line in daily conflict with the enemy. By december 15, every Man Jack of us who had met the enemy in France with one exception had appeared on the casualty list. The exception was h. K. Boysen an american who it last report was fighting on the italian front still unscathed. Whether his Good Fortune has stood him up to this time i Don t know but if it has i would be very much surprised. Of the others five were killed in action three americans one Canadian and one englishman. Three More were in All probability killed in action although officially they Are listed merely As one of these was an american one a Canadian and the third a Scotchman. Three More two of them americans were seriously wounded. Another a Canadian is a prisoner in Germany. I know nothing of the others. What happened to me is narrated in these pages. I wish instead i could Tell the Story of each of my Brave comrades for not one of them was downed i am sure without upholding the Best traditions of the r. F. 0. Unfortunately however of the eighteen who sailed on the Megantic last May i happened to be the first to fall into the hands of the huns and what befell my comrades after that with one exception i know Only second hand. The exception was the Case of poor Brave Paul Raney my closest chum whose last Battle i witnessed from my German prison but that is a Story i shall Tell in its proper place. In one Way however i think the Story of Ray own big adventure and my miraculous escape May perhaps serve a purpose As useful As that of the heroic Fate of my less fortunate comrades. Their Story it is True might inspire others to deeds of heroism but mine i Hope will convey the equally valuable lesson of the Folly of despair. Many were the times in the course of my struggles when it seemed absolutely useless to continue. In a hostile country where discovery meant death wounded sick famished friendless hundreds of Miles from the nearest Neutral territory the Frontier of which was so closely guarded that even if i got there it seemed too much to Hope that i could Ever get through what was the use of enduring further agony and yet Here i am in the land of Liberty although in a somewhat obscure Corner of it the Little town of Momence 111., where i was born not very much the worse for Wear after All i be been through and As i write these words not eight months have passed since my seventeen comrades and i sailed from Canada on the Megantic. Can it be possible that i was spared to convey a message of Hope to others who Are destined for similar trials i am afraid there will be Many of them. Years ago i heard of the epitaph which is said to have been found on a child s grave if i was so soon to be done for what 0 lord was i Ever begun for the Way it has come to me since i returned from Europe is if o lord i was to be done for. What were my sufferings e or begun for perhaps the answer lies in the suggestion i have made. At any rate if this record of my adventures should prove instrumental in sustaining others who need encouragement i shall feel that my sufferings were not in Nln. It is hardly Likely that anyone will quite duplicate my experiences trat.,1 Haven t the slightest doubt that Many will have to go through trials equally nerve racking and suffer disappointments just As disheartening. It would be very far from the Mark to imagine that the optimism which i am preaching now so glibly sustained me through All my troubles. On the contrary i am free to confess that i frequently gave Way to despair and often for hours at a time Felt so dejected and discouraged that i really did t care what happened to me. Indeed i rather hoped that something would happen to put an end. To my misery. But despite All my despondency and hopelessness the worst never happened and i can t help thinking that my salvation must have been designed to show the Way to others. This spinning nose dive has a j frequently used in stunt flying it recent years but is now put to practical use by pilots in getting Awa from hostile machines for when t ainu is spinning it is almost impossible to hit Honl and the Man making the attack invariably thinks his in Ciny is going Down to certain death in the spin. 11m m 11111 m i a Ltd to on dropping bombs and not to fight j danger that the wings will double on unless they have to. There is Seldom causing the machine to break apart ii ume that machines go out Over the i although Sipusi Are made with tt8 hues on this work in the daytime that motor on you no dropping like a Ball they Are not attacked at some time or j being dropped out of the sky and its other Ami so the scouts usually have j velocity increases with the Power of plenty of work to do. In addition to the motor these attacks however the Squadron is invariably under constant bombardment from the ground but that does t worry us very much is we know pretty Well Bow to avoid being Hij from that Quarter. On my first flight after joining the Squadron i was taken out Over the lines to get a look at things map out my location in Case i was Ever lost locate the Forest. Lakes and other a a h. When landmarks and get the general Lay of flow is own territory i because to the land. J Enn right his machine and Louie oat one to Long that was impressed upon j f but of r h German me very emphatically was the location torrid to e hum would on follow of the hospitals so that in Case i was we a Wnm Ever wounded and had he strength to t e wow above m my lauding i could and As near h advantage and would As possible to a Hospital All those shoot pm Down Wlton a. Things a new Pilot goes through Durd tit or 6 j s Clit 1� a red very often by both joining a Squadron. ,.,a a our regular routine was two flights by " a Day each of two hours duration. Use of 110 Pilot Maka if 8tf Atter doing our regular patrol it was a pets la c?1"9 0ufez a t our privilege to go ii on our own Hook j Eie mad of a plot if we wished before going Back t0 a exactly like a spin that is mad the Squadron by a Mac line actually being shot i soon found out that my Squadron to a one to knows whether it was some hot Squadron our fivers be-1 a intentional until the Pilot aug almost always assigned to special either. Lights a to machine a a duty work such As shooting up i 0ut of u or crushes t0 srom 1 trenches at u height of fifty feet from i and ther dive similar to this one is the ground. Known As just the Plain dive. As i received my baptism into this kind i sume for instance that a Pilot flying o Brien standing beside the first machine in which he saw Active service. Whacks than i was looking for later on. Needless to say my parents were chapter ii. I became a fighting scout. I starred flying in Chicago in 1912. I was then eighteen years old but i had had a hankering for the air Ever since i can remember. As a youngster i followed the exploits of the Wrights with the greatest interest although i must confess i sometimes hoped that they would t really conquer the air until i had bad a whack at it myself. I got More very much opposed to my risking my life at what was undoubtedly at Fiat time one of the most hazardous pastimes a Young fellow could select and every time i had a mashup or some other Uii Shap i was ordered never to go near an aviation Field again. So i went out to California. There another fellow and i built our own machine which we flew in various parts of the state. In the Early part of 1916, when trouble was brewing in Mexico i joined the american flying corps. I was sent to san Diego where the army flying school is located and spent about eight months there but As i was anxious to get into Active service and there did t see ii much Chance of America Ever getting into the War i resigned and crossing Over to Canada joined the Royal flying corps at Victoria b. C. I was sent to Camp Borden Toronto first to receive instruction and later to instruct. While a Cadet i made the first Loop Ever made by a Cadet in Canada and after i had performed the stunt i half expected to be kicked out of the service for it. Apparently however they considered the source and let it go at that. Later on i had the satisfaction of introducing the Loop As part of the regular course of instruction for cadets in the r. F. A and i want to say right Here that Camp Borden has turned out some of the Best filers that have Ever gone to j France. In May 1917, i and seventeen other Canadian fliers left for England on the Megantic where we were to qualify for service in France. Our Squadron consisted of nine americans . Robinson h. A. Miller f. S. Mcclurg a. A. Allen e. B. Garnet h. K. Boysen a a. Smeeton and a. A. Taylor and myself and nine britishers Paul h. Raney j. R. Park c. Nelmes c. R. Moore t. L. Atkinson f. C. Conry a. Mule b. A. L. F. Smith and a. 0. Jones. Within a few weeks after our arrival in England All of us had won our wings the insignia worn on the left breast by every Pilot on the Western front. We were ail sent to a place in France known As the Pool pilots mess. Here men gather from All the training squadrons in Canada and England and await assignments to the particular Squadron of which they Are to become members. The Pool pilots mess is situated a few Miles Back of the lines. Whenever a Pilot is shot Down or killed the Pool pilots mess is notified to Send another to take his place. There Are so Many casualties every Day in the r. F. C. At one Point of the front or another that the demand for new plots is quite Active but when a fellow is itching to get into the fight As badly As i and my friends were i must confess that we got a Little impatient although we realized that every time a new Man was called it meant that some one else had in All probability been killed wounded or captured. One morning an order came in for a scout Pilot and one of my friends was assigned. I can Tell you the rest of us were As envious of him As if it were the last Chance any of us were Ever going to have to get to the front. As it was however hardly More than three hours had elapsed before another wire was received at the mess and i was ordered to follow my Friend. I afterwards Learned that As soon As he arrived at the Squadron he prevailed upon the commanding officer of the Squadron to wire for me. At the Pool pilots mess it was the custom of the officers to went shorts breeches that Are about eight inches Long like the boy scouts Wear leaving a space of about eight inches of open country Between the top of the putters and the end of the shorts. The australians wore them in Salon let and at the Dardanelles. When the order came in for me i had these shorts on and i did t have time to change into other clothes. Indeed i was in such a sweat to get to the front that if i had been in my pyjamas i think i would have gone that Way. As it was it was raining and i threw an overcoat Over me jumped into the machine and we made record time to the Ai drome to which i had been ordered to report. As i alighted from the automobile my overcoat blew open and displayed my Manly form attired in shorts instead of in the regulation flying breeches and the sight aroused considerable commotion in Camp. Must be a Yankee i overheard one officer say to another As i approached. No one but a Yankee would have the Cheek to show up that Way you know 1"but they laughed Good Nat redly is i came up to them and welcomed to to the Squadron and i was soon very much at Home. My Squadron was one of four stationed at an Ai drome about eighteen Miles Back of the Ypres line. There were 18 pilots in our Squadron which was a scout Squadron scout machines carrying but Oue Man. A scout sometimes called a fighting scout has no bomb dropping or recon nol Terling to do. His duty is just to fight or As the order was Given to me you Are expected to pick fights Anil not wait until they come to you when bomb droppers go out Over the lines in the daytime a scout Squadron usually convoys them. The bomb droppers Fly at about twelve thousand feet and scouts a thousand feet or so above them of work the Thiril time i went out Over the lines and i would recommend it to anyone who is hankering for excitement. You Are not ouly Apt to be attacked by Hostyk aircraft from above but you Are swept by machine gun Firo from below. I have Secu some of our machines come Back from this work sometimes so riddled with bullets that i wondered How they Ever held together. Before to started out on Oue of these jobs we were mighty careful to see that our motors were in perfect at a height of several thousand feet is shot loses control of his Macelue and the nose of the plane starts Down with the motor full on. He is Golan at a tremendous Speed and in Many instances is going so straight Anil swiftly that the Speed 1b too great for the machine because it was never constructed to withstand the enormous pressure forced against tie wings and they consequently crumple up. If too in an attempt to. Straighten condition because they told us the i to e machine the elevators should de War bread was bad in come affected As often happens in one morning shortly after i joined i to vols to bring a machine out of a the Squadron three of us started Over i Dave the Strain is again too great of the line of our own Accord. We soon the wlns8. And there is the same Dos observed four enemy machines two seaters coming toward us. This Type of machine is used by the huns for artillery work and bomb dropping and we knew they were on mischief Bent. Each machine had a machine gun in front worked by the Pilot and the observer also had a gun with which he could Spray All around. When we first noticed the Huus our machines were about six Miles Back of the German lines and we were lying High up in the sky keeping the Suu behind us so that the enemy could not see us. We picked out three of the machines and Dove Down on them. I went right by the Man i picked for myself and ills observer in the Reaf seat kept pumping at me to beat the baud. Not one of my shots took effect As i went right Down under him but i turned and gave him another burst of bullets and Down he went in a spinning nose dive one of his wings going one Way and one another. As i saw him crash to the ground i knew that i had got my first hostile aircraft. One of my comrades was equally successful but the other two German Muchles got away. We chased them Back until things got too hot for us by reason of the appearance of other German machines and then we called it a Day. This experience whetted my appetite for More of the same kind and i did not have Long to wait. It May be Well to explain Here just what a spinning nose Bend is. A few years ago the spinning nose dive was .,i.i-----, ustious result. Oftentimes when the patrol tank is punctured by a tracer Bullet from another machine in the air the plane that is hit catches on fire and either gets into a spin or a straight dive and Heads for the Earth hundreds of Miles an hour a mass of flame looking like a Brilliant Comet in the sky. The spinning nose dive is atsed to greater advantage by the Germani than by our own pilots for the reason that when a Al get gets too hot for the German he will put his machine 1� u spin and As the chances Are nine out of ten that we Are fighting Over German territory he simply spent Down out of our Range bar lighten i out before he reaches the ground ant gets on Home to his Ai drome. It u useless to follow him. Down inside the German lines for you would in All probability be shot Down before you can attain sufficient Altitude to Cross the line again. It often happens that a Pilot will be chasing another machine when suddenly he sees it Start to spin. Perhaps they Are fifteen or eighteen thousand feet in the air and the hostile machine spins Down for thrust gods of feet he thinks he has hit the other machine and goes Horn Happy that he has brought Down another Hun. He reports the occurrence to the Squadron telling How he shot Down his enemy but when the rest of the Squadron come in with their report or some artillery observation balloon sends in considered one of the most dangerous when Zzz Aud slush tie suppose j Demtd the "nl.f,0me but the spin and things a Pilot could attempt Many men were killed getting into tills spin and not knowing How to. Come out of it. In fact lots of pilots thought that when once you got into a spinning nose dive there was no Way of coming out of it. It is now used however. In actual flying. The machines that Are used in France Are controlled in two ways both by hands and feet the feet working the Yoke or rudder bar which controls the rudder that steers the machine. The lateral controls fore and aft which cause the machine to Rise or lower Are controlled by a contrivance called a Joy if when flying in the air a Pilot should release his hold on this stick it. Will gradually come toward the Pilot. Gone merrily on his Way a , a de Peratt Battle with Cru .fiyer8 a by in crashing to Earth behind tha soot ,ne8 a o life said Uncle Ruben is general de same Feller Dat a fr�4d Sofij of a a a
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