I woke the next morning and had a strip wash, dressed and went to the officers’ mess and asked to sit with three of them who had shaken my hand when I was introduced. I found out they too came up from the ranks.
“Do the four clowns always sit together?” I asked.
They laughed and 2nd lieutenant Simon Brain answered.
“They do everything together and many of us think a lot more besides If you see what I’m getting at. They have a corridor to themselves and the door leading to it is always locked.”
“And their batmen have a key too?”
“They only have one who serves all of them by choice.”
I pondered that. “I bet their man is young and quite handsome?”
Again they all laughed.
“Dead right Albert. His name is Andy Williamson, a Private and I warn you, Brodder’s will certainly be interested in you, he tries it on to every good-looking chap, so watch out.”
It was my turn to laugh. “Brodder’s will end up with very sore bollocks if he or any of his circus tries anything!” Saying that would keep my true self from any thoughts about me being homo!
“Watch him, his father is an Admiral and that fucking weak shit Harver’s dad is a General. Don’t know about the other two. We think they are just fuck bait.”
Archie found me and took me to meet my observer Sgt Andrew Phillips and as soon as we shook hands and had spoken for half an hour, we were friends. He was a lovely chap.
Once again I could write a few pages about this period of my war but I will keep it brief just to fill you in a bit.
The squadron had 12 aircraft but not all equipped with cameras as we had multiple roles. Aerial Photography which was mine and Andy’s job, reconnaissance, looking for troop movements and Artillery fire control.
Like everything else at that time, we made it up as we went along.
Andy and I were attached to “B” Flight which was the photography aircraft, all four of us.
We were equipped with the Watson Air camera which being British was not as good as the French models and would never be as good as the Germans. But you just made the best of it and as time went on the results became much better.
I was very surprised to be put in charge of planning the areas to be photographed. Andy and I spent ages in the photography section and with the officer in charge of it to look at photos already taken and then map out the next area. It needed a high level of good navigation because it was not a matter of taking a few snaps at random, rather the need to photograph a particular area so that when the slides were developed the interpreters had a clear picture of the complete terrain. If you had a gap in the photos, you could miss a whole bloody army!
But there was a new development, the German’s were arming themselves with rifles and shooting at us.
Andy and I had been flying together for 6 months by now and had become very close friends.
“Andy, have you ever fired a rifle?”
“No. Have you?”
“No, but the Hun don’t know that. You had better go and get one from the armoury and 20 rounds then chuck it in your cockpit. I have got my Colt but the only thing I will ever hit is the ground.”
“I expect I will miss even that Albert! Maybe I should fix a bayonet on it and throw the fucking lot at them!”
On that reassuring note Andy and I continued our war effort!
“Dowling old chap, what’s your tipple!?” Brodder’s called out to me, he was sitting by himself and apart from us the mess was empty. He would know that.
“Thank you, but only a lemonade, too early for anything stronger.”
“Oh let your hair down Albert for once! Steward! A glass of my champagne for the this fine young officer please.”
Seduction number two coming up I guessed.
I went over and sat opposite him. The steward brought my glass on a tray and I helped myself.
“Thank you, cheers.”
Brodder’s wasn’t going to waste time.
“Cheers to you Albert and may I say you are an extremely good-looking young man, bet you can’t keep the ladies off you and if I was one I would be more than interested.”
Sod it, I wasn’t going to waste time either.
“Are you interested anyway?” I held his look and smiled.
He put his glass down smiling back at me and leaned forward.
“Well, there isn’t any tottie around here and one needs to satisfy ones sexual urges now and again don’t you agree? Perhaps we could take the bottle up to my room and play card games and start with strip poker?”
Subtle as a brick I thought. I finished my glass and stood up.
“No bloody chance.”
Oh dear, Brodder’s was not happy!
“Fuck you Dowling.”
“No chance of that either. Go back and fuck your little boys. We are supposed to be on the same side, but just which side are you on Masterton fucking Phillips?” I was done and went to find Andy, just for company.
The German Albatross in 1915/16 was the equivalent to our BE2’s doing the same jobs, but they were much better and would develop into actual fighter planes with a fixed machine gun very soon. They and other aircraft would shoot down hundreds of BE2’s killing many crews and would eventually be given other duties to perform away from the front line, but before my squadron was to be re-equipped, we too would have our losses. However, at this time they were only armed with a rifle, but so were we, well Andy was so long as I reminded him to load the thing!
I had taken off and flew towards our next area to photograph. I spoke into the voice tube.
“Pilot to observer. Are you armed and ready? For once!”
“Observer to chauffeur! This rifle is loaded, cocked and ready to fire but it’s pointing at me bollocks and if it goes off, you will have to shag me sweetheart for me, you homosexual cunt!”
How the fuck did he know I was!?
They were the last words my friend uttered.
In those days you would not be looking for fighter aircraft because they did not exist and when the Albatross appeared on my starboard side, wing tip to wing tip I was ready to give the usual two fingers and a fist shake until I saw the observer taking aim at me with his Mauser rifle, I instinctively ducked and at the same time pulled the throttle back and instead of possibly killing me, he shot Andy through the head killing him outright.
I had heard the shot go off of course and when I looked up I could see the shattered head of Andy as his body sloped over and then to the German reloading his rifle. I have no recall how it got there but I had my colt in my hand and it was cocked ready to fire. I simply took aim and fired off three and must have got close because the pilot suddenly went to starboard and disappeared.
It was the most difficult flight I ever made, not just consumed with guilt and Andy being killed but he was always in my sight as I flew back.
They took him out of his cockpit put his body into an ambulance then drove away. I stood there alone, nobody had come to offer any comfort or take me for a cup of tea. Had the death of a crew become so “normal” that it was no longer important? Not at all, crews were trying to dismiss what had happened and hoped that by trying to ignore it may go away. All I did was keep my grief to myself knowing eventually the pain would lessen.
A month later I was promoted to full Lieutenant and took over “C” Flight. We were responsible for artillery fire control which helped me as much as anything to come to terms with the loss of Andy because it was so intense and the concentration levels high.
By now we had a crude radio system by which the observer would send Morse coded direction straight to the field batteries. My observer 2nd Lt Paul Whitley was very well qualified and even taught me the basics on Morse code and after another month I myself was quite good. But not only that, I was about to be awarded the Military Cross for saving the lives of two of our crews!
Archie called out of his office window to me to go and see him. When I arrived he had this huge grin all over his face as he handed me a thick envelope.
“It seems your special Lord has found a way to write to you through official channels Albert. Can I read it after you!?”
I just laughed and ran to my room.
It had some information about his flying with coastal patrols at night and had even picked up a boat making a landing. All occupants were captured, but mainly about his love of me and his dreams of when we were back together.
“Albert, the school is closed now and I will be converting it into a hospice so men can come to die in some sort of comfort and peace. The work has started, it will take about a year to fully complete but we will take the injured in as and when we can accommodate them.”
It then got very personal and for once I am keeping it to myself.
I read it several more times then tucked it away and as it was getting on I had a bath and went to bed thinking about what Jonnie had said in his letter. My mind went off to the last night of our holiday at the cabin. At least I could forget the war for a short time.
We had been out for a meal and after lighting the fire and pouring already warm water into the sink, we stripped one another naked and then began to wash each other. Bum cleaning had been done before we went out!
I took him to bed and told him to lay down and then tied both wrists and ankles to the bed head and foot. He was stretch out and could hardly move.
“This will take some time my love, so don’t go anywhere!”
I licked, kissed and gently bit every part of the front of his body from his head to his toes and back up again but stopping off for ages licking those balls, crotch and rock-hard cock. Jonnie was rapidly getting close until I stopped and went to put more logs on the fire.
“GET BACK NOW!” The poor man pleaded.
One more log and I went back, looking down at him while he twisted as much as he could, looking at me all the time.
I straddled him and sat on his magnificent weapon and when the lot was buried deep inside me I stayed as I was listening to even more pleading.
“Albert for goodness sake DO something!”
I kissed him and ignored him at the same time, but wiggled my bum for a few seconds.
“You horrible man.”
I waited for a while and then began to fuck myself on him for a short while and as he began to moan and tell me he loved me after all, I stopped and got told he didn’t after all!
“Make up your bloody mind!”.
This went on for much longer but by now we were both in need of release and as I clamped my mouth on his, I slowly fucked myself until we both reached the top and once again ejaculated in massive amounts.
I remained on top and got told some pretty rotten things it has to be said but as he could not move and with me still in control, I began to stroke again. “Oh fuck!” Ten minutes later my aristocrat shot into me once more.
I untied him and as he was a bit useless by now, I cuddled him and then turned him on his side and slipped into that wonderful bum, after yet another ten minutes I blasted into Jonnie which finished the pair of us and spent the rest of the late evening wrapped up together kissing until we both dropped off.
I looked down at my cock and belly smiling at the huge load covering both.
After an engine replacement it was normal to take the craft for a test flight before going on operations again and I was flying on my own at 5000ft just over both front lines. Looking down but it all seemed to be quiet as I could see no action. It was a very clear day and perfect for observation. I was about to turn back when I saw four of my squadron just about to cross over German lines flying at around 2000ft towards the east and at the same time watched as an Albatross was chasing them and then the puffs of smoke which told me the plane had a machine gun. The first one he fired at broke away and turned back but he had other targets and aimed for the leader who found himself alone as the other two also broke away.
Smoke began to come from the engine and whoever was in the BE2 was finished and behind German lines. I was by now losing height fast as I dropped down towards him and at the same time had a lot of luck as I saw the Albatross fly away assuming he had the kill and not wait to see it crash.
Even though behind the German lines myself it seemed clear of troops and it was possible if he was able to land the crippled plane, I just might be able to land and pick the crew up.
I followed him and was encouraged to see he seemed to have enough control to make a forced landing and the pair got clear of the now burning BE2. I then saw the troops some distance away running towards the crash.
I side slipped and landed and made my way to pick up who I now could see was Masterton-Phillips and Blake-Torrington.
They both saw me as we were fired at and bullets were flying everywhere, they ran towards me and both men squashed into the front cockpit, I opened up wide as bullets still came at us. I managed to get the three of us up just skimming the trees at the far end of the field.
Landing took all of my skills but managed it and taxied to my hangar and switched off. We all got out and for the first time saw those two smile. They thanked me and went off to the mess, I went to tell the ground crew they need to check for bullet holes, they found 40 of them, but no real damage. We had been very lucky.
Two weeks later the CO of the base, Colonel Frederick Arnold, Archie, the two I had picked up and I were in his office when I was presented with the ribbon of the Military Cross after much handshaking and some nice things said, the two went off and I was about to hear some other nice things, the best ever!
“Albert, you are going home. You will become a flying instructor at Larkhill for some time and also train on the new Sopwith Camel after which you will return to France with your own squadron, Captain Dowling!”
All that will become clearer later, but all I could concentrate on right now was I would be on leave again for two weeks, with Jonnie!
This was now 13th March 1917 and it was my 20th birthday on the 15th. He was now 27 and I had already worked out all the piss taking that would happen when we went to bed, Jonnie knew I would love it and the fights would be very special!
On the 12th the boys gave me a leaving party but no circus turned up, they must have more important things to do. Once again I would be leaving some really good friends many of whom would not be going home themselves.
There was a delay taking off because of foul weather and it was almost dark by the time I landed at Farnborough. After helping the lads get the BE2 in the hanger one of them offered to drive me to the manor but like the weather earlier that day the car buggered up as well and by the time we had cleaned out the entire fuel system the old girl at last started up.
I was dropped off one hour after my birthday had gone but I just could not keep the smile off my face as I went to the servants’ door and unlocked it.
“Move over my Lord, you are going to get one hell of a shock!”
The manor was quiet as I walked to the main hall and ran up the stairs. I found the door leading to our apartments unlocked as was my door and went straight in, though the lounge to my bedroom and stripped naked.
I quietly opened the connecting door to Jonnies bedroom and went in. There were a couple of candles burning so I could see reasonably well. I stood at the foot of his bed looking at this incredibly beautiful man who laid on his left side, but… I was not smiling now and all because Jonnie had Ben in front of him, also looking as handsome as ever, with his back turned to Jonnie, just like I used to do, with his right arm around Ben holding his hand, just like he used to hold mine.
Just how long I stood there I have no idea. My head was in absolute turmoil as I stared at the pair of them… My whole world was now in tatters and even found breathing difficult. For the first time in my life, I found it embarrassing being naked and felt so bloody stupid, not that these two even knew I was there!
I knew I had to get out but before I did I took my ring off and pulled the medallion off from around my neck breaking the chain. I would never kiss either again. I threw them both on the bed and with one more glance at my former love and best friend I got the fuck out of there.
It took me two hours to walk to Farnborough and find a hotel and once in my room I sat on the bed for the rest of the night staring at the floor. No tears, no anger, just completely and utterly numb.
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