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N AN OCTOBER MORNING IN 1914, JUST A FEW MONTHS AFTER THE OUTBREAK OF THE O GREAT WAR, SECOND LIEUTENANT JAMES WILFORD ARRIVED AT RENVILLE AIRFIELD IN WESTERN FLANDERS. JAMES, AGED TWENTY-TWO, WAS THE YOUNGEST SON OF SIR CHARLES WILFORD, A SURREY LANDOWNER. AFTER THREE MONTHS AT FLIGHT SCHOOL HE WAS NOW A QUALIFIED PILOT IN THE ROYAL FLYING CORPS.

I SAY, IT SEEMS AWFULLY QUIET JUST NOW. STILL, I EXPECT THE REST OF THE CHAPS ARE OFF DOING THEIR THING.

STORY FERG HANDLEY ART VILA COVER IAN KENNEDY


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4 AN ORDERLY SHOWED JAMES TO HIS ROOM. AFTER PUTTING AWAY HIS KIT HE WAS BRIEFED BY THE SQUADRON COMMANDER, MAJOR THOMAS BENNETT.

AS YOU KNOW, WILFORD, WE’RE AN OBSERVATION UNIT. THE ARMY NEED REGULAR UPDATES ON THE HUN POSITIONS SO YOU’LL BE KEPT RATHER BUSY.

SUITS ME JUST FINE, SIR.

BENNETT WENT ON AT LENGTH, DESCRIBING THE GENERAL SITUATION IN THE SECTOR AND SO ON. THEN, THAT AFTERNOON, JAMES WAS SHOWN HIS AIRCRAFT – A FRENCH-MADE FARMAN MF11 NICKNAMED THE “SHORTHORN”. THERE SHE IS, SIR. AND I EXPECT YOU’LL BE WANTING TO TAKE HER UP FOR A SPIN NOW?

RATHER, SERGEANT.


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5 JAMES HAD NEVER PILOTED A FARMAN, HAVING TRAINED IN A BE2 BACK IN ENGLAND. BUT HE GOT AIRBORNE WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS AND, ONCE AT ALTITUDE, HE FOUND THE AIRCRAFT EASY TO HANDLE.

YES, SHE’S VERY RESPONSIVE TO THE CONTROLS…THAT RENAULT ENGINE PACKS QUITE A PUNCH.

BY THE TIME HE LANDED JAMES WAS FEELING FAIRLY COMFORTABLE IN THE FARMAN. THE NEXT DAY HE WAS HANDED HIS FIRST ASSIGNMENT. HE MET WITH HIS OBSERVER, FIRST LIEUTENANT PHILIP GREAVES.

GREETINGS, OLD CHAP. AND YOU’VE GOT THE COURSE WORKED OUT?

YES, SIR, AND IT’S ALL MARKED DOWN ON MY CHARTS.


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6 UP THEY WENT AND WERE SOON OVER THE GERMAN LINES. JAMES CUT SPEED AND BEGAN CIRCLING, ALLOWING GREAVES TO MAKE HIS NOTES.

EVERYTHING OKAY, SIR?

FINE, WILFORD. JUST A FEW MORE MINUTES AND I’LL BE DONE.

THE MISSION OVER, JAMES SET A COURSE BACK TO BASE. HALFWAY THERE HE SPOTTED A RUMPLER TAUBE BUT THE YOUNG PILOT DIDN’T FEEL IN ANY DANGER FROM THE GERMAN.

THAT’S WHAT I LIKE ABOUT FLYING. IT’S LIKE US AIRMEN BELONG TO A SPECIAL CLUB, EVEN THE ENEMY ONES.


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7 JAMES LANDED BACK AT BASE WITHOUT A HITCH. AS THEY GOT OUT OF THE AIRCRAFT GREAVES WAS DELIGHTED WITH THE MORNING’S WORK. YES, I GOT SOME DECENT SKETCHES OF SOME NEW JERRY POSITIONS. AND YOU FLEW WELL UP THERE SO WELL DONE.

THANKS, SIR. JUST A CASE OF KEEPING HER STEADY, THAT WAS ALL.

OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, JAMES CONTINUED TO FLY OBSERVATION OPS. HE LOVED HIS WORK AND, DURING THE EVENINGS, THERE WAS PLENTY OF TIME TO RELAX IN THE MESS WITH HIS FELLOW OFFICERS. SO, GREAVES, I HEAR THE NEW CHAP’S SETTLING IN NICELY.

YES, HE’S DOING FINE. AND HE’S FROM A GOOD FAMILY, WHICH ALWAYS HELPS.


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8 MEANWHILE THE GROUND WAR CONTINUED TO RAGE. ON A DULL, GREY MORNING AT THE END OF OCTOBER, CAPTAIN ALAN KINGSTON – COMMANDER OF AN INFANTRY COMPANY – MADE HIS WAY ALONG HIS UNIT’S FRONT-LINE TRENCHES, CARRYING OUT A ROUTINE INSPECTION.

EVERYTHING SEEMS IN ORDER, LIEUTENANT. CARRY ON.

YES, SIR. THANK YOU, SIR.

JUST AS ALAN MOVED OFF A HEAVY BARRAGE DESCENDED. EVERYONE DUCKED FOR COVER AND SHELTERED AS THE SHELLS RAINED DOWN.

I SAY, THIS IS A BIT OF A HEAVY ONE.

YES, IT IS. MAKES ME THINK THE JERRIES ARE UP TO SOMETHING.


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9 ALAN’S INSTINCTS WERE SPOT ON. THE LOCAL GERMAN COMMANDER HAD ORDERED AN ATTACK TO STRAIGHTEN OUT A SECTION. MINUTES AFTER THE BARRAGE LIFTED ENEMY TROOPS CAME CHARGING AT THE LINES. FOR THE KAISER, VORWARTS!

THE SHELLING HAD DAMAGED THE TRENCHES AND CAUSED CASUALTIES, INCLUDING TWO OFFICERS. ALAN KEPT HIS COOL, THOUGH, AND QUICKLY ORGANISED THE MEN AROUND HIM. SERGEANT, TAKE FIVE MEN AND REINFORCE THAT PARAPET. THE REST OF YOU, FIRE AT WILL!

YES, SIR!


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10 THE FIGHTING GREW HECTIC. A GERMAN GRENADE SOARED IN AND LANDED CLOSE TO A MACHINE-GUN EMPLACEMENT.

LOOK OUT!

AAARGH!

THE GUNNER WAS KILLED. WITH THE REST OF THE MEN BUSY FIGHTING, ALAN DIVED ACROSS AND TOOK OVER THE VICKERS.

SIR? ARE YOU SURE, SIR?

OF COURSE I AM. NOW DO YOUR JOB AND KEEP THE AMMO COMING.


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Soaring above the battlefields

of the Western Front, the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps saw themselves as guardians of chivalry — gentlemen fliers. So Lieutenant James Wilford, the pilot of a Farman MFII Shorthorn, got a shock when he met his new observer, Captain Alan Kingston. This gun-toting, hardened veteran had already seen action in the trenches — and had no time for old-fashioned chivalry. If the Huns wanted a fight… they’d get one!

9 770262 262188

05

www.commandocomics.com

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£1.45 No.4372 STORY FERG HANDLEY ART VILA COVER IAN KENNEDY ISAY,IT SEEMSAWFULLY QUIETJUSTNOW. STILL,IEXPECTTHE RESTOFTHECHAPS AREOFFDOING T...

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