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Thompson’s Lost Plimsole

Part eighteen

Mr Twist eventually drifted off to sleep, but with sleep came the nightmares. Falling, falling, the flames, the bullets, the screams. Captain Charles Twist of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was, by 1917, already a veteran of over forty aerial encounters. Holder of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and twice recommended for the Victoria Cross, Charles had blotted his copybook by disobeying orders not to engage with the enemy whilst on reconnaissance missions. Orders like this were like a red rag to a bull, not that a bull would care whether the flag was red or blue as it transpires that it is purely the wafting around of the said rag that gets the bull’s dander up. However, Charles, not being of the bovine extraction, couldn’t resist taking on his foe of the moment. I say foe of the moment because at this moment in time it just happened to be the Germans and prior to the Germans, in no particular order, it had been the Boers, the Zulus, the Indians, the French, the Spanish, the French, the Chinese, the French, the Vikings, the French, the Americans, the Scots, the French, the Russians and the French, halting only momentarily for tea and cricket before re-engaging the French.

20th November 1917, Seventy five percent cloud, cold and miserable and not a day that Captain Twist had been looking forward to. Half a dozen new replacements stood before him in his tent. He scanned their faces, boys, hardly men yet, but cheery faced and eager to fight. “Good morning gentlemen,” said the Captain. “Good morning, Sir” came the united response. “What ho, Charlie” said one of the new boys. Charles rounded on him, his face red with anger. “Stand to attention”. The young man was taken aback, confused, he quickly brought his feet together. “It’s Sir to you, do you understand, you haven’t earned the right yet to call me anything but Sir, am I making myself clear?” The young man stammered out “Yes, Sir” and stood there dazed, sensing tears forming in his eyes.  He hadn’t expected that response and had never been spoken to like that before by someone he idolised, his older brother.

April 1917 (Bloody April), had seen some of the greatest losses for the RFC, but now, new planes such as the Bristol Fighter, the S.E.5 and the Sopwith Camel, were allowing the allies to fight back with increased vigour. Captain Twist advised these new boys that the next few days would consist of extra training in aerial combat manoeuvres and reconnaissance. He asked the men if they had eaten and before dismissing them, he shouted for one of the NCOs to direct them to the mess tent. After they had gone, Charles walked over to the tent occupied by his trusted friend and confidant, Lieutenant Roger Bayes, one of the finest fighter pilots known to him and an ace in his own right with twenty-eight confirmed victories. Prior to the war, Roger had studied dentistry but now he had made it his mission to knock out Boche planes as opposed to teeth. Charles entered Roger’s tent and helped himself to a glass of whisky. “I’ve just had to put my brother in his place, came in all familiar, I’ll let him stew for a few days and you can keep him out of my way. I didn’t want him to come here but father pulled a few strings at the ministry, so here we are”.

Roger topped up Charles’s glass and poured himself one. Charles continued, “I want you to keep them occupied, don’t let them rest, things are hotting up and I want them ready to face the reality of this bloody war, not that ‘Boys Own Paper’ bravado. Let them rest this evening, get their kit sorted, but I want them up in the air at dawn and I want you to work them till they beg you to stop”.  Roger drained his glass and put it down. He placed a reassuring hand on the shoulder of his friend. “Don’t worry, I’ll look after them and I’ll keep a special eye on your brother”. Roger left the tent in search of his new charges  and although only a young man himself, he would give them a fatherly talk and share his experiences with them. Charles sat down in Roger’s chair and thought for a moment about all of the eager young men who had previously stood before him, but who would never return home again. He poured himself another whisky and drank it straight back. He looked at the half empty bottle and contemplated pouring himself another, but he put the glass down, put his head into his hands, and wept for the first time in three years.  


Published by crispinunderfelt

All round good egg. Humanist and red wine drinker.

9 thoughts on “Thompson’s Lost Plimsole

    1. I’m sure that the plimsole will make an appearance again, but so many other stories to tell. The Dray Twins, Tarquin Fleet, Allotment shenanigans.. (Probably). Backstage at the Hallified Variety Theater, The reason why the monks were digging in the chapel and who sold them the map… The list is long… Will I stay the course? Who knows.. Who cares!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Although the story is full of random characters and is basically supposed to be mildly amusing, I’m unsure about this Flying Corps story line. I think I should keep this one reasonably serious… Any thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

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