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World War I:
American volunteer pilots in the Lafayette Escadrille of the French air service target German observation balloons behind enemy lines in Hall’s wry – and, at times, beautiful – first-hand account of flying in the First World War.
-The Voice before the Void
“A Balloon Attack”
from High Adventure: A Narrative of Air Fighting in France
James Norman Hall
“I’m looking for two balloonatics,” said Talbott, as he came into the messroom; “and I think I’ve found them.”
Percy, Talbott’s orderly, Tiffin the steward, Drew, and I were the only occupants of the room. Percy is an old légionnaire, crippled with rheumatism. His active service days are over. Tiffin’s working hours are filled with numberless duties. He makes the beds, and serves food from three to five times daily to members of the Escadrille Lafayette. These two being eliminated, the identity of the balloonatics was plain.
“The orders have just come,” Talbott added, “and I decided that the first men I met after leaving the bureau would be balloonatics. Virtue has gone into both of you. Now, if you can make fire come out of a Boche sausage, you will have done all that is required. Listen. This is interesting. The orders are in French, but I will translate as I read:—
On the umteenth day of June, the escadrilles of Groupe de Combat Blank [that’s ours] will cooperate in an attack on the German observation balloons Continue reading