Lieut. Geoff Buck (RFC) has completed his training and has now been let loose on the Boche!
Amongst the danger and excitement of war, these latest entries from his journal show an interesting range of emotions – who would have thought war could be a laughing matter?
27/9/16. “I took a machine and eight bombs and went off with 16 other machines to raid Bocheland. Flying close together with 16 others is ‘anellofajob’. But anyhow we all came back, and it was quite pleasant – no Hun machines and very few ‘Archies’. You can’t think how queer a big battle looks from upstairs – frightfully interesting, but I simply hate to think of the poor blighters on the ground..”
2/10/16. “Flying high in formation we got slightly ‘Archied’ over the lines (I disliked this because a little bit of iron on one of my eight bombs means that I go simply to swell the Roll of Honour). We dropped our bombs, and they all fell on their objective, and probably strafed some French peasants, mice and woodpeckers. But I hope we killed more Boches.
Then the fun began, pop-pop, bang, fizz-whizz, hiss, pop, bang, little black puffs all around us, and each explosion shook our little machines as if they had been kicked. This was most dangerous and unpleasant (so I thought), and after waving to my nearest fellow-sufferer to keep clear, I performed a memorable series of switchback vertical turns at an average speed of 150 mph. This upset Archibald’s calculations some, I guess, and anyhow I lost control and was much too frightened trying to get control of the machine again to be frightened about Archie.
It really is a sporting kind of life, and I laughed till I could hardly see the instruments.”
As a young Dragon, Geoff always enjoyed a good scrap. I recall a bike expedition to North Cerney in the summer of 1910. Having gone by train to Fairford we bicycled to North Cerney. There followed a cricket match against a local team of boy scouts. The match was conveniently tied before the real fun started. Paddy Burton’s brother Phil wrote up the events that followed:
“…someone bagged one of the Boy Scouts’ caps, and this lead to a battle; after about ten minutes ragging they collected their troops and sounded the charge. They were much older than we were for the most part, and they outnumbered us, but we were not going to be beaten. Keyworth had a tremendous fight with the ‘Samsonian Beefer’ (aged 19) and everyone did his best to sit on the scout he had got hold of. Geoff Buck held down a writhing mass of three scouts, and Flea Carr White and Henry Way wrought frightful havoc.
When we were told to go to bed, the lawn (of the Rectory) was covered with Dragons sitting on scouts, and I may quite fairly say that we absolutely licked them. Then we cheered them and trooped off to bed.”
The next morning we started for home, stopping to lunch in Burford. Clearly it was a good one, as Billy Smyth recorded in the hotel’s visitors’ book:
Four cyclists arrived at the Inn of the Bull; They came very empty and went away full; Their names were the Skipper and Billy and Flea, And Geoffrey; a hungrier four ne’er did you see. The fare was roast beef with potatoes and peas, And raspberry tart, and some excellent cheese; A fair maiden served us with all of the best; But who wrote this poem will never be guessed.
With so much to depress us in today’s world, it is good to have these memories of happier days to buck us up!