July 13, 1918
A very quiet day, fine and cloudy. Towards evening had some excitement in the air which I will describe as I saw it:
“The hour is 8.30 p.m. and already night draws near bringing thoughts of bed. Outside all is quiet save for an occasional gun firing and overhead to right and left are the balloons watching the enemy’s lines, to pick out gun flashes in the gathering dusk and so locate their batteries. Suddenly a shot rang out in the sky and I look up for the enemy plane which has occasioned it.
“Bang, Bang, Bang other guns have picked up the mark and I wait for the bursts to see where he is. Ah, there he is, two of them, just coming out of the low-lying clouds and both are diving at the nearest balloon. Now the machine guns take up the song and all round us is the noise of the guns. The observers and balloon crews by this time have seen the danger but too late.
“Hardly does the balloon commence to descend than the enemy plane is spitting out bullets in a fiery stream. Two objects fall from the basket, they are the observers jumping out with their parachutes attached, and until each opens, they fall rapidly to earth. He’s got it, a thin wisp of fire appears, then the whole balloon bursts into flame and commences to fall leaving a thick trail of black smoke.
“The enemy wheels round to attack the next. ‘Tis a foregone conclusion and the observers jump out just before their balloon also bursts into flame. By this time the remaining balloons are being rapidly hauled down but the observers from the next in line also jump out and we see no less than six men with parachutes and two burning balloons falling together.
“The successful enemy disappears amidst a hail of shot and shell over their own lines whilst we breathe normally again. We give the enemy credit for a smart piece of work and thank our lucky stars that each parachute opened.”
‘Tis excitement only to see a burning balloon, but a man falling headlong to earth is stunning in its sorrow.