Published March 02, 2018
Last night after I had retired about 8:00 heard wild cheering. Then the report came in of Armistice being signed. Everybody went wild. Flares were sent up, fires burning, machine guns and Jerry pistols. We were then invited over to 95th [squadron] for a party, which we all had, and such a night, always to be remembered. This morning there was an order issued that there would be no more fighting after 11:00 A.M. at 5 minutes of 11:00. I took off trying to get to the Front, was unable. Attended a dinner last this evening given by 147th [squadron] in honor of their years’ service in France.
Weather very bad all day, consequently no flying.
Again bad weather no flying.
U.P. [United Press] man came in this evening, tells me German delegates crossed over no man’s land at 3:00 P.M.
Guise to get Allies terms of an Armistice from Marshal [Ferdinand] Foch, they came under a white flag.
Was out today but had no luck, weather was very bad. Arranged a balloon strafing for tomorrow. Lt. Kaye, Lt. Cook, Major Kirby, Capt. [Fauntleroy], Lt. [John] DeWitt and myself, they all went to [illegible] bringing down balloons.
German delegates cross at Haudroy on the Chimay – Fourmies – La Capelle – Guise road.
Weather was bad this morning; however, after lunch Capt. [Fauntleroy] and Lt. DeWitt went out together. Lt. Cook, Major Kirby went out together after balloons. Lt. Cook landed just west of Verdun with his propeller shot off. Major Kirby landed at Clermont out of gas. Capt. [Fauntleroy] and Lt. DeWitt have failed to return; however, am expecting them to phone any moment. Was notified that a decoration would take place tomorrow on our field.
Gen. Foch has given Germany until 11 o’clock Monday morning to accept our Armistice terms.
Had a telephone this A.M. that observation and one pursuit plane had crashed at Beaumont. All three men killed. Certainly it was one of our men as no other [squadron] reported men missing.
Was decorated by General [Hunter] Liggett, Chief of 1st Army with 2 oak leaves, after Col. Harmon and Col. Hunter with 2 Ladies walked over to 95th [squadron] for a drink. On returning to my surprise, stopped in front of Capt. Fauntleroy’s plane. I was overjoyed by his return and Lt. DeWitt’s location. Gee, but I was happy! Major Kirby reports getting lost and meeting a Fokker, whom he shot and saw him crash. Report of Kaiser’s abdication and revolution in Germany. Indeed the end of a perfect day.
Newspapers give official account of terms of Armistice signed by Germany yesterday morning. We are having a dinner at the mess this evening in honor of the Allies victory. Everybody is most happy and so am I, having ended the war as America’s Ace of Aces.
The attack started at 5:30 A.M. when the boys went over the top after 2 hours of artillery barrage never before equaled. I was up at 4:30 A.M. but owing to weather conditions was unable to leave Mother Earth until 4:00 P.M.
Turkey has been signed up today for peace and we are all expecting Austria to do so tomorrow.
Was out this morning, saw the Hun artillery retreating in great convoys, saw many of our dough boys on their bellies and ready to charge.
No doubt we will have peace by Thanksgiving Day.
Today Austria signed peace with Italy.
Left for Paris tonight with Capt. [Fauntleroy].
Arrived in Paris 2:30 A.M. had a terrible time finding rooms in hotel.
The most noticeable thing of the day was on arriving to find so many lights lit in Paris. No more bombing. Also noticed the many war [trophies] captured by Allies. The Champs-Élysées Place de la Concorde were simply lined with same.
Made several purchases including a wonderful coat which cost 1450 [francs]. Seems so foolish of me.
Miss Meredith and I had dinner with a [illegible]. Later enjoyed quite some ride around Paris.
Ordered to leave at 9:20 P.M. for the Front again.
Armistice with Austria takes effect today 4:30 P.M.
Arrived at our camp about 4:00 A.M., certainly was tired, boy!
Went out on Patrol this afternoon, but saw nothing weather was very bad.
Have been in Paris awaiting good weather in order to fly a new type Nieuport back to Villeneuve (Marne). Had a snow storm yesterday so I went out to Challes Madon* and saw the 1st Liberty 12 being put on test block. It looks good outside of the many water connections on bottom of cylinders which I believe will break off about 1/8” from the weld. Met Major [Marlborough] Churchill last evening so we went to Grand Opera and saw Thaïs, which was excellent. The Opera House is very beautiful.
[Note: Georges Madon was a preeminent French aviator]
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/03/1918).
Bad weather again so several of the boys went to Villacoublay and saw the new Breguet monoplane, which is claimed to be the fastest new flying, having a speed of 250 kil. per hour.
Had dinner with Bill [Lt. William] Taylor my roommate. Then we went to see Faust at the Grand Opera which was very good as [illegible].
The weather looks good tonight and no doubt we will fly back to Villeneuve tomorrow.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/04/1918).
The weather is terrible. Snowing like the Devil and no possibility of going back today, so have arranged an engagement with my [blank] for this evening. She’s rather pretty. French Maiden dark and rather small but has a very sweet disposition as most French girls have.
Hope the weather permits our returning tomorrow as I am fed up with the Battle of Paris. In fact, am crazy to get back to work.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/05/1918).
Weather bad this morning. However after much trouble, most of the boys were located and we left in the truck for Villacoublay. Several of the boys’ motors were started and one by the name of James left, but the ceiling was very low, say 300 meters, and soon he was lost. Naturally we are all wishing for his safety. Now, having returned to Paris and checked in for the fifth time, twice at the same hotel after each time a new one and always more tips. Ha. Ha.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/06/1918).
The Boy lost yesterday landed well and will start tomorrow. Woke up this A.M. with fine weather after some trouble getting started [on] account of Magnetos. I started for Villeneuve. Had to land again for more gas with another Boy. All the rest started for home. Out of 16 to start, 6 arrived, 3 smashed up on landing, 6 others had forced landings. Rather bad results for the first time. On arriving [in] Villeneuve I found several of my friends had arrived with 94th Squadron.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/07/1918).
Weather good, permitting 5 more of the boys to arrive. Nothing of importance until this evening when we were handed orders to report [to] Major [John W.] Huffer and assigned to the 94th Aero Squadron, which makes rather good assignment due [to the] fact most of the Boys are good fliers all having gone thru Cazeaux, which is the school of Aerial Gunnery. Tonight I drove to Vertus and purchased a real bed and naturally am anxious to retire that I may enjoy its comfort. Ha. Ha.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/08/1918).
Excellent weather this A.M. Went after E.G. [Lt. Edgar G.] Tobin’s plane, which he turned over in mud on arriving at the place where [Lt. Edward] Buford turned over. I decided to fly his plane back which had turned over in landing. Same was in good condition outside of the bad weather, arrived safe at the camp. Found Major [Raoul] Lufbery had arrived and is going to take charge of the flying. Had dinner and went back after Lt. Tobin’s plane in Motorcycle. Found it in good shape. Flew same safely back to camp. Oh yea started to raise a funny little brush on my upper lip.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/09/1918).
Was called upon to test several of the planes which were becoming very nose heavy due to the great amount of acrobacy performed by pilots here. Seth Low finally returned being the last to arrive of new planes. Capt. [James Ely] Miller flew over to the other camp today with intention of going over the lines in a SPAD. Hope he returns OK. There was a German photo plane over camp about 1230. No doubt we shall be bombed soon. Understand Paris was badly bombed last night. If true, it was the first time without moon light. Had several letters from home today. Naturally, am very happy.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/10/1918).
Terrible news. Capt. James Miller, commanding 95h Squadron, was shot down yesterday in his first trip over the lines. More Hun planes were soon flying over camp taking photos. Probably be bombed soon. Have decided today that war, with me, has always been a sporting proposition, and after I take the air again Germans it will be fair play always. Should I see the other fellow is in terrible difficulty and I have all the advantage over him without he having a chance, and I, knowing or seeing same, will discontinue the fight regardless of what he would have done with me in his position.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/11/1918).
Have had a most wonderful day. Awakened this morning and played a bit of football. Was called in later by the Major and ask[ed] to take command of flight #1. Lt. Baker #2. Lt. Campbell #3. I gave them the opportunity to select their men. Then I took what was left, there being one man less than needed. I made formal application for Lt. E.A. Faunt Le Roy [Lt. Cedric E. Fauntleroy] whom I hope they will let me have him as we are good pals and he is a good pilot. I aim also to be his adjutant and take charge in case he is not here.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/12/1918).
Wonderful weather continues. Again bad news over takes the squadron as one of the boys named [illegible] Montgomery who was at Cazeaux with us, later sent to England for Aerial Gunnery course, was killed in his first flight as gunner. Plane caught fire in doing a loop. Threw out the pilot and later crashed to earth with Montgomery fighting for his life. Found the pistons in the Gnome motors defective today having same trouble as was experienced in the old Maxwell racing cars. “Less Confidence.”
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/13/1918).
Rather an exciting day. Had advance notice that General Petain, commander and chief of French Army. After much polishing and brushing, we were prepared for his arrival which was about 5:30 P.M. After receiving the French squadrons and decorating several pilots, then he did us the favor of receiving us, we marched up in formation and glad it was all over within a few minutes. Was talking to Major Huffer when the antiaircraft started shooting and search lights were hunting Hun bombers. Naturally after that we all jumped into the trenches, our 1st experience.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/14/1918).
Rode over to Epernay this A.M. Ordered a new coat, after that called on Corporal [Austen B.] Crehore, who is recovering from appendicitis, certainly an interesting boy. Told me all about his first air battle in which he was victor. He has just received a 60 day permission to go home and is leaving for U.S.A. soon. Saw a German bomb which was dropped last night. 3 people were killed, 10 hurt. “Ok”. Plane just went over the barracks and crashed onto the roof, causing him to turn over. Just pulled him out of the wreckage. Very fortunate, only a bad cut over his nose and eye.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/15/1918).
Nothing of importance today. Still waiting for the boys to return from Paris with the new planes which are to be mounted with machine guns.
Have been trying to write 5 letters per day in order that I may get caught up with my correspondence. Seems impossible as today I received 8 letters, so what can I do but continue for I sure love letters from home and happiness.
“Ok” the yell all lights out and into your dugout. Germans dropping more peace pills and to think its darn cold on the outside.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/16/1918).
Germans expected over tonight so will leave an extra line for them at the bottom, nothing eventful happened today. Weather reminded me of our ole time spring back home. Have been writing five letters per day for several days past, and find myself really cleaned up this evening on correspondence. Naturally rather happy.
No raid tonight.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/17/1918).
Had some of our French friends over for dinner today. Real nice meal, after which I walked to Mesnil. I bought some stationary and picture post cards for our room.
Rather surprised this evening to see a large biplace Caproni trimotor come in. Fellow got lost after landing, was unable to get his motor started, so decided to stay with us this evening.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/18/1918).
Major Lufbery and three of the other boys arrived from Paris this P.M. One boy by the name of [Lt. Thorne C.] Taylor caught on fire after a few loops and landed ablaze. All our planes have machine guns mounted. The much talked of suicide fleet used by English to fool Germans in North Sea has nothing on the suicide chase squadron which is going over the lines every day. 3 Americans in Nieuports without machine guns and 2 Frenchmen with SPADs. This will be good reading matter in years to come.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/19/1918).
Weather very bad. Has been raining all night and looks rather bad for tomorrow. Best thing one can do is stay in and write his friends and home. Oh yes I am raising a French mustache, you know, hair on one’s upper lip. Few of the boys can see as yet. Ha Ha.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/20/1918).
Nothing to do until tomorrow. Raining all day, for some unknown reason I had a new plane, which was just brought back from Paris, assigned to me. Same has a machine gun on. Was ordered to be ready for flights tomorrow afternoon.
The French Commander has just notified us that papers on a German aviator just captured state, just before the great expected offensive on the German part, our camp will be bombed completely. “Oh Boy.” Same is expected any day.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/21/1918).
The expected flight was canceled owing to the German activity on the front. However, Major Lufbery went out to the front without seeing anything. On his return I was asked to try for altitude test loaded. Made the first 3000 feet 9 minutes, 5000 [feet] 23 m., 5800 [feet] max 40 m. Lost the camp. Came down at another French camp for bombing planes south of Chalons. Got my direction. Just did get home before dark. On arriving, all the boys were sure I had been out over the front which I let them believe.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/22/1918).
Tried to have my sights put on plane but unable, owing to lack of material. All the boys came back from Paris. As for the order to have 95th Squadron boys go to Cazeaux, seems as tho they will have to go to take their course in Aerial Gunnery.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/23/1918).
Still trying to get planes in shape but some how everything goes wrong. The Germans drive has started on the English Front advancing several kil. We were to have an inspection as to our ability, but an order calling on all chase squadrons for the English Front at once from this field prevented the commander to look us over. Chalons was badly bombed last night killing many, also wrecking the depot.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/24/1918).
Have been busy all day putting on my sights. Will test same tomorrow then am ready for the front.
Paris was shelled yesterday for 8 hours by some new gun dropping 240 mm shells from behind the lines about 110 kil. Seems most impossible but papers all state same to be true.
Order came this morning stopping French squadrons from going over to English Front however one got away last night which is some speed.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/25/1918).
Had my gun sights regulated today. Went up, tried them out on a small lake not far from here. Capt. [Philip] Roosevelt just came in with the wildest rumor ever heard. The Germans have taken 30,000 English and 302 guns. Also that a German balloon had drifted over the lines. Observer had papers on him stating they would attack on the 26th just north of us. Oh boy that’s tomorrow if they advance here as on the English Front, our camp will be in German hands soon.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/26/1918).
No offensive started today as expected. However, the Germans are continuing with their advance capturing 30,000 English, 600 guns. [They] are in their old positions of a year ago.
Tonight the Germans are bombing Chalons and Epernay. Several of their planes could be heard going over our field. Naturally we thought they would bomb us however they did not.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/27/1918).
Five of the boys are going to Paris with our Commander. I have been made commanding officer during his absence. All the boys were examined by Major Lufbery this afternoon and tomorrow I get the opportunity I have worked so hard for during the past 9 months, that is going over the German lines with Major Lufbery and another boy Douglas Campbell. All chase squadrons have left from our camp going south, as the Germans have started an advance just north of us so we may be retreating soon.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/28/1918).
Over the lines in a Nieuport type 28 this morning. Certainly was a wonderful trip. Saw all the trenches east of Rheims. After about 30 minutes over, the Germans were shooting the antiaircraft at us. I being the last in the patrol was nearly hit as there were five shells exploded just 50 yd behind me. After landing I found that parts of the shell had gone thru the wings. One piece just short way from my head. Tomorrow we go again if weather permits. 4 of the boys returned from Paris today with planes.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/29/1918).
Weather was terrible bad all day. Machine is in good shape and am hoping the weather permits going over the front tomorrow.
Had several letters today and a beautiful ring from Elks Lodge #99 as a token of appreciation.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/30/1918).
Raining after breakfast so John Wentworth and I took a truck for Epernay. Had a bath and dinner. Also took a look at the new coats we are having made with open collars. Returned about 4:00 P.M. On arrival found we were ordered to move tomorrow morning for Epiez. Naturally everybody must pack and it is still raining terribly. Of course we shall fly over. This camp is just outside of Toul, the American sector. No doubt we shall soon be doing regular work over the lines. We are also having Easter dinner tonight to eliminate the packing tomorrow.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (03/31/1918) Awakened with it raining to beat the band so decided not to go out today. All the truck trains left outside of a few trucks for mechanics and tools.
Just after lunch several of us boys were in the barracks where someone yelled fire in last hangar. All our planes were in same, so I dashed down but not until after some planes were burnt very badly. Mine included. So we must stay over until repairs can be made.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/01/1918) Nothing important today. They have appointed me Commanding Officer again for the 94th “its hard luck.” Capt. [James N.] Hall and Capt. [David M.] Peterson arrived today from the Lafayette Squadron, also Capt. [Kenneth] Marr.
Fixed up Gil Winant’s SPAD and then had a nice ride with him.
“The bombing squadron leaving here tonight with 10 tons of bombs for Germany.”
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/02/1918). Started from Villeneuve 3:30 with 22 planes of which 20 arrived safely. One had motor trouble, the other landed in a bad field just short way from our field.
I started back immediately for Villeneuve with Lt. [William F.] Loomis, Tobin, Lt. [Hobart A.H.] Baker, Seth Low. The last 3 were on their way to Lafayette squadron. We arrived at Chalons just after Germans had quit bombing. Stayed there for the night.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/03/1918). Left for Villeneuve. Arrived just before lunch. Drove over to Epernay. Got my new coat with open front. Started with my plane about 3:30. Arrived O.K. after going thru rain storm. Arrived O.K. Used Lt. Loomis sleeping bag as my equipment failed to arrive.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/04/1918). Rained most of the day making our camp terrible muddy. Had a long talk with Capt. [Walter] Lovell regarding my transfer to Lafayette Squadron. He promised to arrange same at once. Gee what I would give for such a chance as they are using SPADs.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/05/1918). Weather beautiful this morning. Capt. Hall, Capt. Peterson were out over the lines today without machine guns. We were going to send out a patrol this afternoon but same failed account of bad weather.
Major [William] Thaw was over today. Said there was one more SPAD left. I hope its for me.
3 enlisted boys had their hands badly blown up when trying to open a fused carburetor. Received several letters from home today.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/06/1918). Had a grand walk over the hills today. First we, that is John Wentworth and myself, walked over to Amanty the biplace photographic squadron. Met several of the boys who were at Issoudun. We had lunch there and then went over to the little village. Returned about 4:30. Nothing new. Late last night one of the boys came in with a rumor that we were to move at once for Toul, take over a French squadron’s equipment and planes. Oh joy more mail from home and happiness.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/07/1918). Good news today, our squadron 94th is ordered to active duty on the front at once. [We] are taking sufficient planes from the 95th to complete our squadron, also to receive guns for everybody.
Major Lufbery, America’s Greatest Ace is going with us. Capt. Hall, Capt. Peterson, and Capt. Marr are attached to 94th. All the boys are going to have a happy time as headquarters is left behind. Our new camp is just outside of Toul, France 15 kil. from the front.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/08/1918). All arrangements made for leaving Epiez. Truck train is expected to leave tomorrow. Weather is very bad due to the altitude of this camp. Most of the time clouds are so low you can hardly see.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/09/1918). Very bad weather continues. We had lunch at Vaucouleurs after which we went back to camp. Nothing to do so we all drove to Neufchateau. Had dinner at the Lafayette Club which is very nice. While there met Col. [William L.] Mitchell, my friend and adviser. He is now in charge of all First Army Aviation.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/10/1918). Still bad weather. Slept until very near noon. Went to Vaucouleurs again for lunch after which we went to Toul for dinner. Arrived there rather late, that is, at the camp. Certainly a great place. Was unable to get dinner at Toul so we bought several eggs and bacon then stopped at a small town. Had an old lady cook us dinner at 10:00. Sauce was very good.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/11/1918). Good weather this A.M. Finally got started. All of the boys arrived and found our quarters. The best ever in fact. It’s hard to believe we are at war. Just found out Major Huffer our Commander refused to have my transfer take place for the Lafayette squadron, however we are going to get started soon so am just as well satisfied.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/12/1918). Have been busy all day painting squadron insignia on my plane. Ours is a most interesting one as we have Uncle Sam’s hat upside down in a ring with national colors. It’s very good looking.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/13/1918). Orders today for the squadron to commence active duty tomorrow. Everybody seems happy. I am going out in the first patrol which starts at 6:00 A.M.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/14/1918). Got started this morning while waiting for patrol leader who came up then landed so I took same out to the lines. Saw nothing on descending found clouds making it very difficult to find home. After arriving an alert came in that enemy planes were near. Lt. Campbell [and] Lt. [Alan F.] Winslow went up. On arriving 300 meters over the field, two Hun planes came over. Both were engaged and one brought down in flames, the other forced to land very near our field. The first days results.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/15/1918). The 94th squadron continues to receive congratulations from all parts of the world for their Sunday’s results. No flying today, weather is rotten.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/16/1918). Bad weather, nothing doing.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/17/1918). The same today.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/18/1918). Another Hun over our lines today but weather was so bad it was useless to start out after him.
Had several alerts this afternoon. I went up but was unable to see anything.
Took a walk over to a evacuating hospital this evening and was invited to a dance tomorrow evening.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/19/1918). Bad weather continues, no flying.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/20/1918). Had some distinguished visitors this morning. General Lane [sic] Commander of First Army Corps, Col. Mitchell, [in] charge of all Air Service, 1st Army Corps. I was ask[ed] to go up and do some acrobacy which I did and was warmly congratulated by him on landing. Then the mechanics found my motor distributor broken, leaving me out of the running for in the afternoon. An alert came in to strafe the trenches, naturally I was not ready. “Hard Luck”
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/21/1918). Plane back in shape this evening so will be ready tomorrow morning. Very bad weather anyway so I did not lose anything today.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/22/1918). More rain. No flying all day. Heard today we may get up to the first line trenches for inspection soon.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/23/1918). Went out after lunch. On alert for about one hour but saw no German planes. Had a combat with SPAD until he found out what I was. There was a Hun brought down by someone but no one seems to want it.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/24/1918). Was called on an alert near St. Mihiel about noon. So when I arrived on the lines the antiaircraft led me to the German biplace plane. While trying to get under same, a monoplace Albatros came out on me so I maneuvered above him, but just as I had decided to attack, there were two more planes came out from Germany so I gave up the fight.
Went out to look over the trenches and artillery. Saw our batteries fire several times and several German shells came back at once without effect.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/25/1918). The weather was fair today. Had 2 alerts without results. On arriving the last time which was about 6:30, we were advised to be ready for an immediate alert on a large scale in which all our planes would take part. Nothing came of it, so I expect there will be something doing tomorrow.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/26/1918) Rain all day.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/27/1918) Weather fair. Went out over the lines with Major Lufbery, but saw nothing.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/28/1918) Nothing doing, only more rain. One of the boys with whom I came to France arrived at the camp today and is going to be in this section as a biplace SPAD man.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/29/1918)
<My First Victory>
Was called out on an alert this evening with Capt. [James N.] Hall. After several minutes maneuvering saw a Hun plane coming from Germany. We both attacked and saw the German plane fall to earth. It is my first real fight. We have both been given credit for this Hun.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (04/30/1918) Rain most of the day. Gave a little exhibition to several newspaper men who thought it was great.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/01/1918) Gee, it was a year ago this month I became a soldier for U.S.A. Well, things have happened since in grand bunches.
Nothing much doing today. One alert this P.M. with Major Lufbery but saw nothing. Major had trouble with his motor and in landing, was turned over.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/02/1918).
Another Hun to our credit today. Jimmy [James A.] Meissner brought down one in flames and then lost his upper wings, but made a good landing in France. It was his first.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/03/1918).
While patrolling over the American sector, one of our patrols led by Capt. Peterson attacked 5 Huns shooting one down in flames but doing the fight, we lost our first man. Lt. [Charles W.] Chapman. He was shot down in flames. Also all the boys feel very blue but same must be expected.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/04/1918).
Capt. Hall and Lt. Campbell had a fight with one German Albatros today, but he fled to Metz.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/05/1918).
More bad weather.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/06/1918).
Again bad weather. The 95th Squadron arrived today and expect to work out of here.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/07/1918).
America’s greatest loss today while out on alert with Capt. Hall and Lt. [Edwin] Green. I saw 3 German planes in Germany so I turned the patrol around and the attack soon started. Capt. Hall must have had motor trouble as he was last seen going down behind a woods in Germany. Lt. Green and I returned O.K. There must be a few new squadrons opposing us as our patrols had several fights later in the day.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/08/1918).
Fortunes of war. Thru the loss of Capt. Hall I am being made Flight Commander and was told possibly be made a Capt. in the near future. Also was is possible for me to receive the French War Cross with a palm.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/09/1918).
Made a trip out to the front line trenches this afternoon. Certainly very interesting. Went out in front of the village of Seicheprey which was wrecked a few weeks ago when the Germans attacked. Life is certainly hell for the infantry for living comforts. Mud and water, stench and bugs of all kinds always. Dugouts to sleep in. It’s terrible. Am more convinced now than ever that an aviator has a easy life.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/10/1918).
Nothing unusually interesting outside of a collision on the field by 2 of our planes landing. I happened to be returning from patrol when first noticing them descend, then I saw both crash. Capt. Marr and Lt. Taylor.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/11/1918).
While flying over the American front, Lt. [Reed M.] Chambers noticed 3 enemy planes approaching from Germany. We flew to the attack, after firing several rounds. Retreated without result.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/12/1918).
Had a wonderful day. Went over to Chateau Cirey, the place where an aviator may go for rest. Certainly was beautiful fishing, hunting. After looking the place over we had tea and said goodbye. Col. Mitchell suggested we go to Chaumont for dinner, which we did. Had a wonderful time and left for home arriving about 3:00 A.M.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/13/1918).
After one hours sleep, I had to get up as my flight was on early patrol. However the weather got bad and there was nothing doing the rest of the day.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/14/1918).
Nothing doing. Bad weather.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/15/1918).
Was decorated by General [Augustin] Gérard, Commander of the 8th Army French with a French War Cross and Palm. There was a company of American soldiers. Also one of French including the American band. It was a most beautiful ceremony. Several of the American Generals were on hand.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/16/1918).
Nothing of importance.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/17/1918).
Left the field at day light for a voluntary patrol. After arriving at 5000 meters Lt. Chambers and I separated, I going over into Germany over Metz. On my way out, I met 3 Albatross planes which I attacked. In so doing I lost my upper right wing in a collision with the enemy plane. Went into a tail spin, finally coming out but had a very hard time getting back to the field.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/18/1918).
Major Lufbery and Lt. Chambers were out seeing 6 enemy chase planes which they started to attack but the enemy planes left for home immediately without showing fight.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/19/1918).
While on an alert with Lt. [Walter W.] Smyth, we crossed over into Germany about 15 miles. Engaged an enemy Albatros byplace who showed good fight then left for home. On arriving at the field, found Major Lufbery, who attacked an enemy byplace over the field [and] had shot him [Lufbery] down in flames. He jumped out of the plane when 1000 meters from the ground. Killed instantly. Lt. Campbell brought down his second Boche this morning in our lines, a byplace photo plane, killing both.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/20/1918).
Major Lufbery was buried today just near our camp. It was a most depressing ceremony. Doing the service, our flight of five planes flew over and dropped flowers on his grave.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/21/1918).
Nothing doing outside of a combat with five German planes far in Germany.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/22/1918).
Out on patrol today with Lt. Chambers and Lt. [Paul B.] Kurtz. Upon arriving at the lines we met 3 German planes over us. It was a surprise attack as I had not seen them until they were above me. We were forced to run until we were higher – then we had our chance of driving them home. On returning to the field, Lt. Kurtz was seen to have fallen in flames and burnt up.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/23/1918).
Received official confirmation for Boche I had combat with yesterday.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/24/1918).
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/25/1918)
We met a little Indianapolis girl who was entertaining here. Had a grand time. Miss [Ruth] Bush was her name.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/26/1918)
Nothing of importance outside of Lt. Campbell bringing down his 4th Boche.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/27/1918)
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/28/1918).
Missed out on patrol today so went up with Lt. Campbell. After being on the lines for some time we met six enemy planes. The fight lasted for 15 minutes, the best I ever had and plenty of antiaircraft firing.
Attended Lt. John Mitchell’s funeral this afternoon. He was killed while making a landing. He was Col. Mitchell’s brother.
Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary entry. (05/29/1918).
Nothing of importance. Lt. Faunt Le Roy [Fauntleroy] brought up a new plane and naturally was very much surprised to see him. He decided to stay over.
Lt. John Mitchell chased a Hun back into Germany making him land in which he turned over.
Started on a patrol alone this morning [to] meet 12 English bombers. They arrived after being on the lines about 30 minutes. At the same time 8 Huns followed several Nieuports. Flew to attack, the combat lasting several minutes. I left and then returned. While Lt. Meissner was piquing on a plane his wing crashed and a Hun was on his tail, whom I drove off escorting him home. He landed safely. Lt. [Wilfred V.] Casgrain of Detroit was forced to land in no man’s land. Jumped out and ran into German trenches – is a prisoner.
Lt. Campbell shot his fifth Boche today. Certainly going some, he is our first “Ace.”
The Americans made a raid early this morning. Fired about 17,000 rounds of 75’s then went over the “top.” Went as far as 3rd line trenches. Only found one sick [illegible] lost two of their own and about 300 “gassed.”
Patrol this morning. Had a combat with biplace Rumpler but without results. Am going to Maxey for dinner this P.M. Makes one feel as though you were in New York again. Just heard we may get ordered up to the big push soon. I hope so for then we can say we fought in a real war.
Nothing new of importance.
Received many letters today. Also cable from American Auto Association making me life member. Also cable from Beverly Griffith*.
[Note: Beverly Griffith was a noted Hollywood cameraman and director, a longtime friend of Eddie Rickenbacker.]
Was up on early patrol. 6000 meters for 2 hours without results. Went up again and met enemy plane who had been over Toul. Got under his tail fired four shots and a jam, tough luck.
Major Huffer left today. Capt Marr was put in command. I am assistant commander. Fly whenever I desire.
While flying about 5000 meters this morning over Tour. I met the same Hun plane as yesterday. Had a running fight for 40 minutes. Several jams and finally both guns jammed beyond repair. Continued the maneuver chasing Hun back home. Motor burnt up while over Germany but returned to France. Lt. Campbell was wounded in the back fighting a biplace. He returned to the field and landed safely. Wound is not serious.
Went up again this morning for the same Hun, but failed to meet him.
Again tried for Mr. Hun but failed to see him. Major [Bert M.] Atkinson gave me 48 hours leave in Paris, the first I have had since joining the Army, So Capt. Marr drove me down to Chaumont.
Left Chaumont for Paris this A.M. Arrived Paris noon. Called on Capt. [John M.] Satterfield who gave me a grand welcome. Also Col. [Halsey] Dunwoody. Met [Fauntleroy] for dinner and then to bed.
Met [Fauntleroy] at 9:00 A.M. We drove out to Boucq. Saw the new SPADs. It was a wonderful drive. Made me feel as [though] it was and will be impossible for the Huns to capture Paris. Saw all the new planes at Villacoublay. Also several Hun planes. Later returned to the hotel. Met a young French lady. Wonderful piano player with Faunt’s girl. Had dinner in Café Bois du Boulogne. Went riding later taking the girls home. It was a most perfect day.
Left for Chaumont 2:50. Arrived 11:30. Met Lt. Ferris who agreed to take me up to Toul tomorrow.
Saw an American doctor marry a French girl, then started for Toul. Stopped at Colombey. Met Roy Middleton and Capt Marr with whom I came home.
Was informed today that General [Foulois] was going to give us SPADs and that we would entrain soon at Paris to practice a bit on same. Was informed that I was an “Ace” having received conformation for my fifth plane. Just received a cable from Columbus Motor Club making me first and only Life Member. Looks as thou they feel that it may be a short one. Ha. Ha. Letter from Brother Louis who just arrived.
Lt. Meissner, Taylor, Winslow finally shot down the Hannover Hun in their lines in flames. Nothing more of importance. Have been receiving some wonderful mail recently from real Old and Dear Friends all over America.
Nothing happened of interest.
It is believed we are all going up to the Big Show north of Paris. Certainly everyone is happy to receive such news.
One of the boys came back today and admitted he had gone up so high he could see the sun rising for tomorrow. Ha-ha.
Had a trip over the lines but nothing interesting happened. Had dinner at Boucq with Lt. Cooper and was given a Hun rifle. Returned and later drove several of the boys over to Nancy.
The Germans made a small attack this morning at Pont-à-Mousson. Also some air activity very early.
We had a squadron formation up today for the first time. Newspapers officially claim me as an “Ace.”
Bad weather so we started out for Chaumont but failed to reach same with the old Pic-Pic* so returned and wrote home and happiness.
[Note: “Pic-Pic” refers to a Swiss-built automobile by the Piccard-Pictet Company]
Lt. [Leonard C.] Hammond dropped his sharpshooter badge to Archie B. [antiaircraft battery]
Nothing doing until this evening. We tried out a squadron formation then left to escort some bombers back home. Only met one with 3 Huns, whom we could not get in touch with. Lt. [Hamilton] Coolidge was over with us for the first time. Many of our English bombing friends came over to have dinner. They certainly are a jolly lot and extended an invitation to come see them soon.
Certainly an eventful day. Was called out at 3 A.M. to find out what the attack was. I went down over the trenches and strafed same from about 500 meters and played over no man’s land for 30 minutes. Saw the Germans shelling with gas which was blown back on their own men. It was Americans first gas attack. Later on we drove to Lunéville with Lt. Taylor [and] United Press Assoc. Had a wonderful trip. Had dinner in “Nancy” on our return. On our way to Toul we saw a family of wild boars so tried to catch a young one but was run home by the mother. Ha Ha.
Had the old alarm clock awaken me at 2:30 A.M. hoping the weather would permit me to make the concentrated attacks on balloons. The weather continued bad all day.
Again the alarm clock awakened me at 2:30 but weather continues to be bad, so we are arranging a grand dance and party for tomorrow night.
The party was a complete success. I was detailed to get the English and French all feeling good soon as possible in order that they may not become bored. The boys had a very funny sign made up and hung it over the entrance to ladies dressing room. Its title was no “Man’s Land.”
Everybody feeling the effects of the night before. No one seemed at all mad at the Boche.
Had a combat this morning with 2 enemy biplace but no results as both guns jammed after firing about 20 rounds. Had a new man by the name of [Lt. Harold H.] Tittman with us. After the combat he could not be found and was not heard of until 4:30 P.M. just 6 kil. from Switzerland, another man of our squadron was lost near Switzerland a few hours later.
Weather was fine at 2:30 so I decided on our balloonaticing expedition. The attackers left at 4:00 A.M. The balance of the squadron left 4:25 for protection. I arrived over the lines at 5:00. Sailed off into Germany and came out on my balloon on arriving a few hundred meters from same. They opened up with antiaircraft and machine guns from all directions. I opened up but both guns jammed after about 20 rounds so I left for home in snake fashion. Arrived safely and found everybody else had returned for which I am very happy.
Have what they call the 3 day fever. Its rotten feeling. Orders arrived for the group to move tomorrow just east of Paris. Everybody seems real happy to have an opportunity at the big show. In addition to this good news we are promised 220 [horsepower] SPADs at once.
Moved this A.M. I went to the hospital at Coulommiers with very bad fever.
Still in hospital.
July 3, 1918-The 27th Squadron lost 2 more today. One of my hometown – [Lt. Walter B.] Wanamaker was his name. I must call on his family when returning home.
Big day. We left for Paris. Most of the boys had a big time. I spent a peaceful afternoon and returning then went to bed.
July 5, 1918-Arranged for a 230 [horsepower] SPAD which I will fly out tomorrow. Had a trial trip today. It certainly is a most wonderful Buss.
July 6, 1918-Arrived here OK with new plane. Heard the 95th Squadron lost 2 men today, certainly hard luck.
July 7, 1918-Lt. Meissner and Lt. Coolidge brought down an enemy plane today. Lt. [William W.] Chalmers has failed to return. Up to a late hour.
July 8, 1918-Was out on patrol this morning. Met 6 enemy planes. Had a combat without results. Have the SPAD in shape now and expect to go out tomorrow with a patrol. Just received news that we are moving tomorrow. Certainly we are leaving the finest home we have yet had.
July 9, 1918-We moved in great shape. The entire group was out in 3 hours but the plane we are now at…Gee it’s terrible.
Had my first trip over the lines today in the SPAD and not quite as well pleased with same as I expected to be.
July 10, 1918-This morning I made a patrol over the lines with several boys in Nieuports, but had a leak in my gas line and had to come home. This afternoon my right ear began to pain terribly so after some trouble they permitted me to go to Paris in Dr. Blake's Hospital. Found I had an abscess which they said would be operated on tomorrow.
July 11, 1918-Was lanced this morning and feels better. Am receiving wonderful treatment here. No doubt will be forced to stay about two days. Had a funny story today, a drunk ran up against a sign board which showed a woman in a bath tub where upon the drunk says, "I'll just whistle the Star Spangled Banner and make her stand up."
July 12, 1918-Had a bad night but feeling some better. Was visited by Miss Chase, a nurse here and a very sweet girl. Am hoping she will have dinner with me after I'm better. Have seen her before and have always wanted to meet her. As you see, fate is still kind.
July 13, 1918-Nothing of interest. Am feeling about the same.
July 14, 1918-*Big gun shooting in Paris*
France's Independence Day and they are surely making the most of it. Soldiers, American and French, started parading at 7:20 A.M. Sorry I cannot leave my bed.
July 15, 1918-Feeling some better. Our nurses are leaving today…hope we are fortunate in the replacements.
Gee, I heard the “Gross” Cannon this afternoon for the first time. No doubt it is a warning of the coming drive expected so long. Only fired three shells.
July 16, 1918-The large drive has started at midnight from Chateau Thierry to Reims and east to the Argonne Woods but have been held. Certainly I feel terrible at being laid up. Just now Mr. Large Gun is still firing into Paris. Great (San Francisco Lawyer story). “Judge: Can you…or you…must defend this man, do the best by him possible. I must have an interview granted.” After 3 hours absence he returned stating in his judgement he was guilty so advised him to leave and by now he must be many miles away. Doctor is now famous.
July 17, 1918-The big drive has not developed. Sirens everywhere. The French and Americans are holding theirs.
Rather sad news today. Quentin Roosevelt has been lost in combat over German territory.
I am feeling about the same. Nothing new only getting nervous and want to get out.
July 18, 1918-The large drive is practically finished, but the French and Americans have started to drive at midnight on the opposite side of Chateau Thierry and have advanced several miles capturing many prisoners.
July 19, 1918-French and Americans are going forward, having captured merely 15,000 prisoners and regained many miles of territory. Naturally, we are all very happy.
Was moved to Hospital #3 this morning in anticipation of many new patients at Dr. Blake's Hospital. This is certainly a pretty place. It has beautiful gardens.
July 20, 1918-Have been evacuated from #3 Hospital so I demanded my release which I have and am going to stay in a Hospital next the Mirabeau Hotel. Shall have another guest before evening. The ear is still recovering to my disappointment. The French and Americans are still pushing Mr. Hun back.
July 21, 1918-Feeling about the same. Not much better. Met Lt. Ferris at the Hotel this evening and was introduced to a Mrs. Chandler with him whom I took home. She later wanted invited me out for dinner tomorrow evening which I accepted.
July 22, 1918-News from the front about the same. Nothing new. Still advancing at some points.
Had dinner with Mrs. Chandler at her hotel. Enjoyed same very much. Had interesting evening but was unable to find out her status.
July 23, 1918-Feeling about the same. Was sent out to see the Hispano Motor Works. Met the chief engineer who took us around. Saw the new 300 H.P. which is a wonder and the 800* cannon which is automated for seven shots. Am having dinner tomorrow evening with him.
Met Capt. Marr last evening. Brought mail and news of Lt. [Fred W.] Norton of Columbus, O. having been lost going into Germany so far.
[Note: Puteaux 37mm Automatic Cannon]
July 24, 1918-Nothing new. Feeling about the same. Had a letter from Brad stating a recommendation for my return to America had gone through. Well I hope same comes thru last of November then I would be home for Xmas.
Had dinner with chief engineer Hispano Suiza last night at chateau just outside of Paris on the Seine River.
July 25, 1918-Am very happy today as one of the boys brought my mail in from the Front. Letters from friends all over America. The ear is not much better but am going back to the front regardless as there is much work to be done.
July 26, 1918-The news from home certainly has been encouraging. My condition is about the same.
Story of a Negro in the front lines was ask by his commander if they understood all the trench language. He said yes so Capt. ask him what 'over the top' meant. He stated 'nearer Jesus' and so it is with aviators we are nearer Heaven.
July 27, 1918-Capt Marr sent a car for me today but owing to lack of finances I was unable to leave.
Met Miss [illegible] today. She was looking fine.
July 28, 1918-Arrived back at the camp and certainly glad to be back but my ear is no better.
Was up to the front this afternoon with several of the boys. North Chateau Thierry saw American boys going the lines and artillery galore. While there saw an observation balloon shot at by anti-aircraft.
July 29, 1918-Gee but it’s tough to see one's friends going out, have them come back, and hear their stories of fights I should have been in. But c'est la guerre.
July 30, 1918-The boys were out this evening. Came back after a hard fight with great odds. Thought they had lost several but later all showed up. Naturally we are happy.
July 31, 1918-Had my first hop in 3 weeks. Felt rather odd. However I'm crazy to get back but don't dare.
They certainly are losing many aviators there. 6 of the 27th Squadron failed to return today.
Lt. Winslow was lost this evening. Seems as though after the fight he was not seen again. The group lost 9 men today.
Had my first trip over the lines today during which a free for all fight took place. Lt Loomis was run home by four Huns and forced to land just in our lines without trouble. My luck there are plenty of Huns in this sector.
We were to go on patrol this morning but bad weather prevented same.
Bad weather again, so we left for Paris. Had dinner and a good time. Met [Everett] Buckley who escaped from Germany short time ago. The Americans and French have advanced again.
Left Paris arrived at the camp to find operations had been stopped for a few days. Buckley came out to stay a few days with us. Again the Allies have advanced many miles on this section up to the river Aisne. My ear is still “raising cain” but am hoping it will improve soon.
No flying today. Tried out my idea on gas tank which would not burn, by building one tank around the other and leaving a space of 1/8” between which I filled with pyrene which prevents the air from coming in contact with incendiary bullet. Fired two explosive incendiary bullets thru same, neither affecting the gas, am going to have experimental dept. take up same.
Our bad weather continues maybe it is just as well for my ear is some worse and I’m praying to God same will get better soon, for if it don’t I realize the war is over for me this year. My gas tank is going to be given official trial in the next day or so.
Again bad weather.
Noon: The day has cleared and expect to have a little ride over the lines.
3:00PM: Order for protection job just arrived. Landed at Coincy to refill, started out to protect two French SPADs. Arrived on the lines saw nine Huns. The second time in one pulled up, rather down, on the SPAD. I pulled up got 50 rounds at him when my motor back fired. I thought same had been hit so over I went into a dive. Got my motor again and came back. Reed Chambers shot about 150 rounds thinks he got same. Let’s hope so.
Weather again bad.
Had a patrol over Fère en Tardenois no results. Returned to Coincy and refilled then started out for protection job over Fismes. On arriving at the lines saw 8 Huns going into the sun. We made two trips over the objective when I saw the Boche dive. I gave the signal and all returned safely. After which I returned had two bursts at a Hun and returned. Saw the 77 Division going into the line. Gee, but they were a grinning lot, just as thick.
Out on patrol today we met five Huns at which we dived several times without any results. They were below and in Germany. Naturally with several new men in my patrol I could not take the chances as if I were alone.
Made a trip to Coincy for Major Atkinson. Got lost over Epernay for a few moments, we have decided to stau here four or five days more.
Today while flying quite low over Fismes we engaged a biplace without results. Lt. [Walter W.] Smyth was with me and he sure is a brick for sticking the way he did. Saw many Huns over the lines, none of them seemed afraid of the Allied planes in the air, as theirs were many.
While on patrol we met 7 Hun planes of which we attacked without results. During the combat my guns jammed but was forced to stay [on] account of two of my formation was still fighting. It’s very exciting to stay on in a combat and dive on a Hun knowing your guns will not work. If he only knew!
Was out today with another squadron to give protection to a Salmson photo plane. Just before we were assembled he had motor trouble and was forced to land so we came home. My ear is still rather bad. I’m praying to God same will get well soon so I shan’t go to a hospital.
Very Sad Day
My ear was feeling very bad this A.M. so I stayed off the patrol. During the patrol it seems they were just ready to leave when some Huns appeared over them so the leader started diving. Lt. Walter Smyth and Lt. [Alexander B.] Bruce collided in the dive. Lt. Smyth’s wings were torn off leaving both spiraling towards Mother Earth…both being killed instantly. It’s terribly hard for Lt Smyth’s Dear Old Mother will never be able to live thru same.
Decided to go to Paris and stay in a Hospital until I was “well.” On arriving found the Doctor out so to bed I went. After a while he arrived and upon examining me decided to operate tomorrow for mastoid.
Today I was operated on about 1:00 P.M. It was a success and I am feeling quite some better.
Am doing well hope to continue.
During the night a fine young chap who was in the bed next to mine died. He just passed away while asleep…was shot thru the lung and pneumonia set in causing the death. Today we were moving up to the Verdun sector. Certainly, I am sorry not to be along with them but “C’est la guerre.”
Nothing new only I’m getting along fine.
Feeling better today. After lunch Lt. Europe’s Band came across the way and played. While sitting on the balcony listening, a little girl who is nursing here came up and ask me to go down with her. Would I? Gee, ten years of my life for the chance. Have seen her only a few times before but always came into me a thrill such as has been unknown in my past life. Then, after dinner she bought me some ice cream. Hardly let myself feel she may care. (Yet)
Feeling better today. The chap who is rooming with was operated on yesterday…he has one leg off now and the other is infected at the knee. Gosh, how a doctor must work and what a bloody job it is, I’d rather meet 50 Huns in the air alone than have their job.
Nothing new, feeling fine and am hoping to be out much sooner than I expected.
Mr. Bradley was up this afternoon and wanted to know if I would write a book for the Class Journal Co. of America on aviation and my experiences. It rather thrills me to think of it, but decided I would think it over and let him know.
My friend Fauntleroy brought up some ice cream cones. Gee, but they were good.
It was a week ago today I arrived here from the Front. My, I feel much better than then. My little girl friend came to the room and we had a very interesting chat. She’s a Little Dear, certainly would be a happy boy to have such a girl wonder about me now and then. Where there’s life there’s hope. An old friend of mine called this afternoon. Mr. Millard one of our first American aviators. He is over with a mission on aeroplanes with Howard [C.] Marmon. Faunt [Fauntleroy] brought me some more ice cream.
A new chapter has been started in my already adventuresome career. Have decided to write a book on my experiences and observations on “War in the Air”. Chapter No. 1 is completed titled “Down in Flames” it is very interesting change, my only hope is that the inspiration will last.
Dear Ole Faunt [Fauntleroy] brought up some more fruit today and it was more than welcome.
Story told by Lt. McAllister while in the Hospital sure is a peach regarding Soldier being wounded where he could not tell the lady.
Out for the first time this A.M. Indeed I felt good. Lt Fauntleroy arrived about noon and we went down to Josephine’s for lunch, after which I returned to the Hospital and witnessed an operation on a boy’s lung there was quite a large piece of shrapnel taken out in addition to pieces of ribs. Surgery is certainly a wonderful profession.
Was rather surprised today when Lt. Reed Chambers called on me. Stated Major Atkinson had command of the Wing and Major [Harold E.] Hartney has 1st Pursuit Group. Had lunch with Faunt [Fauntleroy] again today which was great.
Am feeling very good.
Had lunch today with one of the nurses and a very interesting talk which I hope will do her some good in the future. Am out for dinner this evening with Faunt [Fauntleroy] may call on Millard if all goes well.
Called up Major Hartney this morning and he is to send my plane in and we will change carburetors here.
After Lunch I drove out to Boucq with Faunt [Fauntleroy] saw the new SPAD biplace which is a peach also a baby Farman 2 cylinder monoplane, the smallest flying plane I have ever seen, only a speed of 70 kil. per hour. In all I had a fine time today.
Was extended an invitation to Madame la Duchesse de Talleyrand Chateau du Marais at Lt. Cheron S. & O. She is the young lady who put up 5,000 [francs] of the Tillman prize. Certainly I shall enjoy going if only for a few days.
Talked to Major Hartney this morning about [Capt. Thomas G.] Cassady and [Lt. William T.] Ponder.*
[Notes: Cassady and Ponder were American pilots who flew with the French Lafayette Flying Corps prior to transferring to the US Army Air Service in August 1918.]
Have had an unusual day. 3 of the boys brought in some mail and all the scandal, Buckley was along, then I had lunch with the Drs. Mrs., later visiting some patients. Then called at the Library and had a long talk with Miss Wilson, making an engagement for dinner at her apartment Wednesday night.
Just recovering, getting around Paris. Had dinner with [Albert] Guyot, [Jeane] Chassagne, [Joseph] Christians, [André] Boillot this evening at Maxim’s. This morning I kept a date to meet one of the nurses at her hotel. She did not think I would come, so on arriving the door was open so in I walked making myself at home. You should have seen the surprised expression when she entered. Ha. Ha.
[Note: Albert Guyot, Jeane Chassagne, Joseph Christians, and André Boillot were famous Grand Prix racers.]
Today I called upon Howard Marmon who is in town and we had a very interesting chat. The Dr. told me I was to leave the hospital tomorrow, am later going to a Hotel. Drove down to Chateau du Marois at St. Cheron called on Madame la Duchesse de Talleyrand, but found they were in Paris.
Today Faunt [Fauntleroy] and I drove out to the Morane works and saw the new 450 Buggatti plane,* it certainly is a beauty.
Called on Miss Wilson at her Apt. 29 [illegible] enjoyed dinner very much. Left the Hospital this A.M. checked in at the Hotel Mirabeau.
[Note: Morane-Saulnier AN with 450 hp Bugatti U-16 engine]
Nothing of interest but joy ride around with Fauntleroy.
More joy riding. Am planning on leaving tomorrow.
After a great deal of waiting Lt. Downes and I got started in Col. Mitchell’s Mercedes for Ligny-en-Barrois, nearly crashed into a buggy stopped over at [illegible] for the night. Started out the following morning.
Left at 8:00 this morning just out a few miles where our rear wheel came off ruining the chain guard. After an hour’s work we again started for Ligny after many little troubles we arrived safely. Finally got to talk to Col. Mitchell after which he gave me “Hell” for bringing out his car. Left and arrived at the sq. [squadron] after midnight at Rembercourt.
Certainly feel at Home again had my plane out over St. Mihiel this P.M. for about 1 hour. My machine guns were jamming considerable so am having a new one put on.
Rained all night and all day, nothing of interest. Wired Faunt [Fauntleroy] to get me a plane ready and expect to go in after same Thursday.
Boy by the name of [William W.] Fowler of the old Los Angeles Times joined our squadron today.
Rained all day.
Report came in last night at midnight that the big show would start tomorrow, that’s today at 5:00 A.M. Which it did. We were ordered out early but rain prevented until noon when Lt. Chambers and I went up to Verdun then back down to the 3 fingered lake. Saw German artillery retreating which I shot at, they ran into nearby field! Good news the Army advanced to Thiaucourt about 5 kil. all along the lines also St. Mihiel, wired Faunt [Fauntleroy] to bring my plane out soon as possible.
Lt. Chambers and I went out this morning on reconnaissance patrol flying about 200 [ft.] high as the clouds prevented going higher. I went out alone this afternoon after going above clouds found the sky clear, then dove down over German lines to look over same. While flying over a village was machine gunned from the ground, one bullet entering my fuselage right under my seat. Lt. Chambers brings back the sad news that Lt. [David E.] Putnam was killed yesterday attacking 12 Boche, he was ace of America’s aces.
Went out alone this morning met 4 Fokkers with red wings and white fuselages evidently Richthofen’s Gang. I was above it fired about 200 rounds into the last man who apparently went down out of control. Then saw five more but they were not so brave, Lt. [Sumner] Sewall was set on fire but landed safely in our lines. Went out this afternoon with all our squadron but saw nothing. German prisoners would be satisfied if they could only see America’s 3 machine gun. Ha. Ha.
Out alone this morning and met six Fokkers flying on their lines. Played up and down the lines with them for 20 minutes when they dove and I on the rear man fired about 150 rounds into him when I left. Went out to get confirmations. Got lost in the woods behind St. Mihiel then saw 2 of our Balloons go down in flames. Confirmation on today’s Boche by Balloon Co. #3-16 and from an infantry officer on yesterday’s Hun. Returned to the camp about 8:00 P.M. I am now Ace of America’s Aces.
Had 2 lone flights today first without results, second chased 3 Fokkers back about 8 kil. Lt. [Frank] Luke of the 27th Squadron got 2 balloons last evening making 8 in 4 days. He left about 7:00 P.M. shot his first down at 7:20 second 7:25 both were seen to fall in flames from our field. He returned after dark, landed with flares and was shot at all the way home by French.
Lt. [John H.] Jeffers fell asleep returning to hangar only short way from field woke up in a stall at 800 meters with dead stick made a good forced landing on side of hill.
Awakened at 4:30 this morning thinking I should find a Hun on our side of the lines, but when trying to start my motor one of the magnetos was bad so it has taken the entire day to get same in shape again.
Was recommended for the DFC [Distinguished Flying Cross] and [promotion to] Capt., whether I get it remains to be seen.
Lt [Waldo H.] Heinrichs was forced to land as prisoner in Germany doing a fight with nine enemy planes.
Plane still out of commission. Lt. Luke went out after balloons today shot down 2, had a fight with 2 Fokkers, then shot down one and returned over Verdun. Next a biplace Hun and shot him down all in about 30 minutes. This making 14 victories in 6 days. His pal Lt. [J.F.] Wehner was shot down in a fight over Hun land while protecting Luke. Lt. William Taylor was shot down in flames doing a fight this P.M. he was one of the original 95th Squadron.
Went to Verdun this A.M. with Major Hartney to get Luke, saw the Hun which he shot down. Had a little party for Lt. Luke at our mess this evening he certainly is a Great Boy made a world’s record in 6 days for shooting down Hun balloons and planes. Capt. Marr received his Majortey today from Washington. He, Lt. Chambers, [Robert Z.] Cates, and [Harbey W.] Cook went to Paris this morning by car.
Am in command of the Squadron and trying my darnedest to get same in shape again. Was out on patrol this evening with 4 other Boys saw five Huns far in Germany and millions of SPADs.
Made one patrol today but saw no enemy planes. Mr. Taylor of the United Press Ass. called so I gave him some more Gimper stories. Col. Mitchell was out also and I believe it was arranged for Major Marr’s future.
Rained nearly all day, had a patrol out this A.M. This afternoon I arranged for a show in our Hangar with Elizabeth Brice, Margaret Mayo, and Lois Meredith, Bill Morrissey, Tommy Gray, and a Mr. Walker was a [howling] success. Rained this evening and all the boys were very happy, then sent them home.
Rained all day. Drove down to Bar-le-Duc saw the folks and arranged for a party Wednesday evening at the Majors quarters. Lt. Chambers and myself went up to get confirmations, just after getting one we were returning to car when shell burst 100 meters away. You should have seen us both dive into a shell hole.
Lt. [Wilbert W.] White of the 147th Squadron was out after balloons, it was very dark, saw a black object below, dove and fired about 200 shots at it. When he found it was an archie [anti-aircraft] shell burst.
Major Marr came back this morning after having run into a rock pile while asleep. Gave the mechanics a little talk this morning on the coming push.
Was made C.O. of the 94th Aero Squadron today, which makes me very happy as I have been with this squadron for its existence, and it was the first American Chase Squadron to do active duty over the lines.
<8th and 9th Victory>
While out patrolling the lines this morning I met up with 5 Fokkers protecting two biplace. I dived onto the rear man, got him, then went thru their formation. Scared them nearly to death. They retired giving me a chance at one of the biplaces which I got, then returning home had confirmation on the biplace. Returned and got the party going at Major Hartney’s quarters. It was a grand success. Am very fond of Lois Meredith and know she is in favor of my acquaintance.
The attack opened up at 2:00 A.M. with a terrible barrage. We were ordered to attack balloons before daylight. Left the camp at 5:20 A.M. with landing flares then flew to the Front at 1,000 meters. It was a most wonderful sight, seemed as though there were millions of guns going from Rheims to Lunéville. Met one Fokker north of Verdun, came directly at each other firing both guns. My propeller was shot away and was just able to land at Verdun.
Raining this morning so drove up to Fleury and saw Miss Meredith. Then went to Verdun to locate Lt. [Alden B.] Sherry and [Alan] Nutt was unable to get information. Lt. Sherry phoned in later, Lt. Nutt’s plane was seen badly crashed in no man’s land.
<My 11th Victory>
Left Camp at 5:20 A.M. flying low up the Meuse River to Villy, then returned over Sivry-sur-Meuse, met enemy balloon being hauled by truck towards me. Fired about 150 rounds and it went down in flames. I returned. Lt. Sherry was forced down by five Fokkers and landed in no man’s land, had to get into a [shell] hole. Lt. Nutt was in a fight with 3 [Fokkers], shot one down in flames and was then shot down himself. Lt. Sherry buried him where he fell.
Rained most of the day so did not go out. Lt. Luke has not showed up today. Lt. Cook got his second balloon this P.M.
Lt. Chambers and [Samuel] Kaye of my squadron shot down a Fokker the A.M.
Col. Mitchell arrived this P.M. [at] 6:30 stating 11 troop trains had left Metz and they wanted several volunteers to fly about 60 kil. in Germany to locate same. Lt. Cook, Lt. Coolidge, and myself started out at dark. On the way back over, search lights picked me up and being unable to [answer] their signal, was fired on all the way home. Landing at 8:00 P.M. by flares it was a great sensation.
Was out this afternoon with the crowd but unable to get near several Huns on other side of the lines. Came back and took out another plane. Went over to Pont-á-Mousson, up the river Moselle to Arry, then back over to the 3 fingered lake where I found a Hun balloon on the ground, set it in flames. Crossed over lines and was again picked up by search lights and shot at all the way home. Col. Mitchell and Gen. Pershing’s aide saw me land.
Was out this evening and met one Hannover biplace over Montfaucon. Fired about 130 rounds he was later seen to land. A few minutes later ran into 7 Fokkers, fired about 200 rounds and was forced down very near ground. Thought my days were ended.
Lt. Cook got another balloon this morning on the ground west of Grandpre.
<13th and 14th Victories>
Was out this morning but nothing happened.
Had a balloon strafing on this afternoon. Lt. Coolidge got one balloon, 1 Fokker, and was in with me on a biplace (my first in our lines). Lt. [Wiley S.] Sparks, [Thorne C.] Taylor, and [William W.] Palmer got one Fokker in Germany. I got another biplace in Germany. Lt. [Eugene R.] Scroggie and Lt. [Walter L.] Avery of Columbus have failed to return, we have hopes for Scroggie.
Nothing new today, found out we had a good Hannover plane* just north of Montfaucon.
[Note: Victory confirmed from combat previous day]
Left early this morning to get Hannover plane which Chambers and I brought down north of Montfaucon, went out and saw it, then sent the boys after same. While we were viewing the scenery from Montfaucon several Hun shells, some not over ten feet away, with dirt falling on us for five minutes. After, I got several souvenirs from another Hun plane brought down by anti-aircraft.
Were ordered out on a balloon strafing party, so promptly at 11 o’clock Lt. Coolidge brought down same in flames, everybody returning safely. Started out at noon to get confirmations on Lt. [Samuel] Kaye and [John H.] Jeffers planes, also bring back Fokker plane. On arriving, found Huns dropping so many shells was unable to get close to Artillery officer or Fokker plane. Left Boys up there to bring same back.
Weather has been terrible; however, we had a patrol this afternoon but nothing of interest happened. Saw several Huns but no fights.
Weather getting worse but no patrols. Went down to Bar-le-Duc and met Miss Meredith. Had a very pleasant talk. Our Fokker arrived the A.M. and we shall have some very interesting times and pictures with same.
Went down to Bar-le-Duc saw Miss Meredith for just a few moments and promised to be in Paris if possible.
Was out last evening on a balloon strafing mission. Found one just west of [Dun-sur-Meuse] about 6:00 P.M. Came back and landed, found Mr. Col. [Thomas D.] Milling was on the job*. Balloon was confirmed by phone late this P.M.
[Note: Col. Thomas D. Milling replaced Col. William Mitchell as Chief of the Air Service, American Expeditionary Forces]
<17th and 18th Victories>
Had a concentrated patrol over [Dun-sur-Meuse] after balloons. Did not see balloons but was attacked by five Fokkers. Lt. [Wilbert W.] White and a Fokker collided both killed. Lt. [William E.] Brotherton was hit from the ground, caught fire, and forced to land*. I got one Fokker in flames and think another. Lt. Chambers and Lt. Coolidge brought down Fokkers.
[Note: Lt. White and Lt. Brotherton were assigned to the 147th Aero Squadron]
Bad weather all day. This afternoon we decided to go to Paris for a few days. Arrived in Paris 12:00 P.M. had a terrible time getting a room today. President Wilson wired Germany*. What could be done if they wanted peace?
[Note: Rickenbacker references President Woodrow Wilson’s response to Germany’s request for an armistice]
Called on [Fauntleroy] and he is going to take care of my SPAD. Also met Miss Meredith and had dinner with her at Maxims. The weather has been awful dull but am enjoying myself very much.
Most wonderful news today. Germany has agreed to accept all of President Wilson’s peace terms and it looks very much as though the war was over. Have had a most delightful day with Miss Meredith. Am now America’s Ace of Aces. Have one more Boche than any other American aviator has ever shot down.
After breakfast called on the engineers of [illegible] Motor, had several pictures taken. Had lunch at Maxims with Bradley. Later went shopping with Miss Meredith.
Left Paris at 10:30. Stopped at [illegible] and returned home, which made me very happy as all the boys were glad to see me.
Terrible weather but am glad of same, absolutely no flying.
Very bad weather all day. Saw Major [Maxwell] Kirby about the wireless telephone which we immediately ordered. Was up to Souilly and got the confirmation for my 18th Hun. Capt. [Merian C.] Cooper is staying with me and is going to take pictures of the Hun planes we have in our squadron.
Had many good pictures taken this A.M. by Capt. Cooper. We were going to make our movie of the Hun planes this afternoon, had everything arranged. Went up [with] Lt. Chambers, also went up with the Hannover, but Lt. Meissner on taking off crashed the Liberty, so it was postponed until tomorrow. Major Hartney told me this evening that we were to be decorated by General [Mason M.] Patrick tomorrow and that I was to receive the DSC with 4 oak leaves. 4 of our Boys brought down a Halberstadt this afternoon, making Lt. Cook an Ace.
Awakened this morning with a grand and glorious feeling. Went over to Belrain [Aerodrome]—Second Pursuit Group where the decoration took place. There were several boys decorated, Major General Patrick and General Mitchell did the decorating. I was awarded D.S.C. with 4 oak leaves and no doubt have more coming. Was out on patrol this afternoon but bad weather prevented any Huns coming out, so we decided to come back.
Terrible weather. Understand from Capt. [Henry L.] Lyster that the French decorations were coming thru.
Was out on patrol today, but saw nothing of interest. Very bad weather. Capt. Cooper finally got his movies this afternoon. Lt. Chambers flew the Hannover, Lt. Taylor was his observer, Lt. Meissner flew the Liberty with Capt. Cooper, and I flew my SPAD. We had all incendiary bullets to fire at each other doing combat, flares for putting Hun on fire, and a dummy cropped out as the observer doing the action. French Breguets passed over the field and fired on Chambers in the Hun plane with its crosses on. He landed safely, then I went above clouds and Cooper made some beautiful pictures.
<19th and 20th Victories>
Lt. Cook got a balloon this morning in flames. I drove the Liberty for Cooper while taking pictures of Germany and myself. Picture titled “Over the Lines with the Ace of Aces.” While on patrol this evening Chambers shot down 2 Huns, Lt. Jeffers shot down one, I got one in flames and possibly another. Certainly one proud of the 94th Squadron and to be in command of same.
Germany answered President Wilson’s note agreeing to all terms.
Had a patrol this morning but no results.
While out this afternoon saw a German plane bring down one of our balloons then fly for his lines. I started for Germany to lead him off and was watching him so closely that I awakened amid 4 Fokkers evidently his protection. Had about 100 rounds at close range, but did not follow him down as I was busy with the other 3 and trying to get home.
Bad weather prevented flying today so there was nothing much doing.
Quit smoking today.
Again bad weather, nothing to do so we decided arrange for night flying for Bourges but there was no weather for night flying.
Col. [Elbert J.] Hall was out this afternoon investigating new planes. He has a new monoplane which is very fast and reliable also a [Sopwith] Dolphin 300 H.P. which they are going to permit me to try on the Front.
Bad weather again so took Lt. Chambers to Bar-le-Duc as he was going to Paris for an operation. Met several newspaper men who are going to be out for dinner tomorrow. Was out in my new plane today which worked only fair, saw nothing worthwhile, drove up and saw Cooper this evening, had dinner there. Was informed my Captaincy came thru tonight.
<22nd and 23rd Victories>
Had one patrol this morning, but weather was terrible so came back, had dinner with Max Foster and 2 other newspaper boys. While out this afternoon I met 3 Fokkers just west of Grandpre one of which I fired about 150 rounds into, then over Bois-de-Mercy met a Fokker after one of our bombers. Must have shot his motor as he started down with dead stick maneuvered so he would land in France just before landing another SPAD piqued and fired on the Fokker. I forced him away Capt. Coolidge was downed by an Archie [antiaircraft].
Went up to where Capt. Coolidge fell, it was just a few kil. east of Grandpre and about 400 meters behind our lines. It was a terrible sight, the motor was four feet in the ground and poor Ham [Hamilton] on top all burnt to a crisp. Saw several combats and had several shells drop right near our car on the way back.
Newspaper prints account of my engagement to Miss [Priscilla] Dean a movie queen which is not true.
Nothing of importance. Was going out on patrol but was forced to come back. Was out this afternoon for a short time but weather was terrible.
Lt. [Edward G.] Garnsey of our [squadron] failed to return tonight. Outpost at Hill 272 reports him shot down and killed by enemy Fokker.
Austria asks for peace on the Allied terms.
<24th and 25th Victories>
Out this morning saw one biplace, fired several rounds without results.
While on patrol this afternoon saw 2 Fokkers of Richthofen’s Circus pique on our formation. I turned into Germany and met them, fired about 100 rounds at close range saw huge crash when landing, the other beat it. On my return flew over a balloon in its bed, dove down and fired about 75 rounds, it burst into flames. I returned safely.
Capt. [Fauntleroy] arrived today so we arranged for him to stay with the 94th [Squadron].
At noon, saw a boy catch fire over the field and dive to the ground, bursting into flames. He was taken from the plane in a very bad condition by a mechanic whom I have awarded or recommended for medal. Lt. Sidney White was his name of 27th [Squadron].
Orders for tomorrow bring out the fact that it is “D” day and no doubt this is the last great battle of the World War.
Note: This item is currently in storage
In commemoration of the Centennial of World War I, the National Museum of the United States Air Force will regularly post excerpts from Capt Edward V. Rickenbacker's 1918 wartime diary. These begin with Saturday, March 2, 1918, the date Rickenbacker began capturing his experiences in France.
Click here to return to the Featured World War I Artifacts index.
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