In a recent number of The Bookman, Lawrence Perry discussed the tainted odor of modern fiction, with special reference to novels of the college campus written by precocious artists with tired eyes who drain the cup of existence to the dregs when they are not much more than old enough to vote. The gist of the argument was that the athlete as a hero is regarded as obsolete and childish. His simple standards of courage and clean-mindedness and duty belong in the Victorian rubbish-heap. And yet Lawrence Perry is bold enough to question the prevailing slant and goes on to say:
Di Gates of Yale, the dashing tackle of 1916, the gallant gentleman, the true sportsman, and in 1917‑18 the naval aviator with the cold waters of the North Sea tumbling beneath him — if he had shortcomings, those who were in college with him and those who knew him in the service have no recollections of any. Withal, he possessed one very material shortcoming; he lacked every qualification that would have inspired the average author of the average type of novel we are reading these days to accept him, or his sort, as the leading character. Yet again, why should this be so?
Are Gates and Johnny Overton and Hobey Baker and Tim Callahan and all the rest of those who in their strong and beautiful prime walked in lofty places artistically outlawed as fictional types?
It is greatly to be doubted. In truth, so far as artistic achievement is concerned, let it stand as an axiom — or at least as a sound and legitimate subject for argument — that there is far greater difficulty in devising a clean and uplifting theme and thereupon carrying it forward through some three hundred or p314 more pages in a decent, wholesome, and of course, salable manner, than there is in formulating situations that bear upon the triumph of illicit love and other tangents of unrestrained youth and unregenerate middle age.
. . . Not without a feeling of venturesomeness the opinion herewith is hazarded that in ghostly array in a not distant, even if nebulous foreground, prototypes of Di Gates and Hobey Baker and Johnny Poe and Hack McGraw are awaiting the summons to the printed page; and that when they are drafted they will be greeted by combined frog choruses and locomotives and long-drawn Puritan rahs, not to mention a susurrus of feminine sighs, that will relegate present modes of the pen to the lumber room of things that are no longer done. Not only that, we may with some confidence look for antiphonal applause from the earnest Elizabethan Club and its sisters in places far flung from New Haven.
My friend Sam Blythe, of the Saturday Evening Post, is a person with a very wide and varied experience of men and things. Concerning the motives of politicians and others who parade to the sound of tom‑toms, he is apt to be cynical and disillusioned. In short, he seldom slops over. In the course of a tour to several foreign naval bases during the war, he made a genial appearance at Dunkirk which impressed him as being anything else than a health resort or a place in which tired business men might rest their nerves. He was kept so busy side-stepping shells and bombs that his impressions were hectic, like my own, but etched clear in his mind was the American station and its commanding officer, Lieutenant Artemus L. Gates. And as soon as he found a quieter nook, he sat down and wrote:
If you know about college football, you know about Gates, sometime captain of the Yale team. As my knowledge of college football is entirely incidental, I didn't know about Gates, and the first time I heard of him was when Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, the great British sailor who was the inspiring genius of the blockading operations at Zeebrugge and Ostend, the man who sent the Vindictive in, told me about him at Dover, speaking p315 as one brave man speaks of another, albeit Gates was only a lieutenant in our naval air forces and Keyes a vice-admiral with four rows of ribbons on his tunic signifying that he has received at the hands of his Government and the Admiralty about all there is in the way of honors and rewards.
'A very gallant officer,' said the Admiral, and he related the incident he had in mind, which was this:
One afternoon, when Gates was at our naval air station at Dunkirk, a signal came in that a British plane had been shot down by the Germans up the coast and had fallen in the sea within range of the German shore guns. All the naval radios at Dunkirk picked up the signal and there was an immediate scurry to get to the rescue of the wrecked aviators. Gates jumped to a seaplane that was moored in the water, without waiting for assistance or company and aid in the way of observers and machine‑gun men, set the propeller whirling, and was off alone at •ninety miles an hour. He reached the spot where the aviators were in the water clinging to the remains of their machines, potted at by the Germans on shore, and swooped down beside them, landing with perfect skill and control, regardless of the wicked fire that came from the Huns. He pulled the wrecked aviators onto his plane, made his run along the water, rose, turned, and whooped back to Dunkirk, meeting the other rescuers who were coming out in other planes and in coastal motor-boats, saving the lives of two Englishmen who gleefully waved their hands at the oncomers and motioned them to go back, not only because Gates had saved them, but because the Huns were very angry over the whole business and were plastering the seascape thereabouts with machine‑gun bullets and shrapnel.
'A very gallant officer,' said Admiral Keyes. 'I have recommended him for a decoration.'
I came across the Channel next day in an English destroyer, landing at Dunkirk, and Gates was a fellow guest with me at luncheon with Commodore Larkin, British Commandant at the Port. Gates was big, broad-shouldered, smiling, modest, deprecating any mention of this exploit or of any of his other exploits, and though he commanded the American station with the Dunkirk section of our naval aviators under him, almost shy. I told him what the Admiral had said to me. He blushed and fidgeted.
p316 'It was nothing,' he said. 'Any one of the fellows would have done it.'
This was the first time I saw Gates. The last time I saw him was after ten o'clock a few nights later, standing on the steps of the house where the senior officers messed, silhouetted against the light from the open door, big, laughing, full of the joy of life, an officer every inch of his •six feet of brawn, telling the British commander and me how to get through the Stygian streets of Dunkirk, past the inner and outer gates, and where to pick up the road that would take us to the place where we were going.
. . . Five or six weeks later, I returned to Dunkirk. I asked for Gates.
'He's gone,' they said at the station.
'We don't know. We wish we did.'
Then I heard the story. When the big Allied offensive began, a few days before, in that section, early in October, Gates asked permission to fly in a land machine with the French who were going over to do battle with the Huns. He wanted to get into it. He was a great pilot, and the French were glad to have him. So one morning he took his seat in a fighting machine and started off with a French formation. Presently they met some Germans who outnumbered them two to one. The French, skilled tacticians in the air, maneuvered to get beneath them. With the same spirit he had shown on the gridiron, Gates flew at them. They got him. When the French fliers came back, the ominous 'failed to return' was written after the name of Gates in the report.
As I write he is still carried as missing on the rolls. If he is alive, the Navy will welcome him back as one of their best. If he is dead, hail and farewell! Gates was a type of the fearless, light-hearted men who have been flying for us in France. As such I tell his story. Gallants all of them, many have failed to return, but not one of them who didn't go out as Gates went out, eager for the encounter, discounting the ultimate, seized of no other desire than to uphold the traditions of the service and to advance the cause of their country.
This is how it appeared to the veteran journalist. The rescue of those imperiled British aviators under fire from the coast was, to Gates, an episode of the day's work and p317 to be regarded as such. It was a welcome break in the routine. His promptitude, skill, and disregard of his own safety were what might have been expected. This was what he had been trained for. He could honestly see no reason for making a fuss about it. The officials of the British, French, and American Governments chose to regard it as notable among the many deeds of valor performed by their soldiers and sailors.
The first report was prepared by Major W. L. Welsh, commanding the 61st Wing, R. A. F., and addressed to Captain Lambe. It read:
At 0730, A. S. Patrol 1600, Lieut. Gregory and Lieut. Johnson, U. S. Forces, landed at St. Pol and reported an Allied machine down in sea approximately 8′ Mag. N. of Ostend at 0720. The machine was recognized to be a H. P. and two of the occupants were seen, one on either wing tip. I immediately rung up Commander Clarke of the Commodore's staff and informed him, and as I was doubtful as to whether any surface craft would be able to approach the wreck, I asked the C. O. American Seaplanes to send a machine out.
The Fighter Squadrons were warned to stand by to provide an escort. Two C. M.'s left at 0820, and 3 D.H.‑4s were sent to lead them to the wreck. Thirteen Camels and 204 and 213 Squadrons were sent as escort to C. M. B.'s and American seaplanes. Lieut. Gates in the seaplane left at 0830, and proceeded straight to the wreck. The D.H.‑4s were then in the vicinity. The seaplane landed at 0900 and took off the crew of the H. P. The C. M. B.'s arrived just as the seaplane was leaving.
The position of the wreck was fixed by the C. M. B.'s in 51.17 N., 2.44 E. The tail was out of the water and there was about 6″ of water on the top plane. Lieut. Hetherington and A. G. Kennedy, U. S. N., were picked up. Lieut. Fletcher, Observer, was drowned, and is still in the machine. The pilot states that he was forced to land apparently owing to a petrol tank being hit, at 2355 last night, •four miles to sea just W. of Nieuport. The machine was breaking up when the crew was taken off.
It is submitted that attention may be drawn to the conduct of Lieutenant Gates, U. S. N., for the promptness in which he p318 got to the wreck. He left the Camels with the C. M. B.'s and proceeded directly to the Handley-Page unescorted and took off the two occupants in a very short time. This officer has on other occasions rendered valuable assistance to British machines in distress.
In forwarding this report to Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes at Dover, Captain Lambe took occasion to say:
I further desire to bring to your notice the very gallant conduct of Lieut. Artemus L. Gates, U. S. N., with a view to his name being submitted to their Lordships for the reward of such decoration as may be considered desirable.
Lieut. Gates, who is now in command of the U. S. N. seaplanes, at once went to the rescue himself, flying a three-seater seaplane. He carried no gun‑layers in order that he might be able to bring away as many passengers as possible. He was aware of the close proximity of the wreck to the enemy's coast, and was totally unable to protect himself from attacks by enemy aircraft.
I consider that this officer carried out an act requiring skill and bravery of the highest degree in the face of the enemy.
It was the good pleasure of their Lordships of the Admiralty to award Lieutenant Gates the Distinguished Flying Cross. Admiral Sims sent the British reports to the Navy Department with this endorsement:
It is considered that Lieutenant Gates's action is worthy of the best traditions of our service and it is therefore recommended that he be given a Medal of Honor, and if consistent with the Department's present policy, that he be advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
Gates received the Distinguished Service Medal from his own Government and was promoted to the grade of Lieutenant Commander on April 1, 1919, to rank from October 1, 1918. Another honor of importance was the official letter of commendation from the Secretary of the Navy. This was sent to him after his return to the United States.
To: Lieutenant A. L. Gates, U. S. N. R. F.
1. The Department is in receipt of a communication from the Commander U. S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters enclosing correspondence concerning your gallant conduct in going to the assistance of the wrecked Handley-Page machine on August 22, 1918; copies of this correspondence are attached hereto for your information.
2. The Department has read with pleasure the account of your gallant action in going to the aid of Lieutenant Hetherington, R. A. F., and A. G. Kennedy, E‑2c, U. S. N., as described in the above-mentioned correspondence, and notes especially that you proceeded to the rescue without gun‑layers, although aware that you were totally unable to protect yourself from attack by enemy aircraft, and in order that your plane might have a greater passenger carrying capacity.
3. Your action on this occasion reflects credit on the Naval Service and merits the highest commendation of the Department, which is hereby extended to you.
4. A copy of this correspondence will be filed with your official efficiency record.
Dave Ingalls has other recollections of 'Di' Gates at Dunkirk besides this conspicuous affair of the wrecked British Handley-Page. The fact is, one has to depend a good deal upon what others have to say to find out very much of how the young commanding officer carried on his job. He will go so far as to affirm that it was great sport while it lasted.
The first impression I got of 'Di' at Dunkirk [says Dave] was when I came back from Clermont-Ferrand. I walked into the station and saw one of the Filipino mess boys parading back and forth with two bricks under each arm. I asked 'Di' what was the big idea. He said, 'Oh, that's all right. He has to do that for two or three days. I am punishing him.' This showed me that discipline had not been allowed to relax, in spite of the troubles and distractions of being shot up between meals. I went out on a p320 patrol with 'Di' one day when none of the rest of our crowd had machines ready. So we trailed along with a French outfit. I was in a single-seater and he was flying a D‑D. We were a few miles offshore from Ostend when I saw 'Di' go down and alight on the water. I thought I ought not to leave him alone, so I went down to take a look at him. He was waving his arms and I didn't know what was the matter with him. Pretty soon he began to shoot at me with a Véry pistol, so I pulled out my Véry pistol and started shooting at him. Having blown away all my cartridges, I decided to go home and tell the motor boats about him. They scooted out after him and staged a salvage party, but he wasn't worried enough to say so.
I was with the Camels sent out to pick up the Handley-Page that flopped down close to the Belgian coast when 'Di' earned all his medals and things. He was so spry when the alarm came in that he beat us to it. It wasn't a nice place to be in, under the German guns and with their planes flying about, but this calm-and‑collected Gates never turned a hair, as I recall it. He shut off his motor and landed on one wing and picked up one man; then he started off and dropped down with the other wing and picked up the other man and flew off with them. It was doggoned neat.
When the French station needed pilots for its Spads in the autumn, Gates volunteered to fly with these fighting squadrons, although as a commanding officer he was entitled to stay on terra firma. But, like Dave Ingalls, Freddie Beach, George Moseley, and other American pilots belonging to the Northern Bombing Group, he felt only too glad and eager to join the comrades of the French service in the final great offensive which smashed the German occupation of Belgium.
It was on the morning of October 4th that Lieutenant Gates went out on his second chasse patrol which consisted of five Spads. Two of these were flown by Freddie Beach and George Moseley. At an altitude of •12,000 feet above Courtrai, they were attacked by a formation of fifteen enemy machines, Fokker scouts, biplanes, and a p321 few triplanes, which came down out of the clouds. Perceiving that things were a bit too thick for them, the Spads dived to get away and so eluded pursuit. They lost sight of the enemy and then resumed the patrol.
A little later in the morning they again encountered the same Fokker force at about the same altitude, and again it fell upon them from the clouds. At the moment of this second attack, the five Spads were in a V formation, the French captain flying at point, Freddie Beach on the right side and 'Di' Gates third and just behind him. Again the agile Spads eluded the odds of three to one, diving in the direction of their own lines. Glancing backward, Beach saw several hostile craft above him and 'Di' Gates apparently in the act of making a right climbing turn. To the drumming racket of machine‑gun fire, the Spads winged it for home, but there were only four of them.
Gates had dived and disappeared, from •more than two miles up among the clouds. And this was all that could be reported. Dave Ingalls expressed the feelings of the Dunkirk Station and the brotherhood of the First Yale Unit when he wrote, on that same day:
Oct. 4, 1918
To start off with, today has been an awful day. I've been detached from my squadron and suppose I'll have a sedentary position or do some rotten job for a change. Needless to state I am very sorry to leave.
And now the really bad news! Good old Di Gates had just started flying a scout with some French squadron, and today, about his third patrol, seven of them were attacked by ten or fifteen Huns and Di has been missing since. Honestly I've never felt so terribly in all my life. He was the greatest fellow in the world. The fight occurred •about four miles over the lines. All the rest of the patrol dove and got away. But Freddie Beach says he saw Di turn as a Hun fired on him, Di, from behind, — straight into about six or seven others. That was the last seen of him.
p322 As Di was a very good pilot, tho' he had no experience fighting, he may have gotten away. I'm sure he's all right, perhaps crashed on our side of the lines and has been unable to telephone or else, at the worst, a prisoner of war. We shall not know for certain for a month, I suppose. He had just been given the Distinguished Flying Cross for flying in a boat to a crashed night bomber and landing and picking them up — off the Hun coast some distance from here. Everybody has been telephoning for word about him. No one is so popular with every race here, French, English and American. His father is dead, but he has two brothers and a sister, who, I hope, I will somewhat console his mother, to whom he was absolutely devoted. Dear old Di, the best fellow God ever made. Well, we'll hope for the best.
The official tidings, cabled to the Bureau of Navigation and signed Sims, could state no more than this:
Feb. 10, 1918
Following from Calais Aviation. Lieutenant Artemus L. Gates, U. S. N. R. F. missing since Oct. 4. Was flying with French Spad squadron and last seen being attacked by enemy planes over enemy lines. General officer commanding 5th group reported this morning that no trace could be found of him at sunrise. An investigation has been made through English and Belgian authorities whose troops occupy that sector. Mrs. Emma L. Gates, Clinton, Iowa, mother, is next of kin.
Twelve days later, the word went to Mrs. Gates that her son's machine had been found, burnt but not crashed, and that the evidence indicated that he was a prisoner and probably unwounded. Apparently he had set the plane on fire himself to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy. Immediately following this came the detailed investigation made by Lieutenants Harry P. Davison and Kenneth Smith, who were sent to the scene of the accident by Lieutenant Commander Robert A. Lovett, commanding officer of Field 'A,' Northern Bombing Group, at St. Inglevert. This, you will note, was a strictly Unit affair, with Trubee Davison kept posted in New York by cablegrams p323 from Allan Ames. The written report made to Captain Hanrahan by Harry and 'Ken' was dated October 25th:
In accordance with verbal instructions of Commanding Officer, we proceeded to the place where Lieutenant Gates's machine was brought down. Upon arrival we made a careful inspection of the burned plane. As all evidence (i.e., no broken wing-tips, landing-gear intact, tail construction unharmed by fall, radiator shutters not bent) showed that Lieutenant Gates had landed his machine under control, we decided that he had been taken prisoner.
We examined the ground and found that in landing his right wheel had touched, causing his machine to leave the ground and come down on its two wheels further on, where it left again and went upon its nose. We found that his machine was very badly shot up, but by careful examination of the angles of the bullet holes in the plane, we saw that none of them had pierced in the vicinity of the pilot's seat. His right magneto distributor block was shot away, his gasoline tank was pierced but showed no signs of being charred by flames. The water jacket on the inside after side of the right block of cylinders was shot away.
We next made inquiries if there had been any civilians there during the German occupation. We found a woman who spoke French. She in turn found a boy who had seen the plane go down and land. We asked him to tell us all he knew about the occurrence. He said that the machine had landed and tipped up on its nose. He saw the pilot get out of the machine and set it on fire and then stand up with his hands over his head. The boy then said that some German soldiers went up to the pilot and, after a short conversation, two of them took him away with them. We asked him if the pilot was injured. He told us that he was uninjured and that he walked without either a stoop or a limp and that his arms were all right. We asked him to describe the pilot. He told us that he was a big, tall man. We asked him what time the aeroplane landed. He said that it was around 10.30 in the morning.
The boy's description of the landing of the plane; the setting fire to it; the description of Lieutenant Gates and the time of the falling, all backed by the known facts and the information as to his being taken prisoner, all fitted perfectly together. There can p324 be no doubt that Lieutenant Gates was uninjured and that he is a prisoner.
This gratifying report was supplemented by Mr. Henry P. Davison who cabled to Trubee on October 28th:
Arrived London after two full days Belgium, Harry going with me and was present when the King decorated me. Afterwards we motored to field finding Gates's machine from which am bringing souvenirs home. Talked with family who saw him come down. Machine made but slight furrow in soft ground then turned on back. Family saw Gates crawl from under and hold up his hands to three German aviators who followed him down, alighting near him. Gasoline tank having been shot, gasoline had spilled over machine when it turned turtle. Gates standing near machine in presence captors took cigarette to light it quickly, dropping lighted match on machine which then flamed up. He was seen to walk away undoubtedly uninjured. Thus far unable to secure information relative his present whereabouts, doubtless due to great confusion within Germany. Advise his mother.
Lieutenant Artemus Gates was, indeed, very much alive and going strong as his own narrative demonstrated after he was restored to his friends. Leaving him in a German prison camp until after the Armistice, it is necessary to follow to a conclusion the fortunes of Northern Bombing Group (and particularly Bob Lovett), from which Gates had been so violently detached. It was Lovett's reward for work well done that he was advanced to the grade of Lieutenant Commander on April 1, 1919, to rank from October 1st, 1918.
Captain Hanrahan's letter urging this promotion was as follows:
Lieutenant Lovett is one of the most capable and thorough officers I have ever known. He is, in a large degree, responsible for the organization and fitting out of this group. He has a very fine organizing ability and an exceptional command of men, being fitted temperamentally as a natural leader.
At present he is in command of Night Squadron No. 1 and p325 under the most trying circumstances, with little help in the way of material, he has built up a very efficient squadron. Acting as Night Wing Commander he is now organizing the Night Wing where, being an experienced night bomber, his thorough knowledge of all matters pertaining to aviation, especially bombing, fit him exceptional well for the position.
I earnestly recommend him for promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, and consider his past and present work in the Group well deserving of such promotion.
When it was comprehended that the original plans of the Northern Bombing Group had been fatally impaired for lack of machines, Lovett was ready with another and a bolder conception which proposed to transfer naval aviation entirely away from the coast and wage an offensive inland. He was ready to go on with the war for another year or two. At the request of Captain Cone, he prepared a report on future operations that is one of the ablest and most interesting documents connected with the services of the First Yale Unit.1 It stated, in part:
p326 It seems unlikely, from existing sources of supplies, that enough planes will be obtained by the spring of 1919 to equip and maintain three squadrons of night bombers. The proposition depended upon continuous bombing of objectives, with a large number of planes, which would make complete destruction possible. By cutting down the number of squadrons and finally being unable to obtain machines in the desired quantities, the project, of necessity, loses the keystone of his foundations.
An advance of the Army in the area of Northern Belgium brings the most important manufacturing centres of Germany within reach of our night bombers. The distance from an enemy aerodrome, now in our hands, to Dusseldorf and Essen is •approximately 147 miles, the entire journey being parallel, roughly with the Dutch frontier. This distance is but little greater than that now covered by the over‑sea route from Field 'A' to Melle Sidings and the aerodromes southeast of Ghent. These long trips into the enemy country can only be undertaken by night bombers.
The work of carrying the war into the manufacturing centres of Essen and Dusseldorf must be done by someone. The night squadrons of the Northern Bombing Group are now in the field, trained and waiting for machines. What difference does it make whether we are under Army or Navy supervision in so far as objects are concerned? The work must be done and done at once; for the sooner Germany is hit in the arteries of her military power, and on her own soil, the sooner will peace be made, unconditionally. Regardless, therefore, of the fact that we might operate under the Field Marshal or some military organization; regardless of the fact that the objectives are not seaports and are not totally surrounded by water, the force in the field should be utilized and the war got on with.
In this connection it is interesting to note that many people thought that the R. N. A. S. should only have flown seaplanes or boats, until they saw what was accomplished by Navy on land. It was the R. N. A. S. that brought out the Sopwiths, the Handley-Pages, backed the Rolls-Royce, and made a success of the night bombing. No one questioned whether the pilots had p327 anchors on their caps or not, as long as Huns were shot down and important objectives were bombed.
The U. S. Navy has a similar chance to take the lead in aviation; first, because of its organization; secondly, because of its moderate size; and thirdly, because the Navy, of itself, demands specialized ratings and trained men, especially machinists, carpenters, ship fitters and electricians, all of whom are fundamental in aviation.
It is thought that, in a situation such as exists at present, little is risked by placing the whole matter frankly before the highest commands. The facts that stand out in all conversations are: first, the most important objectives in Germany are within the reach of night bombers; second, the U. S. Naval Air Service is in a position to man and operate such night bombing squadrons; third, someone must bomb the main objectives. Whether one organization or another flies the machines makes little difference, as long as 550 and 1660 pound bombs alight on munition factories and do so at once. Finally it would be one of the greatest arguments in favor of amalgamating the two air services if it could be said that, at a crisis in the military situation and at a time when every blow counts towards shortening the war, a trained force in the field was left without machines, merely because the objectives did not border on the sea or have the main approaches guarded by a lighthouse.
The end of the war came so much sooner than expected that this proposal went into the discard, along with the rest of the program. A farewell to the Northern Bombing Group is contributed by Atlee Edwards who says:
It began active operations on its own initiative on October 14th, 1918, at which time a raid was made on enemy railway lines at Thielt, day and night raids, eight of them in all, being carried on until October 27th. The mission of the Northern Bombing Group, however, was accomplished by the evacuation of the enemy's naval bases on the coast of Belgium. The naval situation in that area, was therefore, of an entirely satisfactory nature, but as conditions on land were not so satisfactory it was decided that the Northern Bombing Group should continue to operate in conjunction with the Allied armies in Flanders until the crisis that existed should have been overcome.
p328 It will be seen that although this air force was originally created to exterminate the submarines on the Belgian coast, it eventually wound up as a part of the British army in the great drive of 1918, but not until after it had been offered to General Pershing and declined on the grounds that it could be used to greater advantage where it was and in conjunction with the British. During this drive it advanced successively from the operational command of the British vice-admiral commanding the Dover Patrol to that of the French admiral commanding the Flanders area, until it was finally placed under the orders of the Belgian authorities into whose area of command it had advanced and with whom it operated until the Armistice was signed.
The Armistice! Dave Ingalls said it for all of them in writing his 'Dear Dad' from Eastleigh on November 11th:
Peace at last! It is certainly the greatest news ever, and every one is crazy with delight over here. Saturday I flew across to France and all over Belgium. It seemed quite strange to be flying over Hun land and not get shot at. I couldn't get used to it and imagined I heard machine-guns every now and then. We went to all the aerodromes I once bombed, and flew along the road where we had put the fear of God into the Hun transport. Gosh, it was great! We spent the night at Lovett's aero and saw Harry and the others. Harry and I talked over our after-the‑war plans and it was pretty nice. We both want to go to Yale again and room together, next fall.
1 From the Fitness Reports, Navy Department:
Lieutenant Robert A. Lovett
Period from October 1 to November 15, 1917:
Lieut. Lovett came under my observation when I was in command of the U. S. N. A. S., Moutchic, France. He was Chief Pilot, construction officer for seaplanes and organized the school and method of keeping the school supplied with machines. It was during his term of office as Chief Pilot that 90 flights were made in one day with five machines. His handling of men was exceptionally good considering the small amount of experience in that line that he had had. I cannot speak too highly of his enthusiasm and energy with which he takes over his work.
G. C. Dichman, Lieut. Comdr. U. S. N.
Period from December 17 to January 26, 1918:
During the period covered by this report this officer was stationed at Felixstowe and upon several trips that I made to England I have been associated with British officers under whom he served. These officers without exception have praised this young officer highly, not only for his officer-like qualities but for his splendid example, and altogether I feel that his record while at his station reflects great credit on the U. S. Naval Service.
H. I. Cone, Captain, U. S. N.
Period from July 1 to September 30, 1918:
A most capable and efficient officer. Devotion to duty exceptional. He has exceptional organizing ability. Is a man of most excellent character, has proven himself a most efficient squadron commander. Recommended for promotion.
D. C. Hanrahan, Captain U. S. N.
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