The foggy weather hindered most of the flying on the Western Front today, although by the later afternoon this had cleared.
At around 1705, a patrol from 70 Squadron RFC engaged several enemy aircraft between Gheluvelt and Houthulst. Flight Commander Captain Clive Franklyn Collett was flying Sopwith Camel B2341. His combat report stated:
“We patrolled as instructed between Gheluvelt and Houthulst Forest. When over Gheluvelt at 5.10 p.m. we attacked three 2-seater enemy aircraft and after a short exchange of shots two made off in an easterly direction. The formation engaged the remaining machine hotly and I got off a good burst at him. Lt. Saward also fired off on this machine and it went down entirely out of control. We did not see it crash as it disappeared in the haze.
The formation then patrol up to Houthulst where three more 2-seater enemy aircraft were engaged at 5.25. I got onto the tail of one of these and drove him down from 10,000 feet to 4,000 feet. The machine was entirely out of control with smoke coming from the fuselage and from 4,000 feet I saw this machine crash north-east of Houthulst Forest.
I crossed the lines at 4,000 feet and climbed to rejoin my formation. I picked up on the remainder of the formation at 5.40 and we then patrolled again towards Houthulst Forest. I saw two enemy aircraft beyond Houthulst towards Roulers.
I heard a machine sitting on my tail and turned round and saw the rest of the formation engaged with a large number of enemy aircraft. I got onto the tail of one and emptied one gun into the fuselage at short range. I followed this machine down and saw it turn over and crash. The machine was not entirely out of control as the pilot made an effort to land it, so I shut off my engine and then flew straight at him, put a long burst into him as he lay on the ground; the machine burst into flames.
I was then attacked by three enemy aircraft and flew along at about 30 feet over Houthulst Forest so the machine gunners could not place me. The enemy aircraft sat on my tail and continued firing at me though I manoeuvred as much as possible.
I crossed the trenches at 40 feet and returned home as I was wounded in the hand by one of the enemy aircraft.”
Three of these were credited, bringing Collett’s Score to 12. But that was it. In the end the wound to hand was severe enough that he was grounded for 2 months. He was eventually killed on 24 December 1917 testing a captured Albatross.
Lieutenant Norman Cuthbert Saward was unfortunately taken prisoner when his Sopwith Camel (B3916 ) crashed behind enemy lines.
Also during the combat, 2nd Lieutenant Hugh Weightman was severely wounded in a combat with two Albatross scouts. He did however manage to force the aircraft of Leutnant Ludwig Luer, from Jasta 27 to crash. Luer escaped with minor injuries.