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       Air Service Boys Flying for Victory; Or, Bombing the Last German Stronghold, p.1

           E. J. Craine
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Air Service Boys Flying for Victory; Or, Bombing the Last German Stronghold



  Bombing the Last German Stronghold



  Author of "Air Service Boys Flying for France," "Air Service Boys overthe Rhine," Etc.


  The World Syndicate Publishing Co.Cleveland, O. New York, N. Y.

  Copyright_, MCMXX, _byGeorge Sully & Company

  Printed in the United States of AmericabyThe Commercial Bookbinding Co.Cleveland, O.




  I In Action Over the Argonne 1

  II Yankee Pluck 8

  III Jack's Strange Find 16

  IV The Story of the Lorraine Waif 27

  V A Red Cross Nurse 36

  VI Cleaning Out Machine-gun Nests 46

  VII "Mopping 'em Up!" 56

  VIII In the Red Triangle Hut 66

  IX The Night Raid 78

  X A Surprise for Jack 84

  XI The Prowlers 92

  XII A Lively Chase 102

  XIII The Winning of the Argonne 113

  XIV Selected for Special Duty 124

  XV Over the Enemy's Lines 131

  XVI Blotting Out Hun Headquarters 139

  XVII Flying for Victory 147

  XVIII Favored by Fortune 154

  XIX Tom Leads the Way 163

  XX Borrowed Goods 171

  XXI At the Old Chateau 179

  XXII Invading the Tiger's Den 187

  XXIII The Only Way 195

  XXIV Tom Keeps His Word 203

  XXV Peace in Sight--Conclusion 213




  "WILL that starting signal ever come, Tom?"

  "Just hold your horses, Jack. The other squadron has gone out, and isalready hard at it over the Boche line. Our turn next. Keep cool. Andhere's hoping we both pull through with our usual good luck."

  "Wow! See that big Hun plane, a Fokker, too, take the nose dive, willyou? But he's overshot his mark. I warrant you he is trying like mad toget on a level keel again."

  "Good-night! I could almost imagine I heard the crash away off here,even with all that thunder from Big Berthas and the crackle of hundredsof machine guns."

  "It makes the goose-flesh tingle all over me, Tom, to think that someday--or it may be night--one or the other of us may finish up in justthat kind of fireworks."

  "The life of an air pilot is full of hazards, Jack, just remember. Ifhe's going to make a success of his calling he's got to have nerves ofsteel."

  "Yes, and let him lose his grip and confidence because of any unusualdanger, his usefulness is gone."

  "There's our signal at last, Jack!"

  "Here goes! And pity the poor Boche I drive off with my new Americanplane, and its bully Liberty motor!"

  Both young men, attired as air pilots, with goggles and gloves as wellas heavy coats for extra warmth in the dizzy spaces a mile or twooverhead, hastened to climb aboard their waiting machines, which were ofthe latest type of battleplane.

  Each had an assistant, or observer, who would also handle one of the twomachine-guns with which those American flying machines were armed.

  The time was that period in the fall of 1918, when the fresh Americanhost burst headlong into the battle line in Northern France.

  At Chateau Thierry and St Mihiel they had struck the astounded foe withthe force of an avalanche. The Germans, war-weary, were stunned by thevigor of the fresh army that once in action would not be denied.

  Back, and still further back, the struggling lines of grey-coated Hunfighters had been thrust. Every day brought a new surprise for theKaiser's generals. They were aghast at the resistless method of forcingthe fighting adopted by these men from overseas, who seemed to havebrought new and amazing elements into the work.

  Already many of the more astute German leaders had begun to see thehandwriting on the wall traced by the finger of Destiny. Neverthelessthey had now descended to uttering boasts of how easy it was going to beto make these "crazy Yankees" pay a frightful price for every milegained.

  But the Germans who figured thus confidently failed to reckon on therapidly growing discontent at home, where the populace was close to thestarvation point. Though their soldiers still fought desperately on, itwas with the sullen mien of those who had lost their morale and wereclose to collapse.

  On the day when Tom Raymond and Jack Parmly waited, the latter soimpatiently, for the anticipated signal to go into the air, the twoarmies were joined in battle.

  The Americans had been given the most difficult task of all, which wasto clean up the great Argonne Forest, and then sweep the fleeing Hunsback, past Sedan, famous for the defeat of the second Napoleon, over theborder into Germany itself.

  Here Hindenburg had concentrated most of his best troops, including thecrack Guard regiments. He realized that the gravest peril of all lay inthe "push" of this new army, which had already given such an excellentaccount of its fighting qualities.

  In that vast tract of wooded country known as the Argonne the Huns hadlocated innumerable machine-gun nests designed to check the advance ofthe Yankees and make them pay a fearful price for what they got.

  Two men secreted in some nook could open a deadly fire on the oncomingboys in khaki and mow them down like ripe grain before they themselveswere wiped out in a furious rush. It paid the German commanders tosacrifice two for a dozen or twenty; though at times they had to chainthe gunners to their weapon, for fear they would slip away at the last.

  Six battleplanes all in a row were now starting off in rapid succession.A whirr that sounded loud and insistent above the dull roar of the heavyguns, a sudden movement that quickly increased in velocity until theplane was bounding like a rabbit over the open ground, then an upwardslant, a beautiful curve that left the ground behind, and another airpilot was off for the post of duty.

  Jack Parmly's blood bounded joyously in his veins when he thus rose likea speeding swallow. His new plane, one of the first of the latest typebuilt entirely in the United States, had already filled his heart withdelight, and its wonderful Liberty engine seemed to fulfill a dream thatJack, like all other American fliers, had long cherished.

  As he rose higher and higher, circling as he went, the scene quicklybegan to take on a most impressive appearance. Below him lay the forestin all its grim aspect, with openings here and there, now given up tobatteries of artillery that were pounding the foe with constant energy.

  Clouds of smoke arising in many places told of bursting shells, thedestruction of munition dumps, or it might even be some little burninghamlet that had served the Huns at bay for a fortress, but which hadbeen blown almost entirely off the face of the earth by the redhurricane the expert Yankee gunners set loose.

  It was easy for Jack to tell where the German battleline lay. He hadbeen up so recently that he knew to a fraction just how far back theenemy force had staggered after the engagement of
the preceding day.

  And it was straight toward that line he now headed, for his work awaitedhim in that quarter. Hun planes were soaring like great hawks, swoopingdown from time to time, and engaging some of the machines bearing theAmerican eagle as their totem.

  As usual, Jack made mental note of the fact that seldom were the Hunswilling to join in battle unless they outnumbered their foes. That was acompliment to the fighting qualities of the Americans, for it showedthat they had already won the respect of their adversaries.

  Jack was out for business. He tried to lure one of the enemy fliers intoa "scrap" as he always called an engagement, but found the Boche wary.Some of those opposed to the Americans were well known aces who hadgained a great reputation, having brought down scores of British andFrench planes. Yet to-day they seemed loath to enter into combat withthis new type of fighter.

  Now and then the young airman managed to glimpse Tom's well knownmachine, for the two chums had decorated their planes withdistinguishing marks that they could recognize even when a greatdistance away. The other was fighting with two of the foe, and washaving a serious time of it, spinning like a reel, darting downward toavoid being raked by machine-gun fire, and then coming up on the tail ofa Hun with the advantage all on his side.

  Jack, still denied his share of action, continued to watch Tom out ofthe corner of his eye. He felt like giving a shout when presently he sawone of the Hun machines plunge downward as though a shot had paralyzedthe arm of the pilot. Over and over it went, bursting into smoke andflames while speeding toward the earth.

  There could be no doubt but that Tom would add another count to hisscore, though he was already reckoned an ace, being accredited withseven clear-cut victories.

  But the other Hun aviator had taken advantage of the thrilling moment todart in and deliver a hot fire. Jack could see the spurt of themachine-gun as it blazed away furiously, the two planes passing oneanother. He felt his heart in his throat for fear that Tom might becaught napping, for the distance was too great to make sure of what washappening.

  Suddenly a cold hand seemingly clutched Jack's heart. Tom was fallingrapidly! It was no nose-dive, but bore all the marks of either an enginegone dead or of some mishap to the pilot. So did gallant Tom's planevanish from the sight of his horrified chum, being swallowed up in thedense volumes of smoke rolling upward from the battleground below.Jack's heart felt like lead in his breast.

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