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Old 24 November 2003, 05:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Let me begin by citing Dan-San, who warned us Forumites against accepting automatically as true anything that comes to us from Grub Street; and I would be more than obliged if Stephen Skinner would graciously comment upon the points I make below; I begin with two quotes from two books...

This first is from Norman Franks’ WHO DOWNED THE ACES IN WW1?:
“His Spad was hit by ground fire from Leutnant Mangel’s BZ35 defence unit and he was wounded in the chest. He tried to reach the front lines but was forced down in a field outside of the village of Murvaux. He had come down 50 yards from a small stream. Climbing out of his machine, he tried to crawl to the water, it must be assumed to drink, as the type of wound he received induces a raging thirst...”

The second is from BLOODY APRIL... BLACK SEPTEMBER (by Russell Guest with Norman Franks and Frank Bailey):
“... [Luke] was hit by the defences of Leutnant Mangel’s BZ35, suffering a chest wound. He then headed for the small village of Murvaux, passing over it, heading east, circled, and turned back west, landing in near darkness on a slope west of the village, just 50 yards from a creek.
“He got our of his Spad and started to crawl towards the stream in order, in must be assumed, to drink, as his type of wound induces a raging thirst...”

This description of the wound’s effect is inaccurate and nothing short of nonsense. I repeat--NONSENSE!

I verified this with my sister, a nurse of many years, as well as a sargeant-major in the US Army Reserve; besides, almost any American Civil War buff worth his (or her) salt would immediately spot the innaccuracy of the above statements (this is because so many wounds in that conflict were in the stomach and intestinal tract). To wit:

A stomach wound does cause a “raging thirst”-- but time and again, we are told that Luke’s wound was to the chest or to the shoulder. The chest wound that Luke is supposed to have suffered is described in medical terms as a “sucking wound”, ie the air would be escaping from the injury to the pulmonary tract, the immediate danger being that his lung would collapse. As far as developing a thirst, raging or otherwise, the sargeant-major informed me (when he stopped smirking after I said “sucking wound”) this would be the result of severe blood loss (which my sister verified). I would be more concerned with Luke even attempting to exit his aeroplane, as his lung could collapse at any moment.

Another key point that I would like to raise: how are we so sure about Luke’s injury? Or should I say “injuries”, as something obviously killed Luke-- in the Murvaux affadavit, his chest wound is presented as “serious” and ultimately fatal, while the wound that forced him to land is not elaborated on. The Graves Registration report only makes mention of a shoulder wound that forced him to land; it wasn’t the fatal wound. The Red Cross report only states that Luke was “apparently wounded”-- again, no mention as to what wound or injury ended up killing Luke. How could anyone tell, when Luke’s body was exhumed, which wound forced him down and which wound actually killed him?

I will go even further-- in fact, I will go so far as to assert Luke was not wounded and that he landed because his SPAD’s engine was overheating; this is why he landed near a stream, in order to refill his radiator...

Then the German patrol arrived; now, tell me, knowing what we know of Luke’s temperment, do you honestly believe that he would have alerted those Germans, as Franks et al would have us believe?

You don’t agree? Fine-- knock this wing spar off my shoulder!

So, in future time, if I decide to commission the artist Russell Smith (aka "Aeroart" here at the good ol' Forum) to paint “Luke’s Last Stand”, my Frank Luke will be standing, unwounded, defiant, armed and very, very dangerous. The only speculation that I have presently is what will the dying rays of the setting sun be reflecting off of-- a revolver or a .45 automatic?*

Respectfully submitted,
Captain Lewis

*Graves Registration and the Red Cross say it was an automatic, while the Murvaux Affadavit claims it was a revolver...