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Captive balloons shot down

First World War Audio Archive

Captive balloons shot down

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This plane come over the ridge, a German plane come over and he come down and we had these captive balloons, you know, all along the front line, you know and there was two men in there, two observers. And these balloons, they were captive, you know, they were gas balloons, big sausages we called them. Well that German plane come over and he shot about three or four of them down, a way all along the line. And, of course soon as they, a bullet hit them, you know they were all fire and the guys jump out, jump out of the basket that’s dangling, you know the observers, and he fired at them. And then, then he come along and he’s looking for anything he could see. And he just passed where we were, our horse lines and we thought sure as hell he was going to open up on us, but something else attracted him further along and away he went. And it was a machine gun or something further along and away from us. And while he was doing all this, a couple of our planes came in from their side, coming back home over to our side, and they were triplanes. It’s the first time I saw a triplane - with three wings. And they come over, and of course they see this bloody German guy and they shot him down.

Mr. Bourne describes an attack by a German fighter which destroys three observation balloons, and then attacks a machine gun position. Ironically, the German is shot down by Allied triplanes returning from a similar raid behind German lines.

Francis Bourne

Francis Bourne was born in West-Ham, England, on June 6, 1899. His family moved to Canada in 1906. With his parents’ permission, he joined the 90th (Royal Winnipeg) Rifles in September 1915, becoming a bugler. Once in England, Mr. Bourne was attached to the 10th Brigade, 2 Company which served as a supply battalion in France. While not seeing direct action, the risk to the supply lines from shelling and bombing was high. After returning home from the war, Mr. Bourne had a variety of employment before finally joining the Canadian National Railroad in 1922. During the Second World War, Mr. Bourne answered his country’s call once more, training personnel in the 2nd Armoured Car Division at Winnipeg. Married and widowed twice, Mr. Bourne died on May 16, 1993.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Francis Bourne
War, Conflict or Mission:
First World War
10th Brigade

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