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American World War I fighter ace's incredible letters surface

By James Rogers
via the Fox News web site

aircraftA Sopwith Camel (top) and a Fokker Tri-Plane, both vintage World War I planes, simulate combat at the Australian International Airshow in Melbourne Feb. 16, 2003. (REUTERS/Glenn Hunt) A fascinating archive of wartime letters from a U.S.-born fighter ace who served with British forces during World War I are up for auction in the U.K.

Lt. Edgar Taylor was born in Rhode Island to British parents and served in the British Royal Flying Corps, which merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to become the Royal Air Force in 1918.

“The content of the letters is superlative,” explained auctioneer Andrew Aldridge of auction house Henry Aldridge & Son, in an email to Fox News. The archive, he adds “gives a rare and unedited snapshot into the life of a WWI ace.”

The first letter is dated April 14, 1918 just prior to his transfer to France. Another letter written on May 23, 1918, headed 79 Squadron RAF, describes his attempt to shoot down a German plane, only for his guns to jam.

A letter dated June 14 1918 offers another incredible glimpse into Taylor’s exploits, describing a narrow escape from German fire. “We were at 15000ft and the Archies [anti-aircraft artillery] were shelling us,” he writes. “A fellow did a climbing turn and crashed into me from below, I thought I’d been hit by an Archie at first but I soon saw the other plane. We separated and I started back to our lines, gliding all the way.”

In another incident, a gas line on Taylor’s aircraft burst following a dogfight. “I was covered in petrol and I was unable to find a place to land, I crashed into a hedge wrecking my machine completely,” he wrote. “Beyond few bruises I wasn’t hurt.” 

The final letter in the archive was written just days before his death in August 1918. In addition to detailing his efforts to learn French, Taylor recounts shooting at German observation balloons. “The Archies opened up on me at once. I saw I was observed and they guessed what I was after,” he wrote. “I went as fast as my engine could carry me and immediately attacked the first balloon."

Read the entire article on the Fox News web site here.

Read more about the auction on the Belfast Telegraph (UK) web site here.

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