JOINS THE SKY FIGHTERS
This story of Lieut. Manderson Lehr, who refused a transfer home and shortly after died in combat, is taken (by permission) from his personal letters written to a friend in this country. It is typical of many that might be told by or about brilliant young Americans who would not wait for America’s participation in the war, but went voluntarily, with high hearts and eager hands, to help those other boys of France and the British Empire to whom had fallen so large and so momentous a part in the world’s salvation.
Nearly all of these American lads, the choicest spirits of our nation, took up whatever work they could find—anything, so long as it was useful, or contributed in any way to winning out against the German hordes, or stem the flood of German crime that was sweeping over Europe, that would later, if it were not stopped, cover our continent with an inundation of blood and desolation. Most of them, like Lieutenant Lehr, went into ambulance service; and afterward when the air planes were ready and needed men to fly them, took to the air. These were the men who “put out the eyes” of the German armies and piloted the allies to many a victory. And alas! Many of them, like Lehr, gave up their lives—though not in vain, nor without having sent down to crashing death, each one, his share of the flyers of the foe.
Lieutenant Lehr’s story begins with a letter from France just after his arrival in Paris on May 15, 1917, when he joined the Ambulance Corps—later entering the air service. It covered a period of more than a year’s experiences at the front.
The last letter from Lieut. Lehr was dated June 14th, 1918, when the big German drive was about at its climax. According to news reports from the front Lehr had a period of intense activity up to July 15th, when he was reported missing. “Bud” was regarded as one of the most adept of American fliers.
One of the last news reports from the front told of him still flying under French colors and having twice returned from raids with his passenger killed by enemy attacks and of his being awarded the war cross. The same report told of a 150 mile raid into Germany with eight other French Machines—when a patrol of twelve German planes were attacked and three of them sent down in flames, while all the nine French machines returned safely.
The following are a few of Lehr’s later letters from the front: