Max would have to choose for Mary – Ed or Ted? She couldn’t have them both but how could she give one up since she loved them both in equal measure. Easy – send Ed to France and leave Ted the happy chore of singing and executing the song “Come Josephine in My Flying Machine.” Ted takes Mary in his Curtiss triplane on a sight-seeing trip over London and 100 miles down the Thames to a 300-year-old Inn called the Dirty Habit (grease spots on a Monk’s habit). Mary succumbs; it will be Ted.
Max did not invent The Dirty Habit; he and Liddy lunched there in 2001 as part of their Great Cities of Europe cruise. Who knew it would turn up in a novel?
As Ted and Mary frolic in Kent, Ed and Steed are mucking through the mud in Flanders Fields – the Ypres salient, the most dangerous place in the 1917 world; Ed has convinced Steed that there is a story to be told of Mary’s brothers, Tommy and Ian, manning an observation post in no-man’s land.
The first half of THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE winds to a calamitous end as Ted flies with the Lafayette Escadrille, and Ed loses an eye in the final 30,000 man infantry charge at Pilckem Ridge in southern Belgium.
A journalist can function nicely with only one eye as Ed Frederick demonstrates in the second half of THE WAR GUILT CLAUSE.
The images in the Sunday New York Times Rotogravure section were stunning; muddy trenches, soup-plate helmeted soldiers standing in ankle-deep water, devastated landscapes dotted with leafless tree trunks – the Western Front brought to the living rooms of peaceful citizens all over the boroughs; a ghastly air view of a poisonous gas cloud rolling toward a line of trenches. Images and articles about the Lafayette Escadrille.
The 16 year-old Frederick twins, especially Ted, wanted to fly with the Lafayette Escadrille – it would be a glorious escapade to join the knights of the sky jousting over the bloody battlefields. A group of college students had the idea first – when the European war erupted in 1914, long before the U.S. came in, these young adventurers found a way to get in the fight – they joined the fabled French Foreign Legion. French diplomats saw a way to inflame American public opinion to their cause – they organized a group of eight wide-eyed young Americans into what they called the American Flying Squadron – The Escadrille Americaine. Within a year there were 32 and they asked to be called The Lafayette Escadrille to honor the memory of the Marquis de Lafayette, the young French General who joined George Washington’s struggling revolutionaries in America’s war for independence.
Okay, Max, how are you going to get the twins into the air over France?