Aviators on both sides lived more comfortably than soldiers in the trenches. At best, home might be a commandeered chateau where wine, cooks, batmen*, and a range of sporting activities made for a highly civilized life during wartime.
To unwind, the airmen read books, wrote letters, listened to music, and made their own entertainment. For example, some squadrons became famous for boisterous parties; others organized variety shows.
Whenever possible, the airmen sought the nightlife of the city. “We existed,” one Allied pilot remembered, “only for the times we could go to Paris.” Whatever the diversion, a flier had to be prepared to drop it at a moment’s notice.
Canada’s Billy Bishop recalled a day he and other pilots were playing tennis when a sortie was ordered. “We were still in our white flannels,” he wrote. “There was no time to change, so into the machines we crawled and started aloft.”
*A batman (or batwoman) is a soldier or airman assigned to a commissioned officer as a personal servant.