This week has been one of the busiest of my whole life! Only the first few weeks of the war can be compared to what we've experienced here in the Verdun sector ever since the offensive was finally launched on February 21st. At the Etappen-Kraftwagen-Park 5, we were terribly busy dealing with all kinds of mechanical problems and breakdowns that our lorries had to endure in the first month of the war. Now my work as a pilot is very different, though just as busy.
The start of the operation was delayed for a whole week because of awful weather conditions. The constant wind, snow and sleet also prevented most of our flight operations. We were quite frustrated by this bad luck, but finally in the morning of the 21st at 0715 hours, a massive artillery bombardment was opened against the French positions around Verdun. It was quite something! I've never witnessed such a terrible storm of steel. Hundreds of our guns poured their deadly shells into the Verdun salient for no less than ten hours!
Our Abteilung has been flying in support of the heavy artillery batteries of 5. Armee almost without pause for nine days now. Every day our Aviatiks spend hours registering the hits of the big guns and directing their fire where it's needed the most. This constant flying is exhausting for our men, but it's even harder for our machines. As I'm writing this, two of our Aviatiks are temporarily out of action for lack of engine spare parts. In spite of these troubles, we're all in good spirits and hopeful of finally seeing a real penetration - maybe a complete breakthrough - of the front here.
Tomorrow we'll be flying in support of III. Korps near Ornes, which they captured on February 25th. Now they are pushing towards the big fortress at Douaumont and need all the support they can get!
"Upon my word I've had as much excitement on a car as in the air, especially since the R.F.C. have had women drivers."
James McCudden, Five Years in the Royal Flying Corps