The news we keep hearing from Verdun is good and our men are continuing to advance. Could this be the one push that finally leads to victory? That thought is all my men talk about at the dinner table. They are giddy with the thought of possible victory and I don't blame them at all, for I feel the same.
I sometimes feel that our leaders are completely disconnected from reality, today's sortie is a perfect example of what I mean. We awoke to a very heavy snowstorm and the men were fully expecting a day off, but around 8:30 my telephone rings and I was ordered to send the full KEK down around Peronne to protect some supply depot. I informed the general that we were experiencing heavy snowfall and visibility was down to yards. He said the weather was fine where he was and after much yelling on his part he hung up. I informed the men, and there was much grumbling but to their credit they obeyed my orders because they know that I would never order something as foolish as this mission. We took off and amazingly enough we all made it airborne without mishap. We climbed and headed off towards Peronne. The Fokkers are wonderful machines for visibility but they are probably the most uncomfortable machines for the pilot. We sit above that wing and are exposed to all of the elements. I cannot speak for the others, but I was miserable. I was frozen to the bone and my goggles were getting covered by snow and so I was constantly having to wipe them clear. After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived at the supply depot and began our patrol. I knew that this was a waste of time and we would not see a thing, but orders are orders. To my utter amazement, I see two Nieuports emerging from the snow and clouds just to the north of us. I signal the others and we pounce. I believe the Frenchmen were just as surprised as we were and we managed to get the jump on them. One immediately turned for home, and the other I was able to down after a brief skirmish. Feeling that we had done more than enough, I ordered the flight home. Landing was tricky, but everyone managed to get down safely. I don't know about the others, but it took me almost an hour to start feeling warm again. The puzzling thing about today's action is what were those Frenchmen doing out on a day like today? They were the only machines we saw during our entire sortie. It just goes to show that maybe their leaders are as much out of touch with reality as ours.
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