Journal Entry: March 15, 1916

It looks like winter is finally loosening it's grip and warmer weather is just around the corner. I arrived in Bertincourt after most of the flowers had bloomed and so I'm really looking forward to the beauty of spring in this area of France. Everything seems to reawaken after winter's long sleep, even my men seem to be re-energized for the coming work.

It appears that our attack in Verdun will not be the breakthrough that we needed to end this war. We are still making progress, but it seems like the steam is running out. I have not shared any of this information with the men mainly because it was given to me in confidence by a friend. Furthermore, what good would it do the men? No, I will keep this to myself and maybe I will be proven wrong.

We had a very interesting sortie yesterday. The Tommies have gotten it into their heads that attacking our aerodromes will somehow win the war for them. Instead, what it really does is just waste fuel for them and annoy us since they never cause any real damage. Anyway, we had received word from the lines that a couple of Tommies were sneaking over to attack one of our aerodromes. I took off with Helmut and Jakob and soon I spotted them approaching Pronville. I signaled the attack and down we went. I singled out the leader and quickly gave him a good burst. I saw that I had hit him by the debris but I had to pull away to avoid a collision. As I circled back, I saw that the enemy was slowly descending flying lazy circles in the sky. I watched as he just slowly descended to ultimately crash into some trees. Helmut and Jakob arrived a few minutes later and we headed home. At dinner we were discussing the day's engagement and we decided that I must have either killed or severely wounded the pilot and the aeroplane literally flew itself until it crashed. Can you imagine the horror the observer experienced when he knew that he could not control the aeroplane as it descended? Our discussion then turned to why are there not dual controls in two-seater aeroplanes. Manfred argued that ultimately HQ does not care what happens to us and more than likely it is just a cost issue. That started quite the argument which finally ended when Jakob started playing the piano. I cannot help by wonder if there is some truth to what Manfred said and if so what does that mean for each of us.

Member and provider of banjo music for the Illustrious BOC