April 10, 1917: "I arrived today at the aerodrome at Souilly. I had been assigned to escadrille 23 and being in desperate need of replacement aircraft I was excited to be delivering my very own craft personally to the field. However, dreadful weather today made the cross country trip much less of a sightseeing tour as it was a dreadful calamity. I touched down just after 1400 hours and was given a brief tour of the field and her accommodations before I was instructed to take my newly delivered Nieuport 23 up again. The chap that would be assigned as my wingmate, Maurice Camplan, was an accomplished flier, with 4 victories already under his belt. He was also one of the higher ranking officers in the escadrille. Probably assigned to try and keep me alive long enough to be useful.
April 11, 1917 My first flight was a large circuit around the surrounding area, including a fly-over of the City of Verdun which sits just a stone's throw from our field. I was horrified at the sight. The city was half reduced to rubble, with hollowed out shells of buildings that once stood. A testament to the destructive power that had been unleashed on the continent for the past 3 years.
April 12, 1917 Maurice took me up again this morning for a patrol just our side of the lines. He pointed out the major landmark of the Meuse river. When we returned to the field Maurice walked up along side of my craft as I was shutting her down... "if you ever get yourself into trouble", he said to me, "be sure you put your craft down on OUR side of that river, if you don't....well, you probably won't be around for me to tell you a second time". With that, he turned sharply for the mess hall.
Tomorrow we go up again. Our patrol will take us a little further East and South to the city of St. Mehiel. I've been told that there is almost nothing left that even resembles a city there. The Hun are total in their destruction of the territory that they take."