Sir William Weir.
October 24, 1917.
A dangerous feature in the last Zeppelin raid has been masked by the disaster which overcame the raiders on their way back. It is clear that the German counted on the height at which the Zeppelins of the newest pattern can now fly as a means of resisting all forms of existing aeroplane attack. Apparently this calculation is at present well founded. If that is so, we ought to find without delay a means of sending aeroplanes up to even greater heights at night. I presume this point is being studied. Evidently they thought they could fly here with safety and certainty at altitudes where they could not be touched. It appears to be very important that experimental work to secure greater height records in aeroplanes should be pressed on.
MECHANICAL POWER IN THE OFFENSIVE
3. Frontal attacks were abandoned forty years ago on account of the severity of fire. Now that the severity of fire has enormously increased and is constantly increasing, they are forced upon us in the absence of flanks.
4. Two methods of frontal attack have been tried. First, the unlimited, like at Loos and Champagne, where the troops were given a distant objective behind the enemy’s lines and told to march on that; and second, the limited form as tried by the Germans at Verdun, and by ourselves and the French on the Somme. Neither produces decisive results. The unlimited simply leads to the troops being brought up against uncut wire and undamaged machine guns. The limited always enables the enemy to move his artillery away, and to sell a very little ground at a heavy price in life, gaining time all the while to construct new defences in the rear. It is true the limited attack has achieved a great deal in wearing down the enemy, but it is a disputed question whether the attacker does not wear himself down more, and certainly it was so in the case of the German attack on Verdun. Nothing in the great operations on the Somme affords any promise of finality or of a definite decision.
A hiatus exists between inventors who know what they could invent, if they only knew what was wanted, and the soldiers who know, or ought to know, what they want, and would ask for it if they only knew how much science could do for them. You have never really bridged that gap yet.