At the turn of the twentieth century, Queen Victoria reigned over the largest area ever governed by one country: 458 million individuals spread over a territory of 13 million square miles covering every continent on the globe. The size of the country’s regular army was comparatively small: some 710,000 soldiers, many of whom were needed overseas to safeguard Britain’s possessions. The officers serving abroad were never raw recruits but required a certain level of training before they were sent to the more distant parts of the empire. They were also required to complete a certain period of continuous service abroad, usually five to seven years. Movement of men and supplies to and from these outposts took place during the cold-weather season, known as the trooping season, usually between September and March. For many regular soldiers, overseas service thousands of miles from family and friends was an unattractive prospect but others cherished it, providing as it did an opportunity for travel and adventure. Nor was the life of an overseas soldier all toil and labour. There were plenty of opportunities for recreational pursuits: big game hunting, inter-regimental polo tournaments and horse racing. There were also ceremonial mass assemblies, such as the 1911 Delhi Durbar to mark the coronation of George V, which gave the troops the opportunity to parade in their full glory.
Pat Armstrong arrived in the British India during the 1909-1910 trooping season. During his three years in this part of the globe, he served in Rawalpindi, and during his long breaks enjoyed hunting trips to Burma and visits to Calcutta. In addition to long and enthusiastic letters, Pat sent home numerous animal heads and skins as mementoes of his hunting exploits during this exciting time in his life.