“A war entirely of machines”

“A war entirely of machines”

View full letter here.

Description: Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
Date: 17 October 1915
Source: Armstrong Collection
Identifier: P6/1210 (192)

Sunday Oct 17.

My dear wee Mus.

I got 5 letters from you this mail of Sept 23-24 2 of 25 & 26th. The photos arrived quite safely but it was great luck as the letter was burst open & tied up with string. Quite good some of them are. They were all of Imbros when I went over there for a few days leave with Gen Perceval.

Your letter of the 23rd had no stamp on but it didn’t make any difference. I believe you could send letters out here without stamps on. Try a few more & see if they come alright. I’ll let you know if I have to pay on them this end. I am afraid you were a long time without getting letters. There was rather a difficulty about posts as far as I can remember after I came back from Athens.

We have now heard that Bulgaria has come in. It is rather a bore. It [sic] only Greece & Roumania would now come in on our side it would be alright but Greece is doing all she can to keep out of it & looks like succeeding. I don’t expect it will affect us much here but it’s a bad business as it all means prolonging the war. I have just ordered you a book called “the cockpit of the Balkans” which I hear is rather good.

I will send you a real good specimen sand bag sometime so as you can show people what we really want out here.
You seem to think I don’t like this place. I’d much rather be here now than at Gully Beach. I was sorry to leave it but now I have got my wee house really snug & comfy here I’d much rather be here. We’d have been perished in the winter in tents at Gully Beach. I’m really comfy here & don’t mind how long we stay. It’s no more boring here than it would be anywhere else in fact I always find that I’m very busy.

We have got lots of stores & are living like fighting cocks. I haven’t asked the General yet about your suggested landing north of Berlin but will & see what he says.

Yes! James Harter always had all the butter etc. that he wanted. Jam is on ration so one can always get lots of it. We have always been pritty lucky about butter we’ve hardly ever been without it. There was about a fortnight when parcels didn’t come & we were a bit short of stuff. Hardress always gets masses of things sent to him every week from Fortnum & Mason so we are always pretty well off. I have had my ordinary parcels from Harrods these last two mails. I got a big parcel from them yesterday. As a matter of fact we are pritty well off now as a canteen has just opened here which seems able to supply everything. Basil, Hardress & I walked down yesterday evening & had a look at it. It isn’t really open yet, opens to-morrow, however we had a look round & bought one or two little things that we wanted.

I believe Kennedy is a good soldier but he’s an unpleasant sort of individual. He’s just the sort that will never stop a bullet while all the really good fellows like poor old Clem & Maurice get killed.

In your letter of the 28th you say “3 little round tins with photos & a box of them came this morning” etc. How many rolls of films where [sic] there altogether? I gave Parton a parcel with either 5 or 6 rolls in it I can’t remember which. I don’t know if you mean that 2 parcels came one with 3 rolls & then another box or if it all was one parcel. You see the writing on the envelope & on the brown paper you sent me are different which is rather puzzling.

I feel pretty sure that they must be the lot that Parton took home. I’m longing to see them as they ought to be good & very interesting. If you send me 3 prints of each, I can keep one for myself give one lot away & then write on the backs of the others, number them & send them back to you. It would make it easier for you & more interesting. For instance in two cases with the last lot of photos, two of them joined together & made a panorama photo. I don’t suppose you spotted that. I think it’s safer when sending them out to put them in a little box, as they seem inclined to burst open in a letter.
If I number them all for you & write on the back of them what they are you could then start putting them into a book.

Let me know if there is anything you particularly want taken. I think I ought to have a pritty good collection of they only come out successfully. The light is getting bad these times which makes it more difficult. We are having rather queer weather now. Last week it was rather cold wind. Yesterday it was quite warm & to-day it’s dull & cloudy. Rather like an autumn day in Ireland. “Soft” you could call it, no sun at all. One thing about this place I think we will always get sunny days in the winter not like France where one never saw it.
There is no news at all. There has been a little more shelling this morning than usual but nothing to worry us.

That is a very interesting bit you copied out of a paper about the use of artillery. It’s wonderful how this is becoming a war entirely of machines. The whole thing is practically a question of guns & ammunition. The side who has the most guns & the most ammunition to blow off at the one spot can give its opponents absolute hell.

I’m glad the Boss sent Jess a good birthday present. Is Jess’s Sept 28 & Ione’s Oct 20? I wrote to them both on the same day so as there’d be no ill feeling!!

That was a nice letter from old mother Harter. Nice old thing but she takes too much interest in me for my liking!! I think I’m safe now though.

It has just started to rain quite hard now. It is a grand day for letter writing. I always give the cyclists a day off on Sunday & any that may have to work on Sunday get Monday off. I think it’s a good plan to give them one day off. So I always have a peaceful Sunday, it’s rather nice.

I started rather a big job yesterday. There is a road that runs up past our tables which is very steep it’s a 10 degree slope. So I’m making it an easier path by zig-zagging the road but it’s a big job & will take me a long time to do.
Basil came up here yesterday afternoon. He’s not looking atall well & is very bored. It must be a very dull existence down there at Corps. He has nothing to do & all day to do it in.

I’ve nearly finished this block, however I have written to St Omer for another one like it, they are quite the best blocks I have struck yet. Did you ever get a Turkish shell I sent you sewn up in canvas?

The rain makes a great patter on my tarpaulin roof, but it’s absolutely waterproof which is a great thing.

Well wee Mus I have told you all the news. Best love to you all.

Your loving

Monday We’ve just heard that Sir Ian & Walter Braithwaite have both been —d & gone home. Munro is coming out to take on the job. If ever the show has been properly messed by bad staff work & handing this one has. Absolutely pathetic the way he has messed things.