I'm Not There: Blood, Iron and Long-Distance Death

And now our roving correspondent, D.H. Lawrence, limns the essence of modern warfare in this report from August 18, 1914 (via the Guardian): With the guns in the war of machines.

One woman stood before the carriage window. She and her sweetheart were being very matter-of-fact, cheerful, and bumptious over the parting.

"Well, so long!" she cried as the train began to move. "When you see 'em, let 'em have it."

"Ay, no fear," shouted the man, and the train was gone, the man grinning.

I thought what it would really be like, "when he saw 'em".

Last autumn I followed the Bavarian army down the Isar valley and near the foot of the Alps. I remember standing on a little round hill one August afternoon. There was a beautiful blue sky, and white clouds from the mountains. This is just a year ago, but it seems to belong to some period outside of time. On the crown of the little hill were three quick-firing guns, with the gunners behind.

At the side, perched up on a tiny platform at the top of a high pair of steps, was an officer looking through a fixed spy-glass. Every moment came the hard, tearing hideous voice of the German command from the officer perched aloft, giving the range to the guns; and then the sharp cry, "Fire!" There was a burst, something in the guns started back, the faintest breath of vapour disappeared. The shots had gone.

I watched, but I could not see where they had gone, nor what had been aimed at. Evidently they were directed against an enemy a mile and a half away, men unseen by any of the soldiers at the guns. Whether the shot they fired killed or did not touch, I and the gun-party did not know. Only the officer was shouting the range again, the guns were again starting back, we were again staring over the face of the green and dappled inscrutable country into which the missiles sped unseen.

What work was there to do? - only mechanically to adjust the guns and fire the shot. What was there to feel? - only the unnatural suspense and suppression of serving a machine which, for ought we knew, was killing our fellow men, whilst we stood there, blind, without knowledge or participation, subordinate to the cold machine.

This was the glamour and the glory of the war: blue sky overhead and living green country all around, but we a part in some iron insensate will, our flesh and blood, our soul and intelligence shed away, and all that remained of us a cold, metallic adherence to an iron machine. And this is how the gunner would "let 'em have it". Of the result he would see and know nothing. He had nothing to do with it.