From the Diary of Lieutenant Basil Henriques 15 September, 1916
As I go through the final checklist of preparing the Mark 1 and crew, I find my thoughts wandering to my wife, Rose, and my very good friend George. Rose, for the queen she is, insisting we marry right before I shipped out, and George, who I've known my whole life and think of as a brother.
Rose was going to be Mrs Basil Henriques, and that was the end of that. We've known each other for quite a while, and it was inevitable. Not that I mind!!.
George MacPherson is another issue. I've known George even longer than Rose. We went to school together and have always been friends, but lately he's been given to bouts of melancholy that I have no cure for. It may have something to do with this Great Conflict, but I think it something else. When we were being trained in the new weapon, and saw what it did to the test targets, something changed in him. He seemed haunted, and when I would ask what thought flew through his mind, he would smile and say he's shew'd that bird away. We had a saying: “Many thoughts will fly through your head, but don't let the bad ones nest”. I feel he may have missed one.
One night I woke to see him sitting up in his bunk, studying the plans for the Tesla gun with one of Mr Teslas' ColdLights. He didn't seem to be so much looking AT the plans as THROUGH them. He didn't notice me and I thought it best to leave him to sort it out.
Rose, who is far more blunt than I, would have told George that war is war, and people die in wars. But since I, being the soldier, know it's not so black and white on a personal scale, when it's YOU that's doing the killing. Or the one being killed.
Most of my uniform was intact and sections of it were smoking. I took stock of what I had and looked around to see what I could use as a weapon, as I could see no rifles about. The small bits of metal here and there from the bits of barb wire and the various buckles and other adornments on the bodies that surrounded me were trailing gray trails upward, like all of the metal spirits had been defeated.
We were, all of us anxious to get going. Our orders and our objectives were fairly simple; gain as much ground as possible so that the infantry could follow in relative safety. If possible get to the village of Flers. I began running through my mental checklist getting ready; we had charges for the weapon ready, The Mark 1, with its forward tilted profile, seemed ready to go, like a beast trembling to be released.