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John Early Andrews Collection of Letters

WW 1 Letter to Edward James Early from Walker, February 3, 1918
Submitter: John Early Andrews
jandrewsfam@juno.com
My Dear Captain:-

It is indeed a pleasure to receive such a letter as you write and your cheering words deserve a much more speedy reply than I am sending. However, as you may easily realize we are intensely active about now and personal pleasures such as writing have to be cast aside. Since I last wrote several real things have occurred to me up until recently. I have been doing work on all kinds of trench warfare materiel. One interesting thing was a visit to a British Trench Mortar school. At this school I had an opportunity to study not only British guns but also the various types that make up the British forces. My hat is off to the Australians and our cousin the Canadians.

But this experience, interesting and exciting as it was, has been put very far in the background by a more recent trip of mine. As I say I had been handling trench warfare material in general but it seems that a letter was received by the General that gave away my past history as an “expert” on pyrotechnics and now, among other things, I am in full charge of this interesting phase of the work. As a result when a call was made for some one to go to the front lines to look into the subject, I was hurried away and in a few hours stood gazing across “No man’s land” into the German lines and beyond to their communications trenches. God, man, it was fascinating and I shall never forget that first glimpse of what we have all read about for nearly four years. Machine guns and rifles were spitting away and now and then the big guns would boom. We left the car in a certain spot in a certain town one day and the next day when we returned that spot was a big shell hole. The dear little message arrived during the night. As my work was of a special character and as the place was not particularly healthy we did not stay long. We just got back to a safer area when the artillery duel started up.

I learned a good bit about fireworks which I expect to supplement next week with a visit to a large French factory. In regard to the Rifle Light fired from the V. B. Tromblon the blank cartridges ought to be attached to the light by a wire on something with about two extra cartridges to a box of say thirty lights. The Very Pistol of the ten gauge variety is, I am afraid, too small for signal, which when the air is full of dust and smoke. The 25 mm or 1” of the French is better unless the light of your pistol is more powerful. I would advise trying it out by comparison if you have the French material. If not get Ragsdale to either wire for some or send over some pistols and lights right away and I will do it. I wish you would send me a list of markings on the boxes the different pieces are packed in and also the markings on the pieces themselves. In regard to the 35 mm Pistol of which I have cabled several times, it is absolutely necessary for aviation as the other is too small. Only yesterday I received your cable on that subject and made arrangements for all information to be sent to you. It ought to arrive soon after this letter.

See if you can get the real dope on the rifle grenade situation. What I want to know is whether or not a really exhaustive test was tried to determine the effect of the firing on the U. S. Rifle. We have had a lot of trouble with the stocks breaking.

From time to time I may be able to give you information that will aid you in developing the pyrotechnic game. I wish I might come over for a short trip but I would want to be sure of returning. Lieutenant Shaw just arrived.

Best to all and write again.
Walker.

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Notes: Edward J. Early was born on September 20, 1888 in Green Bay, Wisconsin, received his civil engineering degree from Markette University and was known to read the Engineering News Record in any leisure time, so it was a great surprise to his daighter Betty that he could play the piano beautifully. He was an usher at the opera between 1905 and 1910 while he was in college and heard Enrico Caruso sing many times. His sister Ella attended St. Joseph's Academy in Green Bay and introduced him to her chemistry teacher, Jessica Agnes O'Keefe, who bacame his wife. He was called into the Army and served as a Captain and then a Major in ordinance. He spent most of his Army career in Washington, D.C. and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland before being sent to France.

Read more letters in the John Early Andrews Collection

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