If you have something you’d like to say to the Russian military, well, here’s your chance. A Telegram account in Ukraine is soliciting messages that, for a fee, are painted on various artillery shells fired at the Russian front lines.
As reported by Motherboard, an account on Telegram called artillery_text is advertising its services on the app through another account that shares footage from the invasion of Ukraine.
“You have a chance to kill orcs with your text on 152 mm artillery shell that will be fired at Russian soldiers,” reads the message. “You will receive photo with your signed grenade.”
So, for $40, you can send your own message, and ostensibly it’ll be forwarded to a Ukrainian artillery unit, where they’ll then write it out and snap a photo before sending the shell downrange. There’s even discount pricing — $10 off — if you order two messages.
“You can ask to write any text: wish someone a happy birthday/death in pain / propose marriage / name / instagram/telegram username,” the war-time advertisement continues.
The message includes information for Paypal, Venmo and Revolut accounts as well as a bank account number for wire transfers, and asks that people send a photo of their donation for confirmation.
In an interview with Motherboard, the administrator for the artillery_text account said that he is a 20-year-old IT student who started off making Molotov cocktails at the beginning of the invasion. He soon switched over to posting footage from the frontlines on a Telegram channel and asking for donations for Ukrainian troops, which is where he saw soldiers signing artillery shells. After seeing another account with a similar concept raise $3,000 in two days, he started artillery_text.
According to the artillery_text account admin, the donations are used to purchase equipment for Ukrainian troops. The account claims to have raised about $11,000, which has been used to purchase two Starlink satellite systems, a thermal scope, and a car for use evacuating wounded soldiers from the front lines.
It’s apparently also expanded beyond artillery shells. Another advertisement offers, for $400, the chance to attach a message to a Buk surface-to-air missile system.
In the comments section, there are several replies from apparent customers and an apparent photo of one of the shells, which reads “All pigs must die.”
Soldiers writing on artillery shells is nothing new. It’s been going on for just about as long as there have been artillery shells. More than 100 years ago, during World War I, there were soldiers in France signing shells as they were loaded into the breech of a cannon.
There’s this famous 1945 photo of two artillerymen, T/5 William E. Thomas and Pfc. Joseph Jackson holding up shells that read “Happy Easter Adolph” and “Easter eggs for Hitler.”
Another photo, taken shortly before an April 1944 attack on the German battleship Tirpitz, shows a British sailor aboard the HMS Furious, signing a 1,600-pound bomb with the message, “Tirpitz it’s yours.”
Here, a member of the Jewish Brigade of the British Army can be seen in Italy with a shell inscribed with “Gift for Hitler.”
More recently, members of the Jordanian military could be seen signing bombs used during air strikes against the Islamic State. “The host will be defeated and they will turn their backs and flee. From a brave Jordanian woman to you, Baghdadi,” read one such message.
The graffitied artillery rounds shared by artillery_text aren’t the first instances in this conflict.
In the aftermath of the April 8, 2022 strike on a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine that killed 52 people, a fragment of a Russian missile was photographed with “for the children” scrawled on it.
But the chance to send your own message to an artillery round halfway around the world is a distinctly 21st-century twist on the ancient tradition of military graffiti.
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