WEEK 100: THIS IS A VERY GOOD WORLD TO LIVE IN
Monday 22 to Sunday 28 May 1916
On 23 May 1916, Pat Armstrong’s friend Captain Vaughan ‘Pokes’ Stokes of the 10th Hussars married Marion ‘Bunty’ Curteis. The wedding took place at St Peter’s Church, Eton Square, London, and Pat was asked to be best man. His mother and three sisters accompanied Pat for the event and enjoyed a whirlwind of entertainment in the city. It was to be a fateful week for the family. For Ione, it brought heartbreak when her fiancé Harry Tufton suddenly broke off their engagement. For Pat, it was to be quite the opposite, bringing as it did Marion’s charming young cousin, Irene Wills, into his orbit. Nor was Mrs Armstrong left untouched by the week’s events. Hearing that Ione, who was working as volunteer at Waverley Abbey Hospital, had been reprimanded for being out too late as a consequence of the wedding, the angry mother marched up to Farnham to seek justice for her daughter.
Monday 22 May
The train was very full when we got off the boat, but we got two corner seats. Pat talked to Capt. Takin [?]. We read for a bit in the train, & then went to sleep for a bit. We got in to London at about six, & it was very hard to get a taxi. We went straight to the hotel & I had a lovely hot bath, & Pat had a Turkish bath. I lay down for about ½ hour then at 9 we had breakfast out, & shopped. Pat got shoes & a dress for me. Muz came up by the 8-30 train, & we met her at about 11. Lady Ierne came round to see Pat about Harry’s job. We shopped, then Ione came up from Waverley . Vaughan arrived back from France, so Pat went to meet him, & dined with them, then he came back for us at 11, & took us to the Savoy. Harry & Miss Bushby came too. After we came back, the others talked, but Muz & I went to bed, & I had a bath. I trimmed my hat for tomorrow. We went to bed at about 2-30.
Tuesday 23 to Wednesday 24 May
Jess’s entry covers both 23 and 24 May although it is not clear where one day ends and the next begins.
Vaughan’s wedding. Pat went round to Vaughan at 9, to help him with things. Muz & I went out & shopped, & Ione & Miss Bushby stayed in bed. Pat lunched with them, then we dressed, & went to the wedding – 2-15 at St Peter’s, Eaton Square. Pat was best man, & two children bridesmaids, Phillips & Baldwin. Bunty looked awfully pretty. The Baldwins had the reception at their house in Eaton Square (93). Evelyn (Wardell) was there & all kinds of people, it was rather fun. Dolly Millar was there too. Then we came back, & had tea at the Carleton, then Pat dined with the Baldwins & went to the theatre with them. Harry dined with us at the Berkeley & we went to “Toto” at the Apollo. It was rather stupid, but rather funny, Mabel Russell acted very well. Afterwards we went to the Baldwins, as they had a little dance in honour of the wedding. It was rather fun. I danced mostly with the Baldwin boy he is going to send me some book to read. We didn’t leave till three, then we put all the luggage on to a hired car to motor back to Folkestone. Harry broke it all off, so Pat flew off to him, awfully angry, he saw Lady Ierne too, & he has told him he won’t have him out on the staff. We walked about the street & waited for him, he didn’t come till about six. Then we squashed in with all the luggage, & had a lovely run, we had one puncture but it didn’t take long. We got back at about 9-30 a.m. & found that Heppie had waited up all night for us, she had settled a lot of the morning room too, & it looks awfully nice. Duskey was awfully pleased getting me back. Kitty came round to ask me to go to the theatre tonight, but I was so sleepy from not going to bed at all, so we are going tomorrow night. Then we all had baths, & luncheon rather late, then Kitty came round again, he is coming back tonight by the seven boat. We had tea in the morning room for the first time, then we went down in the car to see Pat off, we got passes so we were all allowed on. Mr Piggot-Moody is going back with Pat, & a lot of others he knew. On our way back we got a pass for Kitty tonight, & brought it to her. Then did some tidying, & we went to bed at about nine.
Thursday 25 May
Muz & Ione left by the 9 train, they are going to Farnham, first to see Mrs Anderson, she was annoyed with Ione & Miss Bushby for being out so late, while they were there, so Muz wants to see her. Then they are going to Camberley to stay the night with the Kirwans. Muz was awfully tired, as we never went to bed at all on Tuesday night. I stayed in bed all day, as I was so awfully sleepy. Kitty came round to say that he had arrived, & that they were going up to Town. Mrs Cleghorn came too, to ask me to tea as her son is back. I heard from Mr Baldwin, to say the book is coming, and I heard from Mr Hooper, to say that he didn’t go to the dance on Saturday, he went to Town instead. We got a wire from Pat to say he had arrived. At about eight, Zooie & Jimmy arrived, he doesn’t go till tomorrow night. We sat & talked & went to bed at about 11-30.
My dear wee Mus.
I had a grand passage over yesterday & sat talking to Wilfred all the way. We got to Boulogne about 7 o’c and caught a train about 9 o’c to Amiens and arrived here about 4 on this morning. I’ve had rather a busy day as there is a good deal of stuff to read up. This afternoon I rode over to try and see Neil Bertrancourt but found he was out. I seem fated never to meet him. Bobby Nickalls is coming out as A.D.C to the General so I’m wiring to Harry saying “the application for you is cancelled” then I’ll say no more. It is luck I didn’t bring him out as Bobby has passed his board & the General has applied for him but Harry needn’t know this. I must be off to bed as it’s awfully late. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
I left some things on my table which belong to Pokes. Ione knows where they are. Will you put them into an envelope and give them to him. There are some telegrams, a gold pin and his note about his banns being read.
Friday 26 May
After breakfast Zooie & Jimmy went out. I wrote letters etc, then Tom & I went out & shopped, after lunch Tom & I & Phillip Buckland walked up to Shorncliffe, to visit the hospital, & I did the report, then we got back for tea. Jimmy had eggs for tea, & then they started at 6-30 for the boat, he went over by the 7-30 boat, we got Zooie a pass on to the Harbour. I wrote letters, then went down to the post office. Mrs Battiscombe came round, & then Mrs Cleghorn. We had dinner at about 8-30, & then went out for a walk, as it was so lovely & light. Heppie worked in the garden. I got a wire from Muz to say to take her shift tomorrow, so & suppose she won’t be back till late tomorrow night. Went to bed at about 11-30.
Saturday 27 May
We stayed in bed rather late, then Miss Allen came, & she walked some of the way down the town with Zooie & I, then we did some shopping, & Zooie gave me a lovely blouse. After lunch Tom & I went with Zooie to see the Parsons, but they were out, we did more shopping. After tea we sewed, & I cut out a dress for Muz, & started making it. Then Miss Parsons came to see Zooie. Then Zooie & I went to the club, I was quartermaster. Mrs Allen & Mrs Battiscombe were there too, we went to bed at 11-30.
My dear old Pat.
Just a line to thank you ever so much for backing us up on the fatal day & all the trouble you took. I’m going to give you a little token of my esteem & regard when I return to the village. This is just about the most heavenly spot I’ve struck for a very long time, an awfully nice clean hotel stuck right up on the side of a hill above the sea. The hills however are some nuisance and the car those blighters hired out is the most tricky brute I’ve ever had anything to do with. She goes like blazes at times and then shuts up like a box and won’t try a yard. Makes me want to use some language I can tell you. I can’t let my self go to you now as I know Bunty is going to read this letter because of something I’m going to say later on. For my part I haven’t got a great deal of news for you, except that this is a very good world to live in and I’m just about the happiest kind of fool you could possibly find in it. I tell you Pat, it’s the “goods”, this, when you’ve got the right sort. The absolute Lloyds A.1. effort. To change the subject or I shall drivel. You seem to have had some sort of an evening on the 23rd didn’t you? At least from what I have heard, that seems to be the case. I always said you were a baby snatcher, I thought you had given up your bold bad ways but apparently, like the Kellys, you’re at it again. Shame on you Pat to steal the poor girl’s heart away like that. So long old Lad, I shall want a full explanation when I next see you in La Belle France, I don’t think.
Yrs ever Pokes.
Bunty insists on censoring this letter I can’t think why. But I may be able to tell you later. V.A.P.S.
Sunday 28 May
Zooie, Tom & I went to church, then went out on the Front. After lunch, we went to see Clement & Presh, they were out in the fields, then we lay out on the grass under the trees, till tea time. After tea, & sewed for a bit in the morning room with Zooie. Then I went to the club, Zooie walked down with me, but her corn was too bad for her to stay. Miss Keir & I were the only two, & Miss Hewson at the desk. There were very few men in. When I got back, Zooie was packing, & I sat with her for a bit, then went to bed at about twelve.
My dear wee Mus.
I hope the interview with Mrs Adamson went off successfully. I think I told you that I wired to Harry saying “The application for you is cancelled”. If he doesn’t hear the whole details of the case from Hardress he won’t be any the wiser. It might have been an awkward situation if I had rolled up here with him. Bobby Nickalls has passed his board but there is no news of his arriving yet. I believe he is an awfully good fellow. I had a long day yesterday in the trenches leaving here about 9.30 and getting back about 4 o’c. We all have to wear those helmets now. Horribly heavy they are. I have wired to Hawkes for one of his which are much more comfortable. I rode over to Corps to-day & then took a long detour round on the way home. It has been a glorious warm day. Ted Miller rolled up for lunch, he was in great form. Algy Neil came in last night for a few minutes just as we were starting dinner, he couldn’t stay as he was dining somewhere himself. He seems a real topper I’m awfully taken with his face. He looks so much younger than he does in his photos. He looks so clean & hard. He has the nicest face I have seen for a very long time. He strikes one as having a tremendous personality. He has gone away for a couple of days but ought to be back on Tuesday I think. I must see more of him then. His billet is only about 2 miles from here. I’ll try to get him in to dine one night.
There isn’t much news here, the paper still continues to flow in, it’s extraordinary what a lot of stuff there is flying about. I have changed the name of my chestnut mare from “Lady B” to “Whiteface”. The whole business was a failure & the mare never had a day’s luck with that name. She has been quite the most unlucky animal I have ever owned, she was always doing herself in somehow. As soon as I got her right from one thing she would go wrong on something else. So I’m in hopes that she may be more lucky with her new name. She has made an extraordinary recovery & is now going quite sound. Of course her knees will always be badly blemished but I’ll be able to ride her which is a great thing. One knee is practically alright & is healing well, the other is healing too but is still swollen. She can flex both of them & goes sound which is good. Melody is looking better than ever she was. I have got the mare I lamed when we left Long. She is quite sound again. I have rather fun with her as she is awfully green so I take her out every morning before breakfast & school her. It’s nearly 12 o’c so I must off to bed. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.