From the start of the First World War, one of the key interests of the British forces lay in the oil fields of Mesopotamia (now Iraq) which it needed to keep its navy at sea. To secure these oil fields, the so-called Mesopotamian Campaign, fought by the British against the Ottoman and German empires, began on 6 November 1914 and was to last until 14 November 1918. The campaign was a disaster for the British until the appointment of Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Maude as Commander of the so-called Tigris Corps (III Indian Army Corps) in July 1916. Under Maude’s leadership, a series of victories in Mesopotamia were achieved from December 1916 onwards, culminating in the recapture of Kut in February 1917 and the capture of Baghdad on 11 March 1917.
Monday 5 March
Muz & Heppie got up to do the calling & I stayed in bed a bit late. Then took Dus for a run. Miss Peters took Tom for a walk. Muz wrote letters, & I tidied. After lunch, Muz & I went to the Manor House,1 but there was no new convoy so we took the deckchair down to Mr Ectors to take over to Ione, & then went to York House2 & Manor Court,3 & then went to Mrs Arnoldi for tea, she is still in bed. Later a Colonel & his wife came in, we stayed till nearly seven. When we came in, I took Dus: for a run.
We have now reached a crisis in the war when to ensure victory, the heroism of our armies at the Front must be backed by the self-sacrifice and tireless labour of everyone at home. To this end the production of each quarter of wheat and oats, and of each bushel of potatoes is of vital importance. The work of the next few weeks must decide the harvest of the year; and in the nation’s interest I urge you, at whatever personal sacrifice, to overcome all obstacles, to throw your fullest energies into the work, and to influence and encourage all who assist you, so that every possible acre shall be sown.
The imperative demands of the war, have made it impossible to avoid calling up men fit for active service, even though skilled in farming. As far as possible this is being met by bringing on to the land men and women from other industries. They cannot be expected to do work equal to that of men expert in agriculture; but there is no time for delay and the Government is confident that Farmers will at once step forward and do all in their power to utilise their services to the best advantage.
The farmers of this country can defeat the German submarine and when they do so they destroy the last hope of the Prussian.
D. Lloyd George.
“A crisis in the war”
Tuesday 6 March
Muz & Tom went down the town, I did out Muz’s & my room, & then packed our things. Capt. Toynbee came in to see Muz after lunch, about the potatoes. I did a lot of tidying, & Heppie did her packing etc. After tea Muz went to see Mrs Ritchie. I put away silver & things & helped Heppie down with the boxes, & did up parcels etc. After dinner we washed up, & brought up bottles etc, then swept the schoolroom, kitchen, pantry etc, & left everything tidy, & laid breakfast for the morning. A policeman came in to see why there was a light, as he thought we had gone yesterday. Went to bed at about one. Heppie cut sandwiches & got lunch ready for us to take with us tomorrow. Muz had no fire in her room tonight, as it was quite warm, & we wanted to leave it clean.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
We have had a very amusing day to-day. We did what is called an “allez-allez” scheme. We go onto the ground & then have to write attack orders very quickly then we were asked various questions. We went through all the stages of the attack on the ground & were asked various questions as different situations arose. It was really very interesting. We started at 10 o’c & got back about 4.30. Then had a lecture at 5.30 to 6.30. I have to go off & write an essay now on ammunition supply. It was rather funny about the scheme I told you about. I thought it wasn’t very good but it met with great success & I got a V.G. We work in syndicates of two officers or more according to the scheme. We had one returned this morning & we got “Good combined effort”. I was awfully pleased. I have had a “good” on all mine up to-date. We get one back tomorrow but I’m afraid it won’t meet with the same success. It was a very difficult march scheme with a lot of calculations. I like this course awfully but one never has a moment to breathe. We are absolutely galloped off our legs. I have got a bit behind hand with my notes but got a lot of good work done last night. I worked till 12 o’c. I’ll be lucky if I get to bed as early to-night. This ammunition thing is rather complicated.
“Galloped off our legs”
I had a long letter from Rene to-night. She wants to put our engagement in the paper. What do you think about it. Let me know quickly. Apparently the Boss’s solicitors have to ask the Court I think he has done that. I’m rather for publishing it, I see no use waiting but won’t do anything till I hear from you. I’d like to know what you think about it. I’m so glad you have gone to Cantreyn. It will do you all a world of good. You all wanted a rest and a change badly. I hear that the Brigade attack was successful. We got our objective and 100 prisoners & a M G.4 I hope to hear all about it from the General in a day or so. I have had no more details up to date. We go to Calais next Sunday to look at Base Depots. It ought to be rather interesting. The senior course are down there now. I think we go via Boulogne so I will see Bonny5. I must go off now. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Wednesday 7 March
To Cantreyn. We were all up early & had breakfast in the kitchen! & rolled up the beds etc before we left. The others went to the station in the cab, with the luggage, & I walked up with Duskey. We are only allowed 100 lbs weight of luggage, each, so we had great work weighing it all. Duskey wasn’t allowed in the carriage, so went to the guard’s van. When we got to London, Muz, Dus & I went to see Leila, Muz talked to her, & I took Dus: for a run, then we went & met Tom & Heppie at Paddington, & had tea there, & caught the 1-40 train. Dus was in the carriage with us the whole way, & was awfully good. Rosie met us at the station. Tom slipped getting out of the carriage, & nearly fainted. I walked back with Dus: & Rosie came some of the way with me. Dus: is very comfy in the garage. Muz & [—]6 had a bath, & Janet came & talked to us. Did some of the unpacking.
Letter from Bradleys Ltd., Proprietors of The Arctic Fur Store, Chepstow Place, London W, to [Mrs Armstrong]
The Arctic Fur Store
Owing to the Paper Restriction Order, 1917, we shall only be able to send our catalogues to ladies who make written application for them. If, therefore, you desire to receive our catalogues in the future we would be glad if you would be good enough to send us a post card saying that you wish us to send you all our catalogues and notices as issued. As the number of catalogues printed will be much smaller than in the past, early application for them will be necessary.
We are, Madam,
Your obedient servants,
Thursday 8 March
I gave Dus a run after breakfast, then Mrs Welch & Rosie came up, just as we were going down to them, so they stayed here for a bit, & then walked some of the way back with them, after lunch Muz wrote letters, & we all worked at the mats. Tony & Tom walked into Bridgnorth again. We worked at mats again after dinner, then had a bath, & went to bed at about 11.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
I have just got two long letters from you of Monday & Tuesday. I’m sorry the weather put you off. I’ll be glad when I hear that you are comfortably settled at Cantreyn. It will do you all a power of good. But it’s a big job moving. I don’t know what to say about a G.S.O.7 job. I don’t want to leave the Brigade really but suppose I ought to if a job comes my way. I wouldn’t push it too much. But a nibble might be a good thing. I do hope I do well at this course. I have got good or V.G on all my schemes except two up to-date. One was fair & the other not marked. But nobody had any remarks on the first one. So I feel that up to date I have done pretty well. I’m looking forward to getting back my essay. I do hope it will be a success. It was a difficult subject to write on. “How can the understanding & co-operation between the infantry & heavy artillery be improved”. I wrote 4 pages on it. I do hope it meets with success. My boots arrived to-day. Thank you so much for sending them wee Mus. Will you thank wee Tom for her letter. I must be off now & do a job of work. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Friday 9 March
I took Dus out for a short run. It was snowing hard, & quite deep. Muz & Tom wrote letters, & Heppie & I measured & cut wool for the mats all morning. I lay down on the sofa for a bit after lunch, as I had a stiff neck. Then cut things out of the papers. Heppie walked into the town for letters, & got soaked.
Saturday 10 March
Muz & I walked into the town & then we met Heppie & Janet, & we shopped. It was very slushy after the snow, so we were rather wet. Worked at the mats all afternoon, & then Muz & I had a bath, & went to bed at about 10-30.
Sunday 11 March
Muz, Heppie, Janet & I went to church in Bridgnorth, & afterwards went to see the Welches & get the letters. I worked at my photographs, sticking them into my book, nearly all day, & got them all finished, & they look awfully nice. Muz wrote a lot of letters, all day, & Heppie worked at the mats. Tom had a cold, so didn’t come out. Mux & I had a bath, & went to bed at about 10. Baghdad taken!
Manor House Hospital, where the Armstrongs had volunteered their services ⇑
York House in Folkestone was a nursing home which had been turned into a hospital at the start of the First World War ⇑
Manor Court in Folkestone was a nursing home which had been turned into a hospital at the start of the First World War ⇑