In January 1917, Germany retracted the pledge it had made in March 1916 not to target passenger ships and declared its intention to resume unrestricted submarine warfare. Its primary targets were commercial vessels trading with Britain, including those of neutral countries such as America. To make matters worse, on 24 February 1917, British intelligence informed the US authorities of a secret communication it had intercepted, in which the German Government sought a military alliance with Mexico. When several American merchant ships were sunk by German submarines in March, President Woodrow Wilson, who had fought hard to keep America out of the conflict, had no option but to ask the Congress to declare ‘a war to end all wars’. The Congress concurred, and on 6 April 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. The news was greeted with great jubilation across Britain.
Monday 2 April
We came away by the nine train, & Reenie met us at Charing Cross, & took us off to lunch at her club, then went to Paddington, & she saw us off. The train was awfully crowded, but we kept beautifully warm. It was snowing quite hard. We travelled with a niece of Mrs B-W’s. We got to Bridgnorth at about six, & they had all come in to meet us. Dus: has got a bad leg again, & is very lame. I gave her her supper, & a warmer bed. We went to bed fairly soon after dinner. It is awfully nice being back here again. Heppie gave Muz her bath.
Tuesday 3 April
I rubbed Duskey’s leg, it is better this morning. At about twelve, we went off in the car to Shrewsbury. Tom & I sat in front, & Muz, Zooie & Jimmy behind. We went & looked over the school for Mike, then had lunch, & we explored the town, & Zooie & Jimmy went off to shop. We met Maurice, but he had to get back early. On our way back, it snowed hard, & got very dark. I had to clean the windscreen every couple of seconds, it was so heavy. But everything looked lovely in the snow. Just as we were getting into the town, the car stopped in the hill, so we walked home, while Jimmy & the man fixed it. We went to bed at about ten. Heppie gave Muz her bath.
Wednesday 4 April
Muz heard from Pat this morning dated 28th he never got leave after all, not even to go to Boulogne, he has gone back to the 86th Brigade. Zooie & Jimmy went to lunch with Mrs Welch, Maurice came over here for lunch, then later Muz went in the waggonette to meet them, & went over to tea with the Fosters. Heppie walked to Broseley,1 & got back at about tea time. Maurice went by the seven train, & Jimmy went to see him off.
Thursday 5 April
The man came to hang the pictures. Jimmy went to the dentist, & then had lunch with his mother. We got all the pictures fixed in their places before lunch, & after lunch Muz & Zooie went to call on the Hodsons, & Heppie sat in the drawing room, to see that the men got them up straight. Jimmy came back first, & then he & Zooie went out to shoot. Sewed most of the afternoon.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
I altered that letter to Rene & simply said “How feeble of you missing the motherbird2 like that. I shouldn’t have thought that Bunty’s fittings were of such vital importance. But I suppose you know best. Yrs P.” It’s nasty but I’m very annoyed that she wouldn’t take more trouble to see you. It’s so self satisfied. I’m longing to hear from you about it & to hear what you think. I think it’s so dreadfully hide bound.3 If she can’t give up going to an old fitting with Bunty who she is living with to see you who she hasn’t seen or bothered to see for months it’s wrong somehow. It may be petty but I’m really disappointed about it. She feels so certain that she needn’t worry. I feel rather beastly about it but I’m really very angry. To feel that you rush all the way down from Cantreyn just on the off chance of seeing her & then she won’t even bother to see you as you go through London. I hope you think my letter meets the case. I’m not even going to answer that letter about publishing our engagement now. I have told her once & that is quite enough now. You have hit where we are about right. At present about 20 miles west of it. We are very comfy & thoroughly enjoying ourselves. I went forward yesterday to some of the country the Bosch has left. It’s in an awful state & the dirty brutes have cut down all the trees & just left them. Of course all the houses have been blown down. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
“All the houses have been blown down”
Friday 6 April
Muz, Zooie, Jimmy, Tom & I drove in to church in the morning & we went to his church,4 & Tom & I came out earlier, then Heppie went in at twelve, & met Muz coming out, & she went back with Heppie & didn’t get out till lunchtime. After lunch Tom & Heppie worked at the mats & I read to them, then Mr Willis came for tea, & afterwards I read again, & finished “The Flower of Dusk.”5 Muz wrote letters, & Zooie & Jimmy went out.
Saturday 7 April
Muz & Zooie wrote letters, Heppie walked in to the town, & Tom & I read in the morning. In the afternoon we all went in the waggonette to the churchyard, & Janet came too, & then we went for a drive, & got back here for tea. Zooie & Jimmy went out to shoot, Heppie & Muz went for a walk, & Tom & I read, in the glass room. We went to bed fairly early.
Sus St Leger. Fine but windy. […] Went and watched training with Dearden. 88th Bde marched through Sus. Went to WAMIN in the afternoon and saw fishing. Got orders about 7.30 pm location cancelled at 8 pm. Eventually got orders at 11 P.M. Issued them about 1.30 AM.
you are a brick to write me such a splendid long letter with all the news of the world in it!! That was a splendid idea of yours & Mum’s to leave my hats with Miss Peters. We are having snow, & heavy rain so far & frost, it’s hell’s own weather, I am freezing in my room now, & can hardly hold the pen, but it’s lovely to know the hats are there if I want them – Awfully funny isn’t it, I drempt [sic] of that little blue cap you made, isn’t it funny, & about a week ago, I turned in the ears of my white ones, that must have been just the same time as you turned in your ears!! The girl loves those two caps Jed, & wants the others, as soon as you can – 6 altogether for her, a Miss Beard, a friend of Algie’s sisters, & another girl wants 2 so that [is] 8 altogether for you to make, wonder if you will ever be able to do it?!! try, & get them off as soon as you can.
Funny you meeting Lady Ierne – heavens how I wish things were alright, but I feel they never will be6hemay be coming in this afternoon, as he dines with Bubbles here tonight – I am all dressed up anyhow if he does, white cap white blouse, yellow gold Coat blue skirt black thin stockings, & grey shoes. I am frightfully fat that’s the worst of it – [—] to [—] on the 16th suppose that’s it hell to it anyhow – I love the sound of the one leged [sic] [—] man – but we never could meet him last time, do you remember, but I think he was engaged or married?!! I think it’s pretty certain the 15th go off any time now they are supposed to go between the 5th & 6th of this month, but may get a few days extra, only [—] do – I go on duty again tonight at 6, but that won’t matter as H. is dining with Bubbles – what’s the Guards Regt: with the little red x. of the cap badges.7
I met a Captain Wellsley (or something) the other day in that Regt: & he asked me to go to the Cinema with him this afternoon, & tea, I couldn’t but he is coming in again soon & brings Lord Berry with him, nice won’t it be!!! Tell mum Leslie was staff Captain to the 124. Brigade; & now gone back to the 26th Fusiliers as adgedent [sic, adjutant], then going to some Div: as Staff Capt: Captain Murray-Marshall, is working it for him – It wasso splendid mum didn’t write to Hip [?], about me dining out, she frightened me to death by her letter as always before she has said; “shall I” or something like that, but this time she said “I had better” & I thought she really had will you kiss the woman for me & tell her she is splendid.
Were you both looking nice when you saw Lady Ierne, do hope so, as cloaths [sic] make such a differance [sic] with them all – Wonder what’s the matter with Lis— – must ask H – & then will let you know – the R.I.C. had a great dance at [—] the other night & the Stubbses brought 6 girls over from Folkestone, wonder who they were!! Hip [?] is in here today!! but nothing to do with me!! The girls at Et:8now work from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. & then have to get home – nice isn’t it! realy [sic] wicked isn’t it? The latest roumer [sic] is, that this Buffet here is to be closed, as the French, are not allowed to sell us any bread after the 25th this month – at Aberville9 (or however it’s spelt!!) if the French sell our men bread it’s as bad as if they are caught selling them drink – huge punishments – Isn’t it a shame – Must stop writing Jed dear, as Miss French is talking to me. Quite a nice little girl, but rather a nuisance, as I had such heaps of news to tell you – & I get no time to write these days. Best love to all; & write again soon.
Your loving Charlie.
When is Mum’s birthday, 26th isn’t it??
Sunday 8 April
We went in to church in the carriage, & went to St Mary’s, Heppie didn’t come, then the carriage went back for Zooie & Jimmy, & then we drove out again. After lunch Tom & I read in the glass room, then Mrs Layton, Mrs Welch & Rosie came for tea, & we had tea in the drawing room for the first time. Afterwards Zooie & Jimmy went out, & Muz & Heppie went to church, & Tom & I read. The clocks were all put on an hour, last night, so we were done out of an hour’s sleep!
SUS ST LEGER Sunny day frost at night. Bde Marched from Sus – Beaudricourt and Warluzel to Bavincourt – Humbercamp and [—]. Bde HQ started 9.31 am. March went well. Dublin Fus late at S. P. Rode Whiteface round billets in the afternoon. Saw 5th Lancers who had just arrived up. 3rd Cav Div were concentrated just north of us.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
Only a brief scribe to-night as it’s very late. Great news about America isn’t it. It ought to hurry things on a little bit. The Bosch must realise now that they are beat. We had a very nice march to-day of about 7 miles. The Corps Commander (Markie was with him for a bit) instructed us on the way & was very complimentary. We are in a very nice little village about 20 kilos from a place you know. We are in a delightful house & very comfy. I’m sorry I wrote a nasty letter to Rene & have just written & told her so. But it was a bad show. However I feel it was a shame to be nasty to her. I wonder if she will go to you for Easter. I hope so. G isn’t far from here I fancy. Last news I heard of his lot he was near what Algie once signed himself when I was there. I enclose a letter from Rene. I’m afraid you didn’t see her on the way back either. I must be off to bed as it’s late. Best love dear wee Mus.