On 18 July 1917, the Allied forces on the Western Front commenced a heavy preliminary artillery bombardment in advance of the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as the Battle of Passchendaele. The offensive, ostensibly aimed at destroying German submarine bases on the north coast of Belgium, was the brainchild of the British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig who erroneously believed that the German Army was on the point of collapse and only required a major allied victory to crush it once and for all. However, the initial artillery barrage, during which three thousand guns pounded the enemy with 4.25 million shells for almost two weeks, was a characteristic prelude to all major Allied offensives and removed any element of surprise, enabling the German Fourth Army to be well prepared for the onslaught which was to follow.
Monday 16 July
Wrote letters, then went down to the hay with Poppy – down near Glass House –, Muz wrote letters. Before lunch Muz & Ione drove in to Thurles on the car, & had lunch there. I did some mending, & walked about with Poppy. Then Tom & I sat beside the river. Heppie worked at the mats. The others came back for tea, afterwards I mended. Then went out with Poppy to shoot pigeons, but they were all too wild. Muz read after dinner, & we went to bed at about ten.
Poppy and Dusky
Tuesday 17 July
We all picked strawberries for jam, as Muz got some sugar yesterday, we picked 13 lbs. Then I cut flowers for Tom, & packed them. After lunch Ione, Heppie & Tom went in to Thurles in the pony trap. Muz & I went down to the hay. Poppy was there, & we sat there for a bit, then it began tostan drizzle, so we came back. Mr Craig came for tea, it rained a good bit in the afternoon. After dinner I talked to Ione for a bit, while she had her bath, then Muz & I had ours, & were just going up to bed, Poppy played the gramophone, so I went down too, & we played for a bit, & went to bed at about eleven.
Wednesday 18 July
It rained hard all day. I went out for a walk with Poppy, & we went down to see the oats & turnips. Then Muz & I went for a walk round the walks. After lunch Muz & I lay down, & after tea I lay down & Muz went for a walk by herself round the walks & then down to the gate lodge. We came up to bed early, & then read for a bit.
The river walk at Moyaliffe
Thursday 19 July
We all sat out & read for a bit, then Muz & I went over to the other side of the river, & took the dead bits off the rhodendrons [sic]. After lunch Heppie & Tom went in to Thurles in the pony trap, & Muz, Ione & I picked strawberries for jam, & got 24 lbs, it was awfully hot, we picked till tea time. Mr Clifford & another man, came to buy cattle, but we didn’t see them. Read after tea, & after dinner untangled Poppie’s fishing line, & then went for a walk with Muz. Ione set mouse traps, & Poppy went to shoot.
Letter from William Standen, 24 Islingword Place, Brighton, to Mrs Armstrong
Kindly permit me to thank you on behalf of my son William of the Xth Royal Hussars, for Photograph of your dear son Capt. Armstrong of the same regiment, also please accept my deepest sympathy at the loss of your dear son, who I am sure was a dear good friend to my son, & a good Officer to his Regiment; & a dear good son to you, & one who will be greatly missed by all who came in contact with him, more especially my son who has told me that Capt Armstrong was more than a Brother to him. Also allow me to thank you for Cheque for £11.5/1 which I can assure you my son was not in need of whilst on leave, & he felt that he could not trouble you at that time, well knowing your feelings at your sad loss.
Again thanking you for your kindness to my son I remain
your obedient servant
Friday 20 July
I did the flowers in the drawing room after breakfast, & then mended till lunch time. Muz & Ione went down to the Gate Lodge to see Mrs Ryan & the baby. After lunch Muz wrote letters, & Heppie worked at the mat, she has finished the first black one for the hall. Ione, Tom & I sat out on a rug. The big cart mare got the haimes1 into her leg, & was rather badly cut, Poppy had to wire for the vet so he was busy with her all afternoon. She has been out on grass, & gave a good bit of trouble being put into the cart. Mrs Knox came over for tea, & Muz showed her the letters. I finished reading “Uncanny Tales” by Marion Crawford.2 We went to bed at about ten, but didn’t sleep till late. I went down in the middle of the night to see what Mackie3 was crying about, but he was only having bad dreams.
I was almost putting Miss Armstrong but it sounded so strange & Pat would think it strange too. Many thanks for your kind letter, I felt quite an important person yesterday three letters in one day it is I think the first time that has happened for years; one from Mrs Gee one from your mother & yours. We got back from the Trenches at 3 am this morning & am just writing this to catch the Post. Am glad the Div news was useful I knew it would be & at the first opportunity I will write of all the doings of Pat’s Brigade. Yes I think I can understand how all the small things hurt for a time & then the hurt will turn to Love & Reverence knowing they are Pat’s, But mind you, yourself, Tommy & Ione must be patient & good to her for it has been a terrible wrench, but then I know you all will be for are you not Pat’s Sisters. Kind regards to yourself & all at Moyaliffe. I will write more fully of the Bde in a day or so.
Sunday 22 July
Muz, Ione, Tom & I went over to Clonoulty in the pony trap, to church, & stayed for second service. Mr & Mrs Pike came & helped us to put the pony in afterwards. We went in to see Mrs Gleeson on our way, & again on our way back, & asked how Mrs Leahy was. After lunch Muz & I walked down to Mrs Gleeson with some rice shape,4 & we stayed there for a long time, & Muz put her to sleep. I talked to the others in the Kitchen, the boys’ two wives were there too, one of them married Norah Dwyer, & the other the Ryan girl. After tea, Muz & Ione went down again, & didn’t get back till nearly dinner time. I did some mending. We went to bed at about 10-30, but Ione didn’t come up till later.
Monday 23 July
Picked flowers for the drawing room, & settled them, & Tom & I picked flowers for her to send to Jack, & then I packed them. Muz & Ione went down to Mrs Gleeson & Mrs Leahy till lunch time. After lunch Muz, Ione & Tom went in to Thurles in the pony trap, & didn’t get back till 6-30. I sat out & worked & started to make a pair of bedroom slippers. Mr & Mrs Pennyfather came to call, & I had to give them tea, Poppy didn’t come in. After they left, Muz & I went off down the woods to look for Mikey nobody has seen him since this morning, Poppy went off to look too. I looked through the big wood, while Muz went to Mrs Gleeson’s for a few minutes. No sign of Mikey. Worked for a bit after dinner, & went to bed at about eleven.
Mikey and Dusky
Wednesday 25 July
Muz & I went down to see Mrs Ryan & Mrs Gleeson, & we stayed there for a long time. Mrs Leahy died yesterday. After lunch Muz wrote letters, Ione & Poppy went out, & I walked down to Mrs Ryan with some soap, & then went on to Mrs Gleeson with some too, I fanned her for a bit, & she went to sleep. I wrote letters when I came back, it was awfully hot. Mrs Bailey & her daughter Mrs Lloyd & Mrs Cook came to call, & then Mrs Grubb & Miss Purcell came & then we went round the walks with them.
Thursday 26 July
Muz wrote letters, & I settled the flowers in the drawing room, it took me a good long time. After lunch I wrote letters, & then Mr & Mrs Barrington & Mildred motored over for tea, & afterwards we went round the walks. After they left Poppy & Ione went down to the hay, & I read for a bit. This morning Muz & Tom went down to see Mrs Gleeson.
Saturday 28 July
We got our things packed, & I did Duskey’s back etc, & we started off at about ten. We did some shopping in Nenagh, & got some stores etc: Moynan’s car took Lizzie down with all the luggage & luncheon baskets etc. We got down to the Bungalow at about 12-30, & I got things unpacked, & had lunch, & afterwards went out in two boats, to fish. Poppy & Ione in one with Jim; & Muz, Tom, & I in the other with Jimmy Hogan. It was lovely on the Lake. We had tea on the Corikeens, & then went on fishing till nearly dinner time. We got all the beds made, while Lizzie was getting dinner. After dinner we sat & talked for a bit, & we went to bed at about ten. Poppy is sleeping at the Hotel. It is the dearest wee house, & so awfully cosy. Our boat got [blank] fish, & the other got [blank]
“The dearest wee house”
Sunday 29 July
We were up at about seven, & Ione & Tom bathed, Muz wouldn’t let me, as I ought to be jimmying.5 But I put on the pyjamas as if I was going to bathe, & we took photoes [sic]. At about ten we all went out to fish, in the same boats as yesterday, we caught [blank] & they caught [blank]. We came back to the Bungalow for lunch, & afterwards Poppy stayed in, & we took Lizzie down to the Regatta at Derry Kennedy.6 We rowed down, & it was very rough, the Regatta was very amusing. They had a duck race & a goat race! The men chasing the duck! Then Mr Corbett brought us all back in his motor boat, but Ione sailed back. After dinner we talked & went to bed at about eleven.
Haimes (hames) = the two curved pieces of wood or metal placed over, fastened to or forming the collar of a draught horse ⇑
Uncanny Tales by Francis Marion Crawford (1854-1909) was a collection of horror stories published posthumously in 1911; it was published under that name in the UK and as Wandering Ghosts in the USA ⇑