During October 1917, five Allied attacks were attempted on the Passchendaele Ridge as part of the Third Battle of Ypres but without much success. The most notorious of these was the First Battle of Passchendaele which took place on 12 October. Heavy rain and mud made forward movement of the exhausted troops almost impossible and German counter-attacks recovered most of the ground gained by the Allies. The day claimed 13,000 Allied casualties of whom 2,735 were New Zealanders. Things were no easier on the home front where German air raids continued on an almost daily basis. This month saw the last large-scale Zeppelin raid which targeted the north-east of the country on 19-20 October. Dubbed as the Silent Raid, the attack was made by 11 Super-Zeppelins capable of flying out of range of anti-aircraft guns. However their giant size made them vulnerable to the stiff gale force winds which dominated the weather on the night and the Zeppelins failed to make their target, dropping bombs over London instead.
Monday 8 October
We left by the nine train, & got up at about ten, & went straight to the York, & left the luggage & Duskey. Then we went off to Mr Logsdail to see the painting of K, it is very good. Then went to Harrods, & met Mr Hamilton, saw Lady Ierne there. Then he & Ione went off, & Muz & I shopped, & then went to see Kitty Neill & the baby & she came & shopped with us, & then left us at the Berkeley. We had telephoned to General Jelf to meet us there, but he can’t be in town. Wrote letters when we got back to the hotel, & then went out to get dinner.
Tuesday 9 October
We were up early, as Ione went down to Folkestone by the nine train, to get her dress, for a dance tonight, & she comes back again by the five. She is dining with Mr Hamilton & the Harters. Muz & I shopped all day, then we went to see Lady de Lisle, & then came down by the seven train, Ione is staying at the Charing X Hotel tonight. Elizabeth1 came at about ten, & we got dinner ready etc, & went to bed at about 11-30.
The Harter boys
Wednesday 10 October
I sorted my newspapers most of the morning, & then went down the town to shop. Did papers again after lunch. Muz & E. worked in the garden. At about 6-30 Muz & I went to the Burlington & had a lovely hot bath! Ione was here when we got back. I brought her dinner up, & left out things2 etc.
Thursday 11 October
Ione went down the town in the morning, & then stayed in bed the rest of the day. A soldier came to dig the potatoes, so I had to go down the town & shop, & then get his dinner ready. Mrs Gee & her daughter came for tea, they are leaving Dover on Monday, because of the raids. General Steele’s servant came in to help the man, & then they put down the carpet in the best room, & were both here for tea. All the potatoes are dug now. Afterwards Muz & I walked to the laundry, & then I got dinner, as E. was out, then washed up etc: & then wrote & tidied, & got Muz some coffee, & we went to bed at about eleven.
Friday 12 October
Went down the town, to do some shopping. Muz wrote letters. Got tea ready, & helped Ione to shorten her aprons & dresses. She was expecting Capt: Baring for tea but he didn’t come. I wrote letters in the schoolroom with a lovely fire, & did accounts. Then Capt: Wright came, so I didn’t go in, I got dinner ready, & laid the table I the school room, & Ione helped me. When the washing up etc was done, I went in. He goes back to France tomorrow. He is Brigade Major now.
Letter from Brigadier General Rudolf Jelf, Dunster Lodge, Alcombe, Minehed, to Mrs Armstrong
“My beloved little Pat”
My dear Mrs Armstrong.
I am so very sorry that I was not in London when you were there. I have been very seedy, and had to come home, and had 5 weeks in hospital, & since then I have been having a very quiet time in Devonshire and am really much better. I suffered from over-work and trying to do too much, and if my beloved little Pat had been with me, it would never have occurred, but I had an absolutely inexperienced Bde Major after his death, and things were never the same, and I tried doing his work as well as my own. I don’t know what will happen to me yet. I do so very much want to meet you, & next time I pass Folkestone, I will let you know. Best love to you, and ever so many thanks for writing.
Gave out things etc: & got the table laid etc, & then wrote some letters. Captain Wright came for lunch, & then we had tea early for him, & he went by the 3-30 boat. Then Mrs & Miss Thurburn came to call, & then Muz & I went to visit York House3, & Manor Court4, & then did some shopping, & went to see Miss Walter on the way home. Ione went up to the Grand in the afternoon, & again in the evening.
Sunday 14 October
Gave out things etc: & did some tidying. I cut out a “jumper” to see if it would do for Ione, then got tea ready, as we thought Mrs Blake might be coming, but she didn’t. Afterwards Major & Mrs Bevor came to see us, he goes over to France tomorrow. He knew Pat at the Staff Course at Hesdin. They stayed till we went to the club at seven, & then took us down in their car. She is driving for the Ministry of Munitions. We were quite busy at the club all the time.
Monday 15 October
Muz, Ione & I went down the town to do some shopping & pay bills etc: we shopped all morning, & Ione didn’t get back till later. Did some tidying in the afternoon, & Muz wrote letters. Then I cut out a nightgown for Ione. Then Mr Ectors & Mr Jackson came for tea, & afterwards Mr J. helped Ione to jack up the car. He stayed very late, so we had to walk down to the club! & didn’t have dinner till late! Afterwards I helped Ione with her nightie, & Muz sorted letters. We went to bed at about twelve, after getting cocoa.
Tuesday 16 October
Went down the town with Muz & shopped. We bought some damsons to bottle, & Muz & Elizabeth did them all afternoon. I helped Ione with her clothes, & we worked all evening too. Then had roasting baths, & went to bed at about eleven. The things came from the curiosity shop in Camberley, we unpacked them. A looking glass, tables for morning room, & glasses.
Bottling fruit without sugar
Wednesday 17 October
It rained nearly all day. Gave out things etc:, & mended linen. Afterwards helped Ione with her clothes, & we worked all afternoon, & after tea went for a walk with Muz, & left cards at the hospital. Then worked again in the evening. Ward came up to try on Ione’s dress. Then we had baths, & I got cocoa, & we went to bed at about eleven.
Thursday 18 October
Gave out things etc, then went down the town with Muz, & we met Ione, & I helped her with her shopping, & Muz went to the auction rooms, & I met her there. After lunch I cut out a pair of breeches for Ione, & then sorted papers, & then went out with Muz. We talked to Mrs Cleghorn, & then Mrs Foster on the way back. I got dinner ready, & washed up etc: as E. was out, she went to the theatre, so I waited up till 11-30, to let her in! We had baths & then did papers till E. came in.
Friday 19 October
Air raid warning
Gave out things etc; & then went down the town with Muz, to shop. We had lunch in the town, & then went to the Auction Rooms, & bought two awfully nice glass goblets, & two china pots for the dining room, & five brass candlesticks. Duskey waited outside; we didn’t get back till six. Ione sewed all afternoon. I went to bed when we came in, as I was going to “Jimmy”.5 The Raid signal went at 8-45, so I had to get up & dress! & we went out on the front, E. stayed in the house. It was rather cold out there so we went in to the Grand, & I had to sit in the hall, as Dus: wasn’t allowed in. Ione went & danced, & Muz went in too. I talked to Mr Jackson for a bit, & then a man came & talked to me about Dus: & then stayed & talked the whole time, & then walked back with us. He is a Capt: Mulloy in the India Cavalry. The “all clear” signal went, soon after we got back – 1-45: They were over us for a short time, & the guns firing, we hear they were at Dover, London & Hull.
Saturday 20 October
I stayed in bed all day. I came down in the morning to leave things out etc: Muz wrote letters, & Ione went out, & then sewed. Mrs Foster came for tea, & Ione went to tea with Mr Hamilton at the Grand, & dinner & danced. The raid signal went at eight, so I had to get up & dress, we couldn’t see anything, so we just stayed in the house. Muz put the bottled fruit away, & I laid the table for tomorrow, & gave out things etc! The “all clear” went at 9-15. We hear they were at Dover.
Sunday 21 October
I stayed in bed nearly all day. I came down in the morning, & left out things etc. Mr Hamilton came for lunch. Afterwards Muz & Miss Peters went off to the hospitals. I got up, & got tea ready, but they didn’t come in till late. Ione & Mr H. had tea at the Grand. The Raid siren went at seven, so we went up to the Grand, & put Dus: into Mr H’s room, & Muz & I wrote letters. The “all clear” went at 8-30, & Ione & Mr H. went to a concert at the theatre, & we came home. I got dinner ready, as E. was out. Then Muz had her bath, & I sat with her, & did some mending. We went to bed at about 11. A policeman came in about our lights!
I am some distance from the place you like me to visit. I may however be able to go over there some day. I saw Fuller who was on his staff of 29th Div. He says he always regretted the rail round the grave was not painted to match the cross at the outset and hopes I can get it done. I will try therefore to get it done. I think I know how. The day before yesterday when I was walking along I met Lisalie’s husband, Welch isn’t his name? I had never seen him before but he told me who he was when I asked him if he had ever met me before. He looked very well. I told him I was very nearly at his wedding, which was the case if you remember. My leg is ever so much better6 – I quite hope to stick it out now but it is unfortunate that I have happened on a more exposed HQ [?] this winter and shall not be able to take care of myself so much as I did in the way of not getting in the cold and wet. It is bad luck. I see no signs of an end as yet, still one never knows. The Germans are I feel sure very hard hit & tired but they are not beaten yet. Lovely weather here and I see you have the same. I am afraid there’ll be bad raids if it lasts.7