The Third Battle of Ypres reached its climax on 26 October 1917, when the British and Canadian forces began their third and final attempt to capture the strategically important high ground on the Passchendaele ridge. Two Canadian Infantry Divisions struggled forward in appalling conditions of mud and heavy artillery fire and, against all odds, successfully captured the village of Passchendaele on 6 November. This was sufficient for Field Marshal Haig to claim victory for the Allies and to call off the Third Battle of Ypres four days later. Meanwhile in Russia, Bolshevik workers and soldiers rose into rebellion on 7 November, gaining control of government buildings, overthrowing the Provisional Government and declaring the formation of a new government with Vladimir Lenin at its head. Many of the country’s grand duchies and governorates, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania among them, availed of the opportunity and proclaimed their independence from Russia.
Monday 5 November
We left by the nine train. Marsali Paterson was telephoned for, last night, to go home, as her mother is very ill, so we took her up, & Miss Tomkins came too. We went straight to the hotel, to see Ione, she was “jimmying”1 & in bed, we stayed there for a bit, & then went & shopped, & caught the five train down to Braunston.2 We didn’t see the baby, as he was asleep. Mrs Phillips was there too. We unpacked quickly, & changed, & after dinner we talked, & afterwards Kitty came up to our room, & talked about Pat.
Tuesday 6 November
Tristram christened. I went in to Kittie’s room before breakfast to see the baby, he is the sweetest wee thing, & such a tiny wee head. After breakfast I played with Pam, Kim, & Presh in the stables all morning. Then we changed & walked to the christening across the fields. Kim & Presh walked with me. The baby didn’t cry at all, until afterwards. I held him & was godmother. Dick & a clergyman were proxy for Capt: Hudson & Capt: McDiarmid, both out in France. A few people came back for tea, & afterwards Muz & I played with the children. Mrs Phillips came up & talked in our room, & we went to bed at about eleven.
Wednesday 7 November
Muz & I went in to Kittie’s room, to see the baby. Then after breakfast I played with Kim. Then Dick took Muz & I to see their old castle, in the car. Kirby Castle, it is one of the four last brick castles in England. It rained a good bit. After lunch we went for a walk with Dick across the fields, & afterwards played with the children. Then we went to bed at about 11. Presh was in bed all day so Dick & I went up to see her.
Kitty and Rosemary Winstanley
Thursday 8 November
Muz & I went in to Kittie’s room before breakfast, to see the baby. Afterwards I played with Pam & Kim out in the stables, nearly all morning. Then Muz, Kitty, Dick, & I went for a walk round the farm. It rained all afternoon. I worked, then later Kim came up & helped us to pack. After dinner Muz was awfully tired & depressed.
Letter from Irene Wills, Stromeferry, Ross-shire, to Mrs Armstrong
“It gets worse and worse”
I couldn’t answer your letter before, as there wasn’t a post till this morning. I leave here next Saturday and get to London on Sunday morning. You ask why I didn’t come, well, when I came to think it out I honestly don’t know. By this I mean, as I once told you, that having as a small child been brought up to do what was arranged it is difficult to alter that now I can arrange a certain amount for myself. I mean having settled to come up here when I did and everything was fixed up it didn’t occur to me to alter it and I just thought “I wish I could go, what a pity I can’t just at present”. There it is, darling, and having told you you will probably think me rather half-witted. It’s not easy to break habits of years, though Auntie, I’m sure, within limits, is only too anxious for me to do as I myself wish. I adored all the things you told me people had said and written, there never was or could be anyone in the least like our darling Pat. I do feel so proud almost overwhelmingly proud to think that I have been loved by Pat, it does make one feel so utterly [—]. Oh, my dear, it’s been awful these few days, but it was better to be up here in new surroundings, and having to keep going as usual for the sake of the girls, but I’ve just thought it gets worse and worse as the days go on. Well, that’s enough about me, darling. About the railings,3 unless you think Capt Gee might be hurt which I should say was most unlikely it would, I think, be much nicer to have them done brown, don’t you. Thank you, darling, for consulting me.
Very much love to you all from your daughter Irene.
Friday 9 November
We finished our packing, & Kitty came up too, then we left by the 11 train & went to the hotel to meet Ione, then Miss Farrer turned up, so we went off to shop, I got a wee silver brush & comb for Tristram’s christening present. Then we came down to Clodagh by the seven train, & there was no Elizabeth4, she can’t have got my letters. I have got a horrid cold. We got some dinner ready, & hot water bottles etc: & went to bed at about 11-30.
Saturday 10 November
Muz went down to get breakfast, then she washed up etc, & wrote letters. Then got lunch, & afterwards she went out, I stayed in bed till tea time, as I had a horrid cold. Then I lit Muz’s fire, & then Ione arrived unexpectedly for the week-end, so I lit a fire in her room, & Muz got dinner, & we had it in Ione’s room, afterwards she went to the dance with Angela Harter, who is down here for about ten days.
Sunday 11 November
We all came down & got the breakfast, & the Ione & I lit the fire. Then we all got lunch ready, & sat round the fire & talked, then Ione went off by the five train, & Muz & I went for a walk, & went to see Miss Aldridge about E. but she hadn’t been there. I lit Muz’s fire before we went out. We went to the club in the evening, & were fairly busy.