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Monday 15 to Sunday 21 April 1918

WEEK 199: JUST MY LUCK

Monday 15 to Sunday 21 April 1918

The initial success of the German Spring Offensive of 1918 placed a severe strain on the British Army. With manpower at a critically low level, David Lloyd George presented a plan to cabinet on 27 March to conscript another half a million men by means of a new Military Service Bill, which would extend the upper age limit of liability for military service from 41 to 51 and impose conscription for all Irishmen of military age. The Bill, which passed the House of Commons on 16 April, caused immediate outrage in Ireland, particularly as it was proposed as a condition for Home Rule. An Anti-Conscription Committee, comprised of diverse sectors of nationalist opinion, was convened in Dublin on 18 April to seek means to resist the legislation, and on the same day the Roman Catholic bishops of the country declared their objection to it. On Sunday 21 April, an anti-conscription pledge was taken in every Catholic parish across the country “to resist conscription by the most effective means at our disposal”.

Monday 15 April

jess__diary_cameoRead all morning, as it was very cold, & finished “The Terror by night”,1 by Saben. After lunch I mended, & the others went out, & later I took Dusky for a walk, & after tea I mended again, went to bed at about 9-30, & Muz had a bath, & came up later.

Tuesday 16 April

jess__diary_cameoIt rained hard all day, I didn’t go out all day, I mended some of the time, & then read, & finished “Sunk Island”2 by Harris-Burland. Muz & Tom went out for a bit before tea, & afterwards we all read.

Sunk Island

Wednesday 17 April

jess__diary_cameoI mended nearly all morning, Muz wrote letters, & Tom read. We had luncheon early, & then drove in to Malvern, & took Mrs Reynolds with us. It rained most of the day, but cleared up when we were coming back. We did a lot of shopping, & Mrs Reynolds got a chair for our room, & very nice one. I went for a run with Duskey when we got in, & then read for a bit, & Muz & I read after dinner & I did her feet. Finished reading “The Paying Guest”3 by George Gissing.

Thursday 18 April

jess__diary_cameoMuz wrote letters all morning, & I mended, & Tom went for a ride on her bicycle. After lunch Muz & I went for a walk & picked cowslips in a field, it was lovely. The doctor came in the afternoon, & said it wasn’t as well as he thought it would be. Tom had a music lesson. Mended nearly all evening, & went to bed at about 9-30.

An anti-conscription rally

Letter from Colin M. Wood, The King’s Own Royal Lanc Regt, c/o Medical Board Base Depot, A.P.O. S 17 B. E. F., to Jess Armstrong

Dear Miss Armstrong

Many thanks for your nice letter of March 22nd of which I was quite pleased to receive. You say in your letter that we must be near Arras? Well, now I can tell you – “Yes” – our position (left Flank) was about ¼ miles from where your Brother was killed, also I belong to the famous 76 Bge 3rd Division commanded by Brig General Porter and Maj Gen Deverell respectively. I have just come out of No. 8 Red Cross Hospital Boulogne, and am going on to Etaples tomorrow for a Medical Board. Was gassed in this last push but am now feeling much better! I hope to get some sick leave, and will get the book4 sent on to you when I arrive home. You remember me saying I was coming home for 6 months – “well it’s just my luck”, for just 3 days before my time of departure this beastly old German offensive started, and the whole thing was washed out! Am just longing to get home for a bit of a rest, but expect this M.B is my only chance now, for I feel just about worn out. I was just wondering if in my case, I could get a period of Home Service by applying to War Office. You see, my 3 Brothers5 are all on active service, and my mother who has been an invalid for 7 years (cannot even feed herself) has none of her family at home with her and in case anything should happen, I think it the duty of one of us to be near home! Am so sorry that you didn’t get in touch with “Van Mill”. I’ll try and get in touch with some person that may know where he is to be found. Have you done any more with the German Authorities to try and get some information regarding Capt Penrose or shall you have to wait until after the war. By the way, do you know where your Brother is buried? This is not a very cheerful letter for you, but it’s the way one feels these days. Kindly give my best wishes and remembrances to your mother also accept same yourself.

Yours very sincerely

Colin M. Wood.

Letter from Miles Beevor to Ione Armstrong

A letter from Miles Beevor

Dear little Ione,

I thought you might like to know that finding myself billeted near by I went to-day to see if dear Pat’s grave was still in good order. There has been heavy shelling round about where he is buried, but the large burial ground has escaped & the dear boy’s resting place is untouched. I wrote to you a short time ago & I hope you received the letter. When you can spare the time I hope you will tell me all about yourself & your plans. I am very busy, rather tired & suffering considerable inconvenience from being gassed 12 days ago. The most unpleasant effects take a long time to wear off, but I have been able to hold out so far & think I am getting over it. Every good wish for you, little friend & the best of luck to your fiancé.

Believe me your very sincere friend

Miles Beevor.

“The dear boy’s resting place”

Friday 19 April

jess__diary_cameoIn the morning I went off on Tom’s bicycle to pick primroses & cowslips, & I got across the stream & got some bluebells too, then Muz & I settled them & we made the rooms look nice, & settled tea, & then went off to meet Nitter & Mary Baird. They said they would walk over the hills from Colwall, so we walked about two miles to meet them, & Tom went on her bike. We waited for ages, & then came back, & met them at the Welland Cross Roads! They had come the wrong way! They had to go at about six, as they were walking back too. They had only just left, when Ione, Heppie & Wipers arrived, they had come by the one train from London. They had tea, & we talked, & Ione loves the house. She is to sleep in Muz’s bed, & Muz is going to sleep with Heppie. My throat felt rather fat after the long walk, it must have been about four miles.

Saturday 20 April

jess__diary_cameoTom went for a ride on her bike, & I went for a walk, & Muz & Heppie went out. After lunch Ione, Tom & I went for a walk. Dr Ede came & wanted to open my throat, but Muz didn’t want him to do it, so I am to have poultices on. I had two on before I went to bed, & am going to have them on now & not go out.

Sunday 21 April

jess__diary_cameoI had a poultice on before I got up, & then kept them on all day, & didn’t go out at all. Ione worked at her trousseau nightgowns all day. I read for a bit, & finished “The Stage Door”6 by Arthur Applin.

“Irishmen Don’t You Hear It?”


Footnotes

  1. The Terror by Night (1912), a novel by Gertrude Chetwynd Shallcross Saben (c. 1856-1939) with Frederick Evelyn Burkitt (1882-1948)
  2. Sunk Island (1911), ‘a powerful story of love, mystery and invasion’ by John Burland Harris-Burland (1870-1926)
  3. The Paying Guest (1895), a novella satirising class distinction in the Victorian era by George Robert Gissing (1857-1903)
  4. From Mons to Ypres with French. A personal narrative by Frederic Coleman. Toronto: William Briggs, [1916]
  5. Bombardier Eric Pearson Wood (1887-1923) Royal Field Artillery; Pioneer Major Wilbraham Wood (b. 1888) Royal Engineers; and Driver Leslie Wynne Wood (1895-1952) Royal Field Artillery Manchester Regiment, brothers of Lieutenant Colin Maddox Wood
  6. The Stage Door (1909), a novel by the actor, playwright and author Arthur Applin (1873-1949)

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