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Monday 6 to Sunday 19 May 1918

WEEKS 202-203: MY OWN CONSCIENCE WILL CONDEMN ME

Monday 6 to Sunday 19 May 1918

On 7 May 1918, the former Director of Military Operations Major-General Sir Frederick Maurice caused a political scandal by publicly accusing Prime Minister David Lloyd George of lying to Parliament about the strength of British troops on the Western Front during the German Spring Offensive. In Maurice’s view, it was the British government and not the army leaders that was responsible for the failure to master a breakthrough on the Western Front. Two days later, the accusation led to a heated debate in the British House of Commons spearheaded by the leader of the Opposition, Herbert Henry Asquith, who sided with Maurice. However, Lloyd George defended himself so eloquently that the Commons voted in his favour and the matter was dropped. The incident revealed the deep rift that existed between these two Liberal Party representatives, a rift which ultimately led to the Party’s downfall at the end of the war. A watershed of another kind was reached on 19 May, when 38 German Gothas made the last air raid of the war on London, killing 49 and injuring 177. Six of the planes were shot down during the raid by the increasingly effective British defences, which finally convinced the Germans that their air force would be better deployed to tactical roles on the continent.

Tuesday 7 May

jess__diary_cameoMuz & I got the dogs’ dinners ready etc, & at about 11-30 we started for Worcester, it began to rain, & rained for the rest of the day, but it was a nice drive. We had lunch sitting in the trap, at the stable, & then Muz & I went to see Dr Ede, & he said my throat was a bit better, then we shopped, & started back at about 5-30.

Wednesday 8 May

jess__diary_cameoDid a little bit of unpacking for Ione, & felt rather lazy all morning! Muz did the milk etc, & then wrote letters. Ione sewed. After lunch Muz, Tom & I took coats & books, & went & sat in the cowslip field all afternoon. Duskey & Wipers had great fun running about. Cut out a petticoat bodice for Tom, & watched Ione doing her nighties. Went to bed at about 9-30. Muz & Heppie didn’t come up till later.

cameo_geeLetter from Captain Robert Gee, 53 Mount Street [London] W1, to Mrs Armstrong

My Dear Mrs Armstrong.

“My own conscience will condemn me”

I ought to have written to you long ago but did not feel up to it. I have thought quite a lot about you all & wish I could be with you on the day1 but do please try & remember all the pain & horrors Pat has been spared during the past twelvemonths. I think I can understand in a measure how you feel & I do know how much you miss him but God’s will be done. How is Jess? better I hope. I was allowed up yesterday & today I am to go downstairs but am not to dress yet awhile. Had a nice letter from Lady de Lisle, she is coming to see me one day soon.

I am trying to get to a Convalescent Depot in the Midlands (I prefer country to seaside) in two weeks’ time & then after a month hope to be passed fit. I know you will disagree with me & personally I would rather lie in comfort at home that [sic] go through any more in France but I want to put it to you in my own fashion. If I stay at home my own conscience will condemn me because no individual has done his share until the Huns are beaten. Another reason is that if the Regular Army hang back how can we expect the new army men to go forward & best reason of all if Pat were here he would go back himself & he knows what I am doing. Please don’t call me obstinate for God knows my inclination is to stay with Mrs Gee & my girls2 & most married men would say the same but I just must try & get fit as quickly as possible & go out again. How is Tomy [sic] & Ione? Have you settled down yet & do you like the place. Mrs Gee & the girls are well & send their love. I see some of them each day.

Yours affectionately

Robert Gee

Thursday 9 May

jess__diary_cameoMended most of the morning, Muz got the dogs’ food ready etc, & then wrote letters, Ione sewed, & Tom wrote letters. After luncheon Tom & I went to the station, to see if Mike had come, she pushed me on the bicycle, the whole way there & back, & she was pretty hot. We sat in a wood for a bit. Muz & Heppie went to see Mrs Bainbridge. When we were having tea, Mike turned up, he had walked out, & come the wrong way, so he was rather tired, as it was a hot day. He had tea out in the garden, & then rode Tom’s bike.

Friday 10 May

jess__diary_cameoSat out in the garden & stuck papers on envelopes, so as to use them again, as a war economy! Then cut the newspapers. Dr Smith came to see Muz’s feet. Ione sewed, & Tom wrote letters, & Heppie cooked. After lunch Muz & I took the dogs down to the cowslip field, & we read till tea time, Tom came out too, but she sat in the wood. Heppie went in to Malvern by train. It was a nice hot day. After tea Muz wrote letters, & I read for a bit, & then wrote letters. Went to bed at about ten. Heppie had seven teeth out in Malvern. Muz walked to Bakers, & I went some of the way.

Tommy, Dusky and Wipers

Saturday 11 May

jess__diary_cameoRead for a bit in the morning, Muz wrote letters etc, & Ione sewed, & Tom wrote letters. After lunch we drove into Malvern, Heppie didn’t come, because of her teeth. We got back at about six. Sewed up in my room.

Monday 13 May

jess__diary_cameoI felt awfully queer in the morning, & nearly fainted. Muz came up & gave me brandy. I felt horrid for a long time. Stayed in bed all day. Read some of the time, & finished “Gay Lawless”3 by Helen Mathers. I had a horrid tummy ache nearly all day. Ione worked at her trousseau, & Muz wrote letters.

Helen Mathers

Tuesday 14 May

jess__diary_cameoStayed in bed all day, & read some of the time, & finished “What Katy did at School”4 by Susan Coolidge. It was awfully hot all day.

Thursday 16 May

jess__diary_cameoI stayed in bed all morning & read nearly all the time. It was dreadfully hot all day, & I was so hot that I had to get up for tea, & then went out with Muz to pick flowers to send to Captain Gee. Then I did up the parcel of things for Poppie’s birthday.

Friday 17 May

jess__diary_cameoTom rode her bike out of Malvern. I went out & sat in the wee wood beside the road, & worked at Ione’s blue nightie, I am doing all the seams etc, & she is doing the rest. I worked all morning, & it was dreadfully hot. Muz wrote letters. After lunch we all drove in to Malvern to shop. We had very heavy thunder, & a good bit of rain, but it was just as hot afterwards. Muz & I bought some china, & sent some yellow coffee cups to Joan de Hoghton, as a wedding present. It was very hot driving out.

Saturday 18 May

jess__diary_cameoSewed some of the morning, & then read for a bit. Muz wrote letters, & Ione worked. Mrs Reynold’s two girls5 arrived after lunch, they are down here for a few days. After tea Muz & I went to look for the plover’s nest, in the field opposite, but we couldn’t find it. We talked to Williams for a bit, on the lane, he is going to bring the post on Sundays. Then we walked up to the wood behind the sanatorium, it was one mass of bluebells, & looked perfectly lovely. We didn’t get in till late.

“One mass of bluebells”

Sunday 19 May

jess__diary_cameoMuz & I went to church, it was very hot walking back. Mike walked out for lunch, & afterwards Tom & he sat out, & Muz & I went & sat in a field off the sanatorium lane, & I sewed at Ione’s “Jimmies”6, & Muz read, & then Heppie brought us out our tea, & Tom & Mike joined us there, then Muz & Tom walked a bit of the way across the fields with him, going back. I went on sewing, & Heppie read. Then I finished reading ”Beulah”7 by Evans Wilson. The dogs hunted. Ione didn’t come with us, she stayed in & sewed. We didn’t come in till late. Went to bed at about 10-30, it was awfully hot all day.

Tommy and Mike


  1. Captain Gee is referring to the first anniversary of Pat Armstrong’s death on 23 May
  2. Captain Gee’s daughters, Amy and Edith Tan-Y-Castell Gee
  3. Gay Lawless (1908), a romantic novel set in the world of sport by Ellen Buckingham Mathews (1849-1920), also known as Mrs Reeves, who wrote under the pseudonym Helen Mathers. Although Mathews enjoyed considerable popularity at the peak of her career, not everyone was charmed by Gay Lawless. One critic reviewed the book in The London Daily News on 26 October 1908 as “a novel of the sporting world which in no way catches the sporting atmosphere because it in no way catches any human atmosphere at all.”
  4. What Katy Did at School, first published in 1873, was the second novel in the popular What Katy Did-series by Sarah Chauncey Woolsey (1835-1905) who wrote under the pseudonym Susan Coolidge.
  5. Evelyn Reynolds (b. c. 1903) and Kathleen Reynolds (b. c. 1905), daughters of Benjamin and Elizabeth Reynolds of Welland, Malvern, Worcestershire
  6. Sanitary pads
  7. Beulah (1859), a domestic novel by the American author Augusta Jane Wilson née Evans (1835-1909) who wrote under the pseudonym Augusta Evans Wilson

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