Having worked for several months in Manor House Hospital as a volunteer, Jess Armstrong began to take a more serious interest in nursing. In January 1916, she and her friend Florence Stubbs began a nursing course organized by St John Ambulance Brigade and delivered at its headquarters in Folkestone. The course was made up of lectures on Tuesday nights and practice on Thursday nights and culminated in an examination in March. The cost of the course was two shillings and sixpence. Such courses gained increasing popularity among women during the First Word War, and some 45,000 trained volunteers of St John Ambulance Brigade worked as nursing assistants to save soldiers’ lives both at home and abroad. While Jess was testing her skills, her brother Pat Armstrong was granted leave and began his journey from Egypt to visit his family for the first time in over a year.
Monday 31 January
Worked in the garden nearly all morning. We got two letters from Pat, dated 8th & 11th. The 8th written while they were evacuating Helles. It was headed “Tonight’s the night.” After lunch Muz, Zooie,Mrs Pak & I went to call. We went & had tea with Mrs Parsons, – he married Zooie, – then on our way back went to Mrs Glass, but she was out. Then Mrs Adams & Colonel Peel came. After dinner I finished Mrs Pak’s dress for her, & we went to bed at about twelve. We sat & talked in the ball room first.
Tuesday 1 February
I waited about for a long time for a bath, then Ione & I had one together, after the others, & talked for a long time. Then I fixed the furniture in the rooms for the week-end. After lunch I worked for a bit at the nursing book, then General Pitman & Captain Spiers came in, on their way back to the Front. Ione brought Mr Willis in to say good bye too, as he is going out, then she went & had tea with him & some others & Mme de Marotte, at the Grand. Mrs Phillips & Kitty came for tea, but went early, as Muz, Zooie & Mrs Pak were going to have a Turkish bath, but couldn’t get one. I wrote to Algie. We got a wireless from Pat to say that he might get back on leave next week. Mrs de Lisle writes to say that her General sails on Thursday so they may get back together. I went to the nursing lecture.
Suez. Rode with the Gen & Percy. Got money from Cash W. Scottie took a badish toss. Went for a long ride in the afternoon with Percy. Chased a dog. Got leave sanctioned.
Wednesday 2 February
I worked in the garden all morning, then Muz & Heppie came out for a bit. Then Zooie took us all to the matinee “Little Red Riding Hood”.1 Ione was washing her hair. Worked at the nursing for a bit, & after dinner Mr Lyng came in, he is going off to Mesopotamia tomorrow. Then Mr Sutton came in, & he & Ione went down & got Mrs Adams to come up. She is awfully funny, & Mr Lyng was awfully funny with her. They sang & danced & left at about one. We went to bed at about two. Florence told me at the theatre last night, that the brother was to get back on leave last night or this morning. We got a wire from Pat today, to say that he sails tomorrow.
James Maxwell Stubbs
Suez. Left about 5.15 rode to Port Tawfik 2with the Gen & Percy. Went on board S. S. Mandala.3 Sailed about 2 p.m.
Thursday 3 February
Muz & Ione went down the town in the car, & Heppie, to shop. Zooie & Mrs Pak wrote letters, & I worked at the nursing for a bit. After lunch Muz, Zooie & Mrs Pak wet & had a Turkish bath, then Muz went to tea with Mrs Blair. Pat is in the paper today as getting a Military Cross. Letters from Pat dated 18th & 20th from Suez.
S.S. Mandala. Arrived Port Said about 8 o’c. Went on shore with Brand at about 9 o’c. Wandered about bought some lace etc. from Simon Arbi. Went on board again about 12 o’c sailed about 2 o’c.
Street scene in Port Said
Friday 4 February
Mrs D— & Mrs Blair came for tea, I didn’t go down. Mr Ross came to stay, & Ione & he went to the Tango Tea. Mme de Marotte & Mr Jones came for dinner, & they all went up to the Grand afterwards.
S.S. Mandala. Glorious warm day following wind. Walked about all morning. Slept in the afternoon.
Saturday 5 February
Mrs Pak, Zooie, Ione, Tom, Mr Ross & I went down the town. Kitty came for lunch, afterwards Muz, Zooie, Mrs Pak, Angela, Kitty, Mr Sutton, Ione, Tom & I went in our car & Mr Sutton’s to see the land slip4 at Dover, & we saw an air ship going up. Tom & I went to tea with Viva Brooke & the others went to the tango tea. Mrs Muir came to call, so Muz couldn’t come for the drive. Teddy Beresford & Angela Harter came to stay, & Mr Sutton came for the night. I went to the club, & Ione, Angela, Mr Ross & Mr Sutton went to the dance.
Sunday 6 February
Zooie & I went down to Sandgate to church, the others stayed in all morning & sang & danced. After lunch Ione Tom & Mr Ross went for a walk, then we all went too, but a different way. Kitty came for tea. Mr Vaughan-Jones came to dine, & he Ione, Angela, & Mr Ross went up to dance at the Grand. I went to the club.
Little Red Riding Hood, or the Saucy Squire of Sunnydale (1900) was a Christmas pantomime written by Victor Stevens. It ran for the first week in February at the Pleasure Gardens Theatre, Folkestone.⇑