Having travelled for a week, Pat Armstrong arrived in Folkestone to enjoy his first leave in more than a year. Such long gaps between home breaks were by no means unusual even among soldiers stationed in France or other areas close to the English Channel. On average, home leave was granted for a week once every 12 months although some soldiers never went home for as long as the war lasted. For officer ranks, home leave was more freely available. Special leave could also be granted when a soldier wanted to get married or when there had been a death in his family. The most longed for event was the Blighty wound, an injury serious enough to require recuperation at home but not so dangerous as to kill or permanently maim the victim. The term Blighty was the British soldiers’ corruption of the Hindi word vilāyatī, meaning foreign, specifically British. It came into common use during the First World War through popular music-hall songs such as Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty (1917).
Monday 7 February
Tommy Fairfax Ross
Mrs Pak, Ione,Tom, Teddy Beresford & Mr Ross went in the car, to the harriers meet, about six miles the other side of Ashford, they got back at 4-30. Mrs Phillips & Miss MacGregor came for tea. Mrs Phillips came to dine. We went to bed at about eleven, & Heppie, Tom & Mr Ross fixed up a leak in the radiator, & ran off the water.
Tuesday 8 February
The others went down the town. After lunch we all went down to the Harbour in the car, to meet the boat, but Pat didn’t come, we don’t know which day he arrives. Some of them went to see the land slip at Dover,1 in the car. After tea we played cards; & talked after dinner, & went to bed at about eleven.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
I’m enclosing a lot of old letters & some Egyptian photos. Will you keep them for me. I’ll write to you in another envelope as I’m just filling this one with all sorts of letters etc. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
A camel caravan in Egypt
Wednesday 9 February
Ione & Tom went out with Mr Ross. After lunch we went down to the Harbour in the car, to meet Pat, but he didn’t come, we got back for lunch at about 3-30. Mr Ross went away, Ione & Tom went up to see him off. Teddy Beresford went by the early train. Got a wire from Pat to say he arrives tomorrow.
A wire from Pat
Thursday 10 February
After lunch (2) we all went down to the Harbour, to meet the boat. Saw the Stubbses, Jim was going back to France. Came back for lunch at about three, Mrs Freeman came to call. Florence & Mary came to say that the boat was coming in, but when we got down we had to wait for a good long time. Muz & Ione got on to the Harbour, & Pat arrived at about 5-30, he is looking awfully well. Gen. de Lisle & Gen. Cayley came back on the boat with him. We went up & talked till late.
Friday 11 February
Muz, Pat, Ione, Tom & I went down the town, & Pat got his Military Cross ribbon on his coat. We went round to see the Stubbses in the morning, & they were in bed, then Ione, Pat, & I went to tea with them, Mrs & Mr & two Miss Parsons came for tea. When they went, Muz & Tom came round to us! We sat up till about 11, talking.
Saturday 12 February
Tom, Pat & I went down the town. We talked to Kitty & Major Winstanley. Afterwards Ione, Pat, Tom & I went up to the Grand, Pat talked to Mr Drake. After lunch, we all went out on the Leas & we met Mr Drake, they were going over to France. Mary came for tea. Heppie & Tom went to the club. Pat & Ione dined with Mme de Marotte at the Grand. Muz, Zooie, Mrs Pak & I went up afterwards to the dance.
Sunday 13 February
We all went to church, & went out on the Leas afterwards. Mr Arnoldi came for lunch, he came back here yesterday. Mrs & Miss Arnoldi came in afterwards for a bit. Mr Arnoldi, Florence, Muz, two men, Mme de Marotte, Mrs Adams, Mrs Clarke, Marshall Canadian staff man, Miss Peters came for tea & afterwards we sang songs. Colonel May & Mrs Adams came for dinner. Heppie went to the club for me. Mrs Phillips came round to say good-bye.
In mid-December 1915, part of a chalk cliff had fallen down at Warren Holt onto the Dover to Folkestone railway line, causing a train to derail ⇑