In the early spring of 1916, the Young Men’s Christian Association opened a recreation centre in the Pleydell Gardens in Folkestone for soldiers. The first YMCA huts had been opened at the very start of the war, and by 1918 some 4,000 such centres operated not only in Britain but close to the front in various theatres of war across France and Flanders. The huts provided tea, sandwiches and other refreshments, writing facilities, reading materials and a quiet space for reflection. They were often located at or near railway stations or other places through which large numbers of soldiers would pass. The hut in Folkestone was one of 40 such centres opened by the YMCA in Kent. Not all were pleased with its arrival: residents in the immediate vicinity of the hut had objected to its erection on the grounds that it would interfere with their business of letting apartments to visitors, many of whom were convalescents.
Monday 6 March
Muz & I went up to London by the 8-30. We travelled up with a little woman, who we found had known Gordon in Quetta, a Mrs Alexander. Her husband had been killed in Mesopotamia last month. We went to the war office to see about Pat’s promotion, then went & looked or curtains, & got a spring hat, each. Then came down by the seven train, it was awfully cold travelling, but we got in fairly punctually.
Tuesday 7 March
It snowed all morning, went round to Kitty & then went for a walk. Kitty came round after lunch, & she, Muz, Ione & I went down to see Lady Jane Carleton about helping at the Y.M.C.A. hut. Then Muz went to be hostess at the Canadian club. We went on later. Miss Edwards gave me a yellow ribbon, so as I could introduce people too. We got back at about 6-30, & went to bed at about ten. Muz slept in our room, so as we could wake her in the morning. I got a letter from Miss Buchanan, to tell me that Mr Buchanan died yesterday morning in the hospital in London. She wrote such a nice letter.
Wednesday 8 March
A YMCA Hut
Muz, Ione & I got up at five, to go down & help at Lady Jane’s Hut. We have badges of the V.W.R.1 160 men came in, all English. They had come down by train, & were going to the Front. Our feet were awfully wet when we got down, but we managed to get them a bit dry, & then it got awfully warm later, when the stoves burnt up. Muz & Kitty did the post office, Ione the tobacco, & I cleaned away, & did the washing up. There was a huge crowd. The people that came on at six, went off at nine, but we stayed on till about one. After lunch we lay down till tea. Ione went up to the camp for a tango tea, & at seven Muz went to a girls’ club2 with Miss McGregor. I wrote letters, & wrote to Miss Buchanan, he is going to be buried tomorrow. Went to bed at about 11.
Thursday 9 March
Muz & I went round to Kitty, & then went down the town & did some shopping & talked to a lot of people. After lunch I went down to Lady Jane to ask her about Tom doing the club work, then I went to Wampach Hotel3 to meet Kitty & watch the dancing, & then came back here for tea, Win was here, & Mrs Williams & Miss & the married daughter & Mrs Tweedie. Ione & I walked home with Win & Kitty. Gave Duskey her supper, then we went to bed at about 11.
Friday 10 March
Ione & I went down to the Y.M.C.A. at nine, & were frightfully busy, it was the busiest day they have had since the club opened. I washed up & cleared away all the time. Muz came at 12-30, & I stayed on too, as they were so busy. Ronald Bald arrived & came down with Muz, so Ione left earlier. Muz & I didn’t get back till nearly five. Ronald, his sister & cousin came for tea, & Ronald stayed on later. Muz, Ione & I went & dined with Kitty, as it was Winifred’s last night, we came back at about 11, went to bed at about 11-30.
“Help Our Women War Workers”
Saturday 11 March
Muz, Ione & I went down to the Y.M.C.A. at nine, but there was very little to do. Kitty came down at 12-30, & Ione & I went home then, & Muz stayed till 4-30. Ronald came for tea, & Mr Sutton came in later. I went to the club, & we were fairly busy, & got back at about 10-30.
Sunday 12 March
I stayed in bed all morning, as I had a horrid headache & sore throat. I was going to tea with the Stokes, but couldn’t find the house, so came back, Ione & the Balds went. Kitty came round after tea, & later Corp. Anderson came. He wanted to tell us about Mr Buchanan, he said that his last words were to send us messages. He must have suffered awful pain, & it was all from neglect. Anderson came down to the club with us, & I talked to him for a long time, he is awfully cut up about it. One of the men from the Manor House was down at the club. Anderson walked back with Muz & me, he thinks he is going to the front tomorrow, as there is no use waiting any longer, now that Mr Buchanan is dead.
Suez. Walked up to church with Hardress. Arrived rather late. Then I went & talked to Percy for a bit. Waited about hotel till Garrived by 4 o’c train. Walked up & looked for Percy who was out. G. stayed the night at hotel.