In January 1918, Mrs Armstrong’s brother-in-law Harold Echalaz Welch was invited to Buckingham Palace to receive the award of a Distinguished Service Order, a military decoration given to officers in command for gallant service under fire. Harold had been attached to the 6th Battalion King’s Own Shropshire Light Infantry as Captain at the start of the war and had risen rapidly through the ranks. In September 1917, he was appointed Acting Lieutenant Colonel and placed in temporary command of the Battalion during the absence of its Commanding Officer owing to illness. Harold gained his Distinguished Service Order while leading the Battalion during the Battle of the Menin Road later that month, placing his life at risk by reconnoitring the ground personally in advance of his troops. Further glory was to follow in November 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai, when Harold’s battalion “was held up in a most exposed position. During the hours which elapsed before the advance could continue he moved about under fire regardless of danger, reconnoitring the situation, visiting his companies, and issuing orders. Owing to his efforts his battalion was eventually able to continue the advance successfully. His leadership and courage set a magnificent example to all ranks.” For this act of gallantry, Harold was issued with a bar to his medal in February 1918. It was an uplifting start to the new year, which the Armstrong celebrated at Harold’s home in Bridgnorth. Part of the festivities involved the sampling of a plum pudding from Moyaliffe with a ring hidden inside. To everyone’s amusement, the ring was found in Ione’s slice of the pudding, an omen which was to prove truly prophetic!
Monday 31 December
I mended nearly all morning & finished Muz’s petticoat bodice. Muz wrote letters. Mrs Welch came up for lunch. Zooie stayed in bed for a bit, & Jimmy went out to shoot. Sewed in the afternoon, & then Ione & I went down to have tea with Mrs Welch, then Muz & Heppie went for a walk. Then Ione lay down & I sewed. We went to bed after dinner, & then just before twelve, Janet came in & woke us, & we went down, to see the new year in! Tom wouldn’t come down, she was so sleepy, & Zooie & Jimmy didn’t either. We turned money, & bread! & Janet brought a dove in, to mean “Peace”, & we ran about, & it was rather fun! Then we all had tea, & talked till nearly two! We went in & woke Tom, as she wouldn’t get up!
Tuesday 1 January
Muz, Ione, Tom, Heppie & I walked in to church, but found there wasn’t a service, so we went to Jimmy’s church, but it was just over. Then we went to the Welches for a bit, & then walked out with Jimmy. The Moyaliffe hamper arrived yesterday, so we had nearly all home things today at every meal! Ione got the ring in the plum pudding! Muz, Zooie, & Jimmy went to tea with Janet, Heppie went into the town, & I sewed, & Ione lay down.
Erin’s Christmas Pudding
Wednesday 2 January
We were up early, as Ione was going off by the nine train. She goes to the Curzon Hotel this time. Muz drove in with her, & I walked, & then I walked out with Uncle Jimmy. At about 11, we all went off to Shrewsbury, Jimmy had managed to hire a car, although the restrictions are very strict! We dropped Heppie near Broseley, & she walked home. Zooie & Jimmy had lunch at the Depot, & we three had it by ourselves. Then we shopped & walked about, & met them for tea, & then had a lovely drive back, but it was very dark, & a very thick fog, so we didn’t get back till after seven. We went to bed at about ten. Heppie got quite a lot of china at Broseley.
Thursday 3 January
Mended nearly all morning. The others wrote letters. After lunch, Muz, Zooie & I went in the pony trap to pay calls, & I was to be “Muttons”. We went to the Willis’s first, they live about a mile out, & they were in, & I drove the pony about, then we went to the Clarke-Maxwells & they were out, so we got back in time for tea, & Heppie, Tom & I went to tea with Janet, & stayed talking to her till dinner time. Uncle Jimmy was out shooting all day.
Friday 4 January
A Distinguished Service Order Medal
I wrote letters all morning. Then again in the afternoon, & then mended. The others went in to the town. Zooie & Jimmy went to call on the Warrens, & he wasn’t well, when they got back, so he had dinner in the smoking room, & afterwards we sat in the dining room, & I darned, & then we went to bed at about 10-30.
Saturday 5 January
Mended some of the morning, & the others wrote. Jimmy stayed in bed all morning, as he wasn’t feeling well. After lunch he walked into the town, & brought out some soda water, & went to see the Welches. Jimmy was up when we came back. He had got a telegram to say that he was to be at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, to get his D.S.O.1
Sunday 6 January
We all went to church, then went in to the Welches afterwards, Miss Southwell was there. After lunch we went in again to church, to the Intercession Service. After tea we wrote, & Muz read, in the dining room.
Monday 7 January
Zooie & Jimmy went to London by the 12 train, he is going to an Investiture on Wed: to get his D.S.O. Muz & Tom walked in to see them off. I mended all morning, & then sewed again in the afternoon, & then took Duskie for a walk in the dingle. After tea I lay down, till dinner time, & then went straight up to bed after dinner, & Heppie put Muz to bed.
Tuesday 8 January
Mended most of the morning, after lunch Muz, Tom & I walked in to the town, & did some shopping, & went to see the Welches. We brought out some biscuits for Duskey. We settled to go to London tomorrow by the early train. Wrote letters after tea. Packed after dinner, & Janet lent us a smaller box.
“By the early train”
Wednesday 9 January
Muz & I went to London by the nine train, & Ione was waiting at the hotel. Then we went off to Doucé2 ! Then we had tea, & then sat with Ione, while she lay down. Then she went to the theatre with Mr Everard & Mr Orr, we didn’t see them start. We had dinner, & then went to see the Kirwans at the Curzon Club. We stayed with them till about 9-30, & then went back to bed.
Thursday 10 January
We went in to Ione in the morning, & then caught the 11 train down to Farnborough, to look for a cottage or something. It was a horrid slushy day! We wandered about all day, but didn’t find anything much use. We got back at about six, & Ione had dinner with us, & we went to bed at about ten.
Friday 11 January
Muz & I went down to Clodagh by the nine train. We wired to E.3 to meet us. When we arrived we found a pipe had burst, so I went down to see E. as she hadn’t come, & to do some shopping. The plumber came up, & E. came after lunch, so we were busy all afternoon. We went in to tea with Miss Peters, & then caught the 8 train back to London. We went to Ione’s room, when we got back, to leave the milk we had brought up. She was at the theatre with Mr Everard. We didn’t get in till eleven, so we went straight to bed.
Saturday 12 January
“The man that Muz saw in her dream”
We went in to see Ione in the morning, & then went down to Eastcote, to look for a cottage or something, I had a horrid pain, & thought I was going to faint! We found rather a nice wee cottage there, but she is not sure if she can let it. We had lunch there, & then walked to Ryslip, & took the train back, form there. We got back at about six, & changed & sat in our private sitting room. Mr Everard came to dine, & afterwards we talked, & he stayed till after twelve. Then we talked for a bit, & went to bed at about two! He is the man that Muz saw in her dream!
Sunday 13 January
We all met at the hospital in the morning, Mr Everard & Mr Poutchin too, & we went out in the Park. We met Reenie for a few minutes. Then Lady de Lisle & Mr Everard came for lunch, & afterwards & Ione & the two men went to the Zoo. Maurice Guinness talked to us for a bit, & when Leila went, Muz & I went to tea at the Carleton, & the others met us there, & we talked till late. Then we went to see Lady Biddulph.