WEEK 101: A BIG BATTLE ON THE NORTH SEA
Monday 29 May to Sunday 4 June 1916
The greatest naval battle of the First World War, the Battle of Jutland, took place on 31 May-1 June 1916. Fought between the German and British Navies off the coast of Denmark, it was the culmination of many years’ competition between the two countries for naval dominance. Tactically, the battle was a draw although Germany claimed victory as it had sunk more ships and lost fewer men than Britain. Strategically however the British gained the upper hand as Germany never again contested control of the seas, turning its efforts to submarine warfare instead. News of the battle was followed with interest both by Jess in Folkestone and Pat in Acheux. Pat also awaited news of a trench raid carried out by the Lancashire Fusiliers against German troops. Trench raids were used to combat long spells of inactivity in the trenches to foster the fighting spirit of a battalion. As the Lancashire Fusiliers found to their cost, they were a risky venture, achieving little and resulting in the loss of many of a battalion’s best men.
Monday 29 May
Zooie & I went up to London by the 9-30 train, & Muz came up from Camberley & met us at Charing Cross. Then we went off & shopped, & had lunch at Evans, & tea at Fullers. Then we went for a drive round the Park, & then came down by the seven train. Zooie saw us off, & then she crosses over tonight to Ireland. We got to bed at about twelve.
Tuesday 30 May
Muz & I went down to the Harbour to meet General Snow. Muz got a pass, & I waited outside, & talked to one of the sentries, who used to be in the R.I.F. Gen. Snow says Algie has done very well, & is going to get a Brevet. Then we did some shopping, & went to see Lady Jane, but she was out. We came back for lunch at about three. After tea Muz & I walked up to the hospital, & didn’t get back till 7-30. Mr Baldwin sent me the book he promised me “They”. Ione is still at Camberley, & I think Harry goes over to see her today. Heppie worked in the garden, & is making the rockery outside the conservatory, in the back, it looks awfully nice. We went to bed at about 11-30.
Wednesday 31 May
Lady Jane came to see Muz about going up to the meeting in London on Monday. I did some tidying, & then wrote letters nearly all day, & had an awful lot to write, so I finished them all. Heppie worked at the rockery. Major MacGregor came to see Muz, he is back on leave, got a letter from Pat, he says he has met Algie, & likes him awfully. I wrote again after dinner, & then went to bed at about 11-30.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
I started to write this last night but got sent out and didn’t get back till about 12 o’c. So I’ll continue now for a bit till somebody comes and worries me. There isn’t much news here. I’ve started the riding class this morning. I now have 26 officers which makes rather a big ride. However it’s really rather amusing and kills a good hour in the morning. The weather is simply glorious. I had a long day in the trenches on Monday but haven’t been there since. I’m wishing I had bought one of those steel helmets from Hawkes, as we all have to wear them now & these issue ones are brutes. I can’t keep them on my head atall. However I have wired to Hawkes for one & hope to have it in a few days. I’m having rather fun schooling that little mare I got when we were at Long. She is awfully green but is coming on quite well. “Whiteface” is doing well. I have got her out in a field. She is still a bit stiff on her knees but it’s nothing very much. I hope to have her at work again in a month’s time. The General talks of going on leave next week. It would do him good to get away for a bit. No sign of Bobby Nickalls yet. I hope he comes out soon. Old Pierce arrived back last week so now Hardress is second in command of the Inniskillings. I think he his rather sorry now that he left his job here. But as he says he thinks that he was loafing here as an A.D.C.
I had an awfully nice letter this morning from the Duchess. What a pity we didn’t know sooner that they were in London. Fancy they were there the whole time & we never knew it. I also heard from Pokes. I will answer both letters and then send them to you. Pokes is rather funny about the little girl. I do hope that he & Bunty will go and stay with you. The only thing that I’m wondering about is if they have your address. Algy Neill came over last night and wants me to go and dine with him to-night. I’m going to try to get him to come here as we have our Divisional band playing. What an old beast Mrs Anderson must be. It would be almost better for Ione to chuck the job altogether. Horrible old scandalmonger is about what she is.
I’m so glad you have an idea about curtains for the morning room. That would be a really nice room if once you get those up. No I’m afraid I never wrote to Kathleen. It is so hard to write letters. One writes all day & then wants to get out as soon as work is done. I seem to write letters about 12 o’c at night. However I’ll try & write to her soon. I don’t think it’s any good your thinking about G. for Ione. That Girl will never let him go, she’ll marry him the first leave he gets and then the fat is in the fire. So in fairness to G we must all make up our minds to like her. If we all go on crabbing her the way we do we will all end by disliking her, which I think is a pity & it isn’t fair on G. as I’m sure she is really quite a nice girl. As long as we think that he may care for Ione we will all dislike her. Well now we must realise that he is going to marry Doll & this is the end of it. I’m really rather glad Ione is rid of Harry. It was a bad affair & he’s such a weak fool that she would never be happy with him. I hope those people send my photos soon. I’m longing to see how my horses come out. We are having the band playing to-day for lunch. It has just started & lunch is ready too, so I’ll cease fire. That girl’s birthday you were asking me about is, I think, on the 1st of July. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat
Thursday 1 June
I worked at Muz’s dress nearly all day, I am making her a black one with white. Lady Jane came after tea, to talk over things for the meeting. When she left, we got a letter from Kitty to say that he was getting extension of leave, so they wouldn’t be back till Tuesday, so I went down to see Lady Jane so as she could wire to Kitty in the morning to ask her to come up. Ione came back by the late train, she had gone to stay with Molly Meadows, but they wanted her to come back. We went to bed at about twelve.
Acheux. Took ride 7.30. Left about 11 o’c & went round trenches looking at our dug outs. Got back about 5 o’c.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
Only a brief scribe to-night as I’ve had a long day in the trenches and want to go to bed fairly soon. Algie came over and dined with me last night, we had our old Div band playing which was rather nice. What an awfully good sort he is. I like him most awfully. I’m sure he’s an awfully fine man. Little O’D is billeted in the wood here & came in to see me for a few minutes this morning. He has gone off to Paris to-night for a few days leave. He was looking awfully well and in great heat.
There is going to be a fourth of June dinner at Amiens which I think we are going to, it may be rather amusing. I have got to run a demonstration here on Monday so will be rather busy the next few days. It means a good deal of arranging. I have got to work out the programme in the morning it’s too late & I’m too sleepy to start on it now. The General & T. are going on leave next week. I think he goes on Tuesday but it’s not settled yet. The boat leaves at 12.45 on Monday and 1.15 on Tuesday and 2 pm Wednesday (French Time). Well! I had to cease for a bit and draft my scheme for the demonstration as I want to show it to Col Fuller in the morning & now that I’m left here peacefully I thought I could do it quieter than in the morning. I haven’t had time to answer the Duchess’s or Pokes’s letters yet. When I do I’ll send them to you. I must be off to bed now as it’s 12 o’c and I have to be in riding school to take this ride at 7.30 in the morning. Best love dear wee Mus. T. asked me to give you all his love & to tell Tommy that he had written to her.
Your loving Pat.
Friday 2 June
I worked at Muz’s dress all morning. The others did some weeding in the front garden. Then Mrs Allen came to talk about Monday. After lunch I sorted newspapers, & tied them up, & got a lot done, then tidied my big cupboard, & different things, after dinner I went out with Heppie to get stones. Went to bed at about 12-30. Mr Hooper came to see me, but Muz told him we were up at the Grand, so he went up there, the others were having tea with Mrs Ross. Ione danced with him.
Acheux. Ride 7.30. Rode over to Louvencourt to see Gen Williams about demonstration. Abbott &Ellis came over in the afternoon. Went out to training ground again in the afternoon. Left here at 12 pm with Abbott and went round left sector. Got back about 5 am next morning.
Saturday 3 June
Tidied the house all morning, & Ione & I settled flowers, we got the morning room nice, & put out books etc. There were quite a lot of things to be done. Mrs de Lisle came by the one train, Ione didn’t come down to lunch. After lunch Muz, Mrs de L. & Tom went out on the front, & then went to tea with Viva Brooke, & then went down to the Club, & I met them there, we had a good lot to do, & went to the Grand afterwards as we heard Capt. Ross was back so she thought the General might be, but neither were. Capt. Alexander was here all evening with the others. There was a big battle on the North Sea on Wed last, the biggest that has ever been.
Acheux. Ride 7.30. Spent most of the morning making arrangements for the demonstration. Went out to training ground in the afternoon & then met Hogg at 5.30 and walked round the boundary. Lancs Fus carried out raid against north of Hawthorn Ridge. They got into the trenches which were unoccupied. One man wounded. 88th Bde had 11 killed and 28 wounded. Col Kelly badly wounded.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
We are sitting up to-night waiting for our raid to start. We are raiding a bit of the German trenches opposite our front. There is to be a heavy preliminary bombardment then our raiders go forward at 12.40. I’m very sleepy as I was out all last night. I left here at 12 o’c and went round our trenches getting back about 5 o’c & was then on parade again at 7.30 taking the ride so I didn’t get much sleep. Algy asked me to dine with him to-night but I couldn’t go in case I am wanted here. I heard from the Stereoscopic Coy this morning they won’t send my photos till I send them a cheque. Rather annoying of them isn’t it. I will send them one to-morrow & tell them to send the photos to you then when you have seen them send them on to me. I do hope they have come out well. I had seen the photos you sent me to-day but like having them, I left them behind by mistake. I haven’t heard from Miss Wills yet but expect to hear soon as I heard from the Times Book Club this morning that they had sent her the books. I hope Pokes & Bunty go & stay with you. I wonder if you left them your address.
The bombardment has just started there is quite a good noise going on. I do hope this show is a success and that we kill plenty of Bosch. That naval battle of Jutland seems a bad affair we haven’t had any details yet but what little we have heard doesn’t seem too good. I had an awfully nice letter from Blanchie yesterday. I will send it to you sometime. I wish I had seen them in London, they were staying in Frankie’s flat. I’ve had quite a busy day to-day. I was in the Office all morning, there was quite a lot doing then this afternoon I rode out to make further arrangements for the demonstration on Monday. I do hope it will be a success, the General will be so awfully disappointed if it doesn’t all work out well. The lad who tried to run the last one made an awful mess of it, & then whole thing was put off. So now I feel that it’s up to me to run a good show. Will you send me a tin of “REDUCINE” I want it for Whiteface’s knee. A chemist would get it for you. It is made by a fellow in Dublin but I can’t remember his address. Anyhow I don’t think that you will have any difficulty in getting it. The other little chestnut mare is coming on awfully well. I school her every day now & find that she is very quick at learning. She was awfully green and scarcely knew what the reins were for. I hope in a month’s time to have her as handy as a polo pony.
Will you send me a pair of pyjamas I sent to the wash when I was home. I sent them the day we went to London but they weren’t back when I left. My silk ones are too good to wear out here. If you can’t find them will you get me a couple of pairs of those cheap Swan & Edgar ones & send them out to me. What fun we did have in London it was a long way the best leave I have ever had. I wonder if you understand about the “girl’s birthday”. You asked me for the date and that is the nearest I can get to it. The General goes on leave on the 7th. The boat leaves that day at 2 pm (French time). Then I think he comes back again on the 12th. Well wee Mus I think I have told you all my news and I’m so sleepy that I’m stupid. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Sunday 4 June
Muz, Ione, Tom, Mrs de Lisle & I went to church, & went out on the Front afterwards. It was very cold so Ione went in, then we met the Battiscombs, & went in to discuss the Y.M.C.A. affairs with the Allens. Mrs Ross came for lunch, & we sat in the morning room afterwards, & talked. Then Lady Jane, Miss Allen & Mrs Battiscombe came for tea, & we all discussed. Then Ione & I went to the club, only Miss Keir there, & we weren’t busy. We waited up till about eleven, & then Mrs de Lisle & Ione went to bed, as we thought the Stokes’s weren’t coming. But they turned up at about half past, as their train was very late. Muz & I gave them dinner, & then we went to bed, we said good bye to him, as we weren’t going to see them in the morning, & we didn’t know what time we would be back. We went to bed at about one o’clock. We lost 3 battle cruisers, 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers, the Germans lost 3 battleships, 2 battle cruisers, 4 light cruisers, 9 destroyers, & one submarine.
Acheux. Took ride at 7.30. Rod out to 86 Bde and made arrangements for the demonstration. Went round with Grand and Cripps in the afternoon and put out notice boards. Left at 5.30 for 4th June dinner at Amiens with Ovey, Mellor and Brand.