The death of Lord Kitchener on 5 June 1916 had sent shockwaves across the British nation. Many feared that without Kitchener the ongoing war would be lost. However not everybody mourned his death. A controversial figure, Kitchener was revered by the British public but had lost a good deal of credibility among his peers following the failure of the Allied forces to gain victory in Gallipoli. As Kitchener’s body was never recovered, no funeral could be held; instead, a memorial service was celebrated at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The sinking of HMS Hampshire, which had led to his death, caused feverish speculation and gave rise to numerous conspiracy theories. Some speculated that Kitchener had been deliberately killed either by the British Government or by Irish republicans. Whatever the truth behind such speculations, the sinking was a terrible tragedy: of the 667 people on board the ill-fated vessel, only 12 survived.
Monday 12 June
I mended all morning, & did some tidying then did some washing after luncheon, then changed for the tea room, we were fairly busy. It rained hard all day. When I came back from the Dew Drop, I mended again, Muz & Tom went down to Sandgate. Major Winstanley goes back today, to France. We went to bed at about 11-30.
Acheux. Rained in morning. Stopped ride early. Went round line with Weeks 4th Army. Left about 10.30 got back about 3.30. Then went & saw trench for demonstration & on to 88th Bde Hd Qrs. Conference of Corps Commanders at Army Hd Qrs. Gen went to Corps. 1st day 20th. Rained hard at night.
Just a brief scribe before bed. The Gen & Bobby Nickalls got back about 12 o’c last night. N. seems a real good sort. It is great getting someone like that. A real stinking day all to-day, it has been raining on & off all day & awfully cold. Will you look among my kit & see if you can find a compass. It’s in a little leather case with a strap on it [sketch]. That sort of shape only bigger. Send it along as soon as you can. I can’t quite remember where it is. Try first in the black tin box. The General was very disappointed at not having seen you. Drop him a little line sometime & say how sorry you were to miss him. I heard from Brock to-day. He is very fed up with life. I’ll answer his letter & then send it to you. I got my £13 for the typewriter to-day. Good work that. Good night dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Tuesday 13 June
I had to try & get Ione’s dress altered for her as she wants it on Saturday. So I went up to Mrs Tinker’s, but she couldn’t do it, so had to go to Miss Weeks, then & had to go & hunt the town for stuff, & didn’t get back till after two, & was awfully tired. It rained hard nearly all day. After lunch Muz & I went round to Kitty, & stayed for tea. Afterwards a friend of hers came in, she hasn’t seen him for five years. Mr Ross was here when we got back, but didn’t say long. Ione & Mr Willis arrived at about eight, & after dinner they went up to the Grand, but there was no dancing until after the 16th because of Kitchener. So they went to Mme de Marotte. Went to bed at about 10-30.
Wednesday 14 June
Mr Willis went off by the 11-15 boat, Ione went down to the Harbour to see him off. Mr Ross came round here to get a parcel for Pat & he went by the same boat. I darned, & again all the afternoon. Muz & Ione went to tea with Mme de Marotte, & Heppie & I had tea in my room. Then they brought Kitty back here with them, & she sat, & talked, then we walked some of the way home with her. I darned again then wrote letters. Went to bed at about eleven. Yesterday they had a memorial service in all the churches for Kitchener. Kitty went, here, but I was busy seeing about Ione’s dress, so didn’t go.
Lord Kitchener’s last day
Thursday 15 June
I sewed all morning, & again after lunch. Then Kitty came round, & we were going for a walk, but Tom wanted us to talk to the boys, & give them tea. Laure was there too. Muz went to tea with Col. Wood – Jimmie’s Colonel – & Kitty stayed here, then Mr Marriott came, & later Mrs Ross, then Muz brought Mrs Nunn back. Then we changed quickly & went to dine with Kitty, Major Ogilvy was there too. We didn’t come back till after eleven. It is so funny having dinner & everything without putting up the lights, with this new daylight saving, it is awfully nice though.
Friday 16 June
Cleaned Duskey’s house out, & bathed her back & put boracic on it, & was busy with her nearly all morning. After lunch I did some darning & then worked at Muz’s dress. Muz wrote letters. Ione packed & then lay down. Heppie was shopping nearly all day. Kitty came round late, & sat & talked, & then we took her home. After dinner Muz & Heppie worked in the garden, I went to bed at about 10-30, as I had a tummy ache. There was a list of “Mentioned in Dispatches” in the paper this morning.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
I got enclosed from Miss Wills. I’ve been dining to-night with Gen Snow & got back to find a pile of work. It’s now 12 o’c so I must off to bed but just a line to let you know that all is well.
Your loving Pat.
Saturday 17 June
Another list of “Mentioned” in Sir Douglas Haig’s list this morning, & Algie is in it. Heppie came back from shopping at lunch time, & looked very sick, so we put her to bed. She got a wire to say her brother was worse. She has a chill as well, so we kept her in bed, & she was rather bad, & wanted to go home. Kitty came round fur me, & I had to go down the town to do more shopping. Then we went to the club, just we two, & Kitty & Mrs Boddam-Whetham. Heppie had some bread & milk when we got back, & we fixed her for the night. Went to bed at about twelve.
Sunday 18 June
Tom went to church & out on the front with Kitty. Muz wrote letters, & I did some tidying all morning. After lunch I gave out things & got tea ready etc, as Heppie is still in bed. Then Kitty came round for me, & she, Presh & I sat out in the garden, & Muz & Tom went to the band. Capt. Wright came for tea, he came down for the day to see us, it was very nice seeing him again, he went up to Town by the six train. His arm seems rather bad, as he can’t feel bits of it. Kitty came round, & we went down to the club, just us & Miss Allen. I felt rather queer while I was at the club, so I went out for a bit. We weren’t very busy. We settled Heppie for bed when we got back, & went to bed at about twelve.
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