Throughout the First World War, Folkestone remained one of the country’s most important front-line locations owing to its coastal setting and proximity to France. Millions of soldiers were carried from here across the channel as reinforcements, and tens of thousands were billeted in the town. Between 1915 and 1916 alone, 70,000 Canadian soldiers were trained and equipped at Shorncliffe Camp. From very early on, it became clear that the camp, which could only accommodate some 8,000 soldiers, was unable to meet the demand placed on it, and large numbers of men were billeted in tents, temporary huts and hotels. As the demand increased further, many private homes opened their doors to offer a bed, bath and a meal for a modest fee. The Armstrong family seem to have engaged in such activity or at least in the provision of food for soldiers, as Jess’s cryptic daily comment ‘gave out things’ leads to suggest.
Monday 19 June
Heppie still in bed, but she is a bit better. I did tidying & mending etc all morning, & did the washing & gave out things. Muz worked in the garden for a bit. Went to the tea room1 after lunch, Mrs Smidlems & Mrs [blank] were in the Kitchen today instead of the other two, & I think are going to do it every Monday. We had very few people in. I walked home with Miss Patterson, & we sat on the Leas for a bit. Muz, Tom & Kitty went to a concert at the Grand this afternoon, & then had tea with Kitty. I played with Dus. in the garden, then gave her her dinner. Heppie got up for a bit, as she wants to go home tomorrow, as her brother is getting worse. Ione came back by the late train, she has been with the Kirwans all the time. Settled Heppie off for the night, & went to bed at about 11-30. After dinner Muz & Tom went round to see Mrs Ross for a bit.
“We sat on the Leas for a bit”
Tuesday 20 June
I wasn’t feeling a bit well, as I had a horrid threatening of dysentery. Went down the town & did all the shopping & then went to Mrs Green to get pills for Heppie. When I got back Heppie got a wire to say that her brother had died this morning at five o’clock2. She is awfully upset. Kitty came round for me after lunch & we went down the town to shop. Mrs Meadows & Mrs Ross were here for tea, & afterwards Muz & I walked up to the hospital, then bought note paper in Sandgate on the way back. Then I sat with Heppie for a bit, then gave out things, etc, & went to bed at about eleven.
Wednesday 21 June
Went down the town & did the shopping. After lunch I lay down as I was feeling horrid. Muz & Ione went to call, & then went to tea with the Callaghans to see the wedding presents3. Kitty came round for me, but I couldn’t go down. I lay down, & then gave out things etc. Heppie is still in bed, but a little better. Went to bed at about 10-30, after having supper in bed, & reading for a bit. Muz worked in the garden.
Thursday 22 June
Went down the town & did the shopping, I didn’t want to walk far, so I didn’t do very much. Ione worked in the front garden, & Muz worked at the potatoes. Heppie is still in bed, but better. I lay down for a bit after lunch. Mr Arnoldi came for a few minutes after lunch, he came back last night. Muz worked more in the garden. I took a dose of oil, & lay down. Then gave out things for dinner etc, & went to bed & read for a bit, & went to bed at about 11-30.
The garden at Clodagh House
Friday 23 June
Went down the town to do the shopping, etc. & after lunch left out things, & got the tea. Kitty came round, & we strolled about, but I didn’t want to walk far. Then I cut out a pattern for a blouse for Heppie. Then Kitty, Miss Allen, & Mrs Ross came for tea. The Y.M.C.A. had a wonderful account of all their good works in the paper today! Heppie still in bed, her brother is to be buried today. She was very depressed all day. It rained nearly the whole day. We went to bed at about 10-30.
Saturday 24 June
Went down the town to do the shopping. Tom came with me. Then I left out all the things etc. Heppie still in bed. After lunch I worked at the blouse again, & then Muz, Tom & I went to tea with Viva. George Ffrench was there too. We played “Kuhan Kan”4 afterwards, then we went to the club, only Mrs Boddam-Whetham, & Miss Crawford were there. Ione dined with Mr Lettington, & went to the dance. She sent us a note to say that he wanted to stay the night & go at six next morning. We got back at 10-30, & nothing was done, so we had to get his room ready, breakfast & everything. May5 went up at about 11-30, but I stayed up with Muz, as we thought they would be back any time, but they didn’t come till 1-30, so we didn’t get to bed till after two.
Sunday 25 June
Muz, Ione, Tom & I went to church, then out on the front afterwards. I didn’t stay out long, as I had a lot of things to do. After lunch left out things etc. & put away the washing & tidied. Muz & Tom went to the band. Heppie still in bed. Got tea & did odd things. Then two boys came for tea, & Kitty came later, & we sat in the garden for a bit, & then we three went down to the club, Muz was at the desk all the time. Kitty went home early & we didn’t get back till 10-30. Then we gave Laddie6 some dinner, & put him to bed in the boot place, as he has got a bad leg. We went to bed at about 11-30.
The home front
The Dew Drop Inn at Bouverie Road West, which had been established by four Folkestone-based Canadian women. The proceeds of the tearoom were devoted to charities.⇑
George Alfred Hepburn (b. c. 1875) died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 20 June 1916 aged 40.⇑
The Callaghans’ younger daughter Enid Geraldine O’Bryen Callaghan (1893-1962) had married on 2 May 1916 Gerald Victor Wilmot Hill (1887-1958).⇑
Probably Koum Kan, a two-deck card game resembling gin rummy.⇑
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