On the night of 24-25 August 1916, Folkestone had a close shave when twelve German naval airships and four army Zeppelins made their way to London for an air raid, carrying a total bomb load of 32 tons. One of the Zeppelins, L32, took an erratic course over the Kent countryside and ended up flying over Folkestone. Caught in the beam of a searchlight, the Zeppelin was illuminated from stem to stern and witnessed by hundreds of Folkestone residents, Mrs Armstrong and her three daughters among them. Violent shellfire from guns in Dover and ships in the English Channel forced the Zeppelin to change course towards the French coast and to drop its bombs into the sea. The L32 was to return a month later and was shot down by 23-year-old Frederick Sowrey of the Royal Flying Corps who happened to be on a routine night patrol.
Monday 21 August
Got luncheon ready etc, then Doddie & Ione went to the band. I took photographs of Dus & Laddie, then Muz & I went down the town to do the shopping. We talked to the old vegetable woman for a long time. Doddie went to lunch with her aunt. On the way back, we met Mrs Stoney & her daughter so we didn’t get back for lunch till very late. I had toothache again. Changed & went down to the Dew Drop1, we were frightfully busy all the time. The Maudes & Stoneys came in to have tea too. I didn’t get back till nearly seven. After dinner Muz & Tom went to the band. I did accounts & wrote letters, & went to bed at about 12.
Tuesday 22 August
Muz, Tom & I went down to the dentist at ten but he only had time to do Tom’s teeth, so I went down & did the shopping. After lunch the man came about the fenders, & bought the hall one. Ione & Doddie went off to Dover with Mrs Hemming, & we got a telephone message late, to say that they were staying the night & had got Laddie with them. I wrote a lot of letters & did some tidying. After dinner Muz, Tom & I went out to the band, a girl sang about six songs. Hugh Lewis came out too, & walked back with us. Gave out things2 etc, & we went to bed at about 12.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
“The General nearly got blown up”
You told Leila wrong he is quite close to — . The piano is where you thought, at least it was but is moved now, it is much better where it is at present & will be much nicer for us all. Do you remember a school where G. used to be at one time, well I’m quite close to that. Things seem to be going pretty well in the Pozieres country3 but somehow I don’t think that we will ever get a real move on. I don’t think that there will ever be a G in gap. But the great thing is that we are killing Huns which is what we want now. One old bit of country is as bloody as another and it doesn’t really much matter as long as we kill the brutes. I had a letter from old Brock to-day he has just applied to go to the flying Corps, he is bored to death sitting back there doing nothing.
No it’s no good sending cakes etc as I never eat tea and as a matter of fact we can get pretty well anything we want out here. There are some awfully good shops in — . Cross and Blackwell4 has just an agent there. We also have a divisional canteen where one can buy practically anything. You seem to have had great fun with the Canadians, comic you telling them I had a D.C.M.5
T. has gone back to the Div again, he was only with the Bde for 10 days. He seems to have liked being there. I think that he’ll go off to the flying Corps before very long. Yes I ran the old sports, the General was very pleased about it all, said he wished that the Corps Commander had been there to see it. The number you want to know is II. Archie is still in the same place. Does that help?
Major General Weir de Lancey Williams
Yes, if I get leave we must get Irene Wills to come and stay. I’d like to see more of her. I think she’s nice. But it’s hard to tell only meeting her once. There isn’t much news to tell you. I spend most of the day either wandering about the trenches or in the Office & find I keep devilish busy, there is a lot of work to be done but it’s so nice having one’s own show, & to be able to come & go as one likes. I never liked that life at the Div, one was too tied to the office. There was so much minding the house while Fuller & Ovey were out, but now it’s all over I’ll never regret doing it as I learnt an awful lot there, far more really than if I had got this job straight from Staff Capt. I learnt there how an office should be run which is an enormous help now. This is a grand job & keeps one awfully busy & one gets lots of exercise which just suits me. I’m up every night late but I don’t mind that a bit now, when I get really weary I have an hour’s sleep in the day. It isn’t often that I do get weary as I have never been so fit in my life.
The General nearly got blown up on Sunday. He was sitting on a log reading the paper & heard a shell coming so dived into a trench & the beastly thing hit about 3 yds over him. Luckily he was lying flat on the ground & all the burst went upwards so he was untouched. But he got a bit of a shaking. He is a great man with an iron nerve & it didn’t worry him a bit, only gave him a bit of a head. The ordinary person would have got shell shock. I don’t know what the Bde would do if anything happened to him. They all absolutely love him. They love him as much as they hate somebody else. Well wee Mus it’s after 12 o’c so I must go to bed. Best love to you all.
Your loving Pat.
Wednesday 23 August
Made toffee for Pat, & tidied things etc, & wrote letters. Ione & Doddie got back at tea time from Dover. Ione took Laddie on with her yesterday, to give to Mr Mundie, but never told me she was taking him. Muz went to tea with Mrs Wood at the Metropole. Muz, Heppie, Tom & I went down to the club at 7-30, but were only fairly busy. We went to bed at about 11-30. Ione & Doddie went up to the hotel.
Thursday 24 August
Muz & I went up to the Shorncliffe Rest Room at 9.30, we went up in the bus. Miss Carleton was there too. We were fairly busy some of the time, & had about 200 men in. We had to walk back, & didn’t get back till 3-15. Ione & Doddie had lunch here, & then went over to Dover with Mrs Hemming for the night, to dance. Before I left, I had to get lunch & tea things ready. Muz & I had a bath & dinner in bed, & went to bed at about eleven.
Friday 25 August
At about 2-15 this morning, Heppie came in & woke Muz & I up, as she heard a zeppelin. We looked out of Muz’s window, & saw it quite plainly in the searchlight, & all the flares too, & the guns firing at it from Hawkinge. We saw them all bursting. It came straight over the house, & then we looked out of my window. We woke Tom up rather late, so she only just saw it, but we saw it for about 20 minutes, then it went off to Dover, where Ione & Doddie saw it at about 3. A. M. We went out in the road & talked to the police, & didn’t go to bed till about 4, as we thought it might be back. It was the most lovely sight, & it makes such a funny noise. Tom went down to the dentist at 10-30, & I got lunch ready etc. Doddie got back here for lunch, & then caught the 2 train back to Westgate. I went down to the dentist at 2-30, & had two teeth done, then did the shopping, & came back & got tea ready, for some boys. Muz & Heppie went to an auction, & got some china, & brought two Canadians back for tea, so I had to get another tea ready. Lady Alderson came to call. Gave things out etc, then played with Tom & Hugh Lewis. Then Ione got back. Then Tom took Muz & I to the theatre “Tina”6. It was awfully good, we sat in the dress circle, & talked to the Thurburns coming out. Went to bed at about 11-30.
A zeppelin in Folkestone
Letter from Lady Leila de Lisle, Carlogie, Kincardine O’Neil, Aberdeenshire, to Pat Armstrong 25 August 
As I am now having a holiday, I have a little more time to write letters to my friends. I had a long letter from your Mother yesterday, giving me a little news of you as I don’t hear much of your doings now – tho’ occasionally I get “I saw Pat yesterday.” I hope you like your new work & find it interesting. My General writes you are all very busy but I am sorry you are in such a horrid part of the line – I wish you were all at home again enjoying Scotland as I am doing! tho’ one doesn’t feel very cheery with so much going on across the water – My Mother has taken this house for 2 months & we are a small happy party now 4 [?] – very keen on fishing & they have a very good bit of the Dee – my cousin lost a good salmon, yesterday – & came in raging! I expect you ken him Charles Bryant 12th – He joins the R.F.C.7 next week & has ten days leave – He is rather depressed about things so I am glad he has a few days leave – I don’t expect you to answer this letter, as I ken you are too busy to write to any one except…! Her writing, is still difficult to read.
Yrs very sincerely
Leila de Lisle
Saturday 26 August
Left things ready for lunch, then Muz & I went up to the Rest Room. We went to Seabrook in the bus & walked up. Miss Lambert was there for a bit, then Mrs Morrow, then she left, & we were alone. We had about 150 men in altogether. Capt. Lewis came & talked to us for a bit, his people came from Enniskillen. We stayed till two, & then Mrs Battiscombe & Sammy came up & she sent us home in her car. I got tea ready etc, then got a wire from Capt. Wright to say he was coming over for the night, so got dinner & breakfast things ready just in time to go to the club. Muz, Ione, Tom & I, & were only fairly busy. When we got back found a message from Capt. W. to say that he had missed his train. I went out to get some flowers. We were very tired.
Sunday 27 August Got things ready for lunch etc. Capt. Wright arrived at about 10-30, & he & Tom went to church, as Muz stayed in bed late. Muz & I met them at church, & went out on the Front. Hugh came for lunch too, & afterwards Muz, Capt. W. & I went to the band, we brought Mrs Roberts out too. The Lewis boys8 & Sammy were here for tea. Capt. W. brought us the first half of his diary to read, & is going to send us the rest later. He came down to the club with us, & then caught the 8 train back. We were fairly busy at the club. Hugh came down, & then walked back with us. Went to bed at about two, as Ione came back, & then motored over to Westenhanger for the night with Mrs Hemming.
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. ⇑
The Armstrong family were contributing to the war effort by providing food to soldiers residing in Folkestone. ⇑
The village of Pozieres and the ridge on which it stands was captured by the British but not until a two-week battle between 23 July and 7 August 1916 which completely destroyed the village and caused some 23,000 mostly Australian casualties. ⇑
Crosse & Blackwell, a food production company established in 1706. ⇑
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