Blackouts are usually associated with the Second World War but they were also introduced in a piecemeal fashion during the First World War, mostly in towns and cities such as Folkestone which were susceptible to air raids. Police constables kept an eye not only on breaches of the order, which could result in a fine as high as £2, but on any suspicious activity involving lights such as window blinds being pulled rapidly up and down at the same hour each night. Failure to comply with lighting restrictions led to many otherwise respectable individuals being forced to appear in court, where amusing scenes could be witnessed. The book Folkestone during the War gives an account of a man who, when asked by the Magistrate if a Zeppelin could have spotted the light in the defendent’s window, calmly replied “can’t say, never been in a Zeppelin”!
Monday 28 August
Went down in my nightie to get luncheon ready etc, as I was rather tired, & stayed in bed late. Mrs Collins was coming to look at the sideboard, & then coming back for lunch, but she never came. Hugh Lewis came instead. Then I went to the Dew Drop1, & [we] were quite busy. Muz wrote letters, & then went to tea with Lady de Hoghton. Ione came back at about seven. I put Dus. to bed, & gave out things etc2, & then wrote letters. Muz, Tom & I went to the band, & Hugh came out, & then came back with us.
Tuesday 29 August
At your service
Gave out things etc. Muz took Tom to the dentist. I wrote letters some of the morning. Ione went out with Mrs Hemming in her car, & went to tea & dinner at the Grand. Tom went to dine with the Lewises & went to the theatre. I wrote letters & copied things all afternoon. Then put some stuff on Duskey’s back, as it is bothering her again. After dinner got some cuttings out of the garden, & Heppie is going to put them in tomorrow. Then copied for a bit, & went to bed at about 11-30. Muz wrote letters. General Steele sent us in a pass to go in military cars & ambulances in the Shorncliffe District
Wednesday 30 August
Mrs Foster, Edith Maude, Mrs & Miss Nuttall, & Mrs & Miss Gordon came to the knitting party. I made lavender bags. Then got lunch ready, & Hugh stayed. Then Muz & I went up to the Hospital, & got the bus to Sandgate. We went to see the Transport officer about getting up in an ambulance, & he said he could send us back today, so we went to the Hospital, & then were left back here in an ambulance. Tom went to tea with the Lewises, & Ione was away with Mrs Hemming. Then I put stuff on Duskey’s back & took her for a walk. Put her to bed & then wrote letters. Last night we had one of the military Police in, at about 1 A.M. to watch a light in the Grand, but it went out just as he came. Then Muz, Heppie & I went down & had bread & butter & tea but I didn’t go to sleep for ages. Muz, Heppie, Tom & I went to the club, but were only fairly busy, but didn’t get back till very late! Ione dined with Mrs Hemming.
Thursday 31 August
Muz & I went up to the Rest Room at 9. We went to Seabrook in the bus, & walked up. We weren’t very busy, & stayed there till six. I made a lot of lavender bags. Then we walked up to the hospital, & then came back in an ambulance, as we have got a pass from General Steele. Went to see Kittie’s sister, as she & the friend go away tomorrow. Heppie worked in the garden, & Tom had people to tea, & Ione went off with Mrs Hemming after lunch, & didn’t get back till about 11-30. I gave out things etc, & went to bed at about 10-30, after Heppie & I had been round to Clifton gardens to get some privet, to make cuttings of, for the garden.
Huff and Dick Lewes
Friday 1 September
Gave out things etc, then did Duskey’s back. Then played with Tom, Hugh & Dick, for a bit, & then wrote letters. After lunch went up to the attic, & worked there. It was an awful job, as it was so untidy, there was no room to move, I tidied & cleaned it all, & got it done by seven, but I was pretty tired. Ione went off with Mrs Hemming, & are going to Dover for the night. Muz wrote letters, & Tom had a lot of children for tea, & then went to dine with the Lewises & went to the band. Heppie went down the town, & then worked in the garden. I tidied papers, & wrote letters, then gave out things etc, & went to bed at about 11. Heppie took Muz to the band, & then called for Tom.
I wrote you a horrid scribble yesterday but I had the tooth ache on me and was in poor form. However I dealt with it as a blighter like that should be dealt with and had him out. It was that old stump that I broke at Suvla and which Harrison wouldn’t crown till after the war. Well the beastly thing started to be naffy so I went and saw the dentist and he said that it was useless to try to save it and that the pain was probably caused by an abscess forming. So I told him to carry on and he lugged it out. A mediocre performance but it won’t hurt me any more. He showed me one of the roots which was in a horrid state with an old abscess forming on the end of it. So its as well he’s gone. It will save me a lot of pain and expense afterwards having the thing crowned. I felt a bit of a worm yesterday evening as I rode back as it bled a bit but I’m grand today and barring the fact that my jaw is a bit sore I hardly know its gone.
I had a busy morning this morning and was in the office till about 3o’c. I had to make out training programmes and all sorts of odds and ends. This afternoon the Boy and I rode over to the flying ground. I have got some fellows there doing a course in signalling with contact aeroplanes. I managed to persuade one of them to take me up. So off we went. It was just too glorious. It is more like riding a really good horse over a steeplechase course than anything I can think of. There is just that element of excitement about it. It was a bit bumpy as the clouds were low and there was a bit of wind. The bumps were like landing over a drop. One goes along quite gaily and then suddenly without any apparent reason one drops down about 20 feet and then off she goes again. We then did a very steep “bank” which was just grand, the thing wheels round and the lower plane seems to be at right angles with the ground and one swoops round like a bird. It gives one a great feel. We flew over two or three villages. He was going to take me over Pop but the clouds were so low that he came back. I was up altogether about ½ hour. It was really glorious. Considering the day I thought that we would bump a good deal more and that one would feel going a terrific pace but it is a very nice orderly proceeding. One doesn’t feel that one is going half as fast as one really is. We started about 60 miles an hour and went up to about 90. It is glorious when she’s going fast one just glides through the air. If I hadn’t got a good job like this I’d join the Corps tomorrow. The chief crab of it is that one wouldn’t have a horse and one gets very little exercise.
I must send those photos back to you sometime they are a great success. Will you get all the other good ones done too. There are a lot of trenches at Suvla & Helles that would come out awfully well. Some of the odd ones of this part of the world would come out awfully well. Get the whole lot done they are really good value. I can afford to have them done now and won’t be able to after this show is over. We had the old piano going last night. Your books are great value. There is one Maj Seymour in the Dublins who plays awfully well. I want to try to get up a concert before we go into the line again.3 Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
“Business to do in Dunkerque”
Just a brief scribe before I go to bed. I had business to do in Dunkerque to-day so went down there with the Boy, Pearson, & Usmar. It was quite fun but rather a moderate breed of a day. Usmar has gone back to his Regt and Pearson has come as intelligence officer in his place. I’m sending him to Percy’s Brigade as assistant Staff Captain. We have to send them someone & it’s hard to get a nice fellow to send them. He is in Percy’s Regt. & a real good fellow at that, so it will be nice for old Percy. Daniell our bombing officer is going to take on intelligence as well as bombing. There is very little to do at either job really. I bought an awfully nice hound from an old woman near here to-night. She’s about six months old and looks more like a cross between an Airedale and a greyhound than anything else. She is a well bred looking animal and as a matter of fact is a special breed of the country. It is awfully nice having a dog again. She is a very cheerful little soul full of fun. She is a bit strange to-night but will settle down in a day or two’s time. Well wee Mus I must turn in now as it’s nearly 12 o’c. I’m sending you a letter from Sylvia & one from Gordon. I don’t want them back. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
P.S. I sent you all Tony’s letters back to-day. Will you keep them all for future reference.
Saturday 2 September
Went down & did the shopping in the morning. Washed my hair, & then wrote, while it was drying. Muz took Tom to the dentist in the morning. Tom went to tea with the Lewis’s. Muz wrote letters. Ione came back latish, but came down to the club for a bit, & then went to Westenhanger for the night. Muz, Tom, Heppie & I at the club, & we were quite busy. Got flowers afterwards, & left out silver etc. for tomorrow. Went to bed at about 12-30.
Many thanks for yours & for seeing about the watch, I have an Ingersol so am all right till it arrives. Let me know what they charge, but will you tell them a 2nd in Command does not really give his watch as bad a time as some of the Company Officers & they certainly ought not to sell a watch for service unless it is prepared to stand the wear mine has had. I think myself it’s themselves & not the wear it had which is wrong, because it stopped before I got to the boat although they had examined it and said it was all right & I don’t think it has had harder wear than most watches get out here.
Did you see the Zeps? I have not seen one yet & unlike you don’t want to!! I’m all for a life of peace & to see nothing unpleasant myself!! We are allright & going strong, the C. O.4 is rather sick & I expect I’ll be in command for a few days, so may not get all the nice peaceful sleep I get sometimes, I suppose Mrs Wood is not at Folkestone now, there is nothing badly wrong with the Colonel for her to be anxious but he’s just badly done up after a hard time & wants a rest to put him right.
Tell “Muz” I’m sorry I can’t give her any clues the Censor won’t let me, but I get great fun hearing her guesses. Last time she was wondering if I was north or south of a certain town & she’d have been shocked to know I had to go to a map to make quite sure myself where I then was north or south of it!! I have a great theory & that is never to believe we are going anywhere we are told we are going or doing anything we are told we are going to do till we have gone there or have done it!! It saves such a lot of trouble & it has just a habit of being right!! But of course this theory won’t suit the staff who aren’t or ought not to be stupid like regimental officers ought to be!! I’m only laughing not getting at the staff, our own Brigade Major both Irish & very nice. If I got wounded or sick, I think it would be a capital idea for Zooie to get over to Folkestone & we’d be ready to meet first opportunity, but while I’m all right as I quite hope to be, I think she’s well off well away from the war & war talk over in Ireland, don’t you? Nothing like the country I always think – But she’ll know what is best & will take a dart over if she feels like it I know. Much love to you all.
Harold E. Welch.
A reliable watch
Tell “Muz” I like her letters & her guesses make me laugh, I hope she won’t mind that, & I’ll write to her when I can, but not give a hint of course!! It would spoil her guessing!!
Sunday 3 September
Got luncheon ready etc. Capt. Wright came at about 10-30, & went up to Moore Barracks to see about some pictures. Muz, Tom & I went to church, & came out early, & went to see Miss [—], & Capt W. met us afterwards, & we went out on the front. It was rather cold. Kathleen Warren, & Hugh came for lunch too, & we sat & talked afterwards. Then Mrs Stoney & her girl, cousin Edith & Gerald, Miss Russell & Mrs Croft came for tea. Then Capt. W & I walked back with Mrs Stoney as her husband was in command of the 4th R.I.F.5 & her brother in law used to be in the Regt. We got back at about 6-30, & the Marshalls were here, then we changed & went to the club, Capt. W. came down with us, & then went back by the eight train. We were very busy & went to bed at about 11-30, after giving out things etc. The policeman came in for a bit.
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.⇑
In May 1917 a Divisional Troupe was formed. It even played at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in January 1918.⇑