WEEK 123: SLAY THE HARE
Monday 30 October to Sunday 5 November 1916
In the first week of November 1916, Mrs Armstrong became involved in the activities of the Lord Roberts Memorial Fund. The fund was named after Field Marshal Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, who in his lifetime has actively campaigned for the training and rehabilitation of wounded soldiers. Following Lord Roberts’ death in November 1914, a memorial fund bearing his name was established and a series of workshops opened across the country to honour his commitment to the cause. By the end of the First World War, eleven such workshops had been established across Great Britain, producing a variety of goods such as toys, furniture and basket ware. The workshops helped disabled men to reintegrate into society and to recover a sense of dignity by enabling them to earn a living without the stigma of charity.
Monday 30 October
Stayed in bed rather late, then gave out things etc.1 Went down to the Dew Drop2; they have moved down to a place over Heron’s stores, near the Town Hall; it opened yesterday, & today was my first day. There are two rooms, as well as Kitchen & scullery. We were quite busy, & I did shopping on the way back. Walked back with Miss Tremaine, & it pelted on the way back. Muz went to tea with Mrs Battiscombe. Ione & Tom went to the Electric Theatre, & then had people here for tea. Gave things out, & then got undressed as I was wet, & wrote letters in bed, Muz had her dinner up too.
Tuesday 31 October
Gave out things etc. Then went down the town with Tom, Colin, & Jack Isaacs. Shopped & went to Mrs Philpott’s. Colin came for lunch. After lunch I lay down for a bit, & read, then put Dus to bed, & gave out things etc. After dinner we jumped candles3, burnt nuts4 & Muz gave us a few wishes. We went to bed at about two.
Wednesday 1 November
Gave out things etc, then went down the town to do the shopping, & met Kitty & Mrs Phillips on the way back. Dick will be able to go home in about a fortnight’s time, so Kitty has given them a fortnight’s notice about the house, so they will be going for good then. I went back there to lunch, & afterwards Muz & I went to visit York House5. Manor Court6 is still in quarantine. Tom had a lot of children here for tea, & Mr Hooper came too. He came last night too, & fell down the stairs! Muz has promised to be Secretary for the Lord Roberts memorial for workshops for disabled soldiers & sailors, so we have to bring envelopes round to houses, to get money. Miss Crawford came in about it, as she is going to help. Zooie & Jimmy were coming back tonight, but wired to say he has got extension.
Thursday 2 November
Gave out things etc, then played with Kittie’s children in the garden. The man came to tie up the roses. The ambulance came to call for us, & Muz & I went up to Moore Barracks, & then went down to the Rest Room at 2, we weren’t very busy & the ambulance came to take us back, & then we went in to see Kitty & stayed there late. Gave out things & tidied etc. Went to bed at about 1. Ione dined out, & Tom had people here for tea. Pat is near Mametz Wood, at Corbie for about ten days. His letter dated 30th. The policeman came about the lights.
Friday 3 November
Gave out things etc, then went down the town to do the shopping, & went to Mrs Philpott’s to call for my coat. Got tea ready, then made a little blue silk hat to wear with my long coat. Muz & Heppie worked in the garden in the morning, Tom had people for tea. I did some tidying etc. Muz wrote letters. Rained hard some of the afternoon.
Saturday 4 November
Gave out things etc, & did some tidying. After lunch Muz took Tom to watch a hockey match, & I went down the town to do the shopping, & then went to Manor House7 to get a list of the men who have come in. Then went to tea with Viva Brooke. Yvonne was there too, & Muz, Tom & Maurice Guinness came on afterwards, & then we played “Prawn-eye”8. Zooie & Jimmy arrived at about 6-15, he goes over tomorrow evening. Tom & Colin dined here, & Muz, Ione & I went to the club, Kitty was in London for the day with Dick. Gave out things when we got back. Zooie & Jimmy were waiting up for us.
Sunday 5 November
Lizzie9 came up before breakfast to say that her father had come for her, as her mother & sister were very ill, so she has gone off for a week. Zooie & Jimmy went to church in Sandgate, the others here. I gave out things, & got lunch & tea ready, & cut sandwiches for Jimmy to take over with him. It was awfully windy, & rained hard all day, so the boat couldn’t go over, so he has till tomorrow morning at 9-30. Tom had boys for tea. Zooie, Muz & I counted the envelopes for her Lord Roberts memorial fund. Tom went to bed early & Colin, Ione, Muz & I went to the club, & Zooie & Jimmy had dinner alone. Muz took Miss Walter’s shift, & we were fairly busy. Went to bed at about 12-30.
My dear wee Mus.
[…] I’m sending you a letter I got from Irene to-day she apparently never got my first letter telling her I’d give her a saddle, so I wrote again telling her to go to Champion & Wilton’s10 & that I’d give her one and to get fitted for it. I’m glad she’s getting a habit and starting to take an interest in riding. There is no word of going to stay with you. Mus dear I’m afraid it would never be a success. The more I think of it the more I realise what a mistake it all is but how to get out of it without hurting her too much is the difficulty. I’m not in love with anybody is the truth of it. Why I proposed to her goodness only knows, it was all done in the excitement of the moment absolutely without thinking. I’m longing to hear from you & to know what you think is the best thing to do. I suppose it would be a mistake to write & tell her straight out & it will be very difficult to do when I come home again on leave as she will expect me to want to publish the engagement instead of breaking it off. Altogether it’s a very difficult situation & I feel that you can’t do much in the matter.
I suppose I had better wait till I saw her and then do it. I feel an awful brute really as it’s playing with a young girl’s affections but as I feel at present it would never mean happiness to either of us. It doesn’t really worry me but it rather distresses me as I know it will hurt her. I wish she’d care for somebody else but I feel that she never will as long as she is engaged to me. It’s no good crying over spilt milk but I do wish I had left it a bit longer & then it might have been the real thing. I felt I knew her so awfully well, but now that I’m away from her I realise that I don’t. Tell me just what you think. I’m sure you will see some way out of it for me. I don’t want to be married a bit. Well! enough of that. It must be done somehow & I’ll leave it to you to devise a plan for me.
[…] Will you send those breeches along. I’m awfully afraid you sent the wrong ones but it doesn’t matter. They will do splendidly to wear in the mud & wet. Anything is good enough for the trenches. Bobby is coming to dinner so I must go & work. I will tell you about the great hunt we had to-day later, but I wanted to answer your letters first, & then I can tell you all my news.
Later. Bobby came to dinner & has just gone off so now I’ll continue. Well this morning I went round & saw the General , he was in bed with a touch of rheumatism & was a bit sorry for himself but was going to get up when I left him. Poor little man I hate to see him in bed, but he was very cheery & in great form. My General & Col Magniac went off to Paris by the 3 o’c train and come back on Wednesday. It will do them both a world of good. They are both a little bit weary. They went off as happy as two schoolboys, it was grand to see them. Col Hall is supposed to be commanding the Brigade. I haven’t told him he is yet. So for the moment yours truly is!!! He’ll have no say in the matter anyway!! Now for the news of the world’s greatest hunt. John St Germains (Eliot who was) came over for lunch. I rang up Bobby & got him to come out too. We sallied forth about 2.30. John, Bobby, Carden-Roe & I & started drawing for hares. We spread well out after we had been going for a bit a hare got up close to Carden Roe who was on the left but he didn’t see it, however I did & off I went. I rode it for a bit then it went up a steep hill & John took it on then Bobby & I caught up & hunted it for a bit then I got away on it by myself & rode it for about a mile going like hell but it got away in some thick bushes.
We gave our horses a breather & then went on. Another hare got up near Carden Roe but again he didn’t see it which was a pity as it headed the wrong way. I hunted it for a bit but it eventually got away. We then went on again & put up another which we had a good hunt after. John rode in great form & ran it into a sort of spinney. We were just giving our horses a rest when Bobby spotted one going across the open & away we went. John & I to the right Bobby & Carden Roe to the left. She made down towards the river down some steep banks, but Melody is awfully god at them & I headed her off, then she turned left handed & we lost her for a second but John who was on my left spotted her crossing a s— road and away we went all in line abreast across a big field. We went on like that for about half a mile & then she crossed a road, so we then started to go all out. Melody went away from them all like a shot of a gun with John close at my heels. We went like that for about another half mile & then I began to gain on her, she squatted & then on she went again about 50 yds ahead. I thought she was going to make for a copse about 1000 yds on so I basted her a bit more, then she fell over very beat got up again went about 10 yds, down a bank. I got down the bank & then got off & ran after her with a stick. It was really very comic. I was afraid of leaving Melody if I let her go so I tried to drag her after me & at the same time slay the hare. Eventually I got my foot on her & John came up & took my horse. A really great hunt. Bobby & Carden Roe arrived just after we had slain her. It was the best day’s sport I’ve had for ages. I have got her head and am going to send it to Rowland Wards11 to be set up.
Melody went like a book. She is a wonderful little animal. I thought she’d pull & go mad but she was splendid. She was as handy as a kitten & never pulled a bit, just went the pace I wanted. I’m simply delighted with her. I’ve never galloped her before & didn’t realise how fast she was. She feels as if she’d win a point to point. She is so strong & settles down & gallops like the devil. I don’t know when I have enjoyed myself so much. John is coming over again on Tuesday if all is well & is going to bring Rollo too & we are going out again. I may go out to-morrow if I can get a horse. Bobby is going to try to borrow one for me from the division. I’m going to keep Melody for Tuesday. Geisha isn’t fit enough for that yet or she would be awfully good. She is quite fast & very hardy but she’s been laid up for so long that I wouldn’t like to ask her to gallop. There is a buck in one of the little woods we are going to have a dash after him if we can only find him. He’d give us a great hunt.
I went over to try & see Archie yesterday. I saw him for a few minutes. Sir Douglas Haig & Gen Foche (the French General) were there having a conference so he was rather busy so I only stayed for a short time. He wants me to go over for lunch one day but I don’t know when I can fit it in. However I have seen him which is a great thing. He introduced me to the Army Commander Gen Rawlinson, so it’s rather nice to know him. I like this peaceful life it’s good fun. There is practically no office work. I go round the Battns once a day & then I’m done. I inspected a lot of billets yesterday morning & am going to have a look at the transport lines to-morrow but that is about all one has to do. It’s real good fun. I have a delightful room & altogether I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. Will you keep all the girl’s letters for me no use sending them back. She is a great letter writer, but her letters are a bit dull. I wish I knew her better. I’m awfully fond of her but wish I wasn’t engaged to her. I feel my hands are rather tied & that I have to settle definitely one way or the other next time I come home. I can’t make up my mind atall but feel at the moment that I would like to get out of it & I’m sure one oughtn’t to feel that. I’m longing to hear what you think about it all. Well wee Mus this is the first decent letter I have written to you for ages. It is late so I must be off to bed. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
- The Armstrong family were contributing to the war effort by providing food to soldiers residing in Folkestone ⇑
- 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 ⇑
- An old Halloween tradition was for partygoers to jump over a dozen burning candles and to count the number left burning afterwards. Each burning candle represented the number of months, or years, before marriage. ⇑
- Another popular Halloween tradition was to place a pair of chestnuts or hazelnuts into an open flame. From the way they burned a number of things could be deduced; for example, both nuts burning quietly side by side presaged a peaceful married life while spluttering and crackling nuts foretold a marriage marked by quarrels. ⇑
- York House in Folkestone was a nursing home which had been turned into a hospital at the start of the First World War⇑
- Manor Court in Folkestone was a nursing home which had been turned into a hospital at the start of the First World War⇑
- Manor House Hospital, where the Armstrongs had volunteered their services ⇑
- This was a card game ⇑
- A domestic servant in the Armstrong household ⇑
- Champion & Wilton saddlers and harness makers at 457 & 459 Oxford Street, London; the company was particularly noted for its side saddles ⇑
- Rowland Ward Limited of Piccadilly, London, a company renowned for its taxidermy work on birds and big game and creations of fashionable items from animal parts such as zebra-hoof inkwells and elephant foot umbrella stands⇑