The last big attack launched by the British Forces in 1916 was the Battle of the Ancre, which began on 13 November. When the offensive was called off five days later as a consequence of rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, it also brought to an end the Battle of the Somme, one of the costliest operations of the First World War. The human cost alone of the five-month conflict was almost unconceivable, with over 1.6 million Allied and German soldiers dead, wounded or missing. To make matters worse, the outcome of the battle remained inconclusive. Although the Allied forces had inflicted heavy losses on the German army, they had only managed to recover some 10 kilometres of ground instead of the hoped-for breakthrough. The Battle of the Somme remains a source of great controversy regarding its necessity and effect.
Monday 20 November
It rained a bit all morning. I gave out things etc1, & then went out for a walk with Algie, & on the way back, went to look at rooms for Dod, as she is thinking of bringing Neill down here, when he gets out of hospital. Zooie stayed in bed all day. Kitty went by the 1 train, but Algie didn’t go up to see her off. She had to go up & look for a servant. After lunch I went down to the Dew Drop2, & Muz, Tom & Algie came down to have tea there, & waited to take me back. Then Muz & Tom went home, & Algie & I went to the Grand, & other places to look for rooms for Dod. We got back just before dinner. After dinner we all talked, & went to bed at about 11-30. I got all Algie’s luggage down from the attic for him to take with him tomorrow.
Thank you so much for your letter. I sent Irene’s letter back to you in Mus’s last night. I’m very disappointed that she won’t go and stay with you. The old hand is doing famously, they carved it yesterday and it has made great strides. I’ll write again when my old hand is better this is a lob sided affair. Will you thank Bonham3 for her letter. Best love dear wee Jess.
Your loving Pat.
“This is a lop sided affair”
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
The old hand is much better to-day. I hope to go back by the 23rd. The slicing was a good affair. I have done nothing all day. I stayed in bed till lunch and then walked down to the hospital to-day. Jimmy’s Bde is here but he is away somewhere on a course. It’s a pity as I’d like to have seen him. I’ll go over and lunch with Archie in a day or two but I want to get my hand better before I ride much. Melody is almost sound again. The rest has done her good. Old Maj Moore who comes from somewhere near Bundoran is doing transport officer with Jimmy’s Bde. He used to be in the 3rd Hussars. He sent all kinds of messages to you. I’m driving there to-morrow night, & I know the Bde Maj and Staff Capt very well, one was at Sandhurst with G & I, a fellow called Holland the other lad Tom Hankey was at Eton with me. I enclose a letter which will make you laugh. Best love dear wee Mus.
Glad you are getting on! Don’t hurry back with a semi-incapacitated fin, we can well carry on without you, though you may not think it. We take over from 87th on the 24th: no relief as they already have the Lancs & Middlesex attached to them: Bde HQ. machine guns & Stokes4 just change round. Back here we are moderately comfortable nothing to grouse about. It seems more quiet than when we were last here but then the weather conditions have been too bad for much shooting. Cayley tells me that he cannot get round his line under 6 hours. I intend paying Lucas a visit this afternoon. Cheer oh!
Yours Ever W. L. Williams.
The Stokes mortar
Tuesday 21 November
We were all up early as Algie went by the 9-20 train, he is to see the doctor in London, & then go down to their new house at Gerard’s Cross in the afternoon. Kitty was to have gone down this morning. Zooie still in bed, we went up & sat with her for a bit. Gave out things etc. Then Muz & I went round to see different people about the Lord Roberts Memorial that Muz is organizing. Colonel Thurburn came after lunch, & then Kitty came with the children, & Tom & I took them up to the Music Room & we played about. They go off tomorrow, for good, we will miss them awfully. Then Muz & I went to do more calls, & then went to “Adyar”5 for a bit. Then sat with Zooie for a bit.
Wednesday 22 November
Muz & I went round to see more people about the L. R. M. Zooie still in bed, but she got up after tea. Mrs Arnoldi called, but we said we were out, & after lunch Muz & I went to visit York House6, & Manor Court7, & got back at about six. Miss Thurburn, Miss MacGregor, & Mrs Hemming were here when we got back. Maurice Guinness had been here for tea, Zooie came down after they went, & she & Muz had dinner in the morning room & we talked afterwards, & went to bed at about 11-30. I had a sore throat, & a bit heavy with a cold. Ione went to dine with Lady Raphael & went to the theatre.
Thursday 23 November
I was hoarse & had a sore throat, so Muz made me stay in bed. The ambulance called for her at 12-15 & took her up to Moore Barracks to visit the ward & then on to the canteen. She had to go by herself, as the Stubbses couldn’t go. I went downstairs in my dressingown (sic) & got tea ready & gave out things etc, then read, & finished “The Vicar of Wakefield”. Zooie stayed in bed all morning, & then sat up in her room. Maurice Guinness came for tea, & Capt. Bettington came afterwards. I wrote letters etc. Muz didn’t get back till 8-30, as she had been waiting for an ambulance. They had dinner in the morning room, & went down for a bit afterwards.
“Maurice Guinness came for tea”
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
Here goes with the right hand. What a relief to be able to use it again instead of that slow laborious business with the left. It is practically well now, there is still a place about the size of a 3d bit to heal up but practically all the matter is out and it’s looking awfully healthy. I ought to be able to get the bandages off in a couple of days now. I went over to the Army yesterday and lunched with Gen Archie. He was in great form, says he hopes to get leave about Dec 4th. It will do him a lot of good, he has such an awful lot of indoor work it must be awfully bad for him. Then I rode on to the Div School & had a look at the young officers. I got back about 4 o’c & then dined with one Leadman in the A.V.C8. I used to know him well at Pindi. He is chief Vet or A.D.V.S as it’s called in Jimmy’s Div.9 He gave me a great dinner & we sat bucking till late. The night before I dined with the Bde here10. That is the Bde Jimmy is in. The same number as David Mitchell’s Regt. (That will defeat the censor). They are an awfully nice lot. The Bde Maj was in the same Coy as G at Sandhurst & the Staff Capt was at Eton with me.
Wipers and her puppies
To-day I rode over & had lunch at the Div School, the Commandant is rather a pal of mine, then I passed a hare on the way back but didn’t kill her. I had quite a good hunt. Geisha went awfully well. She is pretty fit now & gallops a good pace, she’d make a great hunter. Melody is quite sound again now. She is going to start slow work now. I am leaving them both here. They will be happier than standing in the mud up forward. “Wipers” had 6 puppies yesterday. I’m only going to keep three. Two have already gone & the third will go to-morrow. They are quite nice puppies. Two of them are awfully like her. I’m going to leave her here too with Standen. She would be an awful nuisance up in the line. T. is coming down to-morrow to fetch me & take me up. Well wee Mus it’s late so I must go to bed. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Friday 24 November
Tom in bed with measles, don’t know where she caught them! I gave out things etc, then wrote letters in the morning room all morning. Zooie came down & read. It rained a bit, nearly all day. After lunch I wrote more letters & copied out the Beats for the house to house collection. Muz knitted with Zooie. Mr Lawrence came for tea, & then he & Ione went up to the Grand, then they came back, & went up there again to dine with Mme Jean11 & her father, & then went to the theatre. We had dinner up. Then Muz & I worked at the mats afterwards, that we are making for the landings. Then we all had baths & went to bed at about 12.
Saturday 25 November
Gave out things etc, then went down the town to do some shopping, it rained nearly all morning. After lunch Kitty came round, she says they can’t go home yet, as Dick’s leg is much worse, so he can’t be moved. We went in the car to the Electric Theatres, to see the managers about collecting etc. Kitty came with us, & then came back for tea, later Col. Thurburn came in. Then Muz, Ione, Maurice Guinness & I went to the club, & Zooie stayed here, she was in bed when we got back.
Sunday 26 November
We were up rather late, as we all had colds, Tom is better. Muz, Zooie & I went for a blow on the front, & talked to Kitty for a bit. Then Mrs Cleghorn came after lunch, & Mrs Mac [blank] came for tea, but I didn’t go down. Then Muz, Ione, Maurice Guinness & I went to the club, & were much busier than last night. Went in & talked to Zooie when we got back, & went to bed at about 11-30. Kitty says they certainly can’t move Dick till Friday, she may not be able to go then.
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 ⇑
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