News of Pat Armstrong’s engagement brought his father from Moyaliffe to Folkestone to meet Irene Wills. The young couple also made their way to Misarden Park in Cirencester, the home Irene’s Uncle Frederick, for Pat to meet some of Irene’s relatives. The week was crowned by a fancy dress dance in aid of the Children’s League of Pity (now the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), of which Mrs Armstrong and her husband acted as patrons. On the war front, the Allied Forces continued their efforts to find a breakthrough that would end the stalemate on the Western Front and plans were under way for a spring offensive in the Arras sector. David Lloyd George entered the political stage as Prime Minister following Asquith’s resignation in December 1916, while in the United States the Congress came ever closer to declaring war on Germany.
Monday 1 January
Poppy, Tom & I went down the town. Then I went to the Dew Drop,1 & they all came down there to tea. In the morning Pat & Irene went for a ride. Then Capt. Coots came to dine, & he, Ione, Pat & Irene went to a dance up at the camp. Muz, Poppy & I sat in the morning room & talked, & Tom went to bed early. Poppy rubbed my foot, & we didn’t go to bed till about 11-30. The others didn’t come in till late.
Tuesday 2 January
Ione, Pat, Reenie & I went for a lovely ride, they had two horses from Godden,2 & Ione & I got two from Vaulders. We went round by Paddlesworth, & got home at about three. Got tea ready etc, then Muz & I went out for a walk, & met Poppy & Tom, we went on the Front, & met Poppy on the way back, & went out with him again. After tea got dinner laid etc. & afterwards cleaned away & took up water etc. Then we all sat in the morning room & we were all rather sleepy, so went to bed at about 10-30, but we didn’t settle off till late.
I rode over to C— yesterday, to have a look at Y— & the pups, & they are doing very well indeed. It is quite obvious the old gentleman knows all about the job, for they were very comfortable, & also the place was very clean. I took both Melody & Geisha with me & rode each a fair half of the journey as it is a fairly long distance, there & back in a day, & am pleased to tell you they are both fit and well, & none the worse for a day’s outing, in fact I think Melody wanted a little exercise after I got back. I hope you are nearly well by this time, & I am looking forward to seeing you back very shortly. By the way Sir, the old lady & gentleman, that are looking after the pups were going to Paris, & wanted me to find some one else to look after them, but I did not like the idea of it as they were looking so well. I managed to persuade the old chap to remain at home & told him you would make it worth his while if he did so, of course that done the trick, & they both send their kind regards. The “Dubs” won the 3 miles cross country race yesterday. I don’t think there is anything else of interest, except that they have put the lid on the hunting hares fun, I hope you were well enough to enjoy Xmas as I am pleased to say, I managed top hole. I think this is all. I have the honour to be Sir your obedient servant
Pte W. Standen.
Wednesday 3 January
We were all up early as Poppy went by the early train. Irene stayed in bed for breakfast. Then Mr Coots came round. Pat & I walked down for the horses, & we all went for a lovely ride, Mr C. only came as far as Sandgate. Then we went up by the [—] & round by Saltwood, & had a few little jumps. Got back at about 2-30. Cleared away after lunch, & got tea ready, & laid dinner etc. Muz took Pat to the dr. & he said he mightn’t be able to go back till after 11th. Muz lay down for a wee bit after tea, I wrote letters. Ione went to the theatre with Mrs Paul & 12 other girls & 12 Sussex men, & they danced afterwards in the Sussex Mess, just beside us. She asked me to go too, but I didn’t want to. Took up bottles etc & cleared away & went to bed at about 11-30. Pat came up & talked to Muz in bed afterwards, for a bit. Ione didn’t get in till late, but hadn’t enjoyed the dance much!
Irene Wills on horseback
Thursday 4 January
Ione, Pat, Irene, & I went for a ride, & got back at about 3-30. It was lovely. Did things in the house etc. Pat & Irene went down the town. Mr Lawrence came for tea. Then we all went up & dined at the Grand, for the League of Pity dance. Pat went as a Pierrot, Irene as a Gipsy, & Tom as a witch. We got back at about 12-30, & went to bed at about two, as they had to get the paint off etc. & Pat came up & talked. Mr Lawrence stayed the night.
Friday 5 January
Ione lunched at the Grand & had tea there too. Pat & Irene went off by the early train, they are going to stay with her relations in Glos. I stayed in bed all day. Mr Daniels came for tea. Pat & Irene are staying with the Wills3 & are going to be away till about Tuesday.
I fear you’ll not be back & moreover that I shall lose you. I cannot but advise you to put yr self in the Doctor friend’s hands; blood poisoning is a rotten thing to play games with. I shall be a lost soul without you & you’ll be badly missed but believe me it is better to take things easy than to fight against them. We leave here 10th & go to line 14th I believe. I fear your billet could not be kept open beyond the month. Perhaps I’m pessimistic again & may see you rolling up on the 11th a sound man; don’t do anything foolish though. Kind regards to Mrs Pat & your one & only
W. L. Williams
Letter from Berkeley Quill to Pat Armstrong, undated except for “Friday” but written at around this time
For many a day I have had the good intention of writing to you but I have failed to get further until now. I hope you are very much better though from the accounts that do filter through you don’t appear to be quite mended yet. Are you being sensible & sticking to your resolution not to return until completely recovered? Things are going along in the same old way, nothing new or interesting except perhaps the extraordinary good temper after “all highest”. Goodliffe we lost very soon as the Division claimed him so I have been muddling your job for you as well as my own, but I have persisted in persevering the holiday spirit. I must congratulate you on your engagement & wish you the really great wish that you may be as happy as I am. I believe that it is supposed to be a secret but I can assure you that it is known by everybody throughout the length & breadth of the land.
“Are you being sensible?”
The General was very amusing about his C.M.G.4, didn’t care a bit whether he got it or no, in fact although he was given a piece of ribbon he has not yet thought of putting it up. Hurley on the contrary was highly delighted with his D.C.M.5 I am sorry to say that he has now gone sick & that we are not likely to see him for some time. He has to undergo an operation for an abscess on the groin. He was very distressed at leaving & wanted to assure me that it wasn’t because he was shy of the trenches. Bairnsfather, otherwise Harris, went back to his battalion just after Christmas. He was making himself a beastly nuisance, chiefly I think because he had no work to keep him out of mischief, and so I packed him off with a note to the Adjutant asking that he might be h—ted a bit until you return. So will you let me know when you are coming back a day or two before you start, I will arrange that he shall be back in time to look after you. I suppose you haven’t been able to have a hunt. I have had one or two runs after hares but without success. Now the country is so ploughed up that one really can’t go after them. The Lad has not yet returned though he is due any day now. Bye bye, don’t be foolish enough to hurry back before you should.
Saturday 6 January
Muz & I stayed in bed for breakfast. Ione went up to London by the early train, as she was going to stay with the Kirwans. Tom went for a walk with Miss Peters & the niece, & went to watch the hockey. Muz & I went to the hospitals.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
Misarden Park, Cirencester.
My dear wee Mus.
Just a line to you before I turn in. I’ve done nothing much to-day. It was a lovely sunny morning so Rene & I went for a walk. This is an awfully nice place, a lovely old house & nice woods all round. A nice little old village about 500 yds from the house and a long avenue about a mile and a half leading out the other way onto the road. There is quite a nice little lake too. The house is new slap up, lots of money about it. These people all improve on knowing. Gil is a real good sort, better than Harry when you know him. Tommy is a good deal nicer than I thought at first, he talks slowly like Bobby Paul & looks like Billy Shield, his wife Peggy is quite nice, she’s Scotch. My description of her last night was about right. Queenie is awfully nice but lacks personality. A pretty little school girl. A London man would probably have her, she’s the type that doesn’t appeal to me. I’ll tell you all about them when I come back but I feel you’ll want to know now. We are going to see Tommy’s polo ponies to-morrow he’s got between 50 and 60. I told him about Melody & he said awfully nicely “Oh if you get her home I’ll look after her for you.” Nice spontaneous sort of thing. Mother dear Rene is in great form. She’s absolutely topping. I’ve never met anyone like her, you’d have loved her to-day. There was no “I” and no mention of clothes all day. Well wee Mus we’ll be down with you on Tuesday. I shall wire to the Gen on Monday from London and ask for a week’s extension, that will make it quite safe. This spot has come to nothing but I feel it’s no good chancing it if I can get an extra week. Well wee Mus I must turn in now as I have no more news.
Your loving Pat.
Letter from Major General W. L. Williams to Pat Armstrong
I seem to be writing a good deal to you. I spoke to the General today about you: if you come out on the 11th & are wanting further rest, you can go for some weeks to Divn as GSO 2 & have an easy time; if you stay over 11th you’ll have to vacate. You do what you consider best; if you take my advice you’ll get well before coming out. De L inspected the Royals & Dubs to-day & was very complimentary to both; they both did uncommonly well.
Many thanks for your kind telegram from the family. Please tell them all how much I appreciated it. Tell Pat if he is not fit for active work on his return, he is to come here to officiate for Ovey as G.S.O. 2 until the latter returns from his course in February. This will give him a better chance of getting fit. All good wishes for 1917.
Beauvoir de Lisle.
Sunday 7 January
Muz & Tom went to church then Tom went for a walk with Miss Peters. Mr Arnoldi came in before lunch. Viva & Cupid came unexpectedly for tea, so we had to rush off & get things. Did some tidying, & we went to bed at about 10-30.
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. ⇑
Taylor & Godden Carriage and Omnibus Proprietors, of Christ Church Road and West Cliffe Mews, Folkestone. ⇑