Pat Armstrong’s long convalescence had cost him his position as Brigade Major to the 86th Brigade, which had been allocated to Captain Goodliffe in his absence. Thus, when Pat returned to France in early January 1917, he was obliged to part with General Williams and accept a temporary role as General Staff Officer (Grade 2) in the 29th Division offered to him by General de Lisle. Although disappointed, Pat did his best to make the most of the situation. Meanwhile in Folkestone, his sister Ione began preparations for her own journey to France, where she had signed up to work as a volunteer in Lady Angela Forbes’ canteen in Étaples. At Grimston Gardens, the shortage of domestic help remained a problem, forcing Jess Armstrong to continue in her combined role of cook, butler and chambermaid.
Monday 8 January
Muz,Tom & I went down the town. After lunch I went to the Dew Drop,1 & we were quite busy. When I got back Colonel Thurburn was here, as Muz had sent for him, to see a man who had been discharged, & who was going about selling needles, he was quite mad, so we couldn’t do anything for him. Muz gave him tea, before he went. Went to bed at about 10-30, after bringing up bottles etc.
Tuesday 9 January
Tom in bed all day. Ione down the town, getting her clothes for France. Pat & Irene arrived back for lunch unexpectedly, so I got up. Pat gave me a lovely Jaeger golf coat. He & Irene went down the town before tea, afterwards we talked. Helped Heppie to do the table etc, & after dinner cleared away etc, we went to bed at about 11, & Pat came up & talked for a long time afterwards. His visit was disappointing, Tommy Wills has sixty polo ponies, & they didn’t show them to him.
I do wish I could have seen more of you, I had to rush away at the Berkeley the other night as Nina was standing waiting & my sister in law had asked me particularly to meet her that night as she was going to France. I am so glad I saw you old boy and it gives me such pleasure to see you so happy.
I like your fiancée awfully she seems such a good sort & that means a lot. Do write & tell me all you are doing, I loved seeing you again, you are still my best pal Pat and always will be. Goodbye dear old boy & I hope you will be awfully happy.
Yours as ever
Wednesday 10 January
Pat & Irene went for a ride, & got back at about three. Muz hired a car, & we took a man from Manor Court2 for a drive into Hythe, & up to Miss Carleton’s on the way back. Talked after lunch, then Pat went to call on the Sussex, just next door, then he & Irene went out after tea. On the paper today about Gordon being married. Heard from Gen. de Lisle that he wants Pat to go back to him as G.S.O. II3 (29th Division) when he goes out again. Laid dinner & cleared away etc, & we went to bed at about eleven. Pat came up & talked afterwards.
Thursday 11 January
Muz, Tom & I went down the town, & had our photos taken, to send up for our passports. Pat & Irene went for a ride, so we didn’t have lunch till nearly four. It was an awfully wet day. Muz went to tea with Viva, at the Burlington & met Lady Farnham. Pat went & called for her, & Irene came back here for tea. Ione shopped all morning. We sent our passports up to be re-done. Cleared away & brought up water etc, & went to bed at about eleven. Pat went up & talked afterwards.
Photos for passports
Friday 12 January
Pat goes. Had breakfast rather late, then Pat did some of his shopping, then he & Irene went down the town. We had lunch rather early & then went down to the Harbour to see Pat off by the 3-30 boat. He put his luggage on & then had quite a long time with us. We came back by the town & Tom & Irene went to the station, & Muz & I went to look at a present for Gordon, with Ione. She took it back in the bus, & Muz & I walked. Muz did cards for Ione & Irene before dinner, & afterwards Irene went straight up to pack. Brought up the hot water, etc. Muz talked to Reenie in her room, & we went to bed at about 11-30. Ione goes to France next week, about 17th or 18th. She is busy getting her clothes.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong South Eastern & Chatham Railway, Marine Department, Folkestone Harbour.
My dear wee Mus.
Just a brief scribe to send back on the boat. It was horrid going off. I just timed it right, they pulled up the gangway a few minutes after I had got on board. I am very comfortably established in the King’s messenger’s cabin.
I have just written a line to Rene. I’m longing to hear from you what she is like to-night with you all. Be sure you let me know all about her. I don’t know if I will be able to get on to-night or not. I hope I will as I don’t want to stay in Calais. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Saturday 13 January
Irene had breakfast in bed, & we were down fairly early. She went off by the eleven train, & Ione went up to see her off, Muz & I had breakfast in the smoking room, then Heppie & I went out on the Front to see about the shrubs they are digging up in the new Rest Camp & then we went to the Manor Office about them, but have to go again. Muz went out with Ione to help to choose her a dress, they came in very late for lunch. We wrote letters nearly all afternoon. Tom stayed in bed all day. Ione very busy with her clothes. She went to the club in the evening. Muz had her dinner up, with Tom. I wrote letters, & went to bed at about eleven after bringing up water etc.
Sunday 14 January
Muz, Ione & I went to church, & then went out on the Front afterwards, it was very cold. We met Tom after church, & she came out too. After lunch Ione washed her hair. Muz wrote letters, & I darned all afternoon & evening. Heppie lit the stove. Ione went to the club, & when she came back, we had a lovely bath, & went to bed at about 11-30.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
I wrote you a hurried line on the boat which I posted at Calais. We had a glorious journey over. I was extremely comfortable in the King’s Messenger’s carriage. When we arrived we found we couldn’t get on till the following morning. We left at 10 and were due at Amiens at 3.15 but didn’t get in till about 5 o’c. The car hadn’t rolled up & there was no train on that night so we went to a hotel where I had a good bath. The care eventually turned up about 7.30 so we had dinner & left about 9 o’c. We are where Wiper and the pups are and stay here till Tuesday. Goodliffe in the Royal Fus is doing my job and I stay here till Ovey comes back. The General only got the wire I sent off on the 10th this afternoon, he also got your letter. He had arranged it all with Gen Williams. I got a note from T. saying that I was to come here as G.S.OII. I’m not feeling very pleased at being here but suppose it is a good chance of learning the job. I thanked the Gen for getting me here to-night, he was awfully pleased. I went and had a long buck with him in his room to-night. I think he liked that. He is in great heat and is awfully pleased at getting his K.4 He likes to be called Sir Beauvoir. Says he has always been known as Beau and is too old to be suddenly called Henry. I went and saw Wipers and the pups this morning. Two of the pups are awfully nice, the other hasn’t grown and is rather a miserable looking little thing. The old lady was in great form and was delighted to see me. She heard me outside and started barking and jumping about. She is too sweet for words. I gave Percy one of her puppies to-day. I’ll give the other two away in the next week or 10 days. They are awfully sweet but I’ll be glad to get rid of them as they will be a nuisance in the line.
“It was something to have a gallop”
This afternoon I went out with Bobby & Percy & had a hunt after a hare but we did no good. She beat us by going through a wire fence. However it was something to have a gallop. I’m longing to hear what the girl was like after I left. I do hope that that talk I had with her will do her good. It’s dreadful her being so selfish. Did you say anything to her about it. I forgot to tell you that I told her she ought to do some work in London. I told her it wasn’t right her saying she had too much to do, that she really had d— all. I said that her painting was just a pastime and was only amusing herself and that she would have lots of time to do that after the war. I told her that she wasn’t to make heavy weather over things, sort of making out that she was awfully busy when she wasn’t. She said she would do something, so I’m looking forward to seeing what she’ll do. That nasty old Curteis woman will probably try to stop her. I must be off to bed now. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
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 ⇑
Manor Court in Folkestone was a nursing home which had been turned into a hospital at the start of the First World War ⇑