When the First World War broke out in August 1914, Britain faced an enormous financial crisis owing to the economic demands of the war. One of the means for the government to generate the money required was to borrow it from the public. War bonds were issued three times in the course of the war: in November 1914 and June 1915 at an interest-bearing rate of 3.5%, and in January 1917 at an interest rate of 5% to be redeemed in 1929-1947. However, in 1932, when the country was battling against a budgetary crisis, Neville Chamberlain changed the terms of the bonds by offering the holders a choice of cashing them in at once or accepting a cut in the interest rate to 3.5%. The vast majority accepted the cut but had a long time to wait to get their investment back: the outstanding debt of £1.9 billion was not repaid by the government until March 2015.
Monday 12 February
“Tom put up her hair”
Muz & I got up to do the calling & lit the fires etc, & got breakfast. Then Muz & I went round to see Kitty & sat with her while she packed. She goes back to London by the three train, but may be back in about a week. Tom put up her hair for the first time.1Ione writes that she is in bed with a cold, so is having a good rest! Then we went to tea with Mrs Lucas, & afterwards went up to the Metropole & had a lovely bath. Left out things etc, & went to bed at about ten.
Tuesday 13 February
Muz & I got up to do the calling, & the fires etc. Got breakfast, & afterwards Heppie & I went down to do the shopping, & Heppie went on, & I came back to get lunch. Muz & Tom went for a run before lunch. […] Muz wrote letters, & then she & Heppie planted two of the shrubs, then she worked at the mats. She came up to bed at about 11-30. Tom is going to have her hair up every day now.
I enclose a letter from Rene. The conversation she refers to was one day on the pipe field when she was making a great fuss about cantering & I told her she’d never ride if she gave way to little troubles like that. I told her she ought to think of things round about her & not how much her knee was hurting her. She took it awfully well & it did a lot of good.
“Making a great fuss about cantering”
The Gen got back last night & has gone off to the Corps. He has a very bad cold. Some people say it’s pleurisy. He is going to be there for 10 days. I’ve almost forgotten the chief object of this letter & that is that I’ve just been warned for the Staff School at Hesdin. I’ve got to report there by 5.30 P.M on the 17th. My General was awfully nice about it this morning. Said he was awfully sorry to lose me & that he was afraid I’d never come back. It is sad as I’m afraid it’s true but I’m sure it’s a good thing to do. Ovey has just got back & has gone as G.S.O22 to Corps and a fellow who has just been through the school has come to the Div in his place. He was a Bde Maj. in another Div. I can’t remember his name. He looks quite a good fellow but rather a nut full of manners. I don’t know that the Gen will like him. I’m awfully afraid now that I will get pushed off to another Div. The thing I would like if I have to leave the Bde is to get G.S.O13 to this Div. That would be the thing to ask Archie later on. We might get this new lad pushed on. But not a word for the present. I don’t want to leave the Div if I can possibly help it.
I’m going to ride over & see de Lisle to-morrow. I think I will push off the next day & stay a couple of nights at Etaples with Bonny4. She is about due for Boulogne now & I might be able to help her. I can take the high horse & quote all sorts of people. Kidgell the Chief of the Staff is my General’s brother in law so I could work things through him if necessary. My Gen would do anything like that for me. I know the C. in C’s A.D.C 5 and also another fellow on the A Staff at G.H.Q. Stuart-Menzies who is a great pal of mine is on the Intelligence & I believe runs the movements of civilians in this country. So there are lots of people if old A turns nasty. I must write Bonny a line now & then go to bed. Best love dear wee Mus. I’m so glad you are going to Cantreyn. It will do you both a world of good. I’m sure Kitty will look after the house for you.
Your loving Pat.
Wednesday 14 February
Heppie got up to do the calling. I stayed in bed all day. Heppie shopped in the morning & Muz & Tom went for a run before lunch. Miss Steele came in before tea, she is back from France. Mr Colville came to call, he is a sailor Emmie knows. Muz wrote letters. She got a letter from Gordon this morning, saying that he & Dolly are coming down to the Pavilion tomorrow, for the night, as he goes over on 16th. They want us to dine, but Muz wired & said we couldn’t dine, but expected them in the afternoon. Markie is in the paper today, getting a Military Cross. I wrote letters in bed.
Thursday 15 February
Muz & I did the calling etc, then I did out the morning room, hall & smoking room, & lit fires etc. Then got tea ready, & Mrs Battiscombe & Miss Marshall came for tea. We were expecting Gordon & Dolly, as they were coming down this afternoon, but they didn’t come. After dinner we telephoned, & found they were at the Grand, so went up to see them, & they danced, then came back here afterwards for a bit.
Friday 16 February
Tom’s birthday. Muz & I did the calling, & were up fairly early as there was a lot to do. Laid the table, & got luncheon ready, dusted & lit all the fires, & just in the middle Gordon & Dolly came, & said they weren’t going to stay for lunch, as she was going back early. She went by the three train, & Gordon’s boat didn’t go till 3-30, so we went down to the Harbour, but just missed him. We shopped on the way back, & got things for Tom’s birthday which we are keeping tomorrow. Talked to Mr Roberts on the way back. Miss Steele came in to see us, & afterwards Heppie, Tom & I went down to the post office to put money in the war loan. Nitter has put £100 in for Tom.
Lend Your Savings to the Nation
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
“What an old stinker Angela is”
What an old stinker Angela is. I call it a real rotten trick. She promised me when I was there that Ione could go to Boulogne in a fortnight’s time. I call it a real rotten trick her going back on her word like that. I was hoping to go down there yesterday but I’ve got a slight touch of flue so couldn’t go & am staying in bed to-day. I [am] quite fit really but don’t want to run the risk of being seedy at the course. I’ll have to go straight there to-morrow & won’t see Bonny which is annoying. You’ll have to be real nasty if A. won’t give way. I’ll try to get down there but doubt being able to for a bit as it’s almost impossible to get away from the course. I have just written a wee line to Archie to thank him for all he has done for me. I said that I had just heard from you that he had arranged for me to go to the course & thanked him very much. I wrote as if I had only just heard it from you.
Yes! there’s no certainty atall about G going it’s all a matter of luck really. I do hope he does it will make all the difference. I am afraid Dolly will change him a lot. He will never be the same to all of us. She’ll do everything she can to keep him away from his own great friends as she’ll be jealous but she won’t bring G among the class of people who will interest him. I’ll enclose a letter from him which I got yesterday. It has a different tone somehow to letters I have had from Pokes & Percy under similar circumstances. Yes! it really is extraordinary he’s not wanting to go and stay with you but I suppose Dolly wouldn’t hear of it. I can see her doing it can’t you. She’d think she wouldn’t see as much of G at Clodagh as she would at a Hotel. Instead of liking meeting G’s friends. Horrid I call it. It is so different to Algie & Kitty. She sounds a splendid girl. I don’t know what we can do about Angela, of course we can hold out a lot of threats. But I think now Bonny has signed on for four months she’ll have to see it out. Shall I write to Lady A & say that she promised me that Ione could go to B in a fortnight & that you were very upset about it etc. It’s d—d annoying but I’m sure you will defeat her in the end.
My General isn’t atall pleased at my going to this course. He says that I’ll never come back which I’m afraid may be true. Gen de Lisle told me that if one did well on this course it would be equivalent to the staff college in peace time. It would make one eligible for advancement on the staff as he put it. Personally I’d rather stay on as Bde Major but I suppose one must look ahead. The only thing I hope is that I do decently on this course but I’m so confoundedly bad on paper. One has long hours of indoor work which won’t suit me atall. However I’ve had a good deal of experience & hope not to make a mess of it. Most of the people who I’ve met who have been there say it’s a real good show & one learns a tremendous lot. De Lisle got back a few nights ago and is now commanding the Corps while the Corps Commander is on leave. He’s not atall well I’m afraid. He has a nasty cold & says it’s a touch of pleurisy. He was up & dressed when I saw him, but he didn’t look too well atall. Poor little man he feels this cold dreadfully. It seems warmer to-day & looks as if it might thaw. Fancy we’ve had the cursed frost for a month. Damnable isn’t it. But one consolation is that it’s worse for the Bosch than for us. I sent on my horses yesterday. It’s about 50 miles so they are going to do it in early stages. Melody had a hard day the day before as I rode her up to see the General he lives about 14 miles off. So she had close on a 30 mile ride. I got back that night feeling a bit cheap & went to bed with a bit of a temperature. I stayed in bed all yesterday but am up now – feel quite fit but can’t enjoy a smoke yet. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Ione Armstrong
My dear old girl.
I am so sorry but I won’t be able to get down to see you. I had settled to go yesterday and had got leave and everything as I explained the situation to the General. However I got knocked out the night before & spent all yesterday & most of to-day in bed. However I feel better to-night and head off to the school to-morrow. I particularly wanted to go and see you as mother is very much annoyed at Lady Angela keeping you at Etaples when she promised me that you would go to Boulogne in a fortnight. That fortnight has now passed and you are still at Etaples. You signed on to work for four months at Boulogne that I believe was specified in your declaration was it not? That being so you can claim as a right to go to Boulogne. If she breaks her portion of the contract you are in no way to blame if you break yours, and return home before the expiration of your four months. If you are not at Boulogne by the 20th will you send me a wire. Lady Angela gave me a promise that you should go on in a fortnight and I feel sure that with her experience of the world she will not go back on her word. As I say if you are not at Boulogne by the 20th I will make it my business to have all necessary documents such as passes etc. made out and sent to you so as you can either go there or go home whatever you like. I have a great friend on the Intelligence Branch at G.H.Q who I know will do all in his power to help you. I also have several very influential friends on the General Staff who will make light work of such a simple matter as this. Let me know what is the stumbling block about your going to Boulogne? Perhaps it is some very small matter which can easily be put right. Mother is very annoyed at your being kept & I expect will wire for you to go home in a few days if you aren’t allowed to go to Boulogne at once. Best love old girl.
Yours ever Pat.
Saturday 17 February
Muz & I did the calling. Muz got breakfast, while I did the fires etc. I did all the grates from yesterday too, then got luncheon ready. We heard that Pat is going to the Staff College at Hesden [sic] today, it lasts for six weeks. We kept Tom’s birthday today, as we hadn’t time yesterday! After lunch did some tidying in my room, & put things up in the attic, & was awfully busy all day. Got tea & dinner things ready, then Muz & I went to leave some notes, & went to see Mrs Phillips who is sec. for Adyar.6 Washed up etc, & we got to bed by about nine, I was awfully tired.
Sunday 18 February
We stayed in bed rather late, so Tom was down before us, & brought us up hot water, got breakfast & lit the fires etc, with Muz. Heppie stayed in bed all day. Cleaned all the grates etc, & got lunch. After lunch got tea & dinner things ready, & then went out with Muz to leave notes, asking people to Adyar on Tuesday. We met Miss Peters, & she came some of the way with us. We went to see Mrs Phillips, about Viva being the other hostess on Tuesday, with Muz. On our way back, we went to see Mrs Arnoldi, who is in bed, then went to see Viva. Colonel Holmes came here for tea, he is going to try & get soldiers to dig the garden for us. Got dinner ready, lit the fires, washed up & brought water up etc, & we went to bed at about 9-30.
Up until the First World War it was a custom for girls to lengthen their skirts and put up their hair when they came of age as a sign of maturity. Tom celebrated her 21st birthday on 16 February 1917. ⇑