German air raids continued to plague England, with six attacks on London and the south-east of the country in rapid succession at the end of September 1917. Although adverse weather conditions limited the damage caused by these raids they nevertheless caused panic among the general population. In central London, people began to seek shelter in Underground stations. By the autumn of 1917, 86 tube stations had been made available for the purpose and at their peak accommodated nearly 300,000 individuals. To combat the threat of air raids, street lights in central London were turned off from September 1917 onwards. Along the south-east of the country, a network of observation posts and anti-aircraft guns was established compete with searchlights and fighter squadrons. However, many of the residents in Dover and Folkestone wearied of the constant threat of air raids and left the area to seek refuge in other parts of the country.
Monday 24 September
The Taubes1 were over here last night, & dropped bombs at Dover, but they didn’t sound the siren here. I gave out things etc, & got luncheon ready for Mr Hamilton. Afterwards I cleared away etc: Muz was feeling awfully sick all day, & a very bad headache. She lay down in the drawing room in the morning, & stayed there till nearly tea time, I sat with her & worked. Ione went out with Mr H. Mr Ectors came for tea, so Muz got up to see him, but had to go up to bed in the middle, I did her head & sat with her. Ione was to have dined with Mr H, but at 7-15 the siren went, & the “all clear” didn’t go till 10-45. We had to sit in the hall the whole time, as Muz was feeling awfully bad, as she had to get out of bed, & put on a coat. Then Ione & Mr H. went up to the Grand, & I got bread & milk for Muz, & we went to bed at about 11-30. They didn’t drop any bombs here, but we hear they did in Dover & London.
Tuesday 25 September
Poppy sent me £45, £35 my share of the horses & ten for my birthday. Muz gave me frames, Ione 2/6, Tom & [sic] wee cup, & Heppie a book, & Zooie £1. I had a horrid sore throat all day. In the afternoon we went to see Mrs Lucas. I went to bed early with my throat, & the others were at dinner, & the siren went at 7-15, so we went out to see, & we could see them firing from Dover, & they were coming this way, so our friend in the M.P. 2 came over & told us, to go out on the front or into the cellars, so we ran out to the front, & lay down, on the slope. They came right over us, & all the searchlights were out, & three guns firing, they made such a funny noise, just like a dog asheying3 ! We could hear the engines quite low down, & one might have been driven out to sea as it went straight over us. They dropped two or three bombs, one in the viaduct & one killed some Japanese soldiers, in the camp. It wasn’t over till 10-30. Then I made some coffee, before we went to bed.
A German Gotha G IV in flight
Wednesday 26 September
I had a horrid sore throat again all day. At ten Muz & I went off to an auction in Clifton Gardens, we bought some linen, pillows, & a carpet. We didn’t get back till 2-30, then Miss Peters came in to try & fix the blind, then Muz & Ione went out, & I did some tidying, & got tea ready. Miss Peters came for tea, & then Muz & I settled the linen etc, & I tidied away all the things. Then wrote letters. Leo McGlinh [?] came to see us, he goes over to France tomorrow. I wrote more letters after dinner, as we didn’t want to go to bed too early in case there was another rain [sic], but it was rather too windy for them so we went to bed at about 11. I got some bread & milk first. I had to lock Duskey up yesterday.
Thursday 27 September
Gave out things etc: & did a lot of tidying etc. We are thinking of going up to London tomorrow, & then on to the Kirwans, if they can have us. We had ordered dinner early, so as to have finished before the raid came, but it came early! The siren went at seven, just as dinner was coming in! We went straight out on to the front. E.4 was out for the afternoon. It was awfully cold out there, we only heard the firing from Dover, & saw nothing so came in early, as it was so cold. Then we had coffee, & went to bed at about eleven. Did some of our packing first.
Canadian Red Cross newsletter
Friday 28 September
There was an air raid warning & it wasn’t over till 9-30, Ione went to London by the early train, & Muz, Dusky & I went by the eleven. E. carried up our bags to the station. I went in to Miss Peters to see about her forwarding letters, watering greenhouse etc: Ione met us at the train, & then we went off & shopped all day. We got back to the Charing X Hotel at about 6-30, & found they wouldn’t have Duskey so we had to go off to the York. Mr Hamilton came to dine, & Mr Gendle came afterwards.
Saturday 29 September
We were out early & shopped all day. Ione came with us in the morning, & then went to lunch with Mr Hamilton. The shops all shut at one, so Muz & I went off to Waterloo, & walked about there, & then Ione met us for the six train, & we went down to Dennistown. K. met us at the station. Then we put Duskey to bed, & talked after dinner, & went to bed at about 10-30. There was an air raid in London tonight, & bombs were dropped at Waterloo station, & we only missed it all by ¼ of an hour. There was a good deal of damage done altogether.
Taking cover in London
Sunday 30 September
I worked nearly all day, then after lunch we all went for a walk, & another after tea. K. goes back to work at the hospital tomorrow. Mrs K. wants us to stay on longer than the week-end. They had the raid warning at Folkestone tonight, & the machines straight over, & heard all the firing from Dover.
Monday 1 October
We all went down the town in the morning, to help K to shop. After lunch Muz, Ione & I motored over to Waverley Abbey5 with K. & we went & saw her cubicle, & where she works etc. We had tea there, with Amy & Betty Anderson. Then we had a lovely drive back. After tea we went for a walk, & then worked afterwards, & went to bed at about ten.
Tuesday 2 October
In the morning I did the flowers in the drawing room, & then we went down the town. After lunch Mrs K. had people for bridge, I & Muz wrote letters, & I unpacked a summer dress of K’s, that Mrs K. gave me this morning, to make a dressing jacket with. We went in to tea & then worked again afterwards, & worked again after dinner, & went to bed at about 10.
Wednesday 3 October
We all went down the town in the morning, & had our photographs taken! Mrs K. & Dus: too! I worked after lunch, & after tea we went for a walk, the others went one way with the K. dogs, & I took Dus: another way. It rained just as we were coming in.
The Kirwans’ dogs
Thursday 4 October
We all drove up to Mrs Farrer’s Red X work depot in the morning, & made phneumonia [sic] jackets6 till about one, & then drove back again, as it was raining quite hard. We all worked in the afternoon, as we brought some bandages back, to make. Worked again after tea, & again after dinner.
Friday 5 October
Ione’s birthday. We went down the town in the morning. Poppy sent Ione £10, & Muz gave her £20. We sewed in the afternoon, & then Ione & I met K. by the three train, she is back from Waverley for the week end. People came for bridge, & we went in for tea, & went for a walk afterwards, & then worked. Captain Grant (D.S.O.)7 rang us up this morning, to know if he could come down to the hotel for the night, as he didn’t want to miss us in London on Monday, as he was going to fish. So Mrs K. asked him for dinner, he came early, & talked to Muz, & then we all talked afterwards. He said awfully nice things to Muz, about Pat.
Saturday 6 October
K. stayed in bed all morning. Muz, Ione & I went up to the Hotel to meet Capt: Grant, & we found him in the curiosity shop, he had been buying pictures & glass. Then we saw him off at the station, he is still on crutches.8 Then we went back to the curiosity shop, & bought a table, looking glass & some glass. We worked after lunch, & again after tea & dinner. K. sang to us after dinner, & then she went up to bed early, & we came up at about 10-30, & went in to see her, in her room.
Sunday 7 October
K. went back to the hospital at 7-30. It rained hard all day. I worked, & wound wool etc. The others worked at the bandages, & got them all finished. Worked again after tea. Ione wrote letters, & Muz, Mrs K. & I went for a walk. Worked again after dinner, & went to bed at about ten.
“A good deal of damage done”
Gotha Taube was one of the versions of a monoplane aircraft popular before the First World War and the first military aeroplane to be mass-produced in Germany. ⇑
Elizabeth, a domestic servant in the Armstrong household ⇑
Waverley Abbey House in Farnham, Surrey, was the first country house to be converted into a military hospital during the First World War. Ione Armstrong had also worked in the hospital as a volunteer in May 1916 ⇑
Pneumonia jackets were padded jackets strapped around the chest area to help keep patients warm ⇑
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