The Armstrong family rocked with excitement on 22 January 1918, when they received news from Ione that she had accepted Lindsay Everard’s proposal of marriage. Mrs Armstrong and Jess at once packed their bags and travelled to London to congratulate the happy couple. While there, they also had the good fortune to attend a concert by the 29th Division’s Diamond Troupe at London’s Royal Court Theatre on 26 January. Almost every Division in the British Army had its own vaudeville-style concert troupe which toured the battlefields providing comic relief and a welcome diversion from the horrors of the war. Troupes also toured at home, raising money for charitable causes, most commonly for the Benevolent Funds which provided financial assistance to the families of dead or disabled soldiers. The Diamond Troupe was formed in April 1917 in Arras, France, where the 29th Division’s headquarters were located and took its name from the Division’s logo, a red half-diamond. It reaped remarkable fame during its scant two years of existence, not least because of its female impersonator Private William “Queenie” Threlfall who caused a riot among audiences. The Troupe’s series of performances in London were so popular that it was asked to stay for a second week, a request which however the War Office refused.
Monday 21 January
Wrote letters in the morning & then sewed, & cut out a jumper for myself. In the afternoon Muz, Tom & I walked into the town. I sewed again in the afternoon. Muz & I had our bath before dinner, & I went straight up to bed afterwards, & Heppie put Muz to bed later.
Tuesday 22 January
Wrote letters in the morning & then cut wool for Heppie, & worked at the mat for a bit. Rosie came up. After lunch Muz & I drove over to see a little house the other side of Bridgnorth, but it is too far out. Then we had tea with the Welches, & walked back. We got a letter from Ione, about Lundy! Nothing settled till today!1 Muz & I had a bath before dinner, then we talked, & afterwards I wrote to Ione. Heppie packed as she goes to Clodagh tomorrow for the night.
William Lindsay Everard
Wednesday 23 January
Heppie went by the early train. I walked in to the town early, & did some shopping. Then I sewed, & Muz & Tom went in, & Tom went in again after lunch, & I read. After tea Muz read to us, & then we read after dinner, & went to bed at about ten.
Thursday 24 January
I went in to the town, & Muz wrote letters. Muz & Tom went in in the afternoon, & I read. Then Muz & I went up & packed our things, to go to London tomorrow. Heppie got back at about seven. She was rather tired. She had seen Ione on the way through.
Friday 25 January
Muz & I went by the early train, & Ione was changing when we got to the Curzon, as she had people for tea. Lindsay, Mr Orr, Mr Pochen, Lindsay’s sister, Miss Bell, Miss Villiers-Stuart, Mrs & Miss Paton-Reid, & two other men, came. Afterwards we sat & talked to Lindsay, then I went up to Ione, & Muz talked to him. Then we all dined together in the hotel, & then they went to a dance, & took Miss Reid to the Savoy first. They were to have come back early, so Muz & I sat up for them, but they were so late, that we went to bed.
I am writing to tell you that Ione and I are very much in love and subject to your approval wish to be engaged. I am most awkwardly situated at present and cannot possibly get leave to go over to Ireland to see you and explain matters, as I should like to do. I am therefore doing the next best thing in my opinion, and writing you a long letter letting you know as much about myself as possible. I am the only son of my father T. W. Everard, who lives at Bradgate Park, N: Leicester. My family have lived in Leicestershire for a great many years. I am a partner with my father in a privately managed Brewery, and am also a Director of another business in Leicester. As regards my financial position, I can well afford to get married as my capital in my business is now £50,000 and besides that I have other sources of income. If you would like figures in more detail please communicate direct with my Accountants Mess: Yates & Co Accountants New Walk Leicester who will give you full particulars as they make up my Income and Expenditure returns: or Mess: Parr’s Bank Leicester with whom both I and my firm bank.
I am 27 years old in March next, and was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College Cambridge. I belong to the Church of England religion, and am a keen Conservative in politics. I belong to the Carlton and Junior Carlton clubs in London. At present I am soldiering for the duration of the war in the First Life Guards. I can’t think of anything else I ought to tell you, but if there is anything else would you please write to me and ask me about it. I am so sorry not to be able to come and see you, but we live in extraordinary times and one is not one’s own master quite at present! Believe me with kind regards.
W. Lindsay Everard.
Saturday 26 January
Muz & I went by underground to see Zooie, & told her & Miss Jenny [?] all about Ione & Zooie is awfully pleased. She is going to lunch with Ada today, so we went some of the way with her. We rang Reenie up & she is coming to the concert with us this afternoon at the Court Theatre. The 29th Division concert, they have just come over from France for a week, it was awfully good. Reenie had to go early, & Ione & Lindsay met us afterwards, & we went to tea at the Carleton, then Lindsay had to be in in the evening so we went out for dinner, & went to bed fairly early.
I was just about to write to your Mother when your kind letter arrived & now my letter will have to be inflicted upon you. Many thanks for your letter, I am very proud of my Cross but for the life of me I can’t look upon it as a personal thing, to me it is just another honour for the Regiment I love & another VC for the Glorious Division. How pleased Pat is & I am sure he agrees with me that it is far too big a thing to belong to just one individual.
I have been annoyed with myself for the last few days a letter of mine to your mother must have gone astray! I ought to have registered it. I wanted so much to fix a day for you all to go to the Diamond troupe & Mrs Gee & my fillies were going also but I wanted your address to have the tickets sent but as I got no reply my letter could not have reached you. Please tell you Mother how sorry I was. I thought she would not mind taking you all as it was for the Division Pat served & loved so well. I have got a letter just now saying you were at Curzon Hotel. I presume Mrs Gee learned it from your Mother. I just feel that I have messed the whole thing through lack of foresight I am so sorry.
Yes Xmas must have been a trying time. I so wish I could help to share the load with your Mother but it is just one of those things which one must bear alone. Don’t let her mope Jess just be good & patient & so try to fill in the gaps made in her life by Pat’s death. I felt awfully down over my dear lads at Bde HQs but it surprises me how easier the load became when I wrote to their people – 37 of them – to try & brighten their load & now I find quite a number of them are wounded & prisoners.
We finish a tour in the Line tonight & I am just waiting for the General & BM2 to come in. Hot Bath & meal all ready Rum & Hot soup for the men. I feel a regular slacker this time for it is the first occasion the Bde have ever been in the Line that I have failed to visit a Bde Headquarters daily to see if I could help but the Brigadier & Gen de Lisle just made me stay at Rear Head qrs; things have gone on just as well perhaps better but it is the feeling that I have failed to get up which is so annoying.
Here! I really must stop short. Again many thanks & you will be patient with Pat’s mother for his sake.
Yours very sincerely
PS I will write to Tommy later
Sunday 27 January
I stayed in bed till lunch time. Muz, Ione & Lindsay went to church, & then Park afterwards. Then they lunched in the hotel, & L & I went to the zoo, & then Zooie & Ceely came for tea & she saw Lindsay for the first time & liked him awfully. When they went, Muz & I went to church, & then wrote letters afterwards, & then dined in the hotel, & sat & talked afterwards.
This is probably a reference to the engagement of Ione Armstrong to Lindsay Everard ⇑