Throughout early October 1918, British and French forces continued to push the Germans out of their defensive positions along the Hindenburg Line. On 9 October, the French town of Cambrai was liberated, but not before the departing Germans had the opportunity to apply their scorched earth policy by burning down much of the town. When the Allied troops entered Cambrai, they found it virtually in ruins, with 600 buildings completely destroyed and another 5400 damaged. Meanwhile in Ireland, a tragedy in the Irish Sea made headline news. On 10 October, RMS Leinster, a vessel operated by the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company was torpedoed by a German submarine while bound for Holyhead. The first torpedo, spotted by passengers lounging on the deck, passed in front of the ship, the second blew a hole in its side, and the third virtually blew the vessel to pieces, killing 529 of the 771 passengers and crew on board. Mrs Armstrong and her daughters, just back from a visit to the Kirwans at Dennistoun, received the news with mounting horror. What was the fate of their friend Margaret Proby, who had been scheduled to cross over from Ireland on the very day of the accident?
I do think it so kind of you to have written to me, & thank you most sincerely for your kind thoughts & sympathy in my loneliness, & sorrow1 – You have suffered so terribly yourself, that you well understand the agony of those partings – I have thought of you so often – my sister had told me of your dear boy’s great devotion to you, & how much you wrote to each other – & I know how life feels now that he is gone – I am hoping when things are settled up here to go out to France, & try & be useful, as life here seems unendurable – If you are living in London now, may I come & see you, when I come up later on? – Thanking you again for your kind letter, & I am not one of the people who “do not like letters” for I love to feel that there is kindness & sympathy, & think it a great help.
Yours very sincerely
C M Scott
The Liberation of Cambrai
Thursday 10 October
Left Dennistoun. Left Dennistoun by 11 train, got up about 12, & left luggage etc at Charing Cross Hotel, & then went off & shopped, & got hats for Tom. We had all our meals out, & then bed at about ten. We are all three sleeping in the same room.
Friday 11 October
We stayed in bed rather late, then went out to shop, went to Woollands, & got a hat for Muz & Tom. When we were coming out, met Dolly Elton & her sister, & went round to see her flat, & then we went off to see Reenie at the nursing home, she is much better, but still in bed. Then we did more shopping, it rained fairly hard. Had food out, & went to bed at about 10-30!
Your letter was forwarded on to me from the 4th Cav Bd. My address is now Hd Qrs 2nd Cavalry Division so you see I have been promoted since last we met. I passed the cemetery on my way back this evening and soon found Pat’s resting place, although there were nearly 1000 graves to look amongst. It is beautifully kept and all so tidy. Pat’s was quite one of the nicest as it had flowers growing, a kind of daisy in full bloom. There were other plants not in flower. I picked 3 daisies for you one I have pressed and the other two I am trying to send in a box in hopes they will be still alive when you get them but I’m afraid it is only an off chance. The oak cross looks as if it was not going to stand the climate very well as it seems somewhat weatherworn, but the inscription is quite clear and I am certain it will keep so until the end of the war when a stone can be put in its place. There is no fear now of the Germans coming back to disturb those who are sleeping peacefully. Some of the graves on the battlefield have had a terrible time with the constant shelling. Yesterday I found poor Colonel Lawson’s grave he was buried just where he fell you will remember him Captain really but he commanded a battalion of Infantry. One of the best. I think we are nearly through with the war. I really believe this is the final unless rain comes and stops “play”. So glad to hear that the wedding was such a success. I’m afraid I have no time to write you a long letter as you write to me but as you will see by the papers we are fairly busy at present. Wasn’t it lucky my having to pass the right place in my motor today, and get a chance of sending you news of Pat’s resting place.
Thomas T. Pitman.
Saturday 12 October
We stayed in bed rather late, & then shopped all morning, after lunch Raymond Stevens took us to the cinema, not a very good show, & afterwards we went to tea at the Hotel. Then we went to see Kitty Neill, & saw the baby. Then Algy came in, we didn’t stay long. They go to New Zealand in December. We wrote letters, had food out, & went to bed at about eleven.
Sunday 13 October
We stayed in bed rather late. Went for a bit of a walk. After lunch we went to D. P. to ask for Maggie, as they had been crossing over from Ireland on Thursday, but luckily they didn’t start by the early boat, but their secretary & Lady Phyllis Hamilton were drowned on “Leicester” [sic]. When we were coming away, met Jocelyn, for a few minutes. Then we went to see Miss Simpson, by underground. We went to have tea first. But no shops open, so a nice woman in street said she would give us some, so took us back with her! Then went to see Miss S. who was in bed with a cold. We had dinner out, & bed at about 10-30.
Mrs Scott’s husband had died on 9 September 1918 ⇑