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Monday 7 to Sunday 13 December 1914

Monday 7 to Sunday 13 December 1914

WEEK 24: KAI KAI BALUCH!

Monday 7 to Sunday 13 December 1914

The second week of December 1914 was a lucky one for the Allied Forces. On 8 December, four German warships – Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Leipzig and Nurnberg – were sunk by a British squadron under Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Sturdee during the Battle of the Falkland Islands. On 10 December, six German submarines attempting to enter the admiralty harbour at Dover were repulsed. On the Eastern Front, the Russians succeeded in repelling German attacks north of Lovich in bitter winter conditions, while further south the strategic town of Valjevo, captured by the Austro-Hungarian army on 16 November, was re-occupied by Serbian forces. News of these and other successes spread rapidly across the globe and was followed with great interest by Pat Armstrong in France, Mrs Armstrong in Folkestone, and by Algie Neill whose purgatory in Samoa was finally showing signs of coming to an end.

Monday 7 December

pat_diary_cameo
Le Nieppe. […] Heard that the Germans had taken LODZ. A push on this side is expected.

Tuesday 8 December

jess__diary_cameo
Helped Muz to dress, & then we went round to the Chataways, & then down to the babies’ house, mine had gone off this morning to Berkshire. Then we went to see the sick baby. After lunch I went down the town & did some shopping & asked Helen Walter to tea. She stayed till about seven, then I worked at the eiderdown, & went to bed at about 9-30. Barbara de Hoghton was married this morning to a Mr Heywood, Heppie went down to see the wedding.

muz_diary_cameo
Still throat sore & headache but no use staying in bed & a good deal to do with Belgians. Jess is being godmother for several she is in great regard & nurses them splendidly

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Dec 8. Hd Qrs I Cav Div British Expeditionary Force.

My dear wee Mus,

I got a letter from you to-day written last Wednesday and another one written in November which had gone to the 1st Cav Bde. […] It is better not to put the Rgt on. It very often goes to the Rgt if you put it on. Tommy Pitman came & stayed here the night before last & we had a little shoot yesterday. Gen Mullens & Geoff came over they got over about 12 o’c as they had had trouble on the road. We had five guns altogether & we all took turns. We each had a gun for two beats & then beat for two more beats. We had quite a nice little shoot 10 pheasants 6 hares & 5 rabbits. Not too bad for one morning was it. To-day Mouse rode over to see the Royals who are about 10 miles off. I rode some of the way with him but hadn’t time to go on & see the Rgt as I had a court-martial at 2.30 so had to go back. I tried to see them on Sunday for a few minutes but they were all out. I’ll try to get away some day soon & see them all. Ted Miller is coming here to-morrow for the night & then we are going to shoot again on Thursday all being quiet.

Ready for a rug!

Ready for a rug!

There is no news here at all everything seems quiet. The papers all say that the Germans are preparing to go back but there doesn’t seem to be much news of it out here. I expect we’ll have a big push on this side sometime soon. It would be a great thing if we could break a hole in their line somewhere. Have you had any more dreams lately? Do write & tell me when you do. That was an awfully funny one about the bear wasn’t it. I can’t quite understand about the 8’s yet. I wonder if it means that this war will last 8 months. If that’s true it ought to end in March. I hope it does but I’m afraid it’s too good to be true. But it’s awfully hard to see what is going to happen in a show like this. It might go on for years or collapse quite quickly. I like war like we’re doing now. It’s quite good value. We have just been issued with rugs for our horses so I am going to clip all their necks and bellies. They sweat so with their heavy coats if one does any fast work.

Point-to-point race programme

Point-to-point race programme

[…] There is going to be a point to point next Monday. The 2nd Bde are getting it up. Good effort isn’t it. I don’t think I shall run any of mine. I’m afraid of breaking them down. I’d run Diana only she’s such a bad jumper. I’ll try & get a prospectus which Geoff has written out & is getting typed & send you a copy. Mouse has just come back & says that all the Royals are in great heart. He says that George Steel (the Colonel) has a cousin in Berlin who wrote him a short time ago & said that things were going on as usual in Berlin. Then at the end of her letter she said “keep this stamp for my collection.” Well as she hadn’t a collection her mother thought it odd & sliced off the stamp, under it was written “Panic here, food short”. Cute wasn’t it. I doubt there being a shortage of food, as American shipping still goes into Hamburg & food isn’t a contraband of war, so they can get all they want. This goes home to-morrow with Davidson our doctor so you’ll get it quickly. There is to be a conference of Corps commanders on Thursday which looks as if something was going to happen. It’s no good going a few miles what we want to do is to break through or a good big push say about 20 miles broad & then roll them up a bit. There is a rumour that Lodz has been taken by the Germans but I don’t know if it’s true or not. […] I am looking forward to getting my oil silk waistcoat. It will be grand & warm & keep out the wind. As a matter of fact the weather is awfully nice & warm now but it rains practically every day. The country is awfully heavy. I must take this down to Davidson now & then go round the horses. Best love to you all dear wee Mus. Wasn’t it lovely seeing you all last week.

Your loving Pat

Wednesday 9 December

muz_diary_cameo
Got a cold in my head now which is mightily unpleasant! Letter came from Pat he writes constantly & seems happy he is now busy making jumps for his horses by cutting away wire & was settling a shoot for 7th he & “Hardress” got a pheasant each day they were out.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Jess Armstrong.

My dear wee Jess,

“Wincarnis gives new life”

“Wincarnis gives new life”

Ever so many thanks for your letter of the 3rd which I got this morning. I am awfully sorry to hear that poor wee Mus is sick. How horrid it is. I am afraid we rushed her about too much when I was at home, & she must have got a chill. It’s horrid her being seedy when I’m away & news takes so long to get through. Make her take care of herself & keep her away from the harbour for a bit. I’m sure she works far too hard. I thought she was looking awfully thin when I was at home. Get her some Wincarnis1 & make her take it. Send me the bill & I’ll send you a cheque for it. Now mind you do. If ever she wants anything see that she has it. I’ve got a big balance in the bank & can always send you a cheque if you want it. I hate her being seedy. I’m afraid she worries about this old war […]

Letter from Mary Isobel Ward-Jackson, Princess of Wales Terrace, Parktown, [Johannesburg, South Africa] to Pat Armstrong

December 9. Princess of Wales Terrace, Parktown, [Johannesburg, South Africa]

My dear Pat,

Mary, Duke and Jack

Mary, Duke and Jack

Just a line to you in the trenches to show you that your friends in S. Africa have not forgotten you this Xmas time. I must call you Pat, as it seems so silly to call you anything else in these sad times. We both think & talk of you so often and pray that you will be spared to come through this dreadful war. I should love to have sent you a hamper of things, but as you know, it is impossible from here. But you will know now that you are not forgotten. Your dear old Jack sends you all his love. He has grown so big & strong, you would hardly know him and he is my most beloved friend. He never leaves me a moment. I enclose a bad snap of him, Duke & me, just to show you that he does exist.2 Jack laughs in the same old way, to greet you & is very full of spirits & go. I can’t bear to think of the awful times you are having at the front, you brave heroes! But how one wishes it was all over. […] My eldest brother is kept in Egypt with the Gypy Army3 & not allowed to leave, much to his despair. So far R has not gone, as he is wanted here with the paper, but if things go on, he will also go. Our rebellion has had its back broken & Beyers he’s at the bottom of the Vaal, good luck to him!4 I see poor Tommy Pitman was wounded, but is back once more. The good times in Potchefstroom & here seem very far away now, but we are going to rule the world & you are one of the Empire builders (I wish I was) & we shall hand down to our children an unbroken heritage of honour. With ever so much good luck from us both & Billy & all Jack’s dear love.

Yrs. M. Isobel Ward-Jackson.

Thursday 10 December

muz_diary_cameo
Their shoot was quite good. They got 10 Pheasants 6 Hares & 5 rabbits guns were Colonel Pitman, General Mullens & “Geoff” besides themselves. They are settling a Pt to Pt “if Germans allow”! Pat thinks he’ll ride Diana, staying in bed as the flue or whatever it is a nuisance & I must get rid of it somehow wire came from G.

Friday 11 December

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Dec 11. Hd Qrs I Cav Div.

My dear wee Mus,

I have just got some ink from the office & filled my old pen which has been lying idle for so long. I saw an awfully good advertisement the other day. Swan ink tablets they are in a little metal case & are very handy to carry. Cecil arrived back last night & brought me a lovely box of cakes awfully nice they are. […] I’m looking forward to the British Warm 5for motoring in. The writing blocks are splendid, this one is nearly at an end. I wonder if you could get the next lot a little wider. I have got enough to do me for ages now, so I’ll remind you when I want some more. I find I get through a lot of writing paper. It is a great plan being able to send letters free isn’t it. Saves a lot of worry with stamps. The diary is splendid & just what I want. It was only a matter of time when I lost the band off the other one. Poor wee Mus. I’m so sorry you have been seedy, but Cecil brought good news of you last night, but it’s horrid your being in bed. I’d like you to have met him. He’s awfully nice. We have got an extraordinary nice lot. I like them all most awfully. It’s amusing the putting my name in the paper isn’t it. I had great fun yesterday. The General gave me leave to go over & see the Rgt. so I started off about 10.30 with Ames & rode over there. It is about 14 miles off & I got there soon after 12.30 & met them all coming in, they had been out practicing the attack & all sorts of things. Brock is back & is commanding C Sqdr. So I went & had lunch with him & old Pokes came in too. He is signal officer & is with Hd Qrs. "Joe" Airlie, Sea Lad & Wilson had gone home on a second go of leave. Lucky devils. They won’t give us any more just at present but I hope we will get some more later on. Basil’s face is troubling him again so he had gone off to Boulogne to have it exrayed. Sickening for him isn’t it. I saw Frankie who is in C. He was looking awfully well & seemed quite cheery. Brock says it’s rather dull now as there is nobody very cheery in the Sqdr. I saw Maurice for a few minutes, he was looking very well too … I got a note from Geoff last night saying that the pt to pt was off, owing to the heavy state of the ground. Just as well I think as they would probably have broken down a lot of horses & it is quite impossible to replace a good horse now. […] I see in yesterday’s paper that Brock & Gosling have been promoted. There are three vacancies so Bobby Canning will be promoted soon I expect. Pokes told me yesterday that they were going to make two extra captains that will take him & Greenwood & leave me senior saballin [?]. I hear that Clem is doing well but won’t be able to come out for some time. Nice wee letter from B. I’m returning it as you may want to keep it. Best love to you all dear wee Mus. I do hope you will be alright again soon. Best love.

Your loving Pat.

Saturday 12 December

Tommy’s school friends

Tommy’s school friends


muz_diary_cameo
I got up after luncheon. Tommy had a tea party & it grew quite big & was a very cheery affair they played hide & seek. I sat & talked to Irina & Miss Anderson. went to bed early Heppie put poultice on my throat about 4 pm it burst something inside & relieved my ear.

pat_diary_cameo
Le Nieppe. […] News of Servia Victory 20 thousand prisoners. Submarine raid on Dover. Was inoculated.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Dec 12. Hd Qrs I Cav Div.

My dear wee Mus,

I have just got a grand long letter from you dated 6th. I’m very angry with you going running off to Oxford after Harry’s d—d dog. If you don’t take better care of yourself I won’t write to you anymore!!! Wee Mus you really must take care of yourself & not go dashing about in the cold when you have got that old rheumatism on you. You really are naughty. You know you wouldn’t let any of the family do it & yet you go yourself. I wrote you a long letter last night telling you all the news so & haven’t much for you to-night. Odd you mentioning typhoid. When I got you letter I was just going off to arrange about being inoculated & now I’ve just been done. The Dr said my skin was very tight. He gave us all a good laugh at his efforts to get the needle in. The President & Col Home were done at the same time. The President was rather nervous but laughed like mad when he saw me done. I expect I shall feel a bit rotten to-morrow but it’s a good thing to have done & now is a very good time when there is nothing much else doing. I am going to have another go in about 10 days’ time. I hope we won’t be moving then. There is a sort of rumour in the air of a move but nothing definite yet. It’s good about the Russian victory isn’t it. What splendid people they are. Just when we thought they had taken the knock. That will about finish the Austrians I should think. I wish Italy would come in, but I’m afraid she won’t at present. The news all seems good though. The paper says that the French have got Roulers which is good & we seem to be gaining ground gradually all along the line. This weather must be dreadful for the poor devils in the trench. I am wonderfully lucky being out of there. Today was a glorious day beautiful sun & nice & warm. We had a great shoot to-day. I went out for a ride after breakfast & then at 10 o’c rode off to the wood. We had quite a big crowd. Gen Elliot Lockhart & Col Colin Campbell came in from G.H.Q. Gen Mullens & Hamilton Grace came from 2d Bde & Sterlom [?] from the Ammunition Column. We shot till about 1.30 & then came back to lunch. We got 15 pheasants 4 hares & 8 rabbits. Quite good wasn’t it. We had a great lunch party. Your cakes were greatly appreciated, excellent they are. […]

Your loving Pat

Sunday 13 December

jess__diary_cameo
Didn’t go to church, sat with Muz & then helped Heppie to make gruel for her. Mr Sievier came for lunch. I sat with Muz again after lunch, & wrote letters. Then I went to tea with the Walters – Helen’s aunt & people – then we walked up to the camp in the rain, but found Mrs Lloyd didn’t want us, as there were so few people. Then we walked back. Helen told me all about a man she was very fond of, & when we got back, I went to her house, & she showed me photographs, & his letters. I got back here about eight. Got Muz’s supper & fixed her for the night, & went to bed at about twelve.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Dec 13.

My dear wee Mus,

[…] I was very disappointed with the King’s visit. He just talked to the Gen & then walked down the line looking on the ground never looked at the men or said anything to the Colonels of Rgts. The only person he asked for was Luke White, Annaly’s son, who was away at the time. It was very disappointing as it might have been such a success. Don’t say anything about this. Of course he may have talked to other Divisions but he certainly didn’t to us. I except David has gone as a matter of fact, but I’d like to have had him. It doesn’t matter really. I have got 3 good ones to ride myself. Diana is a hard useful sort but she’s a bit rough to ride. She does Ames alright just to hack along the road with, he quite likes her. She’s a nice looking mare and is very comfortable walking or cantering but she’s got an awful trot & throws her head about dreadfully. But she would do an awful lot of work, so she is valuable to me. They have all improved since they were clipped. “Lady B” has picked up a lot & is getting quite fat. Melody & Nutmeg are just like bombs. […] The fall of Lodz doesn’t seem to matter much. The Russians evacuated it to straighten their line. The Germans have been there before I believe. But I’d like to see them pushing on, not giving any ground. The roads are so bad it is hard for them to get troops etc. along. Getting supplies up is their difficulty I should ask. I see they had a lot of firing at those submarines off Dover last week. You must have heard it quite fairly. Splendid about those 4 German ships being sunk. Clears the sea a bit. I do wish their navy would come out, it will be the beginning of the end when it does. Things seem rather a dead lock everywhere now. I wonder if this will be an eight months war. I shall be glad to see the end of it […]

Your loving Pat

Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Nurnberg

Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Nurnberg

Algie_cameoLetter from Algie Neill to Jess Armstrong

Dec 13. Malifa Camp, Apia.

My dear Jess,

The “Tofua” leaves here for Sydney today so I take the opportunity of writing my last letter to you from Samoa as it now seems quite certain that I am to return to N.Z. by the Navua on the 23rd inst. A wireless came through from the Governor of N.Z. to this effect last night. I am now in hopes of getting back to the regiment but I may get stuck to go with N.Z. reinforcements to Egypt but in any case I trust they will not force me to stay there. They may of course only just require me for the voyage & then I could proceed on after the arrival of the troops in Egypt. We were all very delighted to hear the night before last that our friends the Gneisenau & Scharnhorst had been sent to the bottom also that the Leipzig, Nürnberg & Dresden6 had been accounted for. It was this fact which made my return to New Zealand a certainty so you can imagine how delighted I was. The Germans here have always looked upon our presence here as a mere temporary inconvenience however I think they now realize that Samoa will shortly cease to be a German Possession. It was really rather amusing how the news reached me. I was dining in white at the Central hotel with 2 nursing sisters & Mr Provost Marshal we were dining out on the balcony when suddenly I looked up & saw my Orderly Room Corporal coming very quickly towards me. The telephones had all been cut off that afternoon & I had told him where to find me if anything of importance came to hand. I knew therefore that his presence meant something important so I got & left the table quietly & lead him out of hearing of those at the table. He was quite breathless partly from excitement & partly from the speed at which he had come from camp & could scarcely speak. He at last panted out – I I I have just had a message from the Wireless Sir – pause – to say Sir pause that the Gneisenau & Scharnhorst – pause – I thought he was going to say are just coming into the harbour – have been sunk. I yelled at the top of my voice Kai Kai Kai Baluch!7 & everyone thought I had gone off my head. The mail has just come in & is just off again so I have no time to answer your two letters & one from Mrs Armie. Thanks awfully for them. Hope to see you within two months now. Best love to Jess from

Yours affectly Algie.

Battle of the Falkland Islands

Battle of the Falkland Islands


Footnotes

  1. A fortified wine made of grape juice, malt extracts, herbs and spices, popularly used in the early 1900s as a pick-me-up tonic.
  2. This photograph is in the Armstrong collection.
  3. Gyppy = Egyptian; British officers were attached to the Egyptian Army as part of the joint British and Egyptian government, known as the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, which ruled the eastern Sudan from 1899 to 1955.
  4. The Maritz Rebellion or the Boer Revolt in South Africa began in September 1914 when men who supported the re-creation of a Boer South-African Republic rose up against the government of the Union of South Africa.
  5. A military greatcoat for British officers which was first used during the First World War
  6. Dresden had in fact managed to escape destruction
  7. ‘Kai Kai Baluch’ was the war cry of the 10th Baluch Regiment of the British Indian Army.

 
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