« « Week 37 | Week 39 » »

Monday 15 to Sunday 21 March 1915

Monday 15 to Sunday 21 March 1915

WEEK 38: WE HIT ONE CAT & GOT STUCK IN THE MUD

Monday 15 to Sunday 21 March 1915

On 18 March, the British and the French launched an ill-fated naval attack on Turkish forces to gain control over the Dardanelles, a narrow, strategically vital strait which separated Europe from Asia. Of the 18 vessels which entered the strait to attack the Turkish fortresses, three – HMS Irresistible, HMS Ocean and the French battleship Bouvet – were sunk, and another three – HMS Inflexible and the French battleships ¬Gaulois and Suffren – were seriously damaged. The losses were caused by a line of mines laid by the Turks in Eren Keui Bay to catch the battleships as they performed their characteristic manoeuvre of turning starboard into the bay when withdrawing. The failed naval operation made it evident that the capture of the Gallipoli peninsula would not be possible without the help of the army, and preparations to launch a full-scale landing were begun at once. The British attempt at St Eloi to recapture The Mound had also ended in failure on 15 March. A dramatic driving lesson brought some light relief to Pat in the midst of such news.

Monday 15 March

jess__diary_cameo

Men in the trenches

Men in the trenches


Went down the town with Muz & Emmie & we showed her some of the furniture. We heard that Mr Castberg had died of wounds, his people heard it last night. After lunch Muz & Emmie went off to call on Mrs Scott, but she was out, then they went to tea with Viva. The Countess & Mr Bald & Mr Murray-Smith came for tea. Markie took a box at the theatre, & sent a note down to us, & we all went with them, the Countess came too, it wasn’t good. We went to bed at about twelve.

pat_diary_cameo

Le Nieppe. […] The infantry had counter attacked & got back all the trenches except the mound. The Gen went back about 4 o’c. Went with the Babe to the Hd Qrs of the 27th Div. They were rather pessimistic & wouldn’t or couldn’t tell us much.

Tuesday 16 March

jess__diary_cameo

Went down to help Mrs Edwards & Miss Walter to tidy up the Club, I fixed all the books & magazine & things, then Muz came down for a bit, Mrs Edwards came back here, & took photographs & things back to her husband. Emmie came down, & we went out on the front, & talked to Mr Johnston & Viva. After lunch Muz & I went down to a meeting at the club. Emmie was going over to Dover to see Markie, but he came here instead, then we all went up to have tea with the Smith-Maryats, & the Plumptres were there too. Mr Murray-Smith was there too. We went to the Tango Tea. Afterwards we sat in the Monkey house.1 Emmie came for dinner, & left at about ten. We went to bed at about eleven. Mrs Edwards told me that Harry went off yesterday morning at nine, at an hour’s notice. He went to Havre first.

pat_diary_cameo

Le Nieppe. Still standing to but never left our house.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Tuesday Night. March 16.

My dear wee Mus.

General Sir Henry Rawlinson

General Sir Henry Rawlinson

[…] My cold is alright. It was heavy for a couple of days but the quinine killed it. I’m still hard on nose rags but it’s almost gone. Everybody seems to have them. Col Home has got a beauty. A real brute. The 7th 8th & Meerut Division2 did that show at Neuve Chapelle.3 Everybody is awfully pleased about it. It just missed being the most colossal success. They very nearly got bang through the German lines. It is rumoured that their casualties were about 15 thousand. They say that 2000 dead Germans were counted in front of the India trenches. Our casualties were very heavy4 too I’m sorry to say. The General saw Gen Rawlinson this morning & he was awfully pleased at the way the men attacked. People thought that they wouldn’t go forward well after all this sitting in trenches that they have been doing. But he says that their dash & bravery was magnificent. No news from St E5 to day. They apparently haven’t got that mound back yet. It is rather important too as the trenches can be exploded from it. I believe they are going to have a go for it to-night. I am going to write to G & get him to tell me all about it. Poor old man he must be having a hard time of it. It is his Bde who are there. […] Good news about the Dresden being sunk6 isn’t it. I hope they get through the Dardanelles soon. That ought to have a big effect on the war. That is a good article of Belloc’s this week. I read it to-night after dinner. Well wee Mus it’s nearly 12 o’c so I’ll play shut eye for a bit. Best love.

Your loving Pat.

SMS Dresden

SMS Dresden

Wednesday 17 March

jess__diary_cameo

Went down at 10-30 to tidy up the club, & at 12 went down the town, & met Emmie, & walked about with her. We had lunch early & then went over to Dover in the car, & went to see Markie […] I got a postcard from Ned & Capt. Davison written on 14th. […] Harry gazetted a lieutenant.

Thursday 18 March

jess__diary_cameo

Went down at about ten, & worked at the club, & Mrs Edwards came early, so we were done by 11. Then we took Mrs & Mr Merriot to see the house, Emmie came too. After lunch I went down the town with Ione, & we went to Mrs Harrison about her new dress, then went to the Stubbses. Then Ione went back, & I did some more shopping. Florence & Mary came for tea, & Emmie stayed too. Mr Ball & Mr Murray-Smith were coming, but wired to say they couldn’t, but are coming tomorrow instead. Emmie stayed for dinner, & we went to bed at about eleven.

Friday 19 March

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

March 19.

My dear wee Mus.

Learning to drive

Learning to drive

I got your letter of the 15th yesterday. The Babe & I had rather fun yesterday. We left here about 10.30 & motored down to Bethune. He was driving he is just learning so we had quite an exciting drive. We hit one cat & got stuck in the mud once otherwise all went well. Well! when we got to Bethune we went & saw the 2nd Div & asked them what part they had taken in the affair. They just did a holding attack to keep the German troops in front of them busy & stop them withdrawing them to where the pressure really was coming. However only doing that they had 700 casualties including 25 officers. We then bought some fish & looked about a bit & then went on & saw the 1st Div. We didn’t get much news there. Then we lunched with A Sqd of the 16th Hussars. Stayed there till about 3 o’c. I drove home & had rather fun. I saw a lot of the Rgt in Hazebrouck on the way back. Basil is back & was looking awfully fit. Doesn’t look as if he has just had flu at all. […]

Your loving Pat.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

March 19.

My dear wee Mus.

I hadn’t much time to write to you this morning & it’s very late now so I won’t write a very long letter. […] I got a letter from you this morning dated 16. I’m awfully glad the cheque came in handy. It is much better to use my money than to take your own out of shares. […] What about carpets have you got them yet? Be sure to get everything you want & start with the house really nice. It will be economy in the long run & now is the time to buy things. I am putting away about £15 a month of my pay & the Boss puts in £150 in June. You need never worry about paying back. I feel that the house is as much mine as yours & would like to have my money in it. […] You said something about Harry getting into bad hands in your letter yesterday. But didn’t mention it to-day. What was it? The way his people have behaved is enough to make any boy go wrong. I wish his father could stop a bullet. So many of the real good fellows are killed & all the rotters left. I was so sorry to see that the poor old Pagan was killed. Today too has been a beast of a day. Snowed last night & has been sleeting & blowing all day & is beastly cold to-night. I rode with the Babe this morning more for air & exercise than pleasure. This afternoon I walked over to the Regt & saw A. Sqd. Billy Palmer is back & is as odd as ever. Awfully trying he would be on a show like this. Poor old Basil was rather depressed I thought. Wants to go to the flying Corps. I shouldn’t think that there is much fun just now regimental soldiering. He says that he’s sick to death of it. He says that if he gets through this war he will chuck it afterwards. I don’t blame him. I would if I was in his place. He is very old & would always have young fellows senior to him & then he’s got his place. He told me that Lady Brooke is going to live at Ballyshannon & that Sylvia is going on living at Colebrooke.7 Dreadful for poor old Basil having a mother like that. I really think that our position is better than that. He feels it awfully too. He sort of said it to me to-day as much as to say “you know why”. Dreadful isn’t it. He walked back part of the way with me. He tells me that he has been recommended for a D.S.O.8 Good isn’t it. I do hope he gets it. I would like to see three or four in the Regt. They all seem very comfortable over there, but seem to sit in the house all day. Maurice is at home I hear. Sick I believe. Did you see those photos of B. in the Sketch & Tatler of the 17th of this month. They make me long to be home to see her. I’m afraid it is rather a bad case Mother dear! I am afraid that there is no chance of leave starting again. There is no war news here at all. Everything seems very quiet.

Well wee Mus. I’m very cold & sleepy so will turn in. Best love.

Your loving Pat.

Saturday 20 March

jess__diary_cameo

Went down to the club, & afterwards went down & did the shopping. Mr Bald, Amy Maude & Connie Penn came for tea, & Emmie stayed too. They went at about six, as they were motoring back. Ronald stayed on, & we changed, & then went up to the Hotel to dine with him & Mr Murray-Smith. The countess dined with Emmie & Markie. Then we went to the dance afterwards, & it was great fun. I danced with a Canadian & he asked me to go & have tea with him tomorrow at the Grand! We went to bed at about one.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Saturday night.March 20.

My dear wee Mus.

[…] I went over & dined with Basil with A. Sqdr. Billy is back & I hear that Clem has been passed fit & is coming very soon. Charles Crichton & Giblet came out last week. We had a very nice little dinner. It was so nice to see them all again. I will just write you this scribe now & then turn in. It is getting more difficult now to write letters that the days are getting longer. I don’t usually get in till about 6.30 so I usually write letters after I come to bed. It is just striking 11 o’c. It is difficult to write after breakfast as I usually have one eye open for the liaison officer & then there are always lots of things to be done. Bad news in to-days paper about those three boats being sunk.9 But it is bound to happen & one can only be thankful that the guns were saved. It is a terrible big business forcing those Dardanelles. I am glad that the blanket has arrived. The shells etc were packed inside an old Burberry. Which didn’t go off till a day later. I do hope it arrives alright. It doesn’t seem very sound to have Bonbon dashing about so soon after measles. Rather silly I’d say. I do hope that the others don’t get it. What a pity Harry has taken to the bottle. He’s an awfully weak boy, I’m afraid. But his people are to blame more than he is. It is a shame the way they have treated him. But it’s a horrible trick that. He will probably be alright out here as he’ll have a job to get it. I do hope he gets through this show alright. The casualties these 10 day have been awful. I suppose you saw the poor old Pagan was killed. A lot of people I knew. Eric Gilbey & several others. I hear that there is going to be a fuss about cameras. That all cameras have to be sent home by the end of this month. It’s not an order yet but I hear it’s coming. I will send my big one home. I will try & get somebody to take it for me if possible. I sent of two parcels of films this morning. Three small rolls in a toffee tin which we were presented with after Wipers10 & the other roll in a parcel by itself. Will you send me some more wax matches & some ginger biscuits. Best love dear wee Mus.

Your loving Pat.

The cake was excellent best I have ever eaten.

“It is a terrible big business forcing those Dardanelles”

“It is a terrible big business forcing those Dardanelles”

Sunday 21 March

jess__diary_cameo

Went to lunch with Ione & Tom, & then went out on the Front with the Stubbses afterwards. After lunch I did some mending. Then we went up to the Grand to have tea with Emmie. She had Ronald & Mr Wilson too, then Mr Murray-Smith & Mr Taylor came. Afterwards I went to Miss Walter’s to try & get out of going tonight, but he was out, then I went back & fed Duskey. Muz went to a Belgian service, & Ione & Tom & the men went down to the Harbour. I went to the club, but Miss Walter let me go at 7-30, & we all went & dined with Ronald, Mr Murray-Smith & Mr Taylor at the Grand, & went in & danced afterwards we telephoned to the Stubbses & they came up too. We were back at about eleven. Mr Wilson dined with Emmie & Markie. It was great fun.

Out on the Front

Out on the Front


Footnotes

  1. The conservatory attached to The Grand Hotel in Folkestone gained the sobriquet ‘Monkey House’ during the Edwardian times when the press of the day likened its frequenters – mostly heavily bearded gentlemen in dark suits – to monkeys at the zoo.
  2. The 7th (Meerut) Division, an infantry division of the British Indian Army, the principal army of India before independence in 1947.
  3. The Battle of Neuve Chapelle, which was fought on 10-13 March 1915 and ended in British tactical success.
  4. Allied casualties of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle amounted to 11,200 (7,200 British, 4,200 Indian). Losses on the German side were roughly similar
  5. St Eloi, where an attempt was being made to capture the Mound of Death
  6. The German cruiser SMS Dresden had been sunk by the British Navy during the Battle of Más a Tierra on 14 March 1915
  7. Colebrooke Park, County Fermanagh, home of the Brooke family
  8. Distinguished Service Order
  9. The British vessels HMS Irresistible and HMS Ocean and the French battleship Bouvet, which were sunk by Turkish mines in the Dardanelle campaign on 18 March 1915.
  10. Ypres

 
« « Week 37 | Week 39 » »