WEEK 57: HE HATES TINNED MILK IN HIS TEA
Monday 26 July to Sunday 1 August 1915
The last week of July 1915 was a holiday for Pat Armstrong who had set sail for the island of Lemnos in order to rid himself of the ‘Gallipoli Gallop’. Accompanied by Colonel Perceval, the two men luxuriated in the beautiful summer weather and made the most of Greek hospitality. They spent their time in the leisurely pursuits of fishing, sailing and reading and gorged themselves on fish, chicken and fresh fruit. At the end of the week Pat returned to Gully Beach a new man with an unusual present for Major General de Lisle. In Folkestone, Pat’s mother and sisters bid goodbye to Dot and Zoo. Their efforts to furnish and decorate their new home continued unabated. In between making curtains, hanging pictures and laying down carpets the three sisters found time to enjoy dances and to host their first official tea party at Clodiagh House.
Monday 26 July
Did some washing & tidying in the morning, & then Zooie & I went down the town, to do some shopping. Florence was coming round to see us, & we met her half way, & she came some of the way down with us. They were starting nursing today. After lunch Zooie, Dot, & I sat out in the garden & dusted the books. After tea Muz, Zooie, Dot & I walked up the “Caesar’s Camp”,1 & got a lot of plants. It was lovely. We got back at 9-30. After dinner I helped Heppie to settle the book case in the smoking room, then we talked.
Castro2. The Col bathed about 7 o’c, breakfast at 8 o’c. We walked up & saw the old castle & village. Got in about 10 o’c. Went out sailing at 11 o’c getting back about 12.30. Then lunched read most of the afternoon & went out fishing in the evening. Did no good only catching one small fish.
Tuesday 27 July
Washed out cupboards in the spare room & dressing room, & then did some mending & ironing. Muz did some cleaning too. Zooie & Dot went down the town, & Ione stayed in bed. Muz, Dot & Tom went to the Tango tea, & Ione went with the de Marottes, & Zooie & I had tea here, & went on afterwards. When it was over Zooie & Dot went down the town, & we stayed on & played hunt the slipper & [—]. When we got back Mr Newcombe was here, & stayed till 7-30. Ione dined with Mme de M. & went to the theatre. After dinner helped Zooie to pack. Muz was very tired. Letter from Pat July 15th.
Castro. Had breakfast about 7.30 then the Col & I walked out towards the monastery. Got ourselves in an awful mess with mulberries. Got back about 11 o’c & went out sailing wind was bad which was disappointing so we came in early. Went out again about 4 o’c took Ames went round to a little bay & tried to fish not much success. Had a glorious bathe. Had dinner about 8 o’c & then went up to [the monastery] with Lazarus & saw it by moonlight. Got back about 10 pm.
Wednesday 28 July
Zooie & I went up to London by the 9-30 train. Dot came up to see us off. We got up very late, & took Zooie’s luggage to Victoria & then went to Evans to meet Norah & George Sloane-Stanley, & had lunch there & then went to the Coliseum,3 it was a very good show. The queen went to see it yesterday. Afterwards we went to Selfridge, & then Zooie went with Norah & George to catch the 6-30 train to Epsom, as she stays with them till Friday. I got patterns & had tea, & came back by the seven train. I talked to a nice Canadian boy in the C. Black Watch4 coming down. Then put Muz to bed, & went to bed at about 12-30.
Castro. Started at 6 am & went up the big hill getting back about 9.30. Lovely morning. About 11 o’c went out in the dingy which I had just paid for & ran it ashore, thought I could land but sea was too rough. Then walked on & took some photos of a water wheel. Got back about 12.30. Started in the St Nicholas at 4 pm and got into [blank] Bay about 6.30. Got kits ashore & had dinner. We were in bed by 8.30.
Thursday 29 July
Went down the town with Dot, & did some shopping. Then she went away by the 2-30 train & we went up to the station to see her off. Tom & Ione went back as it began to thunder, & they had not coats if it rained. Dot crosses over tonight. I did some mending. Ione went down to Sandgate with Harry this morning, & she met him at the Grand yesterday. They put the tennis net up. Wrote letters. Ione dined with Mme de M. & went to the theatre. Went to bed at about ten.
Set sail about 5.30 after a most glorious night. Saw some submarine nets. Got back about 9 o’c. Built a sort of wire entanglement for Lazarus.
Friday 30 July
Did some tidying & things, & wrote some letters. Ione went to the dance. It rained hard all day, & huge big hail stones. I went down the town in the morning. Ione went to the Tango tea, & I went up there at about five to bring her flowers, but I didn’t go in. Harry was to have come over, but it was frightfully wet. Muz & I did some tidying. Went to bed at about 1-30.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
[…] I was away & couldn’t write. We had a great time & I feel quite different. I feel quite energetic again instead of feeling that it is an effort to put one leg in front of the other. Now I’ll give you extracts out of my diary which is the best way of telling you our doings.
Sat July 24. As the expected attack on the 23rd had come to naught the General said that I could go on leave for a bit. Col Perceval saw the General & after a little difficulty the Corps granted him leave. I spent all the morning working here. I had a good deal to fix up before I went away & was very busy making a shelter for the Hd Qr horses. I sent Ames & the luggage off to the beach at 3 o’c & we followed after it at about 3-15. Then we onto a trawler & got away at 4.30 arriving at Imbros about 6.30. It was awfully nice getting out on the sea beautifully cool & right away from the dust. Val Braithwaite met us & was awfully good to us. They gave us dinner & breakfast. I felt quite hungry the first time for some days. I got hold of a couple of donkeys for the next day & Deeds wrote off to try & get us some ponies.
Sunday 25. We had breakfast at 7.30 & got going with the donkeys at 8.15. We had gone about a mile when the ponies met us which had been sent for us by Thompson from Panagia.5 We then sent the donkeys back & went on quietly walking & riding as the mood took us. We arrived at Thompson’s house, (he is doing intelligence work) about 12 o’c & he gave us an excellent meal, fish beer & all sorts of luxuries which we hadn’t tasted for weeks. By Jove! this place does make one appreciate good food when you get it. We went on again about 3 o’c & got to Castro at 4 o’c & were met on the road by our friend Lazarus Magnus who was on his way to see Thompson & didn’t get back till 6 o’c. We made ourselves very comfy till 6 o’c then Lazarus arrived & arranged a boat for us to go out sailing in. There was little or no wind but it was very nice & peaceful all the same. Lazarus is an excellent fellow. He is a native of Imbros but has been a waiter in New York. He keeps a little shop & talks excellent English. He took the best of care of us & did all he could for us. He gave us chicken, cheese & some excellent mulberries for dinner. You must think I’m very greedy but you can’t think what an event it is to get chicken & fresh fruit.
Monday 26. The Col bathed about 7 o’c. I rowed him out in a dingy but didn’t bathe as I was afraid of the interior economy. We then came back & had breakfast & then walked up a little hill & saw the village & the remains of an old castle. It looks as if it had been an old fort many years ago. It is all dilapidated now but some of the masonry is still intact & just stands up in rugged peaks. It was rather a nice little village, not unlike some of the Battista villages, all built of stone & terraced. Quiet old place but everything was beautifully clean. They are rather fascinating people these Greeks. They were always very pleased to see us, quite clean & most unagressive. I had 3 or 4 of them sitting in the verandah one night when I was in bed on the road just outside. They sat there smoking & drinking their coffee & never worried me the least. Just imagine doing that with 3 navvies [?] or 3 natives of India. The former would be unbearable & the latter one would kick till they moved elsewhere. But I hardly noticed these Greeks were there. We went out sailing at 11 o’c. The wind was splendid. I was wishing you had been there you’d have enjoyed it so. The Col is a good sailor knows all about it & taught me an awful lot in a very short time. We got back about 12.30 & had lunch which consisted of 2 boiled eggs, tomatoes bread cheese & biscuits. Excellent it was. After that we got into comfy chairs (one I brought back & am sitting in this minute) & read & slept at intervals till about 4 o’c. I actually bedded down & had about an hour’s sleep. I’d slept badly the night before. In the evening we went out fishing on the rocks but did no good. I caught a thing about 3 inches long. The Col enjoyed it all & took everything as it came along, was absolutely happy doing anything. He is an absolute topper. I’m awfully fond of him. I know him awfully well now far better than I did when I went away. The more I know him the more I like him. We had much the same sort of dinner as lunch awfully nice it was, so nice & plain. Then about 9 o’c Lazarus took us off to see his village which is on the side of a hill about a mile away. It was a full moon so it was awfully nice. We had to go up quite a steep slope & then wandered about in this quaint old village by moonlight. He took us to a spring where there is some excellent water coming out from the side of the hill, then took us back to what in that country corresponds to a café where he gave us some excellent Turkish coffee. He wanted us to stay the night there in a house which he had had got ready for us but we thought the sea shore would be nicer & liked the idea of having our washing things handy in the morning so we went off back. Perfectly glorious it was, a nice breeze had sprung up which cooled us beautifully before going to bed. I had the best sleep that night I had had for some time not stirring till about 5 o’c the next morning.
Tuesday 27. We had breakfast soon after 7 o’c & then went off for a walk. We just wandered about looking at the country & comparing it with different parts of the world where we had been that it was like. Here the Col would imagine it was Somaliland & that he was on Rhino ground. I found some typical [—] ground. On our way back we found some mulberry trees & had a great feed. We covered ourselves with juice. They are rather difficult to pick cleanly & we got the juice on our hands & shirts; in fact we got in an awful mess. We got back about 11 o’c & went out sailing but there wasn’t much wind so we came in again about 12 o’c & had our customary egg & vegetable luncheon. We sat in the house & read all afternoon till 4 o’c. It was very hot. I think we both did more snoozing than reading. In the evening we went out again in a boat & tried the fish. Ames came with us & caught a couple of little ones but otherwise we did no good & ended by bathing. Glorious it was. I bought the most delightful little dinghy which I have brought back with me. £3-10-0 it cost quite cheap considering. Hardress & I went out in her last night & had great fun. The annoying fact is that one can’t keep the Tommies off her. They sit on & in her & will break her up if I can’t stop them. I just hit one fellow an awful clip who I found standing in her. I suppose it is rather cruel but they make me awfully angry. These new troops have no ideas at present above eating & drinking. I suppose they will learn sense in time.
Wednesday 21. We set out at 6 o’c to go up a big hill close by about 2,000 feet high from which we could get a good view of this place. It was quite a nice walk & glorious when we got onto the top. We stayed up there about half an hour looking about & then came down again getting back about 9.30 & had an excellent breakfast. It was simply grand. I felt really like walking that day all that shook feel gone. About 11 o’c I got into the dinghy rowed across the little bay & tried to land on the shore but it was very steep & rather rough & I ended by getting the boat on the shore filled with water. I had my camera in her but luckily got that out in time. I got a couple of men to salve her for me & then I walked on & took some photos getting back about 12.30 just in time for lunch. We sat about till 4 o’c & then went on board the Saint Nicholas a big sailing boat & started to come back here. We had to round rather a difficult point & had had to wait for the wind. We got round about 6.30 & then went into a bay, put our kits on shore & started fishing. But we did no good. We had an extraordinary dinner that night. We had no knives plates forks or anything. We cooked a couple of eggs each which we ate in our fingers with bread cheese tomatoes & biscuits. Great fun it was & the Col thoroughly enjoyed it. We went on shore about 8 am & were in bed & asleep by 8.30. I bought a goat at Castro & have brought it back for milk for the General. He was awfully pleased with it. It will make all the difference to him as he hates tinned milk in his tea.
Thursday 29. We set sail about 5.30 & had about the same sort of breakfast as dinner the night before. The Col had the milk for breakfast as I had it the night before. We have great laughs about our queer meals. We got back here about 9 o’c. Feeling better & fitter than I have been since I left France. The first thing I did was to put up a sort of wire here for Lazarus. He has done a roaring trade. Selling hard all day yesterday & he has been at work since 7 o’c this morning. I have been trying to make a dug out for him this morning but it is rather held up at present as the working party has gone away & the ground is so thick round here that we couldn’t work even if we wanted to. I am quite sorry to be back but I feel so much fitter that it will just make all the difference if this beastly dust doesn’t clog up the main spring again. The smelling salts & cinnamon arrived yesterday. Simply grand they are. I will write to Dot as soon as I can find time. I have had about 5 interruptions in this letter already. One always has to be darting about doing something. At present I’m trying to make a dug out for Lazarus, a new kitchen for the grooms & servants & a new incinerator for burning rubbish. I am gingering up the Hd Qr staff a bit & having a marching order parade at 7 o’c to-morrow morning. So I’ve always got something to do. There are crowds of things I have to get done as soon as I can get the labour to do them. Wasn’t it nice of Mrs de Lisle she sent me a large parcel of stores & things from Fortnum & Mason. A box of shortbread, tongue, sausages, sardines, 3 tins of lemon squash tablets (awfully good they are) & some chocolate. […] Well! this will have to do for to-day. I will answer your other letters some other time. Best love to you all dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Saturday 31 July
Muz & I settled the smoking room & put down the carpet, & fixed the hall too.Harry was coming, but he had to go back, as his mother was coming. […] Mrs. Winstanley, Mrs Phillips, & Mrs Thurburn came for tea, our first real tea party! I went down to the club, & didn’t get back till rather late, as there was such a crowd. Ione went to the dance. Muz did things in the house. I went to bed at about 11-30.
Gully Beach. Gen & Hardress went off at 6 am to Col Monkhouse’s Battery to select observation post. Had parade of staff.
Sunday 1 August
Stayed in bed till about eleven, & then took Tom out on the Front. Lay down for a wee while after lunch, & then went to tea with Mrs Winstanley. Mrs Phillips was there too, & the three children came down afterwards, they are awfully sweet wee things. We sat out in the garden, & then Mrs W. walked home with me, & stayed here for a bit, then I walked back with her! Ione went to Dymchurch this morning with the Blakes, Mr Black, the Callaghans & two other men went, & some of them bathed. Then she went & danced at the hotel after dinner with the Blakes. Went to bed at about ten.
- A large early 12th century ringwork on Castle Hill, c. 2 km north-west of Folkestone Harbour ⇑
- Kastro, better known as Myrina, a town on the Greek island of Lemnos ⇑
- A theatre in St Martin’s Lane in central London ⇑
- The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada ⇑
- A village on the island of Lemnos ⇑