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Monday 16 to Sunday 22 August 1915

Monday 16 to Sunday 22 August 1915


WEEK 60: NO MORE AMMUNITION OR TROOPS AVAILABLE

Monday 16 to Sunday 22 August 1915

Pat Armstrong celebrated his 26th birthday on 20 August by landing at Suvla Bay where de Lisle had moved his staff following his appointment as temporary commander of Stopford’s IX Corps. On the following day, the last major Allied attacks against the Turkish forces were launched. The Battle of Scimitar Hill (21 August) and the Battle of Hill 60 (21-29 August) had as their objective the capture of Scimitar Hill, the W Hills and Hill 60 (so named after its height) in order to link Anzac with Suvla. The offensive was another bitter failure. Not only had Allied forces been greatly diminished by dysentery, exhaustion and battle casualties, but poor reconnaissance and thick clouds of dust and smoke from Turkish artillery fire meant that the troops had no sight of their targets and little idea where they were going. By the evening of 21 August, 5,300 of the 14,300 soldiers who had participated in the Battle of Scimitar Hill had become casualties, many of them being incinerated when the dense undergrowth in which the wounded had taken shelter was set in flames by Turkish shellfire.

Monday 16 August

jess__diary_cameo
Was up at 5-30 & lit the stove, & did the rooms etc. Then had a bath at about 8, & helped to get breakfast. Afterwards washed up & did the rooms. It rained after lunch, so Ione didn’t play tennis. Gordon wrote poetry! After tea Mrs Seymour & a friend came, & we showed them some of the house, then we went down on the sands, & Gordon & I paddled, & we were nearly drowned! It was great fun. Tom had a fall, & then nearly fainted. Gordon came & helped us to get the dinner, & afterwards we washed up, & then talked, & went to bed at about one.

Gordon wrote poetry!

Gordon wrote poetry!

pat_diary_cameoGully Beach. Felt cheap didn’t do very much. Rode down to W Beach in the evening to find out about horses going. Had a message to say that they were to go on the 19th.

W Beach

W Beach

pat-cameo
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Aug 16.

My dear wee Mus.

The General has been given temporary command of the IX Corps. He got the message yesterday about 9 o’c & he & Hardress went off on a torpedo boat at 10.30. I am going to bring on the horses. I had a wire from Hardress this morning saying “Bring horses on here as soon as possible”. I have just wired down to the Landing Officer at W Beach to see what arrangements he can make for me. But haven’t had an answer back yet. I expect I shall probably go off to-morrow. I am sorry to leave our nice comfortable little camp & the old 29th Div. A grand lot they are. But it will be interesting to see a new bit of the country. Besides, the fate of this campaign lies there. Things are at an absolute dead back here, neither side can advance an inch. The IX Corps consists of the 10th, 11th & 12th Divisions. The General has been given temporary command of it which I think will be permanent but the funny thing is that he has been put in above several other generals who are a lot senior to him. It is good for him in some ways but it’s bound to bring about a lot of ill feeling which is always a pity.1 From what little one hears things have got rather held up up there & I suppose that all these Generals newly out from home don’t know all the ins & outs of trench warfare.

Gully Beach by Colonel Abbot

Gully Beach by Colonel Abbot

I hope we get done with this show before the really cold weather comes on. It will be simply ghastly out here when the rains come on. It will be a case of oil skins & gum boots. One will have to begin to think about thick clothes soon. It takes such a dreadful time to get parcels out. The only parcels I have had have all taken over 6 weeks. Hardress has stores sent out to him every week & nothing has arrived now for over a month. So you see posts are far from good. I have just sent you a cable telling you that the General has got the IXth Corps. I thought of wiring to his wife but don’t know her address for certain. I think she has shut up her house in London. I’m enclosing a drawing of the camp that Abbot did. It is awfully good & gives one a very good idea of it all. I hope my photos arrive alright. I have sent off several lots. But have only heard from you up to the present has having got one lot. I like those cinnamon things you sent me or rather Dot sent me very much. I’m sure they are good if one is feeling a bit cheap. I had a bit of a head this morning & took several of them & feel am right as rain now. Will you send me out a small box of those castor oil capsules. They are very handy to carry about. I have just had a message in to say that the horses can be embarked to-morrow evening & weather permitting can be towed to Suvla in a horse boat. It ought to be rather an amusing journey. Well I think I have told you all the news such as it is. Best love to you all dear wee Mus.

Your loving Pat.

[Attached to the letter are four ten-shilling currency notes.]

Tuesday 17 August

Boys on the beach

Boys on the beach

jess__diary_cameo
Was up at 5-30, lit the stove, did the rooms etc. Gordon came down, & had his tea down stairs. Then he, Muz, Tom & I went out on the Front before breakfast. Afterwards Gordon, Ione & I went down the town, & Muz wrote letters. We sang after lunch, then Muz & I called on the Peters. After tea we went down on the sands in the car, & we put on bathing shoes, & paddled. Mme de Marotte came own, but she wouldn’t paddle. Then we took all our jewellery off, & went in in our clothes! It was great fun. We had baths when we got back, & after dinner Mr Hudson came, & wanted us to go to the theatre “Lady Birds”. Two other men in the 3rd were there. They came back here afterwards, I walked home with Gordon. Bed about 12.

pat_diary_cameoGully Beach. Stayed in camp all morning. Went up to the trenches with Col Fuller & Curling at 4 o’c got back about 7.15. Had splitting head went to bed with a touch of fever.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Aug 17.

My dear wee Mus.

I’m enclosing £2 for Ames. Will you put it in the savings bank for him. I wrote to you some time ago about it & asked you to open an account for him, which I expect you have already done. Will you put this in for him & just drop him a little line to say that you have got it. He has got practically no relations & I want him to put bye a bit now to have when he gets home after the war. I have just had a wire from the beach saying that I can’t get a horse boat till the 19th. I hope the General won’t want the horses badly in the mean time. I expect that there will be horses of sorts for him to ride about on them. I could have gone to Anzac to-night but that wouldn’t help me much as nobody seems certain if they join up with the IX Corps or not. So I’ll celebrate my birthday landing on new soil. I wish some of our parcels would roll up. Hardress has things sent out twice a week from home & nothing has arrived now for a month. Some of my things ought to have come out from Harrods by now. I really think that somebody ought to write to the papers about the shocking way the mails are delayed out here.

There is absolutely no news here. We hear nothing from Anzac & Suvla & things are very quiet here. The trenches on both sides are so strong & so numerous here that it’s almost impossible for either side to advance. I wish we could get this business finished. I don’t think that anybody realised at first what a big show it was going to develop into. I have great hopes that the General will do big things up north. Will you get Jess to take some photos of the house and send them to me. I had such a brief look at it that day that I don’t feel I really know it a bit. Well wee Mus I have no news for you at all I’m afraid. I sent Jess a lot of cuttings out of newspapers this morning which she may like if she hasn’t already seen them. There is a good account of the 2nd battle of Ypres which is worth keeping. Best love dear wee Mus.

Your loving Pat.

Wednesday 18 August

Gordon and Mus

Gordon and Mus


jess__diary_cameo
Was up at 5-30, lit stove, did rooms etc. After breakfast the others went down the town. I stayed as Heppie was going out too. After lunch Muz, Gordon & Ione mended a puncture in the car, & I washed up etc. After tea we went down on the sands, & Gordon & I paddled, we got wet up to our waists! Four men came down & asked us if we wanted help! It was awfully funny. Gordon knocked his fingers a bit. We had dinner at about nine, then talked afterwards & went to bed at about 12-30.

pat_diary_cameoGully Beach. Felt very cheap sat about in pyjamas all day. Horses went off at 2 o’c got a wire from Hardress about 5.30 saying they weren’t wanted. Got them brought back again.

Thursday 19 August

jess__diary_cameo
Was up at 5-30, & lit the stove & did the rooms etc. After breakfast the others went down the town, & I stayed & plucked a brace of grouse, then Dorothy came at about 11-30. I helped Heppie with the luncheon & cooking etc. After lunch Muz & Heppie went to a meeting, & Dorothy, Gordon & I went out to the band. We talked after tea, & Doddie went by the seven train. Then we went down on the sands, & threw stones in. We had dinner at about 8-30, then washed up etc, then talked, & went to bed at about twelve. Letters from Pat dated 3rd & 4th.

pat_diary_cameoGully Beach. Felt a lot better. Orders came for the Div to go to Suvla. The 86 Bde went that night. Gen Marshall & Curling went off in the afternoon on a Torpedo boat. Sat about all day & read. Very cold wind in the evening. Sat outside for a bit & read but had to go in.

Friday 20 August

Divisional Headquarters at Suvla

Divisional Headquarters at Suvla


jess__diary_cameoWas up at 5-30, lit the stove etc. Gordon went by the 9-30 train, we went up to see him off. He is going up to have his finger looked at,2 but he doesn’t know when he is going to have the operation yet. Did the washing up, then went down to the meeting to settle about the street collection tomorrow. After lunch Heppie helped me to hang my pictures, then got tea ready. Ione went to the Tango tea. Mrs Phillips & Kitty came for tea. Afterwards I wrote letters. The Canadian staff people had a mess dinner, & the band played outside. Letters from Pat dated 1st, 3rd & 6th. Went to bed at eleven. Pat’s birthday.

pat_diary_cameoGully Beach. Left about 10.15 after having some trouble to get off the baggage. Rode down to the Beach with O’Hara & Kiddie. Left by the 11 o’c train got to Anzac about 2 o’c left again at 3 o’c got to Suvla about 3.30. Hd Qrs quite close to landing place. Things going badly advance held up. Troops bad Territorials of little use. The 2d mounted Div. had been brought down from Egypt.3 A big attack ordered for to-morrow. But only artillery of 1 Div4 here.

Saturday 21 August

jess__diary_cameo
Was up at 6-30. Did the rooms etc. At 10-30 we went to sell flags in the street for the Belgian Red Cross. Ione sold at Darlington arch, & I sold outside the theatre, with a Belgian girl & Miss Thorburn. I didn’t go back for luncheon or tea, & stayed there till about seven. Tom came down, & helped me to sell too, she went right out to the Sandgate Road. We made £4-16. Ione made £3-11. Tom brought me down some biscuits for lunch. Then went to the club till 9-30. Went to bed at about 10-30. Muz had been working hard all day at house with Heppie. Letter from Pat dated 11th. Major Hamilton-Grace reported killed.

pat_diary_cameoSuvla. Stayed about all morning. Had a good look at the ground to be attacked. The General took me up in the high ground on the left of the camp & showed me the lie of the land. The bombardment started at 2.30. Awfully feeble attack at 3 & 2nd phase at 3.30. 29th Div got on top of hill but were but were swept off again with gun & enfilade5 maxim fire. Attack carried out by 29th & 11th Div. 10th Div in support. Mounted Div made attack on hill 1006 but failed to take it. 53 & 54th Div on the left had little or nothing to do. 29th Div had 2200 casualties. Kiddie & Milbank both killed.

Defeat

Defeat

Sunday 22 August

jess__diary_cameo
Muz, Tom & I went to church, then went out on the Front afterwards, & sat & talked to the Wyndhams, Mr North has gone off to the Front. Washed up after lunch, & did some tidying, then lay down for a bit. Got tea ready. Ione went to tea at the Grand, then dined there. Went to bed at about seven as I was awfully sleepy. Muz wrote letters nearly all day. Letter from Pat dated 3rd. Muz & Heppie worked after dinner. Heppie brought me up my dinner, in bed. Was up at 6-30.

pat_diary_cameoSuvla. Suffering from the old complaint. Hardress & the Gen went for a short walk to reconnoitre a new line. Sat about & wrote a letter. Rather hot in the afternoon. Walked over with the General & Hardress & saw where the new Hd Qrs had been started. Sir Ian got here about 12 o’c & situation was discussed. The popular opinion is that we ought to clear off altogether. No more ammunition or troops available. Looks like sitting down here behind forts for the winter. Had bad day with my inside.


Footnotes

  1. De Lisle’s appointment as commander of the IX Corps caused the resignation of Lieutenant-General Sir Bryan Mahon, commander of the 10th Division of the IX Corps, who, being senior to de Lisle, refused to serve under him.
  2. Gordon Elton had been wounded in St Eloi in March 1915; the injuries he sustained had disfigured his left hand.
  3. The 2nd Mounted Division was a British Territorial Army cavalry division which had sailed to Egypt in April 1915. On 10 August 1915 the division was reorganised as a dismounted formation for service at Gallipoli; it landed on Suvla Bay on the night of 17 August 1915.
  4. 1st Australian Division which had landed at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915
  5. Gunfire directed from a flanking position along the length of an enemy battle line
  6. The nearest Turkish fortified position to Hill 60

 
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