WEEK 64: A FAT BAD TEMPERED WHISKERY OLD BRIGADIER
Monday 13 to Sunday 19 September 1915
The south-east of England suffered a series of German air raids in September 1915. The Zeppelin raid on London on 8 September 1915 was from the German point of view the most successful of its kind in the entire First World War. German Navy Zeppelin L13, piloted by the highly skilled navigator Helmut Mathy, dropped 15 high-explosive and 55 incendiary bombs on the Aldersgate area in Central London, killing 22 people, injuring 87 and causing half a million pounds’ worth of damage, more than half of all the material damage caused by raids against Britain in 1915. The news of this and other atrocities was keenly absorbed in Folkestone, where the Armstrongs sought solace in an impromptu family get-together. In Gallipoli, Pat Armstrong continued his building activities. His new role as camp commandant gave him pause to consider his chances of promotion and the direction of his future career.
Monday 13 September
After breakfast I looked through all the papers etc, to collect all the things about the war, as I am going to make a collection of them in a book. I did it again after lunch, then did the flowers in the dining room, & got changed. Miss Peters & Mary & Violet came for tea & stayed till about 6-30. I kept Duskey in the garden all day. Gave her her supper & then wrote letters etc. Ione went up to dance at the hotel after dinner. There was an air raid in London on the 7th. Colonel Peel saw 5 huge fires burning. There was another on the 8th too. A lot of transports have been going out lately from here. Five on the 9th & four on the 8th. Stayed up for dinner, & went to bed at about 10-30.
My dear wee Mus.
The General & Hardress have gone over to Imbros for the day. I have got some of my cyclists on building dug outs & a kitchen so between the times of watching them I will write to you. Yesterday morning I stole a large tarpaulin & spent most of the morning covering my dug out. It was lucky I had it as it rained quite hard last night. I left here about 3 o’c & walked round our right section of the trenches & got back about 7 o’c. It is quite a long walk. They are very good trenches & not smelly like the Helles ones were. In most places the Turks are a good way away, in fact from a lot of places one can’t even see their trenches, so you can look over the top of the parapet & get a good view of the country. I sent a note over to Maxwell this morning with Hardress & hope that I can get those films back. Sickening if I lose them. I gave 5 rolls to Parton to take home in July. I thought he was going straight home but he went to Alexandria & I am afraid they must be lost. I will write to him & see what can be done about it. They were the ones I really value & I thought that it would be doubly safe getting them posted in England. But I’m afraid they must be lost. I will try & take some more here. I hope G gets a Bde Major job. But I’m afraid he is a bit too junior. However you’d never know.1 I don’t know what to say about a job for myself. Of course an A.D.C2 is no good to one as far as soldiering goes. I’m very happy out here with the General but wouldn’t like to miss a good job if I got the offer of one. I should like to get a Staff Captain job but of course would rather have it in a Cavalry Bde than an infantry bde. I’m not sure how long I’ll stick this climate not that it’s bad but my old interior is very troublesome. I started the “Gallipoli Gallop” again this morning it’s not bad but if it goes on like it did before it well get me so d—d weak. If it gets bad they will probably send me home. I hope it won’t as I don’t want to have to chuck this job. It would be so soft to have to go sick. But if I do have to clear off it might be a good thing to get either a Staff Captain’s job or a G.S.O 3 to a Division in France.
[…] You say a gun fired 70 rounds a minute. That’s quite impossible. It takes one all one’s time to fire the “mad minute” as we used to call it with a rifle. That was 15 rounds a minute. The French 75s can do that & our guns can too but they have to go like hell. […] That Zeppelin raid on Dover sounds nasty. I do hope they won’t worry you. What brutes they are. But I suppose it is their idea to make war as dreadful as they can. Hunter Weston went home sick. He got a sort of enteric I believe. Joe Davis has taken his place. He used to command the VIII Div in France. He used to be in the Guards I’m not sure which. […] Have you read a book called Malice in Kulturland by Horace Wyatt.3 It is quite amusing. There is also a book called “J’accuse” which people say is good. It’s by a German.4
Later. I’m feeling ever so much better this afternoon. I have just driven most of the flies out of my dug out & have it almost dark. It is really quite peaceful. I have that piece of mosquito netting you sent over the window & the mosquito curtain over the door. I have the whole place covered with fly papers which are doing good work. I have just been down to see Gen Byng & am going to dine there to-night. I don’t know what to say about Clodiagh. […] I’m not sure that Clodagh isn’t the nicest way of spelling it. One thing about spelling it without the i is that people will pronounce it right with the i they will pronounce it Clod-i-agh which isn’t nearly as nice as Clod-agh. I feel rather inclined to alter it & leave out the i. If Lady Clodagh spells her name without the i it must be right. I forget if I told you that I sent you a little picture from Athens. I hope it arrives safely & that you will like it. I think it will be nice for the drawing room. Well! wee Mus I think I have told you all the news. I’m enclosing some photos of me registering one of the maxims from J10.
Your loving Pat.
Letter from R. Burbridge, Managing Director, Harrods Ltd., London SW, to Pat Armstrong
In reply to your letter to hand 9th. inst., I beg to inform you we have duly noted your remarks regarding packing of parcels. We would respectfully inform you we have received a communication from Capt. M. B. Armstrong, Moyaliffe, Thurles, Tipperary, instructing us to send twice a week by letter post ½ lb butter, and ½ lb box of Figs, and nothing further until hearing from him again. His instructions have however, been carried out, and we are writing him again him [sic] a copy of your letter, and awaiting his further instructions. Assuring you of your best services at all times,
Tuesday 14 September
Sorted papers nearly all morning. Heppie worked at the carpet on the top landing, & put felt underneath it & paper. After lunch Muz, Ione & Tom went down on the sands with the de Marottes & came back for tea. Ione went to the Tango tea. Mrs Chataway & Mrs[—] came to call, but we said “out”. Worked on the papers nearly all day. Went to bed at about eleven.
Suvla. Started at 10 I’c & rode up to 87th Bde Hd Qrs. Walked round right section of the line with the Gen & Col Savage. Got back about 1.30. Fixed dug out so as it was practically fly proof. Started fixing path in the evening. The Gen & Hardress went out fishing. Got money from Corps.
Wednesday 15 September
Markie suddenly turned up, he is back on leave till Monday, he arrived last night, late, & stayed at the Grand. I didn’t see him till lunch. I wrote to Poppy, & then went down the town to do the shopping, then helped Heppie with the luncheon. After lunch I sorted papers, & Ione played tennis with Mme de Marotte, Laure, Mr Eveley & Markie & they stayed for tea, I didn’t go in. I helped Heppie with Markie’s room. Ione & Markie dined with Mme de Marotte at the Grand. Doddie wrote & said that bombs had been dropped on Margate on Sunday, & a lot of damage done, they came in the day time.5 After dinner I helped Heppie with Markie’s & Emmie’s rooms, & in the pantry. Muz worked at the blankets. We went to bed at about twelve.
Suvla. The Gen & Hardress went over & saw Gen Marshall. Went down to Kangaroo beach & got some wood. Had men working on B mess & our cook house. Heavy rain early this morning but cleared up into a nice day. My dug out quite fly proof. Paid men. Made bridle path in the evening. A few shells burst very high over camp.
Sept 15. Wed night.
My dear wee Mus.
I got a long letter from you to-night when I was at dinner dated 24th. So I’ll just scribble you a few lines now for Hardress to take to-morrow as he is going to Athens. […] I’m enclosing a little order form for a new diary. The diary I want is the same as you sent me out last November. – Collins Handy Diary No 168, price 2/6. It’s alright as long as it gets here before the end of Nov as I filled in December last year. I told you that Col Perceval has got the 86th Bde didn’t I? Col Fuller who used to be the A.A & Q. M. G6 (same job as Percy did with the Cav Div) is now G.S.O 1. He’s a nice little man but rather pompous. Abbot has taken his place. He’s a good fellow. Used to be at Pindi when we were there. We have stacks of food now in fact so much that we can’t eat it all. We have boxes & boxes of sweets & things great it is. Hardress is going to buy a supply in Athens for the winter we may have bad weather & have difficulty landing things. I told you that the toffees & shortbread arrived quite safely & were awfully good. The news from Russia seems pretty good under the circumstances. I hope that the Germans will exhaust themselves. […] The old goat came along with the horses but she’s nearly dry now. Standen has made a sort of pet of her so even if she goes dry she will have to be pet as a mascot. She is rather a nice person black & evil. Yes! that was a rather letter of Brock’s but it is absolutely typical of him. He has got a queer kink in him that lad. It’s a pity he’s like that as he makes so many enemies. All the people who were attached to the Regt in the winter hated him & a good many people in the Regt sort of laugh at him. They sort of say now. “Oh! It’s only old Brock”. Basil says life is too short to worry about him, that he is always trying to pick a quarrel with somebody. And yet you know he has an extraordinary charm in spite of it. One can’t help liking him but one has always got an uneasy feeling with him that you don’t know where you are. I wouldn’t be in the same squadron with him for anything.
How awfully nice of Kate sending you that money. Simply wonderful I call it. Have you got everything you want now? Let me know when you write again. You must have the house absolutely complete now, if you don’t it will always be up hill work & every little bit you save instead of being able to enjoy yourself with it you’ll have to spend on the house & that would never do. That’s sound don’t you think so? I’m glad you have got a servant alright, dreadful bore having to sack those other two. Hamilton-Grace was driving to Dunkerque or somewhere out that direction for a joy ride in Capel’s car & the back part of the car ran into a cat & Raymond got crushed somehow & broke his ribs. He was able to walk at the time but it pressed on his heart & he either died that night or the next day that’s what Basil told me. It’s not very clear I’m afraid. Awfully sad. He’d just heard the day before that his wife had had a child. Dreadful for her isn’t it. I sincerely hope that your prophesy about Xmas will come true. One feels at times that this show will never end. Think of a 20 years war. I should be a fat bad tempered whiskery old Brigadier with a foul tongue & a liver. How horrible!!! I’m longing to hear why you think Xmas & all about it. The General seems very confident now about our ultimate success but doesn’t attempt to prophesy the end. Fancy seeing PEACE written in large letters in the papers. Sleep seems more the order of the day at the moment. I meant only to write a short scribble & I’ve wandered over quite a lot of paper. I feel awfully well to-night. I had a good hard evening’s digging. I have been making a path for us to ride on down to a road close by. Just cutting scrub & burying telephone wires. We could hardly get over the place a few days ago. Got caught up several times in wires. Now I have made quite a good bridle path. Good night dear wee Mus. Will you tell Jess & Tom that I will write as soon as I can & thank them for their letters & sweets. Best love to you all.
Your loving Pat.
Letter from Mrs Alice Penrose , The Rectory, Petworth, Sussex, to Mrs Armstrong
My dear Mrs Armstrong.
Thank you very much for sending me the address, but we sent Ned’s name, with some of his letters, to this man 2 months ago. He said Ned “was in a fortress by a river, had been very miserable, but was so no longer.” He described his character very well & said he would come back. He advised us to try to find if he was in Lille, & after many attempts we at last got a letter back from the head doctor of the German hospitals there, that he “was not there, & could give no further information”. We try fresh agencies every week, we must keep on, on chance of at least finding him. I do hope you have good news of your Pat, & that you are all well.
Thursday 16 September
Emmie came at about 11. Muz, Heppie & I worked downstairs all morning, then Mme de Marotte, Laure & John came for lunch, & Mme had to go early, as she was going to London. Afterwards I helped Heppie to clear away & lay dinner etc. The others went up to tea at the Grand; I didn’t go out, I did E’s room & things in the house, & then helped Heppie with dinner. After dinner Markie & Ione went up to the Grand. Muz showed Emmie some of the house. We did all the tidying up downstairs, & went to bed at about twelve.
Suvla. Hardress went off to Athens. Left about 9 o’c & went round the S.W.B. line. The Gen went out in front & reconnoitred. We then found some good places for machine guns. Got back about 1 o’c. Took it easy all afternoon. Finished path in the evening.
Friday 17 September
Helped with the breakfast, & afterwards the others went down & bathed. I washed up & did all the luncheon things, & helped Heppie. Then Markie brought two men back for lunch, Capt McFarlane, & Mr North (in the 60th) & Mr Arnoldi came too. They went out afterwards, & then went to the Tango Tea. Muz & Emmie had tea here, & went afterwards. I laid the dinner & then Helped Heppie, & flew up & changed. Mr Arnoldi came for dinner, & Muz & all of them went to the dance afterwards. I went to bed at about 11-30. Muz got a letter from Mrs Penrose, she said the clairvoyant says that Ned was in a fortress near a river, had been very miserable, but was so no longer & said he would come back & said to try Letter, they did, but it was no use. Rather funny him saying what I told Muz more than two months ago.
Suvla. Left at 9.30. Went to 11th Bde Hd Qrs & then went & saw the drain. Went on round second line & got back about 1.15. Spent all afternoon getting roof on the kitchen. The Gen & I started to build a wall at the stables.
Saturday 18 September
Muz & Emmie went to Margate with Mr Peters, & got back for lunch. Ione & Tom went down on the sands with Mr Arnoldi, & he came for lunch. I cleared the breakfast, & washed up, & laid lunch etc. Muz & I went down to the Town Hall for the Belgian Red X meeting, but were late, so shopped with Emmie. I went down to the club at seven to help Mrs Boddam-Whitham. Nicola was there too. I did stamps & cigarettes most of the time. Today was Italian Red Cross day. Major Gibbs has been gazetted temp col. of the 10th. Went to bed at about twelve. Markie went up to Town by the 7-30. Two letters from Pat, dated 4th from Athens, he is staying with the Elliots, he is the minister. He is better & goes back to Suvla on Tuesday.
Suvla. Left at 10 am called at Hd Qrs 32nd Bde saw Col Wilson & Shuttleworth & heard their account of the fight on Aug 21.7 Then went on to Jephson’s post.8 Got back about 12 o’c. The Gen did reconnaissance with Gen Byng. Got a good mail.
Sunday 19 September
Cleared away breakfast, & got things ready for lunch etc, with Muz & Heppie. Then the others went out on the Front, & I ironed table napkins etc. Kathleen Warren came for lunch, & they went to the band afterwards. I wrote letters. Mrs Atkinson sent me the Registration Certificates. Kathleen, Mr Arnoldi & Laure came for tea. Muz & Emmie called on Mrs Lucas, Mrs Collins & Mrs Seymour, but they were out, then they went to church. I gave Duskey her dinner, & went to the club at seven, to help Miss Walter. Markie got back at about 10-30. Helped to wash up the dinner things etc. Put Muz to bed, & went to bed at about one. Letter from Algie dated 14th.
Suvla. Left at 10.30 & rode up to reserve line with the Gen then went on & saw ravine for reserve Bde. Got back about 12.30. Wrote letters till 4 o’c then gathered stones. Church at 6.30. Rather hotter day than we have had for some time. Firth came to dine. Sent 6 rolls of film home rolled up in an old shirt.
My dear wee Mus.
I got 7 letters from you yesterday some came here & some went to Corps. I got the ones that came straight here about 4 o’c & the others about 6.30. A grand big budget it was lovely getting them. The dates were: – Aug. 26-27-28-29-30-31-and Sept 1. You really are wonderful the way you write. Then there was another one with cuttings in it, I haven’t had time to read them yet but will send them back as soon as I have. I think it’s quite a good idea keeping them. Rather funny in your letter of the 26th you asked about my innards. Well that was the day I was at G.H.Q before going to Athens & was feeling very cheap. That was a nice letter from Donisthorpe but of course you couldn’t take Elsa, she’d be an awful nuisance. I am afraid the wire was a bit involved but I couldn’t put it any plainer. I told you I was following with the horses so as to let you know that I was leaving Gully Beach. Then I thought that you would know that I was going to the IX. Corps. as you knew where the VIII Corps was. I’m hoping to hear from Tony & the Boss soon about the horses. I won’t write to either of them till I hear from them. But now he has bought them & the Boss has taken it quietly I’m awfully pleased. If only this show would end before the spring how splendid it would be. It will be almost impossible to buy horses after this war. There will be a lot of rubbish on the market but very few good uns. I’m glad you’ve had some grouse. Dear wee Mus it was nice of you wishing I had [been] there. But we’re feeding like fighting cocks. We have managed to get quite a lot of stuff from Athens. I brought some, then Curling brought some & I expect that Hardress will arrive with a huge consignment. Parcels are coming pretty well now & I’m getting a lot of stuff from Harrods. I had 4 big parcels last week when I arrived back.
I can’t understand how you didn’t know where the VIII Corps was. But you know now anyway. Basil is away at Alexandria. He was a bit seedy & Byng sent him there to get stores. He ought to be back soon now. Hardress ought to be back on Tuesday, it’s been lonesome without him. I’m putting doors & windows on all the dug outs making quite nice little houses of them. The General’s & Fuller’s are done. Curling’s is being done. I’ll get Hardress’s done next & then my own. I’d like to get his done before he gets back. He’d be so pleased. He took a lot of trouble about having my little house built for me. I’m going to pave the floor of mine, it will be good for the wet weather. There are plenty of good flat stones here so it oughtn’t to be hard. I’m going to try & collect a few more this evening & will then try & get the floor done to-morrow. I’m so glad the table has arrived & that you like it. I hope you have got the carpets & things for the drawing room. You must try & get it all finished before the winter. […] I’m so sorry to hear that wee Jess has had her innards wrong too. A family failing I’d fear. Mine are grand now. I eat like a horse & am putting on all the condition I lost. […] Well! wee Mus I must write a line to Disi then I’m going to gather stones for my floor for an hour for the sake of exercise. Then we are going to have Kirk at 6 o’c. Best love to you all dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
P.S. Let me know what you decide about Clodiagh. ? ?
- Gordon was successful. A Brigade Major was the chief of staff of a brigade in the British Army. The appointment was commonly given to officers holding the rank of Major but was occasionally granted to Captains such as Gordon Elton. ⇑
- Aide de Camp ⇑
- Published in 1915, this book was a parody on Alice in Wonderland.⇑
- In this book, published in 1915, the German pacifist Richard Grelling condemned the actions of the German Empire. ⇑
- The bombing of Margate in the late afternoon of Monday 13 September 1915 was the first seaplane attack on British soil. The ten bombs dropped by a single aircraft killed two people, wounded six and caused £500 of damage. ⇑
- Assistant Adjutant & Quarter-Master-General ⇑
- The Battle of Scimitar Hill ⇑
- A hill named Sivritepe near the British frontline, renamed Jephson’s Post by the Allies after Major John Noble Jephson of the 6th Royal Munster Fusiliers who was mortally wounded capturing the position on 15 August 1915 and died of his wounds on 29 August 1915.⇑