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Monday 4 to Sunday 10 October 1915

Monday 4 to Sunday 10 October 1915

WEEK 67: A DREADFUL LOT OF OLD RAGAMUFFINS

Monday 4 to Sunday 10 October 1915

In early October, the stalemate in the Dardanelles continued, but events elsewhere on the Southern Front escalated to the point of crisis. While Greece kept vacillating between neutrality and mobilisation, Bulgaria ended its neutrality and entered the war on the side of the Central Powers. The Austro-German forces began their final invasion of Serbia on 6 October, in which Bulgaria joined a few days later. Jess Armstrong followed these developments closely, recording the events in her diary as they unfolded. She also volunteered her services as a nurse’s assistant at the Manor House Hospital with her mother and sister Ione. The Manor House, formerly the home of the Earl of Radnor, had been opened as a hospital in October 1914 with beds for 90 patients. As the number of wounded increased, an extra 30 beds were made available in tents in the garden. The hospital was run by the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) throughout the war.

Monday 4 October

jess__diary_cameoLooked at patterns with Muz. Then Mrs Lucas came round & told us that Mrs Edwardshusband is wounded & missing as well as her brother . Muz & I went for a walk, round by the golf links, it rained some of the time. After lunch Kitty & a friend came round & we went to Mrs Lucas to make sand bags, & stayed for tea, & finished some more up after tea. Seventy are finished now. Wrote to Algie, & talked to Muz. After dinner we did cards, went to bed at about 11-30, I slept with Muz, as she was very depressed. Russia sends an ultimatum to Bulgaria, saying that if Roumania does not openly break with the enemies Slav cause, the Russian minister will leave Sofia. We have seized the two trenches which the Germans recovered on Sunday last south-west of Fosse 8 & to the north-west of Loos.

pat_diary_cameoSuvla. Hand not so sore. Gen told me to put it in a sling.1 Started remaking the offices. Rather hot. Censored letters in the afternoon. Arranged about water cart.

Tuesday 5 October

Manor House Hospital

Manor House Hospital


jess__diary_cameoIone’s birthday. Poppy sent Ione £10 for her birthday. Kitty came round, & she Muz & I went down the town & did some shopping. Then Kitty came round at 2 & we went round to the Manor House, as they want help, & we are to go tomorrow. So we went down the town & got caps, collars & aprons. Then we went & had tea with Kitty. Then Muz & I went in to Mr Peters, to ask him for a subscription for Lady Hamilton’s & Mrs de Lisle’s collection for the Dardanelles that we are collecting for. Then I went to Mrs Lucas, then Ione helped me to shorten my apron, did it on the machine. Muz went to the Club, to help Mrs Lucas. Ione went to the Tango Tea. Mr Murray-Smith has been killed. Allied troops have landed at Salonika. No nationality or numbers known. Germans trying to regain lost ground north of Loos. I slept with Muz again.

pat_diary_cameoSuvla. Hand better swelling going down. Hardress went out with the General. Finished off Fraser’s dug out & kitchen dug out. Work continued on terraces. Paid cyclists2 in evening. Sir Ian came over in the afternoon. Three French Div & 10th Div have gone to Salonika. Good news from France & Russia.

Wednesday 6 October

jess__diary_cameoIone went up to London by the 8-30. Muz & I went to the Manor House hospital for the first time. Kitty came too. It is so funny wearing caps & high collars. We went from 11 till 1-30, & are going every morning. After lunch I darned & Muz wrote letters. Mrs Penrose-Fitzgerald came to call. Then Muz & I went to tea with Mrs Foster, there were a good many other people there too. Afterwards we went to Mrs Wood’s to ask for a subscription for the Dardanelle fund. Then went for a little walk. Greece is coming in for the allies. Heavy fighting still going on, particularly in Champagne, the Argonne, & Lorraine. I slept with Muz. We went to bed at about eleven.

“Funny wearing caps & high collars”

“Funny wearing caps & high collars”


pat_diary_cameoSuvla. Hand better. The Gen & Hardress went to Anzac. Got mules for water cart. Made stables for them & cleaned up mess a bit. Bombardment of Turkish trenches at 3.55 to 4.30 by ships guns etc. Watched it from C.C. with Fuller. McCauley came to stay here. Venezelos offered to resign.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Oct 6 Tuesday night

My dear wee Mus.

[…] My claw is good to-night, it was rather difficult to write on Sunday as it was a bit sore but it’s grand now. I hope to get the bandages off in a few days. I’ll keep them on till it’s quite healed so as not to get dirt in. I’m a great quack now. I find my Burma experiences taught me a lot which are all standing me in good stead out here. I have been able to help several of the men with little complaints they have. The castor oil things have come in very useful. I have doped several of the servants with it. I believe one wants a weekly dose out here. I take a go of salts3 now every week & I’m sure it has a good effect. The General does the same & swears by it. He has been awfully nice the last couple of days since my hand has been bad. It got a bit bothery on Sunday & he wouldn’t take me out with him round the line either yesterday or to-day. I feel awfully fit & my hand is quite clean & nice now. I got a small cut & some dirt got in & it swelled a bit so I have been poulticing it for the last few days. There is no soreness in it atall now.

Royal Munster Fusiliers

Royal Munster Fusiliers

I got my straw in alright on Sunday. I had a cheery dinner with the Munsters got the carts about 9 o’c & got back here about 11.30. We got 4 carts, then Standen brought in 4 more last night & is away getting more to-night. It is rather extraordinary how one gets it as it is only about 200 yds behind our lines but the Turks don’t seem to fire that way. We have got quite a nice little stack now which will be invaluable if the weather gets bad & the horses are put on half rations. I have been rather busy with the cyclists the last couple of days. I’ve been making a good office for our clerks. I started it yesterday & got it finished to-night. Then this afternoon I got a roof put on Fraser’s dug out. He has come here in place of Errol who has been made a Col & gone to Mudros. We all miss him awfully. I fixed B mess kitchen & then made a little spy hole for the Gen. So I’m pretty busy working round seeing how things are going. It’s a little hard to get the men to work quite to my instructions but they are getting much better now. I keep a big party working away at their terraces. I have got great plans for them now & they ought to be very comfy before long. I paid them this morning. A tedious job. I had to pay out £105 all in £1 & 10/-’s & every man one pays you have to enter in how much he gets & to sign one’s name in his book. So it’s rather a slow job. […] The leave scheme seems to be maturing well. They talk of starting a system of fast boats from Mudros to Marseilles & letting people go on leave. I do hope it works alright. What fun it would be to get home for a bit. I hear that 3 French Divs & the 10th Div have gone to Salonika. That looks as if Greece was coming in. Anyhow it will keep Bulgaria from any monkey tricks. What the force is going to do there we don’t yet now. If Bulgaria comes in they will be used against her & if on the other hand the Bosh try to come down against Servia they will be used there. Anyhow it’s good news them going there.

“My house is very nice now”

“My house is very nice now”

I think this show here is an absolute wash out as regards an advance or anything of that sort. We look like just sitting down here for the winter. There is talk of [—] & that sort of thing arriving. My house is very nice now & I’d be sorry to leave it. I got enclosed from Harrods this mail. It is rather a pity he has altered the parcels as they were just beginning to come regularly. It was only for the 1st few weeks that they didn’t come. The ½ lb boxes of figs they send aren’t nice. They are good for cooking but that’s all. The bigger boxes were very good. But they are starting a field force canteen here in a few days (about time too) & we ought to be able to get anything we want there. I hear that little Pilse is going to run it, so he’ll get me all I want. As a matter of fact we are doing awfully well now, we are well off for supplies of all sorts. I got the two lots of photos you sent me quite safely. Quite good some of them aren’t they. I’m looking forward to the next lot they ought to be good I think. I’ve come to the stage now when it’s hard to know what to take. I’d like to have a few of dead Turks!! but Parton has got all that. I think I’ll send most of them back to you sometime, they are all of things I took before I got to Mudros & not much interest to people out here.

[…] Yes! I’ll write to the Duchess sometime but it’s hard to know what to say to her as there’s no news here. It wouldn’t interest her to know I had just recovered from the “Gallipoli Gallop” or some such charming complaint!!! However I’ll make an effort when the spirit moves me. I don’t think there was anything doing on Sept 7th-8th. I was on the Imogene on the way back from Athens. It was rather rough & the Forette made us a signal saying that there was an enemy submarine about. But otherwise there was nothing. They bombed G.H.Q. again to-day. It’s rather a good thing as it stirs them up over there. They never hear a gun over the, nearer than 15 miles. Why after all you practically do that. I sent you a cheque last week for £25 & the wee girls some for their birthdays. I hope the letters arrive safely. Will you tell Tom I owe her a letter but it’s hard these times to write. Well! wee Mus it’s after 11 o’c 23.10 as we put it officially so I will turn in. Best love dear wee Mus.

Your loving Pat.

This goes by K.M.4 to-morrow.

Thursday 7 October

jess__diary_cameoI slept with Muz. Muz, Tom & I went up to London by the 9-30 train, we went & got a hat & furs for Muz, & looked at cretonnes etc. At three we went to Bateman, Tom had her front tooth done, & I had two holes in the front one done, the nerve was nearly out. Then we did a little more shopping, & came down the seven train. Tom was sick coming down. London was awfully dark, since the new regulations came out on Monday last.5 We went to bed about 11-30. Letter from Algie dated 3rd. Diplomatic relations between Russia & Bulgaria have been broken off. M. Venizelos , the Greek Premier resigned office on Tuesday night. The French have penetrated the German 2nd line at Tahure, capturing the village & hill. The number of prisoners already exceeds 1000.

pat_diary_cameoSuvla. Left at 9 o’c. Went up to new 86 Bde Hd Qrs. Went round 88 Bde line. Col Burton’s line in horrible state. Worked on dug out for Green in the afternoon & got on with stables.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Oct 7

My dear wee Mus.

I got a parcel mail in this afternoon & got two parcels from you. One with my thick underclothes & two awfully good cakes which have both travelled splendidly, the other one was two boxes of little buns which had got very broken but the few that weren’t broken were awfully good. Thank you ever so much for them. The thick clothing looks horribly hot at present but I expect I will be glad of it before this show is done. The weather is just perfect now. I wander about in shirt sleeves all day long & hardly ever wear a coat except in the evening. The nights are lovely & there is always a heavy dew.

Battleships at Mudros

Battleships at Mudros

They are going to start a new mail service for parcels & letters by post boats running from Mudros to Marseilles & they say that we ought to get them in about 10 days instead of about 18 or even more as it takes at present. When they get that service running I expect they will let people go on leave. They approve of the leave scheme at G.H.Q. In fact it matured there. So it’s beginning to look as if your prophesy may come true & that I will be able to get home for Xmas. What fun it would be. I’m simply longing to see the house & all your nice things. How funny it would be to get back to wet old England again after all this time with only two small showers of rain. We hear rumours to-day that Bulgaria has come in. I don’t know what effect it will have but I’d be afraid it would prolong the show. News from France & Russia seem good. We have just heard of a big French success in Champagne. The ships did a bit of bombarding yesterday. Fuller & I went up to the trenches & watched it. Quite good it was but one would call it miscellaneous. There seemed to be no system about it. They dumped their shells all over the place. We hear they bolted a few Turks. I saw one of the Machine Gun Officers to-day & he told us that he had got into a party of them & thought he had done some execution. We have got a few new telescopic rifles which our snipers are having great success with.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle

My hand is much better to-day. I have got the bandage off & just have a handkerchief on it to keep the dirt & dust off it. The General & I had a good walk round the trenches this morning. We have sapped forward & taken a new house which is going to be called Dublin Castle. The Dublins have done all the work & wonderfully well they have worked too. The Dublins & Munsters6 have come on stores since I got out here first. People didn’t think much of them then, but now they are two really good battalions. I always take rather a special interest in them. A battalion rolled up here the other day which called itself the Irish Garrison Regt.7 We have got them down here at present doing fatigues.8 They look a dreadful lot of old ragamuffins. They seem to chiefly consist of bad class labourers & corner boys.9 At least that is what they look like. You know the sort of thing. I got a letter from you last night by the K. M. I’m hoping to get the ordinary mail to-morrow. […] We heard rumours that we had taken Ostend but have had no confirmation of it. Must wash now, will write more after dinner.

Oct 8. We sat up rather late talking so I’ll continue for a bit now. We are just having a shower of rain, not much but it’s nicer in here than outside. At last I have got Ames’s paper filled in & signed & am enclosing it in this. I don’t think that the Stopford who was out here was G’s General. He was a much older man I hear. I never saw him he’d gone before I got here. The Kent Yeomanry are probably coming out as a reinforcement for the Mounted Div. They are on Chocolate Hill & seem to be having rather heavy casualties. They have about 100 a day sick & wounded & they are only about 3000 strong. I think I told you that I got the Brands10 essence alright. It may come in very useful sometime. At present I don’t need it, as I’m grand inside. Did you ever get an empty shell that I sent you sewn up in canvas. They have just published an order about not sending them through the post so I’m wondering if you ever got it. I hope you did as I won’t be able to send you another now. Well wee Mus I have told you all the news. The rain has stopped so I’m going to see how the work is going on. Best love to you all.

Your loving Pat.

Friday 8 October

jess__diary_cameoMuz & I went to the hospital at eleven. I am in Ward 2 on the ground floor, with twenty men. Muz & Kitty are on the 1st floor. We had a lot to do, & stayed till about 1-45. A few new men came in yesterday. When we got back Mr Peters took Muz & Ione for a drive. I wrote to Helen & then did some darning. Mrs Mann came to call. Then I helped Heppie with the garden for a bit, then we watered the conservatory & Heppie washed the floor. Post card from Algie dated 5th. Sir Ian Hamilton reports some small actions at Suvla Bay, which in the last month have resulted in an advance of 300 yds along a four-mile front. The Bulgarians deny having German officers at the head of their army. M. Zaimis has formed his new cabinet M. Gounaris taking the post of minister of the Interior (Greece.)

pat_diary_cameoSuvla. The Gen & Hardress went round right subsection. Some rain about 10.30. Continued work on Green’s dug out & stables, work went on well with the terraces. A drizzle in the afternoon. Superintended the work in the afternoon. Walked down to the beach after tea & saw where the new canteen was to be opened. Heavy rain about 8 o’c. Wrote to the Duchess.

Saturday 9 October

Ione Armstrong

Ione Armstrong


jess__diary_cameoKitty came round to call for us, & she Muz, & I went to the Hospital at 11, & got back at about 2. I was a wee bit tired, as there was a lot to do. The Sister wants me to come at 8-30 in the mornings now. Ione went over to Canterbury with Miss Peters. After lunch Muz & I were to call on Mrs Blair, & then saw Kathleen & Mr Warren at the Grand, & then went to tea with the Tweedies, & went to see Kitty afterwards. The children were there, they are the sweetest things. Clem prays for Muz & me every night! Heppie worked at the garden. Ione went to dance, I went to the club. Went to bed at about 11-30. The Gs11made a determined attempt to regain Loos. Captured by us on Sept 25th, the attack was completely repulsed. The entente ministers have left Sofia.

pat_diary_cameoSuvla. The Gen went to Corps at 9.30. Met him at water place on beach at 10 o’c. Walked all round second line from Hill 10 to upper road. Basil got back. Not looking too well. Drew money from pay master for Hd Qrs. Saw Long’un in [—]. Yeomanry Bde arrived. North Devons, West Somerset & 1st Devons.12 Greece still vacillating. Said she would give every facility for our troops at Salonika.

pat-cameoLetter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong

Oct 9.

My dear wee Mus.

Only a brief scribe to-night as it’s rather late. I hear that there is a mail in but it hasn’t been landed so I hope we will get it to-morrow. Things very quiet here. The General & I had a walk round the second line this morning. A Yeomanry Bde arrived this afternoon consisting of the North Devon, 1st Devon & West Somerset Yeomanry. They look a real good lot. They are going to the 11th Div. Kearsey in the Regt is the Bde Major. It is nice seeing him again. He tells me that Gibbs has been made temporary Lieut Col & is commanding the Rgt. Charlie Crichton is still bad & won’t be right again for some time. Bill Stanley who was commanding the Rgt has had to revert to Captain. Of course he was only a dug out.13 I’m enclosing some letters in this which may interest you.

Old Brock with a grievance again. I hear he has now got A Sqd. as Billy is sick. How glad I am that I’m not with the Sqd. 2d in command to Brock would be dreadful. Basil got back to day & isn’t looking atall well. He had a touch of dysentery & has been at Cairo. He has been away nearly a month now. This Greek business seems odd doesn’t it. I hear that it was openly announced in Paris that the French had landed at Salonika sanctioned by Greece & now she seems to be sticking her toes in & won’t move either way. Venizelos having resigned isn’t too good. He seems a strong man & would do well at the head of affairs. I expect it will end by their hand being forced & that they will have to come in. But it’s not atall a satisfactory business. I hear that the 10th Div left Mudros then came back & have now left again for Salonika. It’s a queer sort of business the whole thing.

Pat Armstrong’s Gallipoli album

Pat Armstrong’s Gallipoli album

I sent you off a box with 6 rolls of films yesterday. I hope they arrive safely. Will you get them done & sent out as soon as you can. They took a dreadful long time over the others. Nearly three & a half months from when I sent them off to when I got them. Will you send me two copies of each. Get another copy of each one for yourself for the book. If you don’t get them printed now some are bound to get lost & there will be a difficulty getting them when you want to start the book. I think we ought to have enough to fill one book entirely of Gallipoli. It would be rather nice wouldn’t it. If I could only get a bit of leave we’d have great fun settling it. It’s a good idea keeping each lot separate as it will make them much easier to sort out afterwards. I got a big parcel of stores as usual from Harrods this week. We ought to be well of now for stores as they are going to open the field force canteen on Monday on the beach. One can buy practically anything there I hear. It will be a great affair if they don’t sell out in the first week like they did with the place they opened at Helles. I hear that little Pilse is running it so I expect it will be well done. It will be a great blessing to the men. They say that there is 20 thousand pounds worth of stuff there.

We had a heavy fall of rain last night. My house stood it well, but a lot blew in through the door & windows but did little or no damage. I wrote a line to the Duchess last night as you suggested. I hadn’t much news for her but just rambled away. Well wee Mus I will turn in now as it’s 11 o’c. Best love to you all dear wee Mus.

Your loving Pat.

Sunday 10 October

jess__diary_cameoMuz & I went to the hospital at 11, till about 2. After lunch Muz, Heppie & I looked at patterns etc. Heppie has made the conservatory look very nice. Ione went up to the Grand. After tea we went to see Kitty for a few minutes, & then went to Ione, but only stayed a few minutes. Then Muz & Tom went to church, & Kitty met them there. I helped Ione with her apron, then went to the club, very few people in. I sat at the desk most of the time. I got rather a nice photograph of Teddy & Blanchie in the paper. Went to bed at about 10-30, & slept with Muz.

pat_diary_cameoSuvla. Church at 10 o’c. Rifle inspection of cyclists in Hd Qrs. Got mail in afternoon. Went for a walk at top of hill then walked along & saw Long’un. Took some photos.


Footnotes

  1. Pat had injured his hand in late September 1915 and the wound had become infected
  2. A company of the Cyclist Corps under Pat Armstrong’s charge
  3. Epsom salts, chemically known as magnesium sulphate; used internally as a laxative or purgative
  4. King’s Messenger
  5. Following a series of Zeppelin raids, a blackout was imposed on the city of London to prevent further attacks
  6. Royal Dublin Fusiliers and Royal Munster Fusiliers of the 86th Brigade of the 29th Division
  7. Garrison battalions were made up of over-age former soldiers and men unfit for front-line infantry duty. There were five garrison battalions raised from Irish regiments and three reserve garrison battalions. Most were used for home defence but a number served abroad. The battalion Pat is referring to was the 1st Garrison Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, who arrived at Mudros on 24 September 1915. Working parties of the battalion were sent to Suvla Bay in early October 1915.
  8. Fatigues = manual or menial and generally non-military labour such as cooking, cleaning or digging drains done by soldiers, sometimes as a form of punishment
  9. Corner boy = a disreputable youth who spends his time loitering about street-corners
  10. Brand’s Essence chicken and beef consommés came in tins and, being easily digestible were recommended for invalids and convalescents
  11. Germans
  12. Royal North Devon Yeomanry; West Somerset Yeomanry; and Royal 1st Devon Yeomanry
  13. A superannuated officer recalled for temporary service

 
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