WEEK 69: WENT OVER TO CANTERBURY TO SEE ABOUT SERVANTS
Monday 18 to Sunday 24 October 1915
The Bulgarian invasion of Serbia dominated the news in the third week of October 1915 and was followed with interest both in Folkestone and Gallipoli. On a more personal level, Pat Armstrong monitored with growing concern his servant Arthur Ames who was affected by a serious case of dysentery. Servants, or lack thereof, also caused problems for Pat’s mother and sisters. The First World War had revolutionised women’s lives and opened up a much wider range of employment opportunities for them. While upper and middle class families continued to need domestic servants, working class women preferred to seek employment as clerks or in munition factories which provided higher wages, better working conditions and a greater degree of independence. Between 1914 and 1918, approximately two million women replaced men in the labour market and women’s employment levels increased from 23.6% to 46.7%. The trend did not survive the end of the war, which saw the mass-sacking of women down to pre-war levels to secure employment for soldiers returning from the front.
Monday 18 October
We went to the hospital.1 A lot of the people are being moved about today, & I have been moved up to the 1st floor, & don’t like it nearly as well. Muz & I went to Mrs Lucas, to make sandbags, & Kitty & Miss Gilbank came back to tea. Algie arrived at about 5-30, & then we all walked round to the hospital to ask how Anderson is after his operation. After dinner we sat & talked, & Ione told Algie about Harry! We went to bed at about 11-30. The Italians have won an important position in the Trentino. The Bulgarians are invading Serbia practically along the whole frontier.
Suvla. Cloudy morning some rain early. Worked on road all day, got on well. Long’un came in for tea, walked back with him. Basil came up for dinner. Royal Fusiliers had good show last night near Dublin Castle,2 bombed Turks & took barricade which let them get wood. Lovat Scouts accounted for 14 Turks.
Letter from Captain Courtney Brocklehurst to Pat Armstrong
Dear old Pat
I wonder how you are and what you are doing? It is ages since I heard from you. I heard indirectly that you had been ill but I could find out nothing definite, I hope it is not true. I wrote to Ione to try and find out but so far have had no answer. We have been having a fairly strenuous time lately, we went up full of hopes that at last we were going to have a show on our horses but as usual it ended in smoke & very soon we found ourselves in the trenches. The place was simply ghastly hundreds of dead wherever you looked, both Germans and our own poor fellows. We were very fortunate only having about a dozen casualties, the doctor being the worst as he was hit on the head. Poor old Bosun in the Royals was killed also Peter Mason in the 3rd DG’s and General ‘Scrubs’ Wormald who used to command the 12th Lancers. Pokes came back about a fortnight ago & is still doing signalling officer. Colonel Wickham of the KDG’s is commanding the Regiment and Bill Stanley has gone home. I believe some Yeomanry officers are coming out shortly. John Chesham and Mike are still at home, but I believe the former is coming out soon. Horace Colmore and Nina Murray have announced their engagement he has been at home a long time now, but no one seems to know what is the matter with him. When am I going to have the pleasure of congratulating you Paddy? It is quite time you gave up samples perhaps you will settle down in Constantinople with a harem!! John Vaughan has just got the 3rd Cavalry Division & Briggs has gone to the Infantry. I wonder if you have seen anything of Basil or little Pilse give them my love if you do. Tell Basil I never got my horse back from General Byng, I believe they sent it to the base. It was Buzzard’s private property & I promised to look after it for him. I believe we are off to the trenches again very soon. It is getting bitterly cold here and thick fogs every morning so it won’t be over pleasant. My brother is now signalling officer to General Kennedy in the seventh Brigade, so I hope he will be more comfortable than me. Dicky Quin in the 12th is being married next Wednesday to a Miss Swire she is a cousin of Cyril Swire’s in the Royals, I think you know him. Well old man I think I have told you all the news though when I come to read it through it doesn’t seem very much. Goodbye Paddy & take care of yourself as much as you can.
Yours ever Brock
Tuesday 19 October
Muz went to the hospital. Heppie, Ione & Tom went over to Canterbury, to see about servants. Algie & I went down the town, & then went out on the Front, & sat there for a bit. Then met Muz & Kitty, & I walked home with Kitty. After tea Muz, Algie & I walked to the laundry. Then Algie packed & I got the dinner. I had to get luncheon & tea too! The others got back at about seven. Algie didn’t hear from Colonel Kentish so he had to go back by the 8-30 boat. Mrs Arnoldi came for tea, she is a cousin of Colonel Burrowes. Gordon sent Muz some photographs of Dolly. We went to bed at about eleven.
Suvla. Cloudy morning. Left at 9. 15. Went up to Lancashire Fusiliers & looked at shelters they were making, then went down Viper’s Fang3 to Dublin Castle. A few shells about. Nightingale seedy General said I was to go & do adjutant to Munro however he went away sick. Continued work on the road. Reduced Lt Cpl Collins for attempted theft.
Wednesday 20 October
Muz & I went to the hospital. Ione stayed in bed as she had a headache. I scrubbed Ward 8, & cleaned brass etc. We have only got 14 men left now, on the 1st floor. After lunch I made a hat to wear tomorrow. Then washed Duskey. Anderson’s (a man in the hospital) sister & her child came to tea with Muz. They had supper with the Fitzgeralds last night. Emily4 went away, as she was lonely away from home. I brought up the hot water etc. Laid the table, & did some washing. We went to bed at about ten. The Serbians are being hard pressed. S. of Nish the Bulgarians have cut the railway at Vranje. Italy has declared war on Bulgaria.
Suvla. Cloudy but not cold. Spent all morning fixing the roof of the mess, then continued work on the roads. Made a blind for my dug out. Walked down to the canteen in the evening with Hardress & Grant. Heard from B. Wrote a long letter to B.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
[…] I have been very busy all morning with Ames fixing the roof of the mess. I nailed it all on, covered it all with rabbit wire & then stretched a tarpaulin over it. It kept us busy all morning. The road is going on well but it’s a long job & means constant supervision so I’m always busy with it. Still it’s a great thing to always have lots to do.
Hardress got some of his photos out to day that he took here & sent home on or about Aug 20. Quick that isn’t it. About 2 months. Mine have all taken well over 3 months before I get them. I wish you could make that shop work a little bit quicker. I believe it would be quicker & probably better to send them to London. The Stereoscopic Company5 are the best. Try them with the next parcel you get from me. Hardress gets his done there & they are always much better prints than mine. Give them a treat anyhow & see if they are any better. The General & I had an interesting walk yesterday. We have sapped6 forward & taken in a new bit of line & we walked all round & saw it. It was rather interesting. They were shelling it a bit but nothing to worry about. I heard from B. to-day. She says that the ponies are coming in very useful. I’m glad they are in some ways as they have been so kind about keeping them all this time but it will be rather a tragedy if they break them down. I’m simply longing to get home. I want to make quite sure how affairs are really going. It’s so long since I saw her last & I’m very anxious to find out if she has changed. I don’t hear from her so often these times but it’s nearly a year since I saw her last. However I suppose I will have to be patient. Well wee Mus I must send this off now or else I’ll miss the K. M.7 boy. The General got his letters to-day by K. M. but there was nothing for me. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
P.S. I enclose a photo which Hardress took.
Thursday 21 October
Muz & I went up to London by the 9-30 train. We looked at curtains etc, & then met Gordon at his club at 2-30. I went straight off, & walked to Selfridges, & looked at electric fittings etc. Muz stayed with Gordon till 4-30, & then came to me, & we did more shopping & then came down by the seven train, but didn’t get in till 10-30. A Canadian soldier, in the train, told us about the air raid at Otterpool last week. 14 men killed & 18 horses, & the rest stampeded.8 Heppie got a new servant Edith, but she is only going to stay for a few days.
Suvla. Some wind but nice hot sun. Went to 88th Bde Hd Qrs then went down support trench to NFLD Hd Qrs. Went round their lines. Then went to E & F posts. Came back over green [?] Hill. Worked on road all afternoon. Drew some wood from R. E.9
Friday 22 October
Muz & I went to the hospital. Ione stayed in bed. I scrubbed ward 4, & then washed some blinds, etc. After lunch I wrote to Pat, & then Muz & I went to call on Mrs Boddam-Whetham, Mrs Mann, Mrs Penrose-Fitzgerald, & Mrs Marlowe. They were all out except Mrs Mann. We came back for tea, & Mr Hyde-Parker was here. Kitty brought the gramophone to the hospital, & we were to meet her, but were late. The Russians have captured 85 officers & 3,552 men near Baranovichi. Fears are being expressed in Athens that the retreat of the Serbian army upon Monastir may be cut off. Everything depends upon Anglo-French reinforcements being landed at Salonika within the present week.
Suvla. Cold wind. Continued work on road. Went out about 11.30 & rode round by Lala Baba.10 Got back about 1.15. Worked on road till 3.30 then rain came on. Rather cold.
My dear wee Mus.
I wrote you rather a hurried letter on Wednesday for the K. M. but as a matter of fact there is little or nothing doing here. Things are extraordinarily quiet. I’m getting on well now with the road. I have got it well over half finished. We have been working away at it all morning but it has come on to rain now so I’m knocked off. It has been quite cold all day, no sign of the sun. I went for a bit of a ride this morning otherwise I have been all day on the road. There isn’t a great deal of room to ride about here, but it’s nice to get on a horse & canter about.
I’m afraid my letters have been taking a long time to get to you but I expect that the mails have been delayed a good bit owing to that force going to Salonika. The 10th Div went from here & 3 French Divs from Helles. We hear rumours that 4 Div have gone there from England but have had no definite news about them yet. Servia looks like having a bad time I’m afraid with Mackensen attacking her from the North & the Bulgars from the East. Greece is playing a dirty game. She promised to help Servia if she was attacked by Bulgaria but now she has backed out on the plea that this is part of the European war & not purely a Balkan war. Pretty lame isn’t it. I suppose she has really got the funks11 on board pretty badly. That seems to have been a good show in France12 but our casualties must have been pretty heavy. I hear that the 3rd Cav Div were engaged but haven’t had any of the details yet except that Wormald who was commanding the 6th Cav Bde was killed. A lot of Generals seem to have been killed. Who is the Maude who is commanding the 13th Div. Is he a relative do you know? Ione’s old rabbits seem to be playing havoc with the garden. I think you ought to banish them. You will never be able to get the garden nice as long as they are there. But I suppose you really can’t do much to it at this time of the year.
Poor Ames has got a bout of dysentery, awful bore isn’t it. I’m making him lie up & feeding him on milk. I gave him a good dose of castor oil. But I’m afraid it will end by his having to go away. He has got a very comfortable dug out so unless he gets too bad I think he is better here than if I sent him to hospital. There is so much dysentery going that the men don’t get much care taken of them in hospital. No news yet from either Tony or the Boss about the horses, odd isn’t it. I’m not surprised at the Boss ‘cos he never writes. I’ve had one letter from him since I got out here but I expected to hear from Tony. I have just had a little table made for myself out of the wood of a packing case. It is a bit wobbly but I think I will be able to make it stronger. I have made a great blind for my window which rolls up & down. Quite a success it is. My little house is really awfully comfortable now. I always keep on doing a little bit to it. It has come to the stage now when I can’t do much more to it. I saw Basil yesterday. He & his General are living on one of the ships as Bungo 13has been rather seedy. Bas is looking a bit better but is rather bored with life I think. It Is rather dull for him. We ought to have got a mail to day but it hasn’t arrived. Must be off now as I have to do a job of work. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Postcard from Lieutenant Ronald Lennox Bald to Ione Armstrong
Saturday 23 October
I went to the hospital, did scrubbing etc. Muz & Ione went in to Canterbury, & got another servant – Annie – at three I went round to Kitty, & she Miss Gilbank & I went to the central electric theatre, it was quite good. We didn’t get back till nearly seven, I had tea with them, & then went straight to the club, Miss Gilbank came down with me. Very few men in. Went to bed at about eleven. On Thursday the Allied Fleets began a bombardment of the Bulgarian coast from Dedeagatch14 to Porto Lagos, a distance of 38 miles.
Suvla. Cold & windy drizzles of rain. Went to 88th Bde Hd Qrs. Bosun [?] came with us. The Gen took Gen Cayley round 2nd Line. Worked on road in the afternoon. Quite cold. Walked down to the canteen. Ames seemed better. Gen Hodgson came to dinner.
Sunday 24 October
Muz & I went to the hospital. After lunch Ione went to a concert for the Station Red X. I wrote letters. Muz went to church in the evening, & I went to the club. Not very many people in. Miss Walter, Miss Keir & I were the only three. Went to bed at about 11-30.
Suvla. Very cold wind & fine rain. Wrote letters & read all morning was very cold. Dug with Hardress before tea. Then went for a short walk. Basil came up about 6 o’c. News that Roumania had sent to Paris & Petrograd. Wind went down in the evening, not so cold.
My dear wee Mus.
It is raining hard to-day & bitterly cold. I’m going to start my warm underclothes to-night. They arrived just at the right time. My thick coat ought to come next mail. As a matter of fact I’m in no great hurry for it as I’ve got my leather waistcoat which is very warm. The weather has been getting steadily colder every day this week. The wind is so cold, it wouldn’t really be cold only for the bitter wind. Will you send me the other blue vest & drawers as soon as you can. I got a box of books to-day from Lady Elliot nice of her to send them wasn’t it. These cold rainy days one reads quite a lot. Have just written & thanked her & asked her to get me a Beatrice stove15 which I think will be good value in a dug out. Ames is still seedy but seems a little better. I hope he will get alright & that I won’t have to send him away sick. There is really little or no work for one’s servant to do so he will be able to have an easy time but I’d be awfully lost without him, it would be so hard to replace him. The mail is very disappointing this week. I hear it won’t come in till Tuesday now, this Salonika show has upset everything. They look as if they would have a pretty rough time of it poor devils I don’t envy them. The Germans apparently are advancing from the north & the Bulgars from the East. Poor little Servia will have a rotten time. I wonder what sort of weather you are having, this is quite a cold snap. I’m going out to dig for a bit & get warm. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
- Manor House Hospital, where the Armstrongs had volunteered their services ⇑
- A pair of blockhouses at Suvla, south of Jephson’s Post, which were named ‘Dublin Castle’ by General de Lisle on 7 October 1915⇑
- Artillery post near Sulajik, Suvla Bay, Gallipoli ⇑
- A domestic servant in the Armstrong household ⇑
- London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company⇑
- Sapping involved the digging of small trenches at a 90 degree angle from existing lines towards the enemy line and then digging a new trench line in front of the saps. It was a slow but relatively safe means of moving forward ⇑
- King’s Messenger ⇑
- On 13 October 1915, the Germans made another successful Zeppelin raid over London. Of the five airships involved in the raid, one, the L14 commanded by Alois Bocker, strayed off course and, thinking it was over Woolwich Dockyard, dropped its bombs over the Otterpool and Westenhanger military camps near Hythe which were occupied mainly by Canadian soldiers.⇑
- Royal Engineers.⇑
- A hill between the Salt Lake and the southern side of Suvla Bay ⇑
- Panic, state of fear ⇑
- The Battle of Loos (25 September-14 October 1915) had ended in a stalemate and caused almost 60,000 casualties on the British and 26,000 on the German side ⇑
- Nickname for Major-General Byng ⇑
- Renamed Alexandroupoli after the First World War.⇑
- A kerosene stove with an enamelled cast iron base capable of boiling a tea kettle of water in as little as 10 minutes and heating a small room. ⇑