WEEK 70: I SHALL MISS AMES
Monday 25 to Sunday 31 October 1915
While Pat Armstrong had made a successful recovery from diarrhoea, not everybody in Gallipoli was as lucky. Limited sanitation coupled with poor living conditions, lack of fresh water and a monotonous diet of bully beef and hard biscuits caused rampant outbreaks of dysentery and enteric fever throughout the Dardanelles Campaign, necessitating the constant evacuation of men to offshore hospital ships or to base hospitals at Lemnos, Egypt and Malta. As the recovery period was slow, taking up to 75 days per patient, the pressure to retain unfit men at the front was great. This in turn increased the spread of infection, creating a vicious cycle which did nothing to improve the already disastrous campaign. It has been estimated that of the British casualties on Gallipoli, more than three quarters were due to epidemic sickness. Among the casualties was Pat Armstrong’s servant, Arthur Ames, who was evacuated from the Peninsula at the end of October.
Monday 25 October
Ione & I went to the hospital,1 & Muz came later. After lunch I got Gordon’s room ready, & the dining room etc & tea. We had just finished when the Gyes came to call, then Kitty came for a few minutes. Then Mrs Blake & Nicola came. Gordon arrived at about five, & the Blakes stayed for tea. After dinner we talked, & went to bed at about 11-30. The Bulgarians announced that they have entered Uskub.2 The Italians have taken over 3000 prisoners in the Carso alone.3 At the entrance to the Gulf of Riga a Russian squadron landed troops which successfully demolished some German works.
Suvla. Glorious day. Hot sun. Went round right subsection 86 Bde. Went to Dublin Castle4. Everything very quiet. The Gen was a bit seedy. Continued work on the road. Paid Cyclists. Quite cold again in the evening. The Italians claim 9000 prisoners.
Tuesday 26 October
I was up at 6-30 to light the furnace. Then Ione & I went to the hospital. Muz & Gordon went down the town, & walked about. After lunch we went into Hythe in the car, & home by Postling, it was awfully pretty. Then Gordon took us to tea at the Grand, a tango tea. After dinner he told us about Dolly, & we talked till nearly twelve. Zooie wrote to say she is engaged to Captain Welch, he has been back on a week’s leave. The French have captured a dangerous G. salient known as the courtine,5 which they were unable to seize in Sept. 200 prisoners from 3 regts were taken.
Suvla. Nice warm day wind from south. Spent all morning working on B mess. Continued work on road moved big stone. General a bit seedy stayed in bed till lunch. Long’un came down in the afternoon but couldn’t stay for tea. Ames pretty seedy.
Wednesday 27 October
I got up at about 6-30 to light the furnace. Edith6 didn’t come till rather late, so we got rather a fright, but it was alright. I went to the hospital. Gordon went by the 9-30 train. After lunch I washed Duskey, & cleaned out her house, & gave her new straw. Then I lay down for a bit, I had rather a sore throat, & a bit of earache. Muz & I went & dined with Kitty, Mrs Whitelaw was there too; we talked after dinner, & left at about eleven. The G. forces are advancing from the N & W. by way of Visegrad. On the N-E. the Germans & Bulgarians will soon join forces.
Suvla. General still seedy stayed in bed till lunch. Hardress & I walked up to the left of the line went into 11th Div posts. A straff 7was going on near Chocolate Hill.8 Walked down to canteen in the afternoon. Glorious day south wind. Couldn’t land all the mail. Got my thick coat & new boots. Got photos by K. M.9 Sent Ames away sick took on Smith as servant.
My dear wee Mus.
I got a letter from you to-day by K.M of the 10th. I haven’t had any from you now for about 10 days. The last dates I had were the 26-27 Sept. What is the hospital you are working in? You mention it but that is the first I have heard of it. Whatever it is you mustn’t go & work too hard. Some of the photos you sent were quite good. It was disappointing some of ‘em being failures. I’m afraid some of the films you send out are dark. Several of the little steel spools that the film is rolled on have been rusting. Those boxes you had made aren’t much good as they aren’t watertight. Try & get all the next lot you send out in those little round tins. I sent you home some of them & I’m sure you could get them if they wrote to London for them. I sent you off a cigarette box yesterday with 6 rolls. I hope some of them will be good. I hear that there is a big mail in to-day but there is only about half of it up yet. I hope I’ll get some letters from you by it.
It’s a lovely day to-day such a relief to be really warm again. The wind has gone round to the South & it’s just glorious. There was a very cold snap last week. The General is a bit seedy, he has got a sort of flu. He feels the cold so dreadfully he was absolutely miserable those few really cold days that we had. The north wind is so bitterly cold. Hardress & I had a walk round the trenches this morning, it was really quite hot. We just walked up there for exercise. Ames is still seedy & looks awful. He has a touch of dysentery & complains of pains. I think I shall have to send him away, I’m afraid he’ll never get right here. I am going to give him a few more days & see how he gets on – if he doesn’t improve I’ll send him away. They send nearly everybody home nowadays so I don’t suppose I would see him again for some time if I ever got him back atall. The Dr has just told me that Ames must go off so I must go & get things paid up. Sad isn’t it. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Thursday 28 October
I went to the hospital Muz & Ione didn’t go. 25 new men came in yesterday, but only one in our ward. We scrubbed white paint. Kitty & Muz aren’t coming again till we get more in. It rained hard all day. After lunch Muz & I went down the town, to get some medicine for Duskey. Then I wrote letters. Ione went to tea with the Peters. Gave Duskey her medicine. Went to bed at about eleven. The Serbians have retaken Veles, recently occupied by the Bulgarians. Under clouds of gas the Germans again attempted to break through the French lines to the East of Rheims, & again they failed at every point. In Artois our allies blew up by powerful mines, G. trenches & entanglements on the Arras-Lille Road & occupied the craters.
Suvla. Glorious warm sunny morning. Left at 9.30 with Curling went up to Green Hill & saw some M. G.10 positions. Went on up to C & D posts. Got back about 12.30 got a mail. Continued work on road. Got money from Beach & paid out Hd Qrs at 5 o’c. Basil came up in the evening he & the General had been over to G.H.Q.
My dear wee Mus.
I wrote you a brief note yesterday for K.M but just in the midst of it the Dr came to say that I would have to send Ames to hospital. So I had to dash off, get him fixed up & arrange about another servant. Poor Ames I’m sorry he had to go, he was quite upset going off. I expect that they will pack him straight off to England. I told him that if he got home he was to let you know & go & see you. He has got practically no family so if he got leave after coming out of hospital, I dare say you could look after him for a bit. Anyhow I told him to let you know where he was so you’ll be able to see what happens. I have got an awfully nice little Scotch boy to do servant to me. He has been on this staff for some time in the sanitary squad. He is about 18. A nice clean boy & a very willing worker. He did servant to somebody for a bit before he came out here. He landed here with his Regt the 5th Royal Scots & has been here ever since. I think he’ll do me well but I shall miss Ames. A servant out here as a matter of fact, has extraordinarily little to do. Just calls on in the morning tidies up the house & sweeps it out. That’s always done before about 9 o’c. Then he has nothing much else to do till 7 o’c when he brings me hot water. My wardrobe not being very extensive he hasn’t many clothes to look after. So I really won’t miss Ames so much as if I was in barracks at home. I’m afraid he is pretty bad. He had dysentery & always complained of pains. He had his operations for an appendicitis. The first one was about the time of the Joburg Stakes.11 The doctors told me then that there was little or no hope for him, however he pulled through came home & had another operation about 6 months afterwards. I’m rather afraid that now there may be complications of the same sort. I hope they get him to England quickly […]
To read the entire letter, click here.
Friday 29 October
Went to the hospital. Was rather tired, so lay down for a bit after lunch. Then helped Ione to dress, as Harry & a Capt & Mrs Downes are motoring from Newhaven for the week end. She went up to the Grand to dine with them at eight, & then they went on to the dance. Went to bed at about 10-30. Russian men-of war which were unsuccessfully attacked by G. submarines, bombarded yesterday the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Varna. Aviators also joined in the attack.
Suvla. Glorious day. Left at 9.30 with Bosun [?] & went up to Well House where we met Gen Percival, went on to Dublin Castle. Took some photos from Hospital near Lala Baba.12 Continued work on road plastered mess. Went for a walk with Hurndall in the evening. General asked staff to appreciate the situation.
My dear wee Mus.
[…] The General is a good bit better to-day but is still staying quiet. I went round part of the line with Curling this morning but there was nothing much doing. A Turk came in this morning to the Hampshire Rgt this morning [sic] about 7 o’c. He was rather a miserable looking specimen very thin & badly clothed. He said that there were two more of them waiting to come in but that they had all decided to come separately, so I dare say the others will come in to-morrow morning. He didn’t give us much information, he said that they had no warm clothing & that they were all longing for peace. He said that our bombs were very effective which is good news. Do you still think that I will be home for Xmas? I hope you are right but at present I don’t see much chance of it. I think Servia looks more on the cards. I shouldn’t be a bit surprised if we were sent there. I suppose that something will happen now that Monro has arrived. I will write to the Boss about the horses as you suggest. I’ve been thinking that perhaps he would write but apparently he isn’t going to. Funny Tony not writing isn’t it. Ought I to write to him do you think.
Our little houses are awfully comfy now. Yes! I think they will be a bit cold in the winter but we will close them all in & keep the wind out & put on plenty of clothes. It is only the wind that has been really cold up to date. To-day is another glorious day. Just lovely nice & warm without being too hot. I love this sort of weather, it makes one awfully fit. I hate the cold. You ask about going round the firing line. We go round some bit of it every day. I did the left yesterday right to-day. One can go there by day just as easy as by night. There is comparatively little shelling or firing going on. The Turks have a good many snipers but unless one puts one’s head over the parapet they can’t get you. Of course there are a certain number of people hit every day but the biggest wastage is from sickness. I don’t want thick khaki shirts or white shirts. I should like those 3 medium weight ones. You say you have already sent me two so will you send the other one along some time. I have got any amount of socks but I’d like 3 pairs of very short ones things that would only come about an inch above my ankle. Then I’d like some of the footlets, about 6 pairs I think would do. I’ve got some old fur gloves. So later on when the weather gets really cold you could send me another pair. I like plain leather ones lined with any sort of common fur. I want pyjamas badly, the silk ones are too thin & Ames burnt the coat of the thick ones. So now I want one more pair of pyjamas besides the pair you say in your letter of the 4th that you have sent off. I don’t think that there is anything else I want except that blue vest & drawers.
What a bore all the children’s teeth going like that isn’t it. I got a large parcel of stores from Harrods this morning, they are coming very regularly these times. We are very well of for stores now. McGlynn one of my cyclists arrived back from Imbros this morning he’d been over to see Lazarus & arrived with a large box of eggs. Good work that. I don’t care for the idea of that Hospital I’m afraid you will work too hard. […] That’s a good idea getting plum puddings for the men out here they will love them. Tell them not to forget my cyclists & Hd Qr Staff. Get Ione or Jess to write to the Boss & get him to send me out a couple of plum puddings, one for myself & one for Standen & Jack. Jack is a great boy & is doing awfully well, he is a keen little lad & nothing is too much trouble for him. I’m in great hopes that he will make a really first class servant. Well wee Mus I have told you all the news so it’s about time to have my evening wash. The General gets cross if I’m late for dinner. Best love dear wee Mus. Don’t work too hard at the hospital.
Your loving Pat
Saturday 30 October
Went to the hospital. Then tidied the house etc, & helped Ione to dress. Harry & Capt & Mrs Downs came here at about seven, & Harry took me down to the club, & Ione dressed & went to dine with them, & went to the dance, Harry came back here afterwards, & stayed till about two. I went to bed at about eleven. The King’s horse fled with him, while he was inspecting the troops in France, but he is only badly bruised.13 The Italians have captured 5064 prisoners, including 113 officers, on the Isonzo front, between the 21st & 29th of Oct.
Suvla. Gen still seedy. Rode up to 88th Bde Hd Qrs with Bosun [?]. Nearly got a shell. Saw some M.G positions with Wilson. Then went on & took some photos of the posts. Continued work on road which we finished. Gen went to Corps to meet Gen Monro. I don’t think we will go to Salonika.
Sunday 31 October
I went to the hospital, the others didn’t go. We cleaned brass etc. It rained nearly all day. Harry, & Capt & Mrs Downs went back to Newhaven at about lunch time. I wrote, & did newspapers etc, then went to the club, & took Duskey, & gave her some dinner. Went to bed at about eleven.
Suvla. Glorious day. Rifle inspection & church. Went down to Corps with the General, sat & talked to Basil till 1 o’c. Got Tatler from Col Fuller. Wrote letters in the afternoon & then walked down to rest camp with the General. Went out again in evening.
My dear wee Mus.
[…] We had church this morning then I went down to Corps & spent the morning talking to Basil. This afternoon I have been packing up boxes of acorns to send to the Boss & to Jess. I wrote the Boss a long letter the day before yesterday, awful effort! I wish he would write & tell me about the horses. I’m longing to hear what he thinks of them. Emmie writes you queer wandering sort of letters doesn’t she. I was hoping that she would tell you something about them. The weather here is just glorious, such a change from last Sunday when I was so cold that I could hardly write. This is a glorious day. The General is a good deal better to-day but is still a bit weak. He has had a nasty little touch of flu. But I think that if we can keep him quite he will be alright again in a few days. There is such a good photo of B in the Tatler of Sept 24th. I saw it at Corps this morning & am sending a note down to see if I can get it. It’s odd what you say about that shell. I wonder of it was one of a consignment that the Bosch made to go to Turkey & then used it themselves. I am glad you got the one I sent as we aren’t allowed to send any more now. The postal authorities have stopped it all.
You seem to be working much too hard at the hospital & then sewing sand bags in the afternoon too. I hope that you are getting on well with the drawing room. I’d like to hear that you were comfortably settled into it. I wonder if this leave idea will ever come to anything. I’m longing to get home to see it all. From what I hear I don’t think there is much likelihood of us being sent to Salonika but we really know nothing yet about what Monro has decided to do. Personally I’d like to stay here. I’m very comfy & don’t want to move. Little Jack is doing splendidly he’s a great boy. He is getting into the work well & I hardly miss Ames atall. Poor Ames I hope he gets home alright. I hear we have given the Greeks a loan of 30 millions. I wonder if that will bring them in, they are playing rather a low game I think. Hurndall in the 20 Hussars came & dined with me last night, he’s at Corps. I dare say you have seen him playing polo in London. He’s an awful good sort I used to see a lot of him in the old days at the Curragh. We finished the road last night, it’s a great success, the General is awfully pleased with it. We are going to start working on the rest camp to-morrow. We have got a rest camp for men in the trenches who are seedy but not bad enough to send away. Odds & ends of people have been working at it but it hasn’t got on very fast, so the General wants me to take it on & finish it off. […] Well! wee Mus the light is going & I want to go for a bit of a walk so I’ll post this. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
My dear wee Jess.
I am sending you some big acorns of the oaks out here. The little ones are of the holly oak a little shrubby bush that grows on the sides of hills. I’m also sending some cotton pods & a few bits of shrapnel which you may like. Must pack box now.
Your loving Pat.
- Manor House Hospital, where the Armstrongs had volunteered their services ⇑
- Now Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia ⇑
- This is a reference to the Third Battle of the Isonzo (18 October-3 November 1915), fought between Italy and Austria-Hungary along the Isonzo River on the eastern sector of the Italian Front ⇑
- A pair of blockhouses at Suvla, south of Jephson’s Post, which were named ‘Dublin Castle’ by General de Lisle on 7 October 1915⇑
- La Courtine ⇑
- A new domestic servant acquired by Heppie ⇑
- A fierce attack or heavy bombardment ⇑
- A hill so named after its dark, rich-coloured soil ⇑
- King’s Messenger ⇑
- Machine gun.⇑
- The Johannesburg Stakes of 1913 ⇑
- A hill between the Salt Lake and the southern side of Suvla Bay ⇑
- King George V was thrown off his horse while inspecting the troops in France on 26 October 1915⇑