The end of Pat Armstrong’s leave took him back to Egypt but only temporarily. On 25 February, the 29th Division had received orders to relocate to France, and embarkation of troops began in early March. While preparing to move, Pat waited anxiously for news of a hoped-for promotion to the position of General Staff Officer (Grade 3). The General Staff system in Britain was formed in 1905 to prevent a recurrence of the terrible hardship brought on by disorganization during the Crimean War. As the British Army was considered too small to support a separate staff corps, officers would typically rotate between staff and command positions. The position of General Staff Officer (Grade 3), also termed GSO3, required the rank of Captain, GSO2 the rank of Major and GSO1, who acted as Chief of Staff, the rank of Lieutenant Colonel or Colonel. For Pat, the appointment was crucial, as it opened the way for him to rise to the rank of Brigade Major, chief of staff of a brigade in the army.
Monday 28 February
Stayed in bed till tea time, then came down, & Mrs Churcher was here. Captain Bell came in later. I gave Duskey her supper, & then I had a pain, so went to bed again, rather early. I finished reading “The Way of an Eagle”.1 Muz & Ione dined with Captain Bell at the Grand.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong P.&O. S.N. co. S.S. [no name of vessel stated]
My dear wee Mus.
We are just arriving at Malta where I think we stay the night and then go on again to-morrow morning. I expect that a good many of us will probably go and dine on shore, more amusing than staying on the ship. We have a great crowd on this ship but none of ‘em very interesting, the ladies all dull and common.
I forget if I told you that Abbott was taken off at the last minute at Marseilles which looks as if he was being left behind to make arrangements for our coming to France. I hope they don’t send us too soon as Egypt would be very nice till about April. The weather in France isn’t much till about May. I’d like to go there when the weather is good. I’m longing to hear what the War Office say about my promotion it may make all the difference if I get it. Be sure you cable as soon as you hear anything as if we start for France in a week or so’s time I won’t get any of your letters for some time. It was lovely and warm yesterday morning but it’s dull and rather cold now. No news at all really but I’ll post this here as you’ll get it sooner than a letter from Egypt. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Tuesday 29 February
Stayed in bed all morning. Got up after lunch, & went to the school play “Comics” at the Leas Pavilion. Muz & Tom had reserved seats, & Miss Walter gave me an unreserved one, & Heppie got one from Miss Peters. Afterwards Muz & I came back with Viva. Then Muz & I went to call on the Cunliffes, then went to the Brinkleys, then Viva. I gave Duskey her supper, & then went to bed early. Muz went & dined with Kitty & Winifred. I read till about 10-30, & I didn’t hear Muz coming in.
Winifred, Lady Fortescue
Wednesday 1 March
Finished reading “The Money Moon”.2
Got up at about 11, & bathed Duskey’s back, & did some tidying. After lunch took Duskey out on the Front, it was lovely & sunny. Then Colonel & Mrs Cunliffe came for tea. Then I put Duskey to bed & then wrote letters. I wrote a long one to Helen & one to Sybil. Tom stayed in bed all day. Muz & Ione went out to post letters. Went to bed at about 11.
Thursday 2 March
Muz & Ione went up to London by the 8-30. I went down the town with Kitty & Winifred, & Kitty had her photograph taken. After lunch I went down to Wampach Hotel3 & met Kitty & watched the children’s dancing class. Viva & Cupid & Mrs Collins were there too. I went back to tea with Kitty, then came back here to give Duskey her supper, & then went back to dine with Kitty, Heppie brought me, as it was so dark, & awfully wet. Kitty & Win walked back with me afterwards. Muz & Ione arrived at about 10-30.
Friday 3 March
We got up rather late. I did some tidying. Mr Sutton came in at about seven, & he, Muz, Ione & I went & dined with Kitty, & went up to the Grand afterwards. We played “Up Jenkins”,4 & then ragged about in the lifts. Mr Sutton jumped over our heads but knocked Win over! When we came back here, he & Ione ragged about, & he didn’t go till about three!
Saturday 4 March
Kitty & Winifred came round, & we walked nearly to Dover on the shore & saw a lot of the wreck of the “Maloja” that was washed up. It was a P&O that left for India last Sunday & was mined outside Dover.5 Win & Tom only came a little way, & went home, but we four went a long way. Muz & Kitty went back first, & Heppie & I went on a bit & then did shopping on the way back. We were mud up to our knees! We brought back some bits of the life boats & some flares. Muz & I went down to the club at seven, Mrs Boddam-Whetham wasn’t there, Miss Walter took her place. Mr Gressan came & sat with us for ages, & was rather a nuisance.
Clement and Pamela Winstanley
Sunday 5 March
Muz & I went to church, & then went out on the Front afterwards. After lunch Kitty & Winifred came round, & I went out with them, & wheeled Presh & took her to see the chickens, & played with her afterwards, while Kitty was dressing. They went to tea with the Fosters & came to us afterwards. Miss Lucas & two Canadian men came for tea. Muz, Win, Kitty & I went down to the club, & got back at about 10-30.
A popular romance novel by Ethel M. Dell, published in 1912; by 1915 it had gone through 30 printings.⇑
The Money Moon was a light-hearted romance by Jeffery Farnol (1911). ⇑
Wampach Family Hotel on Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone ⇑
A party game of two teams in which the players of one team pass a small coin under the table back and forth from one player to another and the players of the second team attempt to correctly identify which hand the coin is under. ⇑
The P&O Liner Maloja was struck by Sunday 27 February 1916. The after-part of the ship was blown up by the explosion and the vessel sank in 24 minutes. Of the 423 passengers and crew, 155 died or remained unaccounted for a mine half way between Dover and Folkestone at 10.30 am on⇑
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