Pat Armstrong’s return to France rekindled the pressure which had been placed on him in May 1915 to re-join his regiment as troop leader. The 10th Hussars had suffered serious casualties during the First and Second Battles of Ypres, leaving the regiment woefully short of officers. Pat, torn between his sense of duty to his regiment on the one hand and the career prospects opened by his recent appointment as GSO3 to the 29th Division on the other, wrote a clumsy letter to Charles Crichton, Colonel of the 10th Hussars. Its contents horrified his mother who was determined not to let the matter rest. In Folkestone, Pat’s sister Tom was getting ready for her confirmation while Jess experienced hectic but enjoyable days in the YMCA. A soldier’s dramatic suicide stopped her on her tracks and dampened her spirits.
Monday 27 March
Muz, Heppie & Tom went down the town to order her confirmation dress. I went up to Mrs Philpott’s to call for my dress. After lunch we went out on the Front, to try & see a mine sweeper that had been mined, Heppie saw it, but we couldn’t. Then Muz & I walked up to Shorncliffe, & went to the Moore Barracks Hospital, to visit no 5 ward, north section, & then she has to send a report about each man up to Town every week, & it is sent to a town near his own home & if his people are anxious, they go there & ask, & see our report! While we were there a man was brought in, with a fractured leg, he had been chasing a sky, & his horse ran him into a gate. It pelted on the way back, so we got awfully wet. Miss Steele came for tea, & we talked uncanny things afterwards! Ione was up at the Grand, & went up again after dinner. Went to bed at about eleven.
Long. Worked out march table all morning. 86 & 87th Bdes had route march. Gen, Hardress & T went & watched it. Heard from Charlie Crichton, beastly letter. Glorious sunny morning cold in afternoon. Went for a walk with Hardress about 5 o’c.
Thanks for your letter which I received to-day. It followed me out to Egypt & then back here. Of course I will come back to the Regt. if I am wanted but I want to put my case clearly before you and to ask your advice on the matter and get you to tell me what is the right thing for me to do. I have just been made G.S.O 3 to the Div from Staff Captain of the 88th Bde where I have been for some months with a promise to be made a Bde Major when a vacancy occurs. What I feel is that under the circumstances I can pull more weight doing this job than if I was leading a troop. Of course if there is a shortage of officers & I am wanted with the Regt I will not hesitate to go as I am only too anxious to do what is right but I feel that one troop leader more or less would not make much difference to the Regt and by giving up this job now I lose all chance of ever becoming a Bde Major which has been my ambition for some time. However I leave the matter entirely in your hands and will do whatever you advise me. But I don’t want you to think that I am trying to stay away. If the Regt wants me, I want to do what is right and to be where I can be of most use.
Yrs Ever Pat.
Tuesday 28 March
Muz, Ione & I went down to the Y.M.C.A. at 9, Muz & I took Kitty & Miss McDiarmid’s place, Kitty in London. We had a good crowd in. Muz & Ione & Miss Bald & Mrs Blacklock went back at about two, & I stayed on till 4-30, as they were busy all the time. When I got back I went to Adyar; Muz & Viva had gone on. Mrs Boddam-Whetham & Mrs Edwards were hostesses. Viva & Miss Steele came back here afterwards for a bit. The people in the club today were all people going back from leave, but the boat didn’t go so they are staying the night.
A good crowd!
Long. Stayed in all morning and worked out march table. Issued orders. Very windy. Rode over to 88th Bde Hd Qrs at Chateau Bois d’Abbée got back about 5.30. Fresson was here.
Wednesday 29 March
Muz, Ione & I went down for an emergency at 5-45. Mrs Paul called for us, & took us down in her car. We weren’t very busy, & we came back at about 11, & Ione stayed on till about 12-30. General Lucas, Colonel Fuller & Capt [blank] came in to see us, they have been back on leave, & are going back today. We asked them back for lunch; when they left we had to hurry & get things ready for lunch those three, Muz, Ione & Tom went in the car to see the land slip, & I went down the town to get cakes & things to send to Pat. Colonel Fuller stayed for tea, & Mr Sutton came. The others went by the eight boat. Then we had to hurry & get dinner ready for Mr Sutton, & he & Ione went to the theatre. I went down to the club to Mrs Boddam-Whetham, & sat at the desk all the time, I was rather tired. The Balds went away today. A man cut his throat down at the rest camp last night, he was going back from leave. We saw the stretcher to take him away this morning. They stayed an extra day because of the weather.
Long. Ovey arrived from Egypt. Went over to Corps with him in afternoon. Awfully cold & a lot of snow. Col Fuller got back from leave.
Thursday 30 March
Arrivals and departures
Ione & I went down for an emergency shift at 7-15, then we stayed on for the next shift, & I was taking Miss Duke’s place at 12-30, & they were very busy, & very few people, so we stayed on all day, & got back at about 10-30. We had an awful lot of men in, all people going back from leave. Eight of them came in, who ought to have gone back yesterday, they were rather funny about it! Muz was very tired, as she had been doing a lot of walking.
Long. Glorious day. New horses came up. Got quite a nice mare. Had her clipped & rode her for a short time in the afternoon. Ovey went home on leave.
Friday 31 March
[…] Muz went down to her ordinary shift, but went down at 8-30 instead of mine. Kitty went instead of me. Muz came up at 11 for a meeting, but found it wasn’t till tomorrow, so went down again till four, then had tea with Kitty, then came back & sat in front of the fire in her room, & wrote to Algie. Ione stayed in bed all day.
Long. Left at 8 o’c & rode to Beauquesne. Got there at 11.30. Glorious warm day. Got fixed up in very comfortable billet. New mare came along well.
Saturday 1 April
Stayed in bed till about 10-30, then went down the town, & went to see Mrs McAvity & tell her I couldn’t get my dress done in time to help at the tea shop on Monday. Then Muz & I went down to the Y.M.C.A. & were fairly busy. Got back at about five. Muz & Tom went down to the club instead of me at seven. Muz heard from Pat, & there is more difficulty about him going back to his Regt. Col. Crichton wrote to him, & said he must go back. I did some tidying, & went to bed at about nine.
Beauquesne. In the office nearly all morning. Rode new mare for a short time. She was very lame that night. Fuller & Fraser went out in car. Was in all afternoon.
“Rode new mare”
Sunday 2 April
Stayed in bed rather late. Kitty came round, & Muz talked to her. I did some mending. After lunch Ione drove Muz & Tom up to Shorncliffe, Muz wet to visit the hospital. I went out with Kitty & we took Presh & Clement. Then I went back there to tea with her. Then she went to church, & Muz & I went down to the club, & Kitty came on after church. Three very amusing men came in at the end. We went to bed at about 11. Muz is awfully worried about Pat going back to his Regt. She wrote to Colonel Crichton today about it.