On the home front, war work took many forms. On 10 April 1916, Jess Armstrong began helping out in a tea room on Bouverie Road West in Folkestone. Named the Dew Drop Inn, the tea room enjoyed ‘the separate tables, the cosy chairs, and all the paraphernalia for serving afternoon teas and the like, under the most refined conditions’, as the Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald related on 22 April. The facility was established by four Canadian women – Mrs MacAvity, Mrs Lewis, Mrs Ritchie and Mrs Price – and its proceeds were devoted to wartime charities. The Dew Drop Inn gained considerable popularity in Folkestone, leading one of its founding members to comment tongue-in-cheek that customers ‘dew drop in very satisfactorily’! Between the tea room and the YMCA Hut, Jess still managed to enjoy a full social calendar as a lead-up to Easter festivities.
Monday 10 April
I did the landings & stairs etc, & helped Muz to clean the house, & we got it all finished quite early. Lizzy, the new girl, came at about ten. Then I worked at my apron & finished it. At 3-45 I went down to help at the Room, Mrs MacAvity & Mrs Ritchie, were there & two other Canadian women. Kitty asked Tom to tea, & Clement & Pam came too. Muz came down, & then went back early to meet the Kirwans. We were quite busy, & I got back at about seven. Ione came down from London with the Kirwans. We all went to bed at about 10-30. Muz got two soldiers to come & dig the garden, & then we gave them a “high tea” afterwards. They came at five & worked till about seven.
The Great Spring Offensive!
Tuesday 11 April
Mrs Kirwan & Kathleen stayed in bed for breakfast, & then went out. I went down the town & did some shopping. Muz wrote letters, she wrote to Mrs Penrose to ask her to come & stay. We talked after lunch, then we all went to “Adyar.” Ione stayed in bed all day & got up in time to come with us. It was very crowded; afterwards Miss Bellamy told all our fortunes, it was rather fun. Then we went out on the Front. After dinner Muz gave us wishes, & I worked at my collar & cuffs. When they went to bed Muz & I went & got the trays ready for breakfast in the morning, then went to bed at about 11-30.
Wednesday 12 April
Mrs K & Kathleen stayed in bed for breakfast, & didn’t come down till about 11-30. I wrote to Pat, Algie, & Cpt Anderson. Then I did some sewing, I am shortening a petticoat. After lunch Jean Snow & her husband came, he is going over today. He is a colonel on Allenby’s staff (3rd army). They only stayed for a little while, & said they were coming back for tea. Muz, Mrs K, Tom & I went to church, & met Kitty there. It was an awfully nice sermon, Mr Marriott preached, & it is the last Wednesday. Kitty came back for tea, & Miss Allen & her cousin, Mrs Cleghorn, & Jean & her husband came too. Then I went & made the savoury, & we had dinner early, & went to the 2/- seats at the theatre, “The man who stayed at home”. Kitty came too. Afterwards we had tea in Mrs Kirwan’s room, & we went to bed at about twelve.
Thursday 13 April
I darned nearly all morning, Mrs K. & K. had breakfast in bed, & then went down the town. After lunch Muz, Mrs K. & I went to call on Miss Russel, I waited outside & talked to Mrs Moorhouse, then went in, then we called on Mrs Battiscombe, then went in a taxi to Mrs Freeks, then up to Moore Barracks hospital to visit. Then we had tea in Sandgate, & then called on Mrs Zucker, & walked home. Mr Sutton & Miss Thorburn had been for tea. Ione & K. dined with Mr S. at the Grand & danced a bit too, then all came back together. We went to bed at about 11-30. Letter from Pat dated 10th.
Friday 14 April
Ione & I went down to the R. C. at nine, Kathleen was to have joined & come too, but Lady Jane said she couldn’t. She walked down with us. We were very busy & had over 3000 men in. Muz & Kitty came down at 12, & we stayed till about one, & then came home. Mrs K. took us all to the Tango tea Tom & John de Marotte too. Muz didn’t get back in time. Noel Wyndham & Miss Anderson came up too. We walked about on the Front afterwards. Had dinner rather early, & went to bed at about ten.
Acheux. Rode before breakfast. Fuller & Ovey went round the trenches. Minded the house all morning. […]
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
Just a brief scribe before I go to bed. It seems impossible to write these times there is always so much to do that I dash out whenever I get a chance. Thank you so much for a pair of gloves which arrived to-day. Splendid they are and just what I want. No news from the Colonel yet. I don’t expect he will answer my letter. It is the cleverest way out of it for him. He will have to commit himself one way or the other if he writes now, either say come back & then apply for me, which the General will refuse or say stay where you are. I talked to the General about it the other night he says that if it was to go & lead a Squadron it would be quite a different affair that a Sqd leader is more important that GSO3 but to lead a troop is absurd. It has been very wet here the last few days. I have been round the trenches the last three days & come back soaked each time. I was in all morning & rode with T. this afternoon. Quite nice it was but a cold wind was blowing. We are very comfy here in a new house. Must be off to bed now as it’s 12 o’c. Best love dear wee Mus.
Your loving Pat.
Saturday 15 April
Muz & I went down to the R. C. for an emergency at 7 o’clock. Miss Hindley called for us. We were awfully busy, about 4000 men. Kitty was down too, but went off at nine & came back again at 12-30, Muz & I stayed on the whole time. Mrs Battiscombe came down & took Muz’s place, & she, Kathleen & Miss Hindley went to Dover to have tea with Mr Sutton & see his Submarine C.32. I came back at 3-30, & got Mrs K’s tea as she had gone to bed with a sore throat. Went down to the club at 7, & Muz & K. came on later. […] Ione went up to Town by the 8-30 train, for the day. Tom went to the matinee with the Crofts & Heppie went “on her own”. We went to bed at about 10-30. We were rather tired, as we were busy all day at the R.C.
Sunday 16 April
Muz & Tom & I went to church, & then went out on the Front & met Kitty. Mrs K. stayed in bed all day, & had a bad headache, & pains in her bones so we are going to get the doctor tomorrow. After lunch Kitty came round, & we took Presh out for a walk, & went along the Front, it was a bit cold. Mr & Miss Daniels came for tea. Ione, K. & Mr Sutton had tea up at the Grand then he dined here, Muz & I got things ready before we went down to the club at seven. We weren’t awfully busy. Two of the men came in & helped us to dry up afterwards. Captain Foljambe has been killed & Mr Cowie died of wounds. There was a man awfully like Ned down at the club tonight, in the Canadian Highlanders. We went to bed at about eleven.
Letter from Pat Armstrong to Mrs Armstrong
My dear wee Mus.
“Things very quiet”
I got a letter of the 14th from you to-day. Grand and quick letters come now. Your guess isn’t quite right. Try about 15 miles S.W. of No 2. But you’re not far out. Not much news here, things very quiet. We had a conference this morning then I left here at 2.30 with the Gen & Hardress & went round the trenches. They went back about 5 o’c but I had a lot to do & didn’t get back here till 8.30. I have just finished work & am going to bed pretty soon. We have just had electric light put in which makes the office very nice. This is the first night. It is worked from the signal office & laid on up here. Great luxury and makes such a difference working at night. It goes out at 11.30 so I haven’t much time. No news yet from the Colonel. I’ll wait a bit & will then write again as you suggest. I will send you the letter before I send it to him. Your suggestions are awfully good. I feel pretty sure now that he won’t write. Thank you so much for the gloves they are splendid & just what I want. I don’t think I told you that I heard that Ames wasn’t fit to come out. Pity isn’t it. But my old man Matheus is quite good. He is a huge great fellow, looks like a labourer but is awfully keen to do what is wanted & looks after me really very well. I will send those photos of myself back to you. I don’t think they are bad atall. Mary sent me a photo of herself the other day, not atall a good one of her. I hope Ione has fun at the Adamson’s. Tell her that Lester [?] is on the Corps staff he married Eileen Phillips. She stayed with them at Camberley. The light is dying so I must go. Best love dear wee Mus.