SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT WAR DIARY:
4th AUGUST 1914: ‘Staffs Infantry Brigade withdrawn from Camp at Towyn in North Wales and immediately mobilised and on a War footing. Strenuous training in Luton, Bishop’s Stortford and Saffron Walden. 2nd Battalion formed 137th Infantry Brigade of 46th North Midland Division, 1st complete Division of Territorials to take the field. 1/5th Battalion commanded by Colonel A.R.Crawley and 1/6th Battalion by Lt. Col. T.T.Waterhouse.’
11th AUGUST: E. N. MARSHALL, HEADMASTER, QUEEN MARY’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL, WALSALL to SYDNEY HIBBETT Esq. Fron Hyfrid, Groes Lwyd, Abergele, N. Wales.
TRANSCRIPT: Reserve Company of Territorials. ‘We are extremely anxious to raise a Company of Men who have served in Queen Mary’s School Cadet Corps either when attached to 2nd V.B.S. Staffs Regiment or in the O.T.C. Will you make this generally known? If you will join, please communicate at once with Capt. Overend or with me. E.N.Marshall.’
Personal note to Sydney:- ‘Meet here on Satdy (sic) next,11-30: but no need to cut short holiday, so long as you are ready to come at once if I send. ENM.’
MY MEMORIES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR: The Revd Arthur Hubert Hibbett. 1967.
‘In the year 1914, my father, mother, three brothers, my only sister and I were all together spending our summer holidays at Abergele, in North Wales. We little knew that we should never have a Family Gathering like that again, for on the 4th August Britain declared War on Germany .
The schools started their holidays towards the end of July and from our bedroom windows at Abergele we saw some Regular soldiers in Camp in fields near our apartments; also some ‘lively’ Sea Cadets and Baden Powell Boy Scouts, moving about among their bell tents.
There was great excitement when the Regulars were mobilised. The holiday-makers crowded into the streets of that seaside resort to see them form up. Their band played the National Anthem and the people cheered & waved their hats & caps in the air.’
‘Our home was at Walsall and the Headmaster of Queen Mary 1st Grammar School gave word to all the Old Boys that they could join up on their return from holiday and form a Company of Old Grammar School Boys.’ Extract: Essay Competition, Lindsey Association for the Elderly. 1967.
WHILST THE HIBBETT FAMILY WAITED TO BE ‘SENT FOR’:-
HAROLD TOOK PHOTOGRAPHS:-
Beach Bell Tent: Standing: Bertie. Seated Front: Basil, Hilda (Harold’s fiancee), Sydney, Ida. Back: Mother & Father. H.H.
& BERTIE FILLED HIS SKETCH BOOK:-
‘Our Bathing Tent. Wed. Aug.12th 1914. As a momento of Harold’s Photography.’
‘Sketched this on a boiling Friday afternoon Aug.14th, just a stone’s throw from Fron Hyfrid, the place we digged. Struck 3 when I had done a little & quarter to 5 (when) I finished – bad pen or heat dried the ink, slight wind.’
In the year 2000, EFW discovered the Hibbett Holiday Let by lining up the Church sketch with the Tower on the horizon, then -‘just a stone’s throw ‘away – there was Fron Hyfrid!
‘The Old Tower. Situated Tower Hill, Abergele. Can be seen from Rhyl. Most lovely panorama of Abergele, Rhyl and beyond Prestatyn, also beyond the Dee, Birkenhead – the trains on the mainland seemed to crawl along. I climbed up the inner wall of this tower to a sort of chimney in the wall. Could stand up in it. Carved our names on the walls. Ida, Miss Bore & I went Aug. 2nd . My sister took a photo of it, Miss Bore took photo of Ida. Gathered heather. Lovely day.’
‘Drew this on the way to our Tent on the Sands. The Hills at the back of Grych Castle – & Cornfields for a foreground.’
‘An Impression’ was drawn on the first Saturday, 1st Aug. or very early in holidays of 1914.’ AHH.
The First World War is only a generation away still, for many. I found the Headmaster’s Recruitment Postcard very useful when teaching Open University Arts Foundation History (Handling Primary Sources). But invariably there would be someone who would ask: ‘Was your father killed?” To which I would reply “I’m not as old as all that!” or just raise an eyebrow!