MY MEMORIES OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR. The Revd Arthur Hubert Hibbett. 1967.
‘ My elder brother, Sydney, and I decided to enlist with the Territorials, 1/5th South Staffordshire Regiment, rather than wait to be conscripted into Kitchener’s Army.
On the morning of September 4th 1914 a column of young men, all in mufti, marching four abreast, passed the Town Hall in Walsall, en route for the Station and training in Luton, Bedfordshire. The tallest QMS boys, including my brother, Sydney, were in the front row; I was in the second row, behind my brother (1).
I shall never forget the Art Master going to each of the railway carriages in turn, giving the King’s Shilling to all the Old Boys, their heads out of the windows; or forget how we waved to friends and relatives as the train left Walsall. ‘
NB. The QMS Old Boys Company are marching to the Station down Bridge Street, in this photograph. Sydney is marching next to the uniformed soldier (left), with Bertie just visible behind him. Does anyone know the name of the soldier and the other three boys in the front row? – perhaps even the name of the Art Master?
Sydney Hibbett was at QMS from 1908 -1911. He won the Blythe Shooting Prize in 1911 and passed both Junior and Senior Oxford Examinations with Div. I. Pass . He was apprenticed to the Old Park Works, Wednesbury. Bertie Hibbett was at QMS from 1910 – 1911, the last year of his schooling before being apprenticed as a Mining Surveyor in Walsall. He joined his brother in the School’s Cadet OTC. Both boys had been educated previously at the Blue Coat Elementary School in Walsall.
SAFE ARRIVAL IN LUTON, BEDFORDSHIRE.
POSTCARD to his Mother at 95, Foden Rd, Walsall.
Dear Mother, Sept. 4th
Arrived safe & sound – queer sensation but comfortable journey & good chums here. Nothing but soldiers – soldiers – soldiers!
Seen F. Hemming (1)– came to our digs & also saw 3 ptes salute – and Sydney. Oh it’s grand so far, but I wish I had come in my best boots. These give me footsore, but I have stuck those pads in (2). We shall both look after ourselves carefully. Syd will give you our address in a day or two, but cannot tell you yet for certain.
With love to Father & the rest. Bertie.
PS. Tell Dodger (3) to practice shooting. See Sheffreys (4) there’s a notice up by the shop. Tell Ida we sang ‘Glory Alleluia’ in Luton!
NB (1) F. Hemming was one of his father’s teachers in Walsall. (2) Bertie was plagued by ill-fitting boots and sore feet from the very beginning. (3) ‘Dodger’ – a family nickname for Basil. (4) Was ‘Sheffreys’ a gun-shop?
SOLDIERS – SOLDIERS – SOLDIERS !
QUEEN MARY’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL MAGAZINE for DECEMBER 1914 lists some 170 Old Boys and Masters who Volunteered for the War; many of them would have arrived in Luton with Pte Bertie on 4th September,1914 – little more than three weeks after the Headmaster had sent his Recruitment Postcard.
Q.M.S. Roll of Honour.
This England never did, nor never shall, Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror.
‘Surely this must have been the thought which animated so many of our Old Boys and Masters when they threw up everything in which they were engaged, so that they might respond to their country’s call. We of Queen Mary’s are very proud of those whose names are given below, and, when this war is over, we intend to inscribe their names on an honours board in the Big Schoolroom as those of men whom the Old School is delighted to honour.
“Though the seas divide us, we will not forget”, rather shall we follow their movements with all possible interest, and pray always for their safe return. We extend our sympathy to those Old Boys, who, although eager to serve, were unable to pass the doctor…’
QMS OLD BOYS , OFFICERS & MEN serving in 1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT listed in the QMS Magazine. (Names in bold are those frequently mentioned in Pte Bertie Hibbett’s Letters.).
OFFICERS: Capt. F.L.Overend; Capt.W.Wistance; 2nd Lieut J.N.H. Smith.
NON-COMMSSIONED OFFICERS: Colour Sergeant M. Somerfield; Sergt H. Allen; Sergt H.W. Harriman; Sergt C. Wilkes; Corpl. H.C.L.Hartley; Corpl. W.Williams.
PRIVATES: B.W.Bailey; F.J.Bailey; L.J.Bailey; R.W.Ball; I.Boulton; A.E.Brown; E.Beebee; W.L.N.Cope; J.G.Allsopp; W.H.Cliffe; H.V.Crooke; R.Canby; C.H.Denham; B.B. Davis; G.E.Bradbury; E.V.Evans; J.Foster; T.E.Fenton; S.Hattin; G.Hewitt; S. Davis; C.Hacket; A.C.Harrison; S.Hibbett; A.H. Hibbett; C. Hinde; H.Hinde; C.H.Harriman; H.W.Houghton; A.O.Jones; C.H.B. Hammonds; E.Joberns; A.E.Machin; A.V.Shaw; J.F.Price; W.Price; S.J.Parkes; W.A.Payne; J.A Shipley; S.T. Richards; C.A.Thompson; C.V.Taylor; A.H.Wilkins; F.H. Wootton; A.C.W.Lyon; J.S.Smith; F.Lawton; F.Cotterell; H.Spencer.
5th S.Staffs Battery RFA: H.H.Lawley; W.E.C.Pullen; F.J.Gee; E.G.Birch; W.F.Hudson.
NEXT POST: 5th Sept 1914: Training in Luton.