March 1915. TROU-BAYARD, ESTAIRES
14th March Sun. Remained in billets. Surplus Stores & Band, who were left in charge, rejoined. Physical drill -musketry instruction. Church Parade service under C.O. Warned to be ready to move at short notice, all packed up and waiting. Could hear St Eloi bombardment from 5.0 pm to 2.30 am. (1)
15th March Mon. Received orders to move billets, Batt paraded but move postponed for 24 hrs. Moved out of billets & bivouacked in fields. Trench digging practice with entrenching tools. I man found to have scarlet fever. C Coy isolated.
16th March Tue. Yesterday’s move re-ordered. Parade 9.00 am. Marched towards Oultersteen. Received word before reaching there that our billets taken by other Units. Had to wait in field till new billets found at LA BECQUE, 2 miles S. BAILLEUL.
LA BECQUE 17th Wed. Inspection Field Marshall Sir John French (Several Compliments). (2)
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT to Father & Mother. 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.
Wednesday, March 17/ 15. In Another Barn.
My Dear Father and Mother,
Up in the loft by the lamp I was standing when Sid gave me three letters – one from Miss Foster*, posted 14th & another from Auntie Pattie*, posted 14th & one from Mr J. Irving* posted 15th.
I asked Sid if there was one from Mother for I expected one from Home & treasure them above others. I read two & then Sid gave me one enclosed in a type addressed envelope. (I thought it was from Mr Boothroyd*). Yes Dad, our address needs type writing – & Mother what a very dear letter it was. We are quite safe, no fear for anxiety. Letters from England reach us quicker than our letters sent to you. (3)
We have seen the postman today after a long march without a rest (4). The morning was delightful and bright. Vernon Evans and all of us here are talking about letters not reaching their destination as soon as they thought. But the postal arrangements I believe are doing their best.
Many of us receive large parcels, some the size of Hudson Soap boxes! (5)
Yes, dear Mother I’m sure our safe, comfortable & peaceful crossing & safe arrival was in answer to prayers at home. I shouldn’t be surprised if you had ‘Eternal Father’ hymn in Church or Sunday school.
Well, I won’t tire the Censor so must close. I pray often that you will not be anxious (especially with regard to news in the papers). I am in need of a khaki handkerchief chiefly. Don’t send any money please.
Our combined wishes to all.
Best love, Bertram and Sydney
PS NB Last sheet of this note. Please enclose one sheet in your next letter if you want a letter in reply. (censored H.W. Parr*).
Judging by the opening line of this letter, Bertie’s parents must have asked him to say exactly where he was when he received his Letters from Home.
(1) St. Eloi: 15 miles away approx. (2) Field Marshall Sir John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres. 1852-1925. Anglo-Irish Officer in British Army (55 yrs). Served in Boar War, became Chief of British Expeditionary Force, 1914 -1915 and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1918.
(3) Letters from Home could be as little as 2–3 days. (4) Route March total mileage: Arneke to La Becque, 33 miles approx. (5) Mr R.S. Hudson founded the Hudson Soap Company, New York in 1837. (Illustrated box measures 15 x 8 x 6 inches, strong enough to stand on, of course). *Starred Names: see Menu Page.
NEXT POSTS: 24th & 28th March 1915 will be posted on 28th & 29th March 2015.