NEUVE EGLISE: BULFORD CAMP
April 2nd 1915: C.O. & Senior Major proceeded to Wulverghem to interview O.Cs Comdg 2nd E. Yorks Regt.
Battalion Paraded at 6.0 pm for Trenches . [The 3rd Monmouth Regt, with HQ at St. Quentins Cabaret (T.5.d.2.2.) held Right Section of 83rd Brigade Line, & 2nd East Yorks Regt. with HQ at ‘Gable Farm‘ (T.5.a.0.3.) held Centre Section].
Battalion took over trenches as follows:- ‘D’ Coy took over Trench 10a (left), 10b & 10b (support) from 2nd East Yorks Regt. ‘A’ ‘B’ & ‘C’ Companies – Trenches 8, 9, 10a (right) 10a (support) ‘Souvenir Farm’ (T.5.d.7.4.) S.P.4 and X Dugouts from 3rd Monmouth Regiment. Bn HQ & Aid Post fixed at St. Quentins Cabaret. Relief completed 10.45 pm.
The Battalion now held Right Section of Staffs. Infy Bde Line (former 83rd Bde Line), the Left Section having been occupied the previous night by the 5th North Staffs Regt. The Right Section extended from U.1.a.7.2 to N.36. d.3.2 with recaltrant (sic) to T.6.b.9.1. (1).
NB Pte Bertie Hibbett ‘A’ Coy in Trench 8.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Mother, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall. (Mud-stained Envelope postmarked 8th April. Censor W.E. Wright).
Good Friday. April 2nd / 15 .
My Dear Mother,
A warm sunny morning. I have been to a quiet service in a field some distance away from this camp of wooden huts; I am squatting in one to write this letter.
When I returned from Parade I saw several officers checking through piles of correspondence. I sympathised with them (2). Yet I felt I must write to you dear Mother on this holy day for everything seems beautiful and tends to great thoughts; and so mothers are to be included for our Lord remembered his Mother as she stood at the foot of the Cross.
There were many things that reminded me of home. Lieut T. Cozens* was present and looked as unconcerned about the grimness of this war as if it was Peace time and he was at Walsall in church. The clergyman reminded me of Mr W.H.Cozens*; the address was simple but conveyed a deep meaning he found difficult to express himself. Above all we sang three beautiful hymns – ‘There is a Green Hill’, ‘Praise to the Holiest’ and lastly one – which is Good Friday itself so to speak – ‘When I survey the Wondrous Cross’. (3)
And so I am feeling very happy after the service & the weather so pleasant and bright. I hope you too are enjoying the usual fine weather England gets at this time.
I had better tell you, although I am inclined to think that it will spoil the object of my letter today, i.e. to make you happy & quite free from anxiety. Sydney is still away on duty & last night I thought best to open the parcel, for we are going into the trenches again this evening for six days at a stretch & there it will be awkward for the parcels to be outside the pack. So I put one cake inside the first box you sent, together with some of Ida’s Q(ueen) cakes & the chocolate & the rest. Happily the first box just fits inside my valise & I can keep Sydney’s share & hope to join him in the trenches.
How pleasant it would be for Sid and me to spread that clean towel & lay out all the delicious confectionery & enjoy a good tea of the ripping home made cakes. Yet, dear Mother we are now serving our King and Country more than ever, now we are on active service, and these mishappenings cannot be helped.
I hope it will enlighten you if I convey the object of the address at the service this morning i.e. ‘no crown without the cross’ 1st referring to Good Friday & Easter, he told us not get the idea of separating the two. So – with regard to this war – we must struggle through to gain the victory & happiness afterwards, & you dear Mother will serve our King and C(ountry) by waiting patiently, ‘He serves who only stands and waits’. (4).
Your letter in the parcel I read with deep interest; many many thanks for your very kind thoughts. I hope Basil will enjoy his stay at Manchester. I had some choc. from Miss Foster* & a letter saying she will be spending Easter at Dumfermlin & sorry Harold will not see her.
I will close now, hoping you will enjoy the hot cross buns you reserve for tea & have enjoyed those at breakfast.
Best love, Bertram.
PS I guess Miss Bore* will be over at Easter to see you. Am sending her a PC in answer to hers, I cannot remember her address.
(1 ) Abbrev. recalcitrant? i.e. Discipline Section for disobedent soldiers & conscientous objectors. (2) Postage delay owing to volume of Letters Home & need for censorship.
(3) Hymns: There is a Green Hill. Cecil Frances Alexander. (Irish. Recognised as one of greatest 19th C. hymn writers. 1818 – 1895. Admired by J.H.Newman.
Praise to the Holiest. John Henry Newman. 1801 -1890. (19th C. Oxford Movement. Evangelical cum Anglo-Catholic cum Roman Catholic Cardinal.Tune: Gerontius, John Bacchus Dyke 1823 – 1876.
When I survey. Isaac Watts.1674 -1748. (Independant Pastor. Hymn based on Galatians 6.14.). Tune: Hamburg. Lowell Mason, 1824.
(4) John Milton (Sonnet on his blindness) 1652 .
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