SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY
WULVERGHEM TRENCHES (Pte Bertie Hibbett in Trench 8)
3rd April 1915: Brigadier Gen. E. Feetham (1) visited trenches of Battn. on taking over command of Staffs Infy Bde.
Trenches in considerable disrepair. Gaps between 10a & 10b. Practically impossible to visit them in daylight. V. little wire. Work on improvements & extensions commenced at once.
Trenches 10a & 10b subject to enfilade (2) fire from left – & 8 & 9, from right (MESSINES HILL). Casualties: Killed:- 8137 Pte A. Hunt, ‘D’ Coy; 9579 Ptes T. Childs, ‘A’ Coy. Wounded: 9866 Pte G. Derby, ‘A’ Coy; 8765 Pte W. Law ‘B’ Coy.
4th April. (Easter Sunday). At 3.15 pm German Artillery began to shell Trenches 8 & 9 afterwards attacking 10a. Later they shelled Wulverghem village., & set on fire ‘Gable Farm’. At 2.pm just before shelling began a white flag was shown in enemy trench opposite to Trench 8. (Pte Bertie’s).
Casualties: Wounded by shell fire:9110 Sgt J. Hayward & 7667 Pte F. Stockholm. Much firing during the evening. 8109 Pte A. Weston, ‘C’ Coy wounded while carrying rations to trenches.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings. Easter Dawn: ‘with Sam Harvey* on Listening Post at ruined house in front of trenches at Messines. Drizzle & rain chiefly all day. Wrote to Mr. Darling* (3) censored by Lieut Wright*. Remember rain making the blue lead run. Beautiful sunset & fine on close of day.
LETTER to Mother, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall. (Middle page 3 found in mud stained envelope dated May 2/15) . . . told my ‘mate’ it was Easter Sunday. The greeting was not recognised by him at first and then I guess we both thought of home & last year. Easter evening was different, the sun sank in a veil of crimson and purple with a thrush singing an evening hymn. ‘£8 for a violet (?)’
Well Sid went and picked some of those lovely light blue May flowers, the Forget-me-nots, & I thought of the brilliant idea of sending one in my letter to adorn the heading of a real May Day story letter.
We are about . . . (censored). . . and we are sorry for we’ve had a lovely time in the . . . (censored). . . trenches.
The weather is simply glorious, like June. Picture me on sentry from early dawn, watching the sun rise in all its splendour, then the thrush whistling its morning sacrifice & the lark at heaven’s gate singing. Later in the day I heard the faint call of the cuckoo. There I stood for two hours, standing, watching, waiting under a cloudless sky. I frequently heard the buzz of those birds, the aeroplanes. I would gaze into the sky but could see nothing. . . (censored). . . although he was in the ethereal blue.
Sid and I were together in one dug out (and by the by it was the first occasion of [his] taking command). Sid & I tried to make our corners as homely as possible. I gave him half of a number of cigarette cards & he went and got some flowers. Sid you know was fond of bringing you flowers, and added to the decoration of his part, while I rummaged among my letters for some PCs. I had the one of ‘Home’, 95 Foden Road, Harold’s PC of St Paul’s and Sunday S. Scholar’s PC of the Hospital, – all three on a shelf over my head. I placed Basil’s lovely PC of ‘The Dingle’. . .
(1) Brg. Gen Edward Feetham, C.O. Staffs Infantry Brigade. (Killed in Action 29th March 1918. Age 57 yrs. memorial Picquigny Cemetery). (2) enfilade (or flanking attack): fire that can travel the length of a trench or column of soldiers/ medieval tactic used by English yeomanry against French in Hundred Years War 1337 -1453). (3) The Revd. E. More Darling, Vicar of Walsall.
(4) Image: Easter Dawn: Church Magazine Home Words Ltd 11 Ludgate Square. (Vol. XLV. No. 4. April, 1915). ‘ NB Easter Day,1915 was actually 4th April. It is likely that Bertie saw this picture only after he came home and wrote ‘Bertram on Listening Post. Easter Dawn. April 5th/ 15.’
Poem: Adelaide Anne Proctor, 1825 -1864.
(Poet & Philanthropist working for unemployed women & homeless):
Be strong to hope, oh Heart! Though day is bright, The stars can only shine In the dark night. Be strong oh heart of mine, Look towards the Light!
Be strong to bear, oh Heart! Nothing is vain: Strive not for life is care, and God sends pain. Heaven is above, and there Rest will remain!
(5) Sydney Hibbett could have been promoted to Lance-Corporal or Corporal in the days he was away.
NEXT POST: Easter Day, 5th April 1915.