BULFORD CAMP – NEUVE EGLISE
April 6th Tue: Damage to 10a Trench repaired good progress made with improvement. Trenches dried up quickly. Bn relieved by 1/6th S Staffs Regt & reached ‘Bulford Camp’ about 1.30 am next morning in pouring rain.(1)
APRIL 7th. Wed: Neuve Eglise. ‘A’ Coy inspected at 3.0 pm by Brigadier. Working Parties sent to trenches. Baths provided for men. APRIL 8th Thur: Short route march. Working Parties in trenches. Baths. Refitting.
PTE BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MOTHER, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.
April 8 /15
My Very Dear Mother,
You will be very pleased to know that I (at least) have had a very very happy day. We had the opportunity of attending not only a Church Parade, but Holy Communion afterwards. Sydney and myself went & there were several others I knew.
To add to my happiness Sid and I received your very welcome interesting & jolly ripping letters. I appreciated Dad’s especially. I think Mother that the little sermon we had on Good Friday about struggling a necessity to gain the cross has come true on a smaller scale for the weather was wet in the trenches & circumstances not at all ‘pleasant’ but this afternoon has turned out bright and sunny & the evening sun shone in the little hut where Holy Communion was administered by our Chaplain. Again all seemed queer to see each soldier in skeleton equipment form up in line to receive the Holy Eucharist.
We had that lovely Easter hymn – one verse reminded me of you and Home. – On that happy Easter morning All the graves their dead restore, Father, Sister, Child and Mother meet once more.(2)
Sid is writing. He told me on the little route march we had this afternoon that he had not written often, but he had no means at all & was not allowed to write & send correspondence during his time away.
I read about Harold and hope like Father that he will get the post & stick there, yet he will be far from home won’t he?
Mother, your parcel of underclothes came just in time luckily. We went to some baths this morning at about 6 am and they came in useful, also the lovely Calvert’s Carbolic soap (3). We are looking forward to the currant bread & could you afford a little, just a little, butter?
You will be interested, all of you, that the Colonel praised us for our behaviour in the trenches. We are now out for four days rest & probably going again on Saturday.
I am, after finishing this letter, going to boil my Easter Egg. Yes there are hawkers at this camp, eggs can be got at 2d each (4). I will answer the many letters we have received lately in a day or two. But Dad knows well how difficult it is sometimes for us to scratch a line; – you will appreciate the one I wrote in my dugout in the rain!
Best love, Bertram.
(1) 1/5th South Staffs alternated every four or five days with 1/6th South Staffs, but not to rest; working parties continued to service the trenches at night. See Andrew Thornton’s interesting website Hellfire Corner.The North Staffordshire Regiment at Wulverghem.<www.hellfirecorner.co.uk/wulver.htm>
(2) On the Resurrection Morn. 1864. Sabine Baring Gould, 1834 -1924. (Born Exeter, Devon. Anglican priest, married daughter of mill-hand, called her ‘Half my Soul’, 15 children. Author of many popular hymns, including ‘On ward Christian Soldiers’. Interest in archeology, folklore & architecture; designed. Lew House & St Peter’s Church, Lew Trenchard, Devon. See <www.sbgas.org/SBG> (Tune Resurrection Morning. Ira D. Sankey, American Gospel composer, ‘The Sweet Singer of methodism’ associated with Dwight L. Moody).
(3) Calvert’s Soap: carbolic/medicated soap for lice & fleas that plagued soldiers. A blue plaque in Princess Street, Manchester, reads: ‘Frederic Crace Calvert PhD FRS 1819-1873. 1846 Professor of Chemistry at the Manchester Royal Institution (City Art Gallery) 1850 F C Calvert and Co near this site 1857. First commercial production of phenol, carbolic acid, used as a disinfectant in soaps and powders and for making dyes’. See <http://www.postersoftware.co.uk>
(4) Hawkers/peddlars frequented 1stWW Camps with cheap wares. 2d (pence) – worth 1p today.
NEXT POST: 17th April, 1915.