4th May,1915 Tue: Paraded for trenches 9 pm, in relief of 6th South’s.
5th May, Wed: Wulverghem Trenches. Trench 8 (Pte Bertie Hibbett’s) shelled with shrapnel & HE from 3 pm. Capt Milner wounded when sniping. Capt A. W. Smith reported sick. No 47 Pte J. Angell wounded.
6th May Thur: Enemy Artillery commenced shelling Trench 8 (Bertie’s) about 7.30 am till about 3.00 pm between 300 and 400 shells were fired. French rifles and equipment much damaged. I man killed, 7 men wounded. After nightfall rifle and Machine Gun fire directed on gaps in parapet but partially silenced by shrapnel fire from Heavy Battery (115th Battery R.G.A.)
Sgt J.W. Pitt showed coolness, resource, and courage during the shelling of Trench 8.
‘Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: L ETTER to MOTHER & FATHER, Arthur & Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.
Thursday May 6th / 15 King’s Accession 1910
My Dear Mother & Father,
Sid and I received your welcome parcel on Tuesday last, the day on which we left camp for the trenches for the 5th time. But we managed to divide the contents nicely. We knew the tea-cakes were home-made, although you did not mention the fact in the enclosed letter. At any rate we had one between us for Thurs. tea & the other on Wednesday, when we had tea in the bay of the trench. Tell Ida, or whoever made them, that they were lovely and light. The fruit was very acceptable & the bananas again arrived wholesome.
This time we are having it rather exiting, but I shall have to leave out a detailed account until I get home. I made a fine breakfast again, as we generally do in the trenches, but today was especial for I had a mess tin of lovely hot cafe au lait. The chocolates were the finishing touch. Sid wouldn’t think it one without a bit of chocolate.
At last we have got Harold’s parcel of useful presents including Carbolic soap & just the bar of chocolate I was going to ask you to send next time – Cadbury’ Bournville plain 1d.
It will be four more days then & Harold will have made the 3rd one to be ‘far’ from home, yet I suppose he will no doubt pay a ‘home leave’ now & then. Vernon told me specially to thank you for ‘the parcel’ as he put it & I could not make him understand or rather I could not understand with regard to Mr Evans (2) asking Dad how Vernon himself was getting on, but now I recollect that he was one of those ‘on sick’ with diarrhoea, a petty complaint with the majority of us.
It was a very funny coincidence, for Sid & I were having one of our chats together about home & other homely affairs, seated straggle (sic) leg on a form in the trench one night & I suggested writing to you to send Vernon some ‘crumbs of comfort’ as he loves a smoke, but Sid was not of my opinion & now you’ve sent the chocolate I think you have sufficed.
I had better close now. What a pity we have to keep home letters short. I could write on and on, but must acknowledge Harold’s parcel. He addressed his last letter to Sid & the parcel to me for a change.
Did Basil have a pleasant Birthday? Sid & I pictured you all at tea.
Best love, Bertie.
‘Rather Exciting‘ – 8 hours shelling on Bertie’s Trench 8 & over 300 – 400 shells! – an understatement & a half!
(1) Pte F.J. Bailley* friend of Hibbett family. (2) Enoch Evans*, solicitor, later Mayor of Walsall.
NEXT POST: 9th May, 1915. ‘Through the Mill’.