22nd May, Sat: N. M. Farm 10 A.R. and 10A support shelled. CASUALTY: 8533 Pte H. Rochford (wounded?). 23th May, Sun: 50 yards of enemy parapet blew up on our left. Artillery on both sides very active. Inaccuracy of our supporting Battery reported to 1st Brigade RFA (1) & 137th Inf. Bde.
24th May, Mon: Enemy shelled Trenches 8 (Bertie’s), 9A, 9B, 10B and 10B (support) damaging parapets and traverses. Inaccuracy of our own supporting battery again reported. Relieved by 6th Souths about 11.20 pm. ‘A’ Coy (Bertie’s) remaining in support. CASUALTY: 7787 Pte (Dr) A. Fitzer (2) slightly wounded.
25th May, Tue: In Hutments, Bulford Camp. (‘A’ Coy supporting 6th South). 26th May, Wed: ‘B Coy relieved ‘A’ Coy in support. 27th May, Thur: In Hutments, Bulford Camp. 28th May, Fri: Proceeding to trenches in relief of 6th Souths at 8.15 pm. CASUALTY:7251 Sgt B. Stephens wounded.
29th May, Sat: Wulverghem. Enemy shelled 9C, otherwise quiet day. ‘C’ Coy, 8th R. Brigade (3) attached for instruction in Trench duties. 30th May, Sun: Very quiet day. CASUALTY: No 9218 Pte E. Hayes wounded.A.H.H. Own War Diary: A Little Book of Words & Doings‘. ‘Trinity Sunday. 30th May 1915. New sap (4). Picket duty in the rye in front (5). Found good souvenir of nose of shell. Read Revelation’ (6) .
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Mother, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.
Trinity Sunday. May 30th / 15
My Dear Mother,
A lovely sunny afternoon again with a cool breeze. I am with Vernon & one Cecil Jackson*, a bank clerk in the United Counties (7). I can picture ‘mysel’ coming away from Sunday School for it is after 4. 0’ clock.
I have just re-read your letter & Basil’s jolly one. Some weeks ago a Tommy made the pun that ‘Kitcheners were with us‘ – yes in packets; we get some of the ‘Express & Star’ Martins cigarettes once a week – but last night Kitcheners, in the flesh and blood, came from London lot of RBs. (8)
Yes we all miss Lieut P.* both officers and men (9). He was our Captain’s right hand man & before you told me he was a clergyman’s son he put me in mind of the Rev. E.M. Darling* in his manner, stature & many other characteristics.
You must go on the usual procedure for the Summer holidays (10). I’m sure you will need a rest and Father too.
I wish I could say more on the matter but I’m afraid this letter won’t go in the green envelope now I’ve put something in about the army (11).
Basil will enjoy hay-making with Les (12). I heard from Allen*, with whom I had a long chat on Thursday evening, that Tom (Ser) is not well, got something the matter with his leg & injured his left hand. He’s as bad as if he were out here I’ll be blowed.
I was on duty as a picket this morning & had to lie in the long tall rye, the sun beating upon my neck.
I pictured you in St Paul’s singing the Creed of St Athanasius (13) & I guess you will perhaps go to Rushall Church (14) for an evening walk as well as to the service, if the weather is like it is here.
We have had orders to do away with pants & I shall be sorry if you have sent some off to Syd before you heard from me. The weather is so hot that I am without vest & tunic. I had a lovely wash with a tablet of oatmeal Mrs Hurst* sent me, another generous lady.
Should you get this letter before you buy or send a pipe then, Mother, as you do not care for a ‘man’ to smoke a pipe don’t go to the expense of getting one, but if you have already taken steps then send the pipe.
I enclose an extract from Harold’s letter I got the time we were in the trenches the Sat before Syd’s birthday.
We relish the following – & Oh dear Mother, it is so kind of you to say it is a pleasure to you to think out what to send us in parcels – Lemon curd, I tin of Cafe -au- lait, I tin Pineapple with tin cream, Bird’s Lemonade with sugar or 1 bottle of Symington’s Lemonade crystals, 1 loaf currant bread, tea cakes. I for my part like caraway seed in them and occasionally could you put a cake in? Although we’ve had 3 cakes Syd couldn’t keep them so long & besides he gave a slice all round the hut with his usual generous manner. (I helped him). A cake makes the parcel complete, but see that it’s packed well (of course forgive me just saying so for you always send a well packed parcel).
We could do with some sugar to go with the Lemonade or Cocoa and the Cafe au lait needs a little; also if you send any currant bread, or tea cakes, butter would be a great welcome. Many thanks for the last lot of butter & bread which we greatly appreciated.
Now I’ve said my say with regard to Parcels I can’t help but feel ashamed of my greediness.
Now make a nice Sunday tea.
Goodbye for the present. I pray that Mother will have a quiet, goodnight’s sleep.
Your affec. son, Bertie.
(1) RFA: Royal Field Artillery. (2) A ‘Doctor‘ (medical or academic) was not automatically an Officer. (3) R.B. – Rifle Brigade. See Forces War Record website & http://www.1914-1918. The Long Long Trail.(4) Sap: a shallow trench dug from the Front Line into No Man’s Land to approach enemy without detection. Trenches: useful info. http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki
(5) Picket Duty: Sentry Duty (to warn of enemy advance –fully armed in pairs, 2 hrs) . Pte Bertie Hibbett appears to be out of the sap in No Man’s Land with only the rye for protection. (6) Book of Revelation: the only Book of Prophecy in New Testament. An Apocalyptic Vision of a New Heaven & a New Earth.
(7) United Counties Bank, Wolverhampton. 1907 -1916 when acquired by Barclay’s Bank, together with Birmingham District, Counties Bank & Bradford Old Bank. See Lives of the First World War <https://www.archive.barclays.com> .(8) Rifle Brigade. http://www.1914-1918. The Long Long Trail. Another indication that QMS 1/5th S.Staffs differentiated themselves from Kitchener’s New Army?
(9) Lieut. Parr* compared with the Revd. E. More Darling*, Vicar of Walsall. His‘A’ Coy. Captain was Captain Cecil Lister DSO*.
(10) Family Summer Holidays alternated between Abergele, Wales and Whitby, Yorkshire. (11) Green Envelope: First issued April 1915. Soldiers were on their honour to write only personal matters. (12) Les & Tom Ser. ref. to Staffordshire farm where Basil (future agricultural engineer) helped out at weekends & holidays?
(13) Athanasian Creed: (Latin: Quicunque Vult). Book of Common Prayer, 1662. Summary of Christian Doctrine of Trinity & Christology, to counter heresies re Nature of God. [Traditional authorship St Athanasius, 296-373 AD, Archbishop of Alexandria, now questioned. Used in Western worship since 6th Cent. on Trinity Sunday & other festivals. Rarely used today] .
(14) Rushall Church, Walsall, where Ida Hibbett is buried & Sgt. Sydney Hibbett is commemorated (a mile from 95, Foden Rd, Walsall).
NEXT POST: 3rd June 1915. Update Welcome.