6th June, Sun: North Midland Farm shelled at 9.0 am ad 3.0 pm. Three German Officers seen examining our line from behind their parapet. CASUALTY: KILLED 7749 Pte D. Seabury. North Wind (1). ‘A’ Coy Rifle Brigade attached for instruction.
7th June, Mon: Germans again seen examining our line. New Diagonal Trench shelled (H.E.) at 3.30, 5.15 and 9.40pm (2). CASUALTIES:- WOUNDED: 7789 Pte F Ladkin, 7965 Corpl E. Dingley, 9477 Pte E. Bloomer. KILLED: 8684 Pte T.O. Jones. WOUNDED: 9247 Pte E.H. Walker and 96 Pte B. Westwood (shot wounded accidently) . 4 men of 6th North Somerset Regiment wounded while on fatigue in new Diagonal Trench. 5 men of 6th South Somerset Regiment wounded while on fatigue in new Diagonal Trench.
8th June, Tue: Enemy shelled Diagonal Trench in evening, otherwise quiet day. CASUALTY KILLED: 7867 Corpl J. Webster. 9th June, Wed: Enemy shelled Messines Road in rear of C 2. More rifle fire than usual during the night. Relieved by 6th Bn South Staffordshire Regiment at 12. MN (Midnight).
10th & 11th June, Thur. In Hutments, Bulford Camp. Instruction of ‘A’ Coy, 9th Rifle Brigade completed.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Brother BASIL , 95 Foden Rd, Walsall.
Sun Burnt-All-Over. 10th June / 15
My Dear Dodger Brother,
I guess you’d like the shell nose (3) I’m trying to keep in my haversack –
& I expect you miss The Times you sent – which I guess will spoil the pile upstairs. I’ve not had time to read it all through yet, we’ve been awfully busy today. Parade, Parade, Parade.
I’ve had to start on another sheet of this note so I thought I would address it to my brother.
Tell Mummy the cash came in very useful & we cannot find words to thank our dear Mother. I pray often that she may have a good night’s sleep in happy dream land. I have lately dreamt of the enemy advancing (4).
It would be nice to see all the soldiers in Birmingham. Corp. Sanger* and many other sick and wounded have returned.
I have been on one or two ‘creepy jobs’ this time at night – so as Mum said, when she repeated Rev. E. M. Darling’s* words, we must pray hard. I find great comfort in the Psalms & the same will come very useful with regard to your exam, which I suppose will soon be over & then I hope you will have a good rest, for brain work is more tiring than physical tension.
Isn’t Miss Kathy* jolly good! I shall put the lilies in my pocket Bible. Tell Mother we relished the pickles immensely, they served as a good savour to the bully beef.
Do forgive me – being so busy to & fro I lost Harold’s cig. holder and find I cannot do without one. I cannot make a cig. otherwise. Tell Ida Vernon gave me another amusing epistle from his little sister Molly* to Sydney & myself. We’ve found our Kitcheners lot, especially the orficers (sic), are topping & have lent invaluable aid (6).
Tell me if you get this letter because I get anxious too.
Best of luck, Bertie.
PS I thought of the evenings with Mother & Miss Bore* on Rhyl promenade when I was hot in the trenches. Tara!
(1) North Wind: ref. to danger of drifting gas from German attack at Ypres. (2) New Diagonal Communication Trench caught the attention of the enemy. Digging & fatigue parties came under increased rifle fire at night – and heavy shelling in daylight (hence Pte Bertie Hibbett’s ‘Creepy Jobs’ and increased casualties.
(3) Shell Nose:’The time and percussion fuse No 80 was the fuse usually used in the British shrapnel shells in 18 ‘pounder’ Field Guns, WW1 ‘. <www.passioncompassion1418.com>
(4) Dad’s Dreams were very significant to him. He used to say ‘That’s broken my dream’ when a real event coincided with one in his sleep. (5) Corp. Sanger* (a teacher in Walsall, known to Bertie Hibbett’s father, A. Hibbett, Director of Education). No ref. to his being wounded found in the Staffords War Diary.
(6) ‘Kitchener’s lot’: evidence of genuine regard for these inexperienced Officers. Names*: See Menu. South Staffordshire Regiment.
NEXT POST: 13th JUNE, 1915.