24th JUNE 1915: STAFFORDS ‘A MODEL TO THE BRITISH ARMY’

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH  STAFFORDS  WAR  DIARY

NEUVE EGLISE

In Hutments, BULFORD CAMP

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to IDA, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.

Mid-Summer Day. June 24/ 15 (1)

My Very Dear Sister,  

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.
IDA HIBBETT.
28 in 1915.

Have just read your usual three paged letter & its bucked me up further.  We have been inspected by the Army Corps General (2) you’ll know his name later; I guess it will be published.  He gave us a very encouraging address.  The Division is to be ‘lent’ to another part of the line for about three or four weeks.

Our trenches have been highly commended.  In fact our Colonel (3) said  in his personal address afterwards, that we have been praised by several other officers & our trenches were a ‘model’ to the British Army.  But we must not go with swelled heads, but in quiet determination to keep up & improve the high standard we have gained since the weeks after we started going into the trenches.  The General gave a very well spoken address, fluent and natural.

I’m comforted to read at the end of the PS, on the slip of paper, that you were not ‘put out’, or disagreed with my green envelope (4). Sydney did disagree and I was half sorry I wrote, but the lesson I can screw out of it now is what it showed we are all of us quite human, and are not always in the mood to write letters.  I think what put me down were two feelings within me, fighting one another.  One said ‘don’t fag about writing’ – another said, ‘think of Mother & acknowledge their kind thoughts & continued remembrance – & the Parcel’.   And dear Ida I hope you do, and all the others at home, appreciate the effort it takes at times to write, when one does not feel like writing sometimes.

Generally, I am very grateful to say, I love writing & think it is the best way of spending my spare timeThat is why I think I am so disgusted with myself when I feel I ought to write yet can’t collect my thoughts together.  You said it seemed a small thing to worry about, but dear Ida, small things can upset one enough to make men incompetent for THE work i.e. fighting the enemy.  

I was looking forward to a letter from home & my anxiety was completely dispersed & I was delighted when Sydney (who went for the parcels & letters for the Platoon) handed me your letter.

Best love to Mother, Father and all of you.    Bertie.

 PS  My greatest wish is that I live through the whole of the campaign & take part in it till peace is declared.  If I had Home Sickness ever so much I still don’t think I should care to be at home –  of course I could not be at home even if I wanted.

***************************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Pte Bertrie Hibbett belonged to the 137th Brigade, relieved by the 149th Brigade on 22nd June 1915).

‘Lent to other divisions fatigues’. CHAIN OF COMMAND numbers approx: CORP: 2 or more Divisions, 50,000 – 100,000 soldiers.  DIVISION: 18,000 (full strength) with 3 – 4 Brigades. Infantry BRIGADE: 1,500 – 4,000 in 3 – 4 Battalions. BATTALION: 1000 (full strength) 3 – 4 CompaniesCOMPANY: 500 – 800 in 3 – 6 Platoons.  PLATOON: 15 – 30 soldiers.

The Staffords, many familiar with mining and explosives, had impressed the Army with their efficiency & digging speed at Wulverghem and were now needed near Ypres (Ieper), approx. 11 miles north.

Rough Map of Wulverghem & Neuve Eglise 1915, with modern roads deleted.
Rough Map  showing Wulverghem; Neuve Eglise ; Messines (Mesen); Ypres, Ouderdom & Zillebeke. with modern roads deleted.  Adapted from Michelin Map.  EFW. 2015.

(1) The Summer Solstice/ Mid-Summer Day (when sun appears highest in the sky usually 21st -22nd June) was 24th June in 1915. (2) VI Army  Corps: formed in France 1st June, 1915, under Lt. Gen. Sir John Lindsey Keir, took over the British Lines at Ypres and first engaged at Battle of Loos, October, 1915.

(3) Lt. Colonel R. R.  Raymer, Cmdg. 1/5th S. Staffs.  (4) Green Envelopefor personal information only/ ref: Letter to Ida, 5th June 1915) .

NEXT POST: 30th JUNE, 1915.  Bagpipes & Indians.

 

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