South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


3rd Aug,Tue:  In Brigade Reserve. One platoon and one Machine Gun R7.  One section R8.   4th Aug. to 8th Aug:  Furnished  Working Parties to RE. CASUALTIES: 5th Aug:  WOUNDED: 8397 Sgt. J. W. Barber.  6th Aug: KILLED: 8835 Pte J. Harker.  8th Aug:  WOUNDED: 9612 Pte W. Bradley, 9082 Pte C. Mocroft.

Bertie in Uniform


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

Paddling (Summer Holidays).                     Sunday Aug 8/ 15.

My Dear Sister,

I was really expecting a letter from you when I went to the pile of letters & parcels this morning but the only thing for us was a huge neatly wrapped up box of good things from Whitby.

I have just enjoyed the cake,  forgive me dear Ida, I do like some good cake & a hot drink of tea, so I got a mess tin of water & made some tea from Mother’s she sent.  I also tucked into the apricot & had a slice of cucumber on a tea cake.

Sydney digs out farther down the line.  We are in some dugouts along the  . . .  (words crossed out)

censored . . .   and end missing.

Sydney & Bertie Hibbett. QMS Cadets with Basil & parents. 1911. Photo: Harold. Hibbett.
Sydney & Bertie Hibbett. QMS Cadets with Basil & parents. 1911.  Photo: Harold Hibbett. 65 x 65 mm

A.H. Hibbett: Family Photograph Album.

This photograph was with me  when I saw Ypres Cloth Hall shelled to the ground.  Railway Dugouts, Yves Canal Railway Embankment’.  [Kept in his Little Khaki Case].

Ypres Sept 5th 1915 small file
” YPRES:  Les Halles  (The Markets)  apres le bombardment par les Allemagne.  La Guerre 1914 – 1915″.   L. C. H. Paris.  PC sent to Ida Hibbett, September 1915.  


LETTER to MOTHER & FATHER in Whitby, Yorks  (first page missing/ address on the back).

ARTHUR HIBBETT:   56 in 1914.
56 in 1914.
53 in 1914.

Mount Pleasant, Railway Dugout                                                    Sunday Aug 8/ 15.


. . .   How long is he (2) staying in Whitby?

I see you have to do with a pencil now on holiday & I wonder if you are writing again this afternoon.  Glad you like the house. I fancy it is in the Square where Miss Foster* took apartments.  Have you heard from her lately?  How do you get on with the landladySorry the weather is not so ‘nice’ as it should be.

Whitby. Watercolour. A.H. Hibbett. from PC
Whitby.  Watercolour.  A.H. Hibbett. (8″ x10 “). 1920s  (cf. PC. The Linden Series).

I have taken some sheets from the  note pad & Sydney has the pad in the box.

We had cold meat (mutton) today & if I had been early enough to go & see the parcel I should have had some cucumber with the meat.  Well I can enjoy  it between a slice of bread & butter.  We expect to be in the trenches tomorrow.

Harold & Miss Bore* I hope are enjoying a really good time & I hope Harold feels comfi within hisself like you, knowing he deserved his holiday.

Don’t let the holiday be spoilt by thinking of us too much.   I am feeling better today thank you  Mummy Yes I am so sorry about poor Jack Wade. “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted” (3) –  but we must mourn properly & it must not have any taint of selfishness .

Saltwick Bay.
SALTWICK BAY, Yorkshire..

Whitby I daresay is quiet now – is it bracing & are there rough seas?  You will spend one or two days at Salwick (4) & Goathland & have a wash in the sea & get brown eh!

Goathland Railway Station.
Goathland Railway Station.
Goathland Shops.
Goathland Shops.

Send us PCs of the places you go to & we can then hang them up in our dugouts.

I went digging again this morning in a trench round a lovely French house & got some flowers to decorateMount Pleasant’  –  & I have Miss Bore’s PC of Sutton Park hung up & the one of our house again.

I daresay you have received my letters which I told Ida to forward to you.  Tell me if you have them as I acknowledged the ripping currant bread, I did enjoy a good tea a week last Saturday.   I can picture you all going shopping in Whitby for the contents of this last parcel.  What a big one, how neatly it was packed & wrapped up.  Convey my best thanks to Harold for the handsome, useful, solid, substantial case & such fine cigarettes.  (By the by I  do not smoke on Sundays, just to make a difference to weekdays). His gifts always seem to come the day after I write a letter to him.

Thin/ Flimsy note paper.
8th August 1915: Thin/ Flimsy note paper.

Can you read this letter dear Mummy?  I wrote on both sides on some sheets & found that it made the writing indistinct I am looking forward to the lovely book of yours & the surprise  –  a bit of chocolate in me mouth now.

They want me to go for my rations now so will finish this when I have been.   I should like this letter to go today but if I enjoy a good tea I might tell you in this letter how I liked the cake.

– Have come back – decided to tell you in my letter to Basil which I shall write in a day or so.

I read the lesson you had today, the one you will likely hear tonight, if you go, will be about Jeremiah (4) having his hand withered at the altar.  Sydney told me I had missed Holy Communion when I went digging this morningSydney went & it was held in a cowhouse I believe.

Tea is on the boil in the brazier.  Are you having a good tea?  I can see you all  round a nice table with white cloth on.  I told you about the empty bed in Harold’s letter.

Best love to all   Bertie.imgres

PS Enclosed see the flower we often picked on holidays.  Our Chaplain says it is Meadowsweet.



1) Ypres/ Yves. The city with its Cloth Hall (Medieval market halls for sale of quality woollen/ woven cloth/ a major commercial centre) was under constant bombardment throughout 1914 -1918.  (2)  Basil.  (3Matthew 5.4. Beatitude.  (4) Salwick or Saltwick Bay: famous for its geology, fossils and ammonites.

()1 Kings 134:  Lesson 10th Sunday of TrinityBertie mistakes Jeremiah forJereboam  c. 922 -901: first King, Northern Israelite Kingdom (10 tribes). When he refused to believe a prophet’s warning that his ungodly altar would be destroyed by the House of David (3 southern tribes) his hand was withered as a sign. cf 2 Kings 23, 13-16. 

NEXT POST:  10th AUGUST: Field Post Card.


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


2nd August, Mon:  Mine explosion heard in the vicinity of St EloiYpres salent-Armagh Woods MapEnemy trench mortared 37. Rifle fire much heavier than usual before daylight.

Enemy working party observed in same position as yesterday, was dispersed by 3rd Staffs Battery. Between 9.20 and 10.00 am enemy shrapneled 35, 36 and support trenches, parapet damaged in three places. Wind S.W. CASUALTY: KILLED:  8768 Pte J. Field. Relieved by 6th North Staffs about 10.30 pm.


BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.

Pte  BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings.

Bank Holiday’.  In Trench 32, Hill 60, Listening Post  with Charlie Harrison* (brother killed later – Oct 13 th).  Sent souvenir card to Ida.   Mother, Dad & Basil on holiday at Whitby. Received PC of Bombardments when at Railway Dugouts’.

LETTER to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall.

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.
27 in 1914.

Bank Holiday (2).  Anniversary of Declaration of War.  2/ 8/ 15.

My Dear Sister Ida,

Just come off fatiguelast journey through woods with big bag of coke.

Sanctuary Wood Tree Trunk.
Sanctuary Wood Tree Trunk with bomb crater.

The trees are nothing but trunks now & last night the sun, setting like a ball of fire, looked mystic as it shone through the straight tall trunks, some broken half way down (3).

I have just had a peep into my khaki photo case I see your smiling face looking up as if at me with my hands folded at the back of my neck & Mother’s prophetic look as if she would miss her two sons sometime.  Khaki Case with Photo

Then I wanted to feel cool, for it is hot again today, & so I looked at Sydney, Basil & me peeping out of the tent.

Sydney, Bertie and Basil.
Hibbett Heads: Sydney, Bertie and Basil.  Abergele 1914.

We have been thinking of you & those at Whitby, Sydney and I.

Ida, it seems as though Mother & Father will return to see the beds Mother got ready, in case we had leave, untouched – but I heard that leave has been extended & there will be a likely chance of everyman getting homeSergeants first & married men next (4).

WW1 brazierI had dinner of my own cooking recipe:– boiled some potatoes (found while on digging night shift) for 1/4 hour then put  some bully beef in & let boil, then some pea soupserved, tasted & liked it.   – Another journey on fatigue after –  and now I will finish my epistle.

How dost thee like the card – just for a moment of August 1st –  in the trenches?  By the by you can tell Mum that we got her parcel in the trenches tooAbout the socks – well when I got Mrs Barrans*pair I gave them to Sydney as he needed a clean pair badly & so Sydney has given me his he received on SaturdayTell Mrs Barrans how greatly indebted I am to her & they will save my life (5) Yours, dear Ida, are so nice & soft & I felt a difference immediately.

Well I am going to have a ‘faire un petit somme(6) now so Good Luck to you & hope you’ll keep ’appy all alone in 95.

Best love Bertram.

PS You can send this to Mother if you like & tell me if you got & forwarded the one yesterday to Mum.



A Note on Hill 60 Trench Numbers:-   Pte Bertie Hibbett records he was in Trench 32, Hill 60, Listening Post on Aug. 2nd ‘Bank Holiday’, but the  South Staffords War Diary makes no mention of Trench 32.

On 17th July, the Diary states the 1/5th Staffords took over the sector, described by J.D. Hillis of 5th Leicesters as  ‘containing trenches 35 at ‘Bomb Corner’, 36 and  37 up to the Railway‘ –  and their support trenches  and that they were in Trench 38 on July 28th. Since the Diary also records that from 3rd – 9th Aug. the Staffords in Brigade Reserve‘furnished working parties to the R.E.‘,  it is likely that Pte Bertie Hibbett, mining surveyor apprentice, and his Listening Post pals had already been ‘furnished’ to the R.E.  in Trench 32 (cf 1st Aug. Letter to Ida).

(1) Parapet: J.D.Hillis records ‘Our parapet in this area was one’s trench, for digging was impossible, and we lived behind a sort of glorified sandbag grouse butt, six feet thick at the base and two to three feet at the top, sometimes, but not always bullet proof.  <http://www.genealogy.com/leicestershire/salient.htm >.

(2) August Bank Holiday was 2nd August in 1915(3Cf.  Bertie Hibbett’s poetic description of Audley End Walk, Saffron Walden  ( Letter to Ida, Dec. 1914).  (4) Home Leave: ‘unmarried privates last of all!’  (5) Socks: ref. to Pte Bertie’s sore ‘trench’ feet. (6) French for ‘Have a little nap‘.

NEXT POSTS:  8th AUGUST 1915. ‘Paddling Summer Holidays’ andMount Pleasant Railway Dugouts‘.


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

S.W. SLOPE of HILL 60. 

1st August 1915: Howitzers shelled Hill 60 with good effect.  Our 50 lbs Trench Mortar fired twice at Hill 60 & was damaged when firing the second bout, was repaired regimentally and in action again.  Enemy fired 2 trench mortar shells at 37 trench without doing damage.  Reserve dugouts in the Wood shelled.  At 12.30 pm one of our own shells burst on parapet 35 trench, at 1.30 pm another of our own shells struck 35 Support parados.  Belgians only gunners firing at the time.  Enemy working party dispersed by our shrapnel. Wind S.W.   

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal Hibbett on Holiday in Whitby, with Basil and Harold & Hilda (fiancee). Censor J.O. Allday     

Basil, Ida, Mother and Father on Holiday at Whitby. 1915.
Basil Hibbett, Hilda Bore, Mother and Father on Holiday at Whitby. 1915. Photo: Harold Hibbett.

Whizbang Dugout (1). 9th Sunday after Trinity.  Aug. 1st/ 15.

My Dear Mother & Father,

You were quite right Mummy,  I am a bad writer & I ramble on anything

I really do not know how to begin this letter, for one reason the last two parcels you sent us so close together were splendidSydney & I enjoyed a ripping tea yesterday (Sat). I made a full mess tin of half the tea you sent us both.  I did relish the currant bread which was in excellent condition again, plenty o’ currants eh!  – & the pineapple was very cooling & refreshing.  

Well I have a limited amount of note paper & have had to borrow this off Sydney –  so please forgive me not saying all that I could say about the fine parcels if I had the paper.  I must thank Basil for the delicious choc. & the cakes & hazel nuts were very good MotherI do thank you for the useful bit more cash.

Now on Friday I was thinking of you, all the time I was on sentry at night & when Sydney passed me on his rounds we had a chat about you being all in bed. 

Sydney, Bertie and Basil.
Sydney, Bertie and Basil Hibbett. Abergele.

Yesterday I had another look at the photos of us all at AbergeleIda still smiling (I do hope she is keeping comfortable at home all on her ‘ony own).  I had a peep at Dodger with Sydney & myself in that tent.

Whitby from the Sea. Linden Series Post Card.
Whitby from the Sea.  The Linden Series Post Card. No 118.

Dodger!  will he go bathing before breakfast as he loved to do at AbergeleYes for a good number of years the holidays have kept an unbroken record.

My thoughts go back to Uffington (2)

Ida  and Sydney. On holiday with cousins at Uffington.
Ida Hibbett riding in a hay-wain with Sydney behind (in a jersey)  on holiday with cousins at Uffington, near Stamford.


days when we had jerseys & Dodger the little scamp, deserving of his nick-name, let out the pigs & chased them through the rose garden.  I hope he will have a jolly time at Whitby to rest his ‘weary brain’ after the ‘rottenexam.

St Maty’s Church, Goathland , North York Moor..

Think of us both when you go on Goathland Moor (3) & have a turf-cake & tea  (4) there won’t you?

Dear Mother, those at Ashton won’t so enjoy a nice holiday –  I do hope that Jack Wade* will turn up safely (5).  ‘They’ do say the Turks are going to be turn coats (6).

– I will pop a little chocolate in me mouth & conclude – 

Ida, I dare say, has told you all about the mistake in the Field PC.  I cannot tell you in detail, but Cope*, Harrison*, myself & another were down to go for a Rest.  Harrison has gone & we are going but I do not know when.  I got to know after I made the mistake how queer wasn’t it? & the very day you told me in the letter  – with the parcel of tomatoesI did like the mixed fruit by the by.

Well I hope you are having fine weather this Sunday.  Jolly hot here & I have  been on fatigue most of the time.  Not had time yet to read the Lessons for the day (7).  

Best love to you all & Harold & Miss Bore*. 

I will write to Harold soon.

Yours affec.  Bertie.  

Little Khaki Case
Bertie Hibbett’s little Khaki Case.

PS   I read Basil’s mile long letter & was greatly interested in it indeed I was.  I will write him soon.   I looked at the Intercession Service Paper (8). I have got it in my case Mother.



(1) Whizbang: small high-velocity shell making whizzing sound in flight and a bang when it hit. (2)  Uffington: a village near Stamford, then in Rutland. Home of Uncle Tom & Hibbett cousins.

(3) Goathland Moor: spa village near Scarborough (North York Moors National Park). Church of St Mary. (Station / steam trains used in TV Heartbeat, film Harry Potter). 

(4) Turf Cake: (‘Fat Rascal’) traditional Yorkshire recipe for scone/rock cake: made with left-over pastry /currants. (5) Jack Wade* missing on Eastern Front. The Campaign in Gallipoli (peninsular to west of Dardenelles) began in April 1915in an attempt to attack Germany ‘by the back door of Europe’.  It was a disaster: landings (often in wrong places), mountainous terrain, heat exhaustion, disease, lack of food & supplies, caused deaths of thousands.  Many missing with no known grave.  

(6Ottoman Empire had entered War on side of Germany in August 1914.  It declared war on all Christians except those of its allies. Genocide of Turkey’s Armenians (Christians since 4th cent) began on April 24th and was increasing in August 1915.  Useful website :<http://wwwjewishvirtualhistory.org&gt;. Turncoat: one who changes allegiance.

(7Lessons for 9th Sunday of Trinity.  Book of Common Prayer, 1662. Mattins: 1 Kings 10 v1- 25.  Evensong: 1st Lesson: I Kings 11 v1-15; 2nd Lesson: I Kings 11, v 26f. (Stories of Queen of Sheba & Wisdom of Solomon).

(8) Intercession Service Paper.  A United Service of Intercession was held each Wednesday during WW1. (nationwide?) (According to Walsall Observer & South Stafford Chronicle, West Midlands). 

NEXT POST: 2nd AUGUST 1915: ‘The trees are only trunks now’.


 Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to IDA HIBBETT, on her own at 95, Foden Rd Walsall. (Mother, Father & Basil on holiday at Whitby). 

In the Trenches.  Whizbang DugOut (1).

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.
27 in 1915.

My Dear Sister,

By the time this letter gets to you you will have settled down at home.  I guess you are on your way from York – it is about two o’clock now pm.

I read your letter to Sydney.  How queer, Ida, I suppose you saw the Field Postcard with the line :- ‘I am being sent down to Base’. This ought to have been crossed outIt was a mistake, a rather foolish one of mine, but queer enough I did not know I had made a mistake till Mother mentioned it in her letter  – & on the very day I got Mother’s letter a strong rumour got to my knowledge that I was going to the Base for a rest & yesterday I went before the Doctor & eventually I have my name down to go to Base (2).

  –  I conclude I am going but do not know exactly when.  I have heard that I shall be going while in the trenchesAnother queer part about the  matter is that I had long been recommended for a rest  & had been before the Doctor before I sent the PC to Mum .

Well, Champion, how have you enjoyed your stay at Ashton & YorkI should think you have no difficulty whatever in travelling now.  Did you pass through Crewe again ?  – & have a tray brought to you?

You will feel  the difference being at home, practically alone, after being with the relatives in the hub bub of the great centers.  But I guess you will have the Overends* to tea in our sunny gardenYes, I well remember May* (3) coming to tea & we had the basket table out & the silver.  I shall indeed appreciate dining at table with a white cloth, flowers & chinaHere I squat tailor fashion with my mess tin lid in which I eat my bacon & pontoon.WW1 brazier

You tell us not to eat so much cake, very well then we will take your wise advice, but we get to long for such luxuries after biscuits & cheese  – & yet we can eat anything after a long march,  – as for the case for Auntie’s cake – ate that at night after marching up the trenchesInstead then of cake we should very much appreciate one or two of your tea cakes with currants in – & you can put some caraway seed in mine.

While in the trenches, last time, I was called to the Brigade Headquarters (4), together with three other chaps from the other Battalions, as being picked for surveying work (5) I was to go & have my rest with my Battalion & then when I come back to the trenches I shall be liable to go & do some surveying I have not been called to do this surveying as yet.

Can  you read my writing?  Yes I am afraid it will take some effort to improve upon this. I get agitated somewhat & when I start a letter I lose patience trying to express the great stock of news I have in my mind.  

Sydney forgot to return the Copy (6) Mother sent & so I will return it in the green envelope, in which also is enclosed the souvenir card I meant to send you.  I thought of sending it to Auntie* & then Miss Foster*, but I have decided to send it to you because I dare say you will like to have it on your mantelpiece in your bedroom.

You can send the Copy off to Mother who will be at Whitby won’t she? with Dad & DodgerI would like to send them a letter while they are there but I am running rapidly short of notepaper & this pencil is getting short too.

I hope Dodger has done well at the Grammar School & passed with Honourswhat say you?   Yes,  he was the scamp who chased the pigs at Uffington (7) – those good old days when we used to number off the days for the holidays & stop away from school on the day we travelled. 

German Raid on whitby 16th Dec. 1914.
German Raid on Whitby 16th Dec. 1914.
Whitby Abbey
Whitby Abbey after German Bombardment. Dec. 1914.

I wonder if Basil will do what he said in one of his past letters  i.e. if they bombard the town again – to lie down full length in the grass on top of the Cliffs & watch the excitement .

Leuy Cozens 1914
Captain Leslie Cozens. ‘Tim’.  Family friend of Hibbetts.

Capt. C. (8) is back now & he does look ‘andsome on horseback does Tim.

Tell Dodger he can send us some picture PCs. – they come in handy for decorating our dugouts & are a pleasure to look at them.  I have several up in mine now.  I have still the one of our home with an Alexandra Rose (9) in it from one of my scholars, and Tamworth Castle (10), Sutton & Sunday School group.

Tamworth Castle PC.
Tamworth Castle .

Hoping you will have a ’appy time on your ony own.

Best love,  Bertie.



The Hibbett Family were not deterred by the War from taking their usual summer holiday. It is likely that they purchased the  German Bombardment Book of Photographs, in aid of Whitby victimsat this time.

(1) Whizbang: Tommy’s name for a small high-velocity shell, which made a whizzing sound in flight & a bang when it hit.

(2) Rouen on SeineB.E.F. Main Base. (3May/ Mary Overend*. (4) Brigade HeadquartersRailway Cutting, Hill 60. (Divisional Headquarters was at Ouderdom). (5Surveyors were being brought together from different battalions to form special units & Tunnelling Companies. Pte Bertie Hibbett was a mining surveyor apprentice before the War

(6) Gazette Press Cutting re:- Colonel Wade & his son Jack Wade (missing on Eastern Front). (7) Uffington: village near Stamford, then in Rutlandshire.  Home of Uncle TomHibbett cousins.

(8) Captain Leslie (Tim) Cozens*, 1/5th S.Staffs ‘A’ Company. QMS scholar, Sunday School teacher, Walsall. (9) Queen Alexandra’s Rose: charities & hospitals for poor. (10) Tamworth Castle: Norman Castle overlooking River Tame, Staffordshire. 2nd largest motte & bailey castle in Uk to Windsor).  <www.visittamworth.co.uk>

NEXT POST: 1st AUGUST 1915: Wizbang Dugout, Hill 60 & Family Holidays.