27TH OCT. 1915: HIBBETT FAMILY WIND-CLOCK & ‘FOOD FOR THE FRONT’.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5TH SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

BATTALION REFITTING. 

25th Oct.  Mon: ALLOUAGNE.  Marched to FOUQUIERES and went into billets.

26th – 31st Oct:  In Rest Billets.

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

Lucky if this ‘Parchment of Rubbisharrives when you are both at Home again.

letter 27th oct 1915

Woden’s Day.  Oct 27/ 15

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver’.  28.11.  I can say these words from Proverbs truly apply to Mother, Father & all your letters, they have encouraged me so.

My Dearest Ida & Harold,

So Okoo (1) was at Home on Saturday.  I remember the good old days when Harold paid his weekly visit Home on Saturdays.  So if Harold was at Home he would be with Ida  Q.E.D.  You both remind me of the happy time when all the family dined together, & of the Sundays when we peeled oranges & cracked brazil nuts & crept up to Mummy’s bag of walnuts and Rowntrees Pastilles, of the time when Ida’s views & opinion clashed in opposition to Harold’s, of the time Okoo cried because Ida was walking slow & careless far behind.  Hoo, hoooo sh.

Dandelion Win-Clock.
Dandelion Wind-Clock. <https://www.bbc.life&gt;

And now, dear sister & brother do not see each other so often and the happy family, like a Dandelion Wind Clock, began to loosen those little seeds with hairy heads, & the first little hairy being, like a parachute, flew to Wolverhampton & thither to Yorkshire & the wind blew it all over the country, so that little seed saw a lot of the beauty of Rural England I hope that little seed will settle in good ground now & cause another wind clock to grow (2).

BoreasAnother little wind seed (3) was blown by ‘rude Boreas’ (4) to Little Tottam (5) thither elsewhere & at last settled in the very spot where it came from, after a very profitable flight, much to its little heart’s content; yes it is now settled in the sweetest spot on earth & is thriving splendidly, doing noble work.

Now there happened to be two little seeds which blew together (6), as is so often noticed with wind clocks. (6) Good kind old Boreas, in his admiration for them, bore them along over fair England and across the sea to the land of Chanticleer (7).  Now, though Boreas, with his strong breath, caused the two little seeds to part at times, he succeeded in bringing them together most times. 

One little seed was larger & finer than the other, it was older too & gained much favour from onlookers, its hairy head too was lovelier and larger than its brother seed, but they both loved each other & that is why jolly old Boreas did not allow his strong breath to spoil either of them.

Hibbett Family c. 1908.
Hibbett Family  c. 1908.  From Left:  Mother,  Bertie, Basil,  Ida and Sydney (‘who didn’t like his photo taken’), 106, Rowley St. Walsall or newly moved to 95, Foden Rd opposite.

There is still another little seed that is striving to get away from the Wind Clock (8), it has not grown enough yet, such a bonny little seed it is, but it is so anxious about its two brother seeds which are being blown together such a long way off.

Now there is a wonderful feeling of unity among these seeds & its is to be hoped they will one day be all joined together for a spree, a jolly big spree too.  Send me the solution if you think it worth while!

Part II

Father’s few words, in each of the letters in the parcels to us both, have bucked me up. I don’t know about Sydney, but I shall very likely be right 5 times out of 6 that they have bucked him up too I got the readable lettergloves & sou’wester for Sydney, this evening when I went to the Company billets to post letters to Mother & Miss Foster* (9), & of course wait to see if there was anything in the post.

The Transport came while I was there & I was in time to see them sorted.  From within the Parcel bag out came one for me addressed, I could see, by Harold, but when I opened it I saw firstly a letter from Dodger.  I compared the writing with that on the parcel & well if Basil doesn’t write somewhat like Harold at times! 

I opened & read the letters with jollification bubbling in my little sen, while I waited for Sydney to return from Parade.  He came at last & I gave him the letters & papers & brought away Harold’s & the London Observer (10) so that I could refer to them in this letter.

King Geore Vth
King Geore Vth

Tomorrow  –   the ‘Glory Boys’,  including Sergeant S. H., are to be reviewed by the King (11). Oh you know how humble, quiet , modest Sydney talks when such a palaver of ceremony is in preparation.  I believe he wishes he were me.  As for me I am ‘out of it’ altogether perhaps, most likely, I shan’t share in the sight tomorrow.

Oh!  Bombs. Ida’s making bombs.  I told Vernon & he was surprised in a way.  Bravo Ida.  Oh! my delicate spotty complexion, Harold, needs some face cream to hide the war-worn appearance.

Do you know what the Commanding Officer remarked in class about me?  We were all discussing  about the food & he said ‘Look at that chap’s fat face’,  but I said ‘I have been in Hospital (where we had Tapioca pudding)’ .  All my Tommy comrades say how fat I’ve growd (sic).

Food for the Front’ we read, but take care, be careful. ‘Too much Food, too much “Front” ’. ‘NUB‘ , as Vernon often said to meNigh to Bursting’.  Vernon, by the by, is in Hospital  ‘Somewhere’  & I saw a parcel for him tonight (12).

So much for tonightI am writing this in a barn by the candle light & there are two rude Tommies peeping over me to see how long I am going to write. – Goodnight.

Of course Harold will join as a Medical Officer (13).  I read in the Times that the War Office is in need of them more than the ordinary officer.  There are chapswhy even this afternoon I came across an NCO  who sincerely took the better side & viewed the circumstances in their better light & said that the men in England, who could easily come out here, must have many hours in uneasy thought.

Sydney will very likely tell you about the King’s Review (14), he has seen the King more times than anyone in the family. I did not go, nor did the bombing party.  I was quite out of itas I expected & felt somewhat sorry & envious of the ‘Glory Boys’.   When I think of our Good King George V I remember Mr Dixon’s sermon, when he said he would always stick fast to loyalty to the King & indeed of all KingsKing George should find a true & loyal heart in every one of his subjects. Don’t you think so? 

I think Sydney is a brother to be greatly proud of – his little history, since he was sworn in on Sept. 2 nd 1914  is as follows:

Luton.  Paraded in civilian dress to be inspected by the General of the DivisionHis broad & tall stature admired by the General who spoke a few words to him. (15)

Walsall Tame Valley Range Distinguished himself in shooting to the extent that he was clapped often by the men.

Luton RangesGained the highest scoring in the Battalion .

Saffron Walden started training as a sniper & distinguished himself in musketry courses.

France. May 1915 – made Lance Corporal.  Sept.1915 – CorporalOct. 1915SergeantJan 1916?let’s hope for better still. 

Best love to you all,

Poor old Private Bertie Arfer.

PS  What think you of Servia? (16).

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1)  ‘Okoo’ – another nickname for Basil Hibbett. (2) Harold Victor Hibbett: recently engaged to Hilda Bore*.  Qualified Chemist & Pharmacist under pressure to join up at 31 yrs.

(3) Ida Neal Hibbett: now settled at Home in Walsall. (4) Boreas: purple-winged God of the North Wind, bringer of Winter. <www.theoi.com/Titanhtpl>

(5) Little Tottam in Essex? – first mention of Ida being in Essex.  (6) Sydney & Bertie Hibbett: only 1 year & 1 month between them. As close & as loyal as twins.

(7) Chanticleer: Gallic Rooster/symbol of France from Roman times / play on gallus (Latin for ‘rooster’) & Gallic).  Character in Nun’s Priest’s Tale /Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

(8)  Basil Hibbett: the youngest.  Still at School but preparing to join up. (9) Mary Foster, Bertie’s Godmother in Nottingham.

(10) The London Observer: 1791. World’s oldest Sunday Newspaper. 1915 Owner: Waldorf Astor /Editor: James L. Garvin .

(11) The King’s Review of the ‘Glory Boys’ (those who had been in the Battle of Loos -Hohenzollern Redoubt). Second Visit to review Allied Forces in France with Gen. Joffre & President M. Raymond Poincare.  Gave Gen. Joffre a message of congratulations for French Troops. Pte Bertie need not have envied his brother. Sydney was to suffer the consequences (See 2nd Nov. 1915 Hibbett Letter) and the King fell from his horse & was seriously injured, 27th Oct. 1915. <https://www.royalcentral.co.uk&gt; and <https://en.wikipedia.org&gt;

(12) Vernon in Hospital so would not receive his parcel. (13) Harold under pressure from the National Registration Act 1915.  Bertie’s  attempts to reassure his Mother that Harold would escape being  a private.

(14) King George Vth’s ‘dedication to duty’ kept middle classes loyal to the King in WW1 (15)  cf. Hibbett Letters Oct.1914-Feb.1915. General of 46th Midland Division: Major General E. J. Montagu-Stuart Wortley.

Crossing Albanian Mountains to Adriatic Sea 1915.
Serbian refugees trek across Albanian Mountains to Adriatic Sea .1915.  200,000 died.

(16) Servia:  Invasion of Serbia Oct. 1915 by Austro-German & Bulgarian Army. Over 20% of Serbian population died of which 60% were men. ‘The Albanian Golgotha’ (‘Place of the Scull’ outside Jerusalem walls, where Jesus was crucified. Mark 15.22).  200,000 died in trek through Albanian mountains to Adriatic Sea (of cold, starvation and disease/ typhus). Survivors transported by Allied ships to Greek Islands. Many ‘buried’ strapped together at sea in ‘Blue Graveyard’ near Greek island of Vido.

NEXT POST: 2nd Nov. 1915.  The King’s Review & its consequences for the ‘Glory Boys’.

 

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24TH OCT. 1915: ‘MAKING BOMBS WHILE HER BROTHER IS THROWING THEM’.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

BATTALION REFITTING: 20th – 24th Oct.  ALLOUAGNE.  In Rest Billets.  

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Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

21st Sunday after Trinity. Oct 24/ 15.

Turn again then unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath rewarded thee’. First Psalm for this morning (1).

My Dearest Father & Mother,

National Shell Filling Factory Chilwell, Nottingham. 1917.
National Shell Filling Factory Chilwell, Nottingham. 1917.

Isn’t Ida a brick.  I was so proud of my sister on hearing she was commended by the manager in making or helping to make bombs, that I mentioned the fact that I had a sister who was helping to make bombs to my comradesOne chap gave a brilliant reply and said ‘she is making them while her brother is throwing them’.

British Mills Bomb No 5 Hand (fragmentation) grenade 1915.
British Mills Bomb No 5 Hand (fragmentation) grenade 1915.

 (2).  Sydney, good old boy, showed me the pin of the first bomb he threw.

I am writing this Sunday letter in another barn some distance away down the road from where Sydney is.  I was writing a letter yesterday evening when the candle went out.  I thought I had better go & buy another, 1½ d each & call to see if there are any letters for me.

When I got to the Batt. the post had not yet been sorted & I was about to go & buy a candle when the chap told me there were two letters for me, so I went in the Farm House where Sydney was, for the chap told me that my brother had got them.  There in the corner of the room was Sydney poking into a huge box of all sorts of good things, and round him were two or three little children, inmates of the farm.

I was not long in opening & reading the jolly long letters from Mother & Ida, with Dad’s few lines of phraseology & Basil’s twiddly biton a spare sheet of paper ripped out of his swot book I suppose.  Yes Mum I got the one sent to Rouen safely, what a long one too, your poor knuckles must have ached, for I know what it is to write lengthy letters myself.

Sydney, naughty boy, is a secretive person, I did not get to know of the letter he got from you last Wednesday until next day & then I had to ask him.  He means to keep all reference to his Commission as secret as possible, wise chap, so wise that he would not tell me.  I happened to pick up a long envelope with one of Dad’s ‘Editor-like’ letters in and some formsSydney was soon on to me.  Well he told me he is waiting to see what Mr Crump* sais to the Colonel* (3).

Oh! Sydney

SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
SYDNEY HIBBETT
20 in 1914.

Mummy, if you could have got all those people, who kept coming to see him when he was at Home, to have stood outside the farmhouse window & let each one peep inside & see Sydney there, sitting on a chair nursing a poor little laddie who looked at Sydney so lovingly, –  well, those with a touch of humour would have roared with laughter and those with a natural inclination for all that is beautiful would have come away with a lasting impression of a picture of true tenderness & boyish love of kiddiesI think Sydney would not take much coaxing to be a Sunday School Teacher.

St Paul’s Interior, Walsall. 1915. Today a 3 storey Community centre called St Paul’s at the Crossing.

I had a letter from Mr Hurst* saying how the staff of teachers seem to be lacking energyMr Darling *(4) will want someone to take the place of the late Mr Cozens* (5).  If Dodger can see his way to help at St Paul’s S.S, without hindering his preparations for another smack at the exam, well Mr Darling & I would be delighted.  I hinted the matter in a letter to Mr Darling on Trafalgar DayAs a matter of fact Mr Darling said to me that he would be calling on Basil, he was so taken with him & was a rival of Mr Cox* of St Mark’s (6). And then Dodger would be doing a bit more of helping in this War, like Ida, who has so finely set an example.

I think Ida, if she were a boy, would soon win the VC, she always manages to distinguish herself in most things she takes in hand.

Yes Mum the 1st Lesson of last Sunday was very interesting about the shepherds, wasn’t it? (7).  It reminds me of Sunday School work again & is a good lesson for us.  Did you compare the 1st lesson with the 2nd one (8) & see how St Paul differs from those negligent shepherds?  Aren’t the Psalms for this morning appropriate for a Service of Thanksgiving after the fightI am well pleased that the Lord hath heard the voice of  my prayer  is a striking verse for the first verse of the 1st Psalm of the morning (9).

If you look up your diary, Mummy, you will find out that last year, at this time, I was spending Sunday with you.  I was on Home Leave.

I enjoyed a lovely slice of pork pie for my supper yesterday (Sat) & brought back with me half the loaf of brown bread and two eggs & some delicious thick broken chocolate.  I enjoyed one of the eggs with my bacon at breakfast this morning & took the chocolate with me to the field where we had been training in bomb throwing all day & I am now enjoying the brown bread & the other egg for tea, 4.pm.

I shall have to pop down to see Sydney again this evening to taste & see how nice that large cake is.  I had an apple too, I must not miss that out & I saw something which I don’t expect I shall see when I go down tonight.  Sydney will have demolished both box & cream as well, with his apologies & my forgiveness.

I hope you are all enjoying another Happy Sunday.  I guess Harold is with you today isn’t he?  Never mind, Mummy, if I am not with you to go to Church & hear Our Bishop (10), I shall be with you in spirit, especially when the lessons are being read for I am going to read them out of my Khaki Pocket Bible (11).

Have I said all?  To make certain to you where I am, I am apart from Sydney but can go & see him in the evenings.  My address is to the Batt. just the same as to Sydney only of course I am ‘Private’  – & be sure you address it ‘Sergeant Sydney’.

Well her’s tiv us, all on usMay us nivver want nowt, but parcels from Harm. Norn on us, nor me norther. An if yer do owt for nowt, Do it for yer sen (12).

The above is splendid economy for these days.

I am short of a shirt.  And a towel too will want. And hang me I want a hankie too.  I am not joking but shall be pleased to get them instead of cakes next time.

Best love to all,  Bertie.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Thanksgiving Services & Memorial Services followed each other relentlessly at Home – while Pte Bertie looks ahead to the Church & Life after the War.

NB * Starred Names see Menu Pages. Note: ‘Dodger‘ is one of Basil Hibbett’s nick-names.

(1) Psalm 116. v.7.

(2Ida Hibbett seems to have been spending all her time on War Service: Red Cross VAD nursing, helping to create a Card Index of Men Available for Military Service at the Local Government Office  – and now making bombs.  

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.
IDA HIBBETT.
27 in 1914.

Small bomb factories were set up in local workshops but I have yet to discover where Ida went to make bombs (most likely she was filling shells, like the 6″ howitzer shells made at Viscount Godfrey Chetwyd’s National Shell-Filling Factory, Chilwell, Nottingham. Commissioned 20th Aug. 1915). Ida was to die in 1921 from cancer caused by this work.

(3) Lt Col. Elden Annesley Crump 3/5th Bn Reserves. (prominent Walsall family – to whom Arthur Hibbett may have applied to re his son Sydney’s Commission)Lt Col Sir Stuart Wortley. C.O. 1/5th S. Staffs.

(4) The Revd E. More Darling. Vicar of St Paul’s, Walsall. (5Tim Cozens had been a Sunday School teacher in Walsall. Killed in Action 13th Oct 1915.  Pte Bertie could however have been referring  to Tim’s father, Henry Cozens prominent in Walsall Church.

(6) Mr Cox: Head of St Mark’s Sunday School, Walsall – rival for Basil’s help there?  (7) Ezekiel 34 v. 13. ‘Lessons Proper for Sundays’. Anglican Book of Common Prayer. 1662. (8) Pte Bertie appears to be referring to 2 Thessalonians 11 (not the Lesson Proper for 21st Sunday). Maybe he was following an altered reading list,  published in Walsall’s Church Magazine. 

(9) Psalm 116. v.1.  (10) Bishop Lionel Crawford. 1864 -1934, Suffragan Bishop of Stafford, Diocese of LIchfield.

(11) Khaki Pocket Bible.   It is hard to understand British society at the time of World War One if you subtract the Bible from it.’   Dr Michael Snape, Reader in Religion, War and Society at the University of Birmingham.

‘When war broke out in 1914, every member of the British Armed Forces was given a Bible as an essential part of their kit’.  (Total: 6 -7000  Bibles a day were published by The Bible Society. 34 new translation of languages & dialects i.e. one new version of the Bible every seven weeks.   <https://www.biblesociety.org.uk&gt;

‘ The Bible was a defining influence on British culture across class divides. From the public school to the Sunday school, from art and music to political debate, the Bible was in the blood of British people‘.

It was hugely consoling for individual soldiers,’  Dr Snape says.  ‘There are poignant stories of bodies being recovered of men who had died with a New Testament in their hands.  What else could you do if you were alone, badly wounded and going to meet your Maker?

(12Pte Bertie’s adapted version of a Yorkshire saying (in Black Country dialect?) passed down our family & often quoted for fun.  Meaning: Here’s to us, all of us. May we never  want for anything (but parcels from Home), none of us, nor me either. And if you do something for nothing  do it for yourself.  cf Hibbett Letter: 14th May, 1915. cf <https://www.bbc.co.uk/north Yorkshire>

NEXT POST:  27th Oct. 1915. Family Dandelion Wind-clock & Food to the Front.

 

 

 

 

21ST OCT.1915: ALLOUAGNE – ‘ALWAYS THINKING OF EACH OTHER EH! MUM?’

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

ALLOUAGNE.

20th – 21st Oct.  In Rest Billets. 

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
BERTIE HIBBETT:
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER To MARIE NEAL HIBBETT, 95  Foden Rd Walsall.

Anniversary of Trafalgar Day. 1805. Oct 21/ 15

Battle of Trafalgar.
Battle of Trafalgar. wikipedia.

I mean to debar myself of many comforts to serve my country & I expect great consolation every time I cut a slice of salt beef instead of mutton.  Lord Nelson. (1).

My Very Dear Mother,

I feel so happy with Sydney now & I have felt so grateful for his safety in the past & am indeed proud of his further promotion.  Sergeant Sanger*, (who went on Home Leave to Isle of White yesterday) put in a good word for him & so he was made full Sergeant from Corporal (2).

How nice the potted meat tasted, I did enjoy it & Sydney did too.

Monkey Soap.
Monkey Soap.

Thank you for the Monkey soap (3) which will come in so useful & the cloth & emery paper.  I enjoyed the thick broken chocolate on the journey (4).  The little rosy apples were good to eat & helped to get Vernon up one morning, they were so cold.

Vernon, I am sorry to say, is going to join the Signallers (5) but he will be able to see us now & again.  I read such a jolly letter from his little sister Molly* who copied my last letter to her so exactly How the many crosses for kisses form a Union Jack at the end of them all.

Signallers Worcester Regiment.
SIGNALLERS: Worcester Regiment 1914 -1918.

Well I shall have to be closing.  I must get ready to parade.  I will write again soon.

Best love to Ida, hoping she is doing well at Pink Forms (6) & comfort at home.

Best love to Dad & Basil & Bestest love to you.

Bertie.

PS  We are, I guess, always thinking of each other eh! Mum?

PS NB  I got & read with deep interest your letter of Sunday Oct 10th.  I shouldn’t be surprised if you were writing when I was.  Send me another shirt if you have one as comfortable as the first you sent me at HospitalIt was so nice & soft.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson. 1771 -1805.  QuotationNelson’s letter from Bath to Thomas Lloyd, Esq. No 15, May’s Buildings, St Martin’s Lane, London.  Dated Jan 29th 1898.  Pte Bertie’s use of it may well be because his parents had told him of food shortages at Homeimgres

England expects that everyman will do his duty” : Nelson’s famous message to his men at the beginning of the victorious Battle of Trafalgar (in which he lost his life) must have been on everyone’s mind at this time, along with Earl Douglas Haig’s recruiting poster ‘Your Country Needs You!’

Earl Douglas Haig.
Earl Douglas Haig.

(2) That Sydney Hibbett was promoted to Sergeant, so soon after being made Corporal, is indicative of the large numbers of casualties in the Battle of Loos-Hohenzollern, 13th -15th Oct. 1915.

(3) Monkey Soap. A scouring soap produced in 1899 by Sydney & Henry Gross, Philadelphia, USA (later called Port Sunlight Soap).

(4Bertie’s Journey from Rouen Hospital to Bethune and back to the Front. This could have been in uncovered wagons.

SMLE short magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle.
SMLE short magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle.

(5A Field or Signallers Company of Royal Engineers (total 162 men – with Company HQ and Four Sections) was attached  to each  Division. (No 1 Section communicated with Division HQ. Nos 2 – 4 communicated with its Brigade).  As armed infantrymen Signallers carried a SMLE (short-magazine Lee-Enfield: the British Army’s standard rifle from 1895 -1957.  They had use of 37 riding horses, 47 draft horses, 4 pack-horses, 32 bicycles and 9 motorbikes. 

(6Pink FormsType in ‘Pink Forms’ and discover ‘The Derby Scheme’.  The National Registration Act was initiated by Lord Derby, and passed on 15th July 1915.  It  required all men, between the age of 18 and 65 years, to register their residential location on 15th Aug.1915.  29 million forms were issued: Granite Blue forms for Men and White forms for Women

In order to create a Card Index of Men Available for Military Service, a  Pink Form was completed for each Granite Blue Form, if that man was between the age of 18 and 41 years.  This was then passed to local Recruiting Officers so that canvassing could begin.  Again this is indicative of the huge numbers of casualties resulting from trench warfare in 1915.

Pte Bertie’s sister Ida must have heard from her father (Chief Education Officer) that help was needed at the local government office. My aunt’s War Service also included VAD Red Cross nursing and bomb making.

NEXT POST: 24th Oct. 1915  ‘Making Bombs while her Brother is throwing them’ will be posted as soon as possible.

 

 

19TH OCT.1915: AFTER THE BATTLE – TREASURED SAYINGS FROM HOME.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

ALLOUAGNE REST BILLETS

19th Oct.Tue:  Marched to ALLOUAGNE and went into billets

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
BERTIE HIBBETT:
19 in 1914.

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

19th Oct. 1915: ‘At Allouayne in Barn. Sent Souvenir Cards Home.

Treasured Sayings in Letters from Home after the Charge of Oct 13th. 

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

 

God bless & keep my two boys’.  Father.

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.
IDA HIBBETT.  27 in 1914.

I was so glad to hear you are safe & well, so I say –  Thank God. Thank God.  Always your affec.  Sister.

I am always praying for you my darling sons. God is good  & He will take care of you if you ask Him.’  Mother.

MARIE NEAL HIBBETT: 53 in 1914.
MARIE NEAL HIBBETT:
53 in 1914.

 

Basil Hibbett Age 18. 1916.
BASIL HIBBETT 17 in 1915.

‘I have never been more earnest in my prayers for you both.’ Basil.

 

 

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

After the Battle of Loos-Hohenzollern 13th-15th October 1915.

Corporal Sydney Hibbett and Pte Bertie’s best pal Vernon Evans were in the Battle. Fortunately Bertie himself did not arrive back in time from Rouen Hospital or he would have been in the Charge, one of ‘A’ Company’s bombing parties.

NEXT POSTS: 21st Oct 1915 & 24th Oct.1915 will be posted as soon as possible.

17th OCT.1915: FOUQUIERES BILLETS: REST AFTER THE BATTLE.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

FOUQUIERES.

16th Oct. Sat:  In Rest Billets. 

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER  to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT & BASIL HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

Sunday Morning. Oct 17/ 15

My Dear Mother & Basil,

I read Dodger’s delightful letter, enclosed in the parcel, with deep interest.  I was especially taken by his flattering remark & I wouldn’t mind having been with Sydney last Wednesday.  I was on guard at the Station at R___n at the time (1).

Vernon and I were put on guard last night at five & came off tonight.  Am writing this in a stable, serving the purpose of a Guard Room.  Vernon & I are sorry we cannot go to the Parade Service this morning as I have no doubt it will be a special thanksgiving service.  St Paul’s will want another Memorial Service soon won’t they?  I am taking it into confidence that you have read about the fighting? (2)

I was very pleased on reading Mother’s letter about Mr. Dixon*  preaching at the Harvest Festival; I was thinking all day last Sunday that you were very likely celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving.  Sydney is writing today, so he told me this morning.

Would you like to know what Harold sent me?  I got his parcel on the Thursday (3) I left Camp , & yours too.  Horlick’s Milk Tablets for the damp, cold nights, cocoa made with milk, soap  I shall need that more now, chocolate, toothpowder to prevent toothache this coming winter, and a nice long letter.  Sydney had a letter from him yesterday & he is sending a parcel to Sydney soon too.  I sincerely hope he will get settled at Wol’ton (4).

Vernon is sorry he cannot be for Best Man at his brother’s Wedding.  I am sending him a Souvenir Card today which will likely reach him by the 20 th.  Arthur Brewin* will soon be having his commission, & he told Vernon this morning that he (Vernon) is going to be made a Corporal & Sydney most likely a Sergeant. Jolly old Sydney again (5).

Many thanks for the emery cloth & flannel which came just at the right time.  And for the Parish Magazine which I read between hours of duty.  I gave Vernon one of those rosy apples to wake him up; it was a cold little apple & he soon woke up.  I shared several things with Sydney, including the pineapples.  I let Sydney read your letter to me in the parcel & he did laugh at the part where you saw him in the street.

Dear Dodger,  Sydney has just shown me some Whitby photos (6).  How I laughed at you in bed. How large & a really ripping photo.

Best love,  Bertie.

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

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

This Letter is another example of how Pte Bertie Hibbett raises questions in his reader’s mind about dates & times and answers them a few letters further on.

(1)  Battle for Hohenzollern, 13th Oct.  Pte Bertie was on his way up Line to Bethune. (2) Thurs.14th Oct. 1915.  (3Wolverhampton, Black Country, Midlands, UK.

(4) Sydney Hibbett’s rapid promotion from Private to Sergeant  indicates the severity of the losses of 13th-14th Oct.  (5) Bertie was immensely proud of his brother who is just 1 year 2 months older than he is. I have no official record of when Sydney Hibbett was promoted to Serjeant until this Letter.  (6) Hibbett Family Holiday, 1915.

NEXT POSTS: 21st; 24th Oct. 1915.

These will be posted late (possibly 25th, 26th Oct) as I am taking part in Stephan Mc Neff’s award-winningTarka the Opera’ in Exeter Cathedral (20th & 21st. Oct).  Commissioned by the Two Moors Festival, it was premiered at RHS Rosemoor, Torrington, Devon, on 20th October 2006.  

This is an Opera very much for our time. Based on the novel by Henry Williamson, it describes his struggle to understand the madness of the First World War.  ‘Who is wild?  Who is civilised?’Why do we kill, is it an act of will? All around is the beauty of nature, of light and seasons  and wild creatures – yet Nature is ‘red in tooth & claw‘ –  Man hunts man and civilisation is turning back into darkness.  Williamson is powerless to stop it.  

One day he tries to tell his wife about the War but ‘words and imaginations’ fail him and so he begins to type the story of Tarka the Otter.  The Otter Hunt with hounds, in North Devon 1927, is juxtaposed with the Battlefields of France & Flanders and the release of the Dogs of War.  Just as Williamsons‘ philosophical questions end in nothing but deadlock , so Deadlock the Hound and Tarka the Otter are bent on mutual destruction – they die locked together in death. 

Librettist Richard Williams has made brilliant use of Williamson’s evocative language.  Director Tom Guthrie, (Royal Opera) has turned  the Cathedral into a riverbank and bridge, with performers moving in and around the audience. Conductor Nicholas Cleobury, who conducted the premiere in 2006, is bringing professional singers and orchestra together, with a  non-professional adult choir and local children’s choirs, to create a most exciting and wonderful whole.

 

15th Oct. 1915: FINEST MARCH PAST I HAVE EVER SEEN: ‘WAR WORN – LOST HATS – TIRED MUDDY LOOK’.

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
BERTIE HIBBETT:
.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, 1/5TH SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT:  A Little Book of Words & Doings‘.

After the Battle of Loos Hohenzollern Redoubt Oct 13th -15th. 1915.

15th October 1915.

Leuy Cozens 1914
CAPTAIN TIM COZENS.  Killed in Action. 

On my return from Rouen (1) to Bethune heard of the Charge of Oct 13th on arrival at Station.  Heard of the critical condition of  Capt. Cozens* (2).  

Anxious about Sydney & Vernon* (3).

Draft met Batt. coming from Vermelles Trenches, war worn, lost hats, muddy tired look.  Finest March Past I have ever seen.  Strained my neck to catch Sydney.  Saw him march by with a smile at me & lost hat (4).  Saw Vernon – he just caught sight of me, after much exertion on my part.  Saw Cyril Hind*  & Norman Cope* march past. 

Met Sydney in attic of barn at Bethune; brother clasps the hand of brother & kissed each other (5).  Opened my parcel which Mum sent me at  Rouen; brought it with me with some choc. for Sydney & De Ruskes (6) for Vernon Potted meat etc from home.

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

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1Pte Bertie Hibbett had been in Hospital at the B.E.F. Base in Rouen, since 10th August.   (2Captain L. (Tim) Cozens, family friend, member of St Paul’s Church, Walsall, Sunday School Teacher. QMS. Killed in Action 13th Oct. 1915.  (Unable to find details on Commonwealth War Graves website.

cf  ‘Little Book of Words & Doings’ 10th Aug. 1915:  Last conversation with Capt. Cozens (Tim) on leaving Railway Dugouts. Not been five minutes with him before a whole crowd was round him. Talked of a Charge in which Earl Cardigon, dressed in civvies with frock coat, funny socks, swaggle cane & cigar astonished the enemy.  Offered Tim a State Express cig.  Harper and Serg Major Gee whom I saw also. All three killed while I was at Rouen Aug -Oct. 

(3) Vernon Evans. Bertie’s best pal, kept in touch with each other all their lives.

WW1 Steel Helmet.
WW1 Steel Helmet.

(4) Lost Hat: steel helmets were to save countless lives after they were issued in 1916. cf <https://www.pollingerltd.com&gt;

Sabine Baring-Gould.

(5) Hymn: ‘Through the Night of Doubt & Sorrow’. Brother clasps the hand of brother stepping fearless through the night’.  Words: Bernhardt S. Ingerman. 1826. Danish translated by Sabine Baring Gould, The People’s Hymnal. 1867.  Music ‘Beecher’: John Zundall. 1870.

NBBrother clasped hands & kissed each other’:  Eastern custom. cf Genesis story of Jacob & Esau.

(6) De Reszke cigarettes cf Hibbett Letter:13th June 1915.

NEXT POST:  17th Oct. 1915.

14th OCT. 1915: BATTLES OF LOOS HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT – WHO- WHY & WHAT?

WHO  –  WHY  &  WHAT?

1WW JoffreEarl Haig.

Sir John French

General Sir Richard Cyril Byrne Haking. 1862 - 1945.
General Sir Richard Haking. 1862 – 1945.
General Plumer.
General Herbert Plumer. 1857-1932.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Battle of Loos and Hohenzollern Redoubt was an attempt by the Allies to break the stalemate of trench warfare in 1915.  Despite initial success at Loos on 25th September, the ‘Big Push’ failed with enormous loss of life; Sir John French was made to take the blame and was replaced by Sir Douglas Haig. 

Marshall Joseph Joffre, Commander in Chief French Forces, planned a renewal of offensives on 13th October with an attack on a 20 mile front between Arras & La Bassee. The French Army was to attack in Champagne and a joint French British Army was to attack in Artois – along the Line between Bethune and La Basse from Auchy-les Mines to Loos-en-Gohelle.

Rough Map/ modern roads deleted: Artois Region, France : Hohenzollern Redoubt. Approx Front Line in Red. October 13th 1915.
Rough Map/ modern roads deleted: Artois Region, France : Hohenzollern Redoubt. Approx Front Line in Red. October 13th 1915.

The 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt under the command of Field Marshall Herbert Plumer (Officer Commanding 2nd Army) was ordered to leave Ypres Salient, Hill 60 & the Caterpillar and move south to join the 1st Army now commanded by Sir Douglas Haig (they later come under the command of Lt Gen R.C.B. Haking 11th Corps 46th Midland Division.

Marshal Joffre’s plan was for the British to capture Hohenzollern Redoubt and Fosse 8, a Bethune Colliery Pithead.  Loos_fosse8_trenchesBritish Generals were not happy with this plan for the Hohenzollern Redoubt, (a fortification built in front of the original German Front Line of 1914) was considered to be the strongest German defensive- work on the whole of the Western Front.  It was a heavily developed industrial mining area with Pitheads (Fosses) Spoil Heaps (Crassiers) and auxillery Shafts (Puits).

'Tower Bridge' Pithead.
‘Tower Bridge’ Pithead.

The face of the Redoubt was 300 yards long with excellent views over the British Lines. Both British & German sides had tunnelled into it to create communication trenches, observation posts and machine-gun nests.  It curved with extensions to join Big Willie at southern end and Little Willie at the northern end (named of course after Kaiser Wilhelm).  The Germans dominated the high ground for in front of Fosse 8 there was a 20ft high Crassier (of mine ‘deads’)  an excellent observation post for German sniping in  all directions.

Soldiers' Graves at Vermelles.
Soldiers’ Graves at Vermelles.

To reach the Hohenzollern Redoubt and the Vermelles Trenches, the 1/5th South Staffords had a long march to pass through small colliery villages, like Cuinchy, Cambrin and Vermelles; to compound the difficulties there was a distance of a mile between the entries to the communication trenches and the assembly trenches for the Charge.  The Vermelles Trenches, too, were badly damaged with no dugouts to shelter in; soldiers had to contend with the distressing remains of dead bodies lying unburied.< www.ww1.battlefields.co.uk>

Edward James Montague-Wortley.
Edward James Montague-Wortley.

Sir Stewart Wortley (C.O. Staffordshire Regt) warned that the area was not suitable for the ‘Big Push’ attack and would cause ‘useless slaughter of infantry’.  Tragically his warnings were ignored, as they were again at Gommecourt, Battle of Somme 1st July 1916.

The Long Long Trail: The British Army of 1914-1918 is a must for family historians who wish to gain an insight into why this plan was put into action and what their relatives were expected to do on those three days in October, a hundred years ago.  InFrance & Flanders & the Western Front : The Battle of Loosthere is a comprehensive account of the background history of the Battle and of relations between the French and British Generals.  Especially interesting is the section Loos Lessons Learned or Not’ giving a list of reasons  why the Battle failed despite initial success. It too makes tragic comparison with what was to happen on 1st July 1916, the Battle of the Somme, when the same mistakes were made.

Another View of Tower Bridge, Loos.
Another View of Tower Bridge, Loos.

Andrew Thornton’s website: Staffordshire Territorials and Assault on Hohenzollern. ‘We had done all that was expected of us, does great service with its comprehensive and vivid description of the Battle of Loos & Hohenzollern Redoubt.  <www.hellfirecorner.co.uk  >.

From this website we learn that the troops were given 3 days rations, carried 220 pounds of ammunition, (Bombing Parties carried only 100 pounds of ammunition).  They were to carry great coats on their backs instead of packsThey also carried 3 empty sandbags, and two smoke helmets.

GAS MASK DRAWING: Pte BERTIE HIBBETT Dec.1915.
GAS MASK / SMOKE HELMET.  DRAWING: Pte BERTIE HIBBETT.  Dec.1915.

NB. My father was training to throw hand-grenade bombs before he left for Hospital in Rouen).

Andrew Thornton’s selection from diaries and letters, of individual soldiers’ eyewitness accounts and reactions to the Battle, provides moving  insight into their horrific experiences and why the attack failed.

Robert Graves’ ‘Goodbye to All That contains eyewitness descriptions of the mining villages and experiences of individual soldiers. He himself was billeted in Vermelles in June 1915.

These excellent websites and many others help to give the What ? and the Why? to the Battle of Loos Hohenzollern Redoubt and make the 1/5th South Staffordshire War Diary come alive. The more I read of this Battle the more I wonder how my uncle, Corporal Sydney Hibbett and his QMS Walsall pals could possibly have survived  it – many 1/5th Staffords did not.  In the first few minutes, 3,643  were killed or wounded. (See Casualty List in previous Post).

Above all, my reading of those three days in October 1915, makes me wonder about my own existence  – and that of my brother & sisters – for  my father arrived from Hospital in Rouen too late.  Otherwise he would, with the rest of ‘A’ Company, have been in the thick of this hell.

NEXT POST: 15th Oct. 1915.  The Finest March Past I ever saw.