Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings.

Bomb Accident. I was practising snipingMoore killed & Lieut. Robinson & Cooke wounded. (1).


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

BELLANCOURT.  Battalion Training.


The following CASUALTIES caused by accident:- KILLED983 Pte Hough W.; Died Of Wounds, 7986 Sgt Rooker S.;

WOUNDED; Capt W. E. Moore*; Lt P.W. Robinson*; Lt J.P. Thorne; 2/ Lt J.E.M. Cooke*C.S.M. 8360 Cartwright A.H.; 9603 Cpl. Betteridge J. 9865 Pte Hingley W.; 9489 Pte Burne J.G.; 9643 Pte Timms H.; 921 Pte White A. 9677 Pte Leach F.; 8007 Sgt Pritchard G.   Slightly wounded remained at duty. Pte Whitehouse W.

APPENDIX III. An accident occurred on the morning of the 28th February 1916, whereby the undermentioned Officers and Other Ranks met with their injuries.

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

Whilst the No 1 Platoon of the 1/5 South Staffordshire Regt were engaged in Grenade throwing (2) in which practice live grenades were used, Sergt G. Pritchard, No 8007, a qualified bomber withdrew the pin of a No 5 Mills Grenade preparatory to throwing same. Immediately on withdrawal of the pin the Grenade exploded in Sgt Pritchard’s hand. No blame attached to any person present at the time of the accident.

Hales Grenade. 1915.
Hales No 2 Mk1 hand grenade.
Hales No 2 Mk1 Hand Grenade.






9.30am. Battalion marched to new billets at OCCOCHES (3).

FEBRUARY CASUALTIES. KILLED 1; D.O.W. 1; WOUNDED 12 ; Slightly wounded remained at duty 1.   TOTAL 15.

Signed:   H. LORD, Major Cmdg 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt. 1/3/16.



Pte Bertie Hibbett’s Little Book of Words & Doings’ is invaluable in providing details not found elsewhere, but here there is a discrepancy regarding the Bomb Accident. He records the death of Capt. W.E. Moore, whereas the Staffs War Diary records he was wounded. No record in CWGC of his having died later of wounds.

(1) Capt W.E. Moore. Captain of 1/5th South Staffords ‘C’ Company (Serjeant Sydney Hibbett’s Coy). Lieutenant P.W. Robinson is mentioned in Letter dated 9th/10th December 1915. Lieutenant J.E.M. Cooke is mentioned in Letter 21st Nov. 1915. Pte Bertie would have known these men since he enlisted in August 1914.

Mills wiki300px-N°5-MkII_N°23-MkII_N°36-MkI
Mills Grenade No 5; No 23 & No 36.

(2) British Mills No 5 Grenade (designed by William Mills, Munitions Factory, Birmingham, Feb.1915). No 23 Grenade could be attached by a rod to a rifle to increase the length of throw.

The Hales Hand or Mexican Grenade must be thrown high in the air for its canvas tail to point the grenade head-first into the ground. (Designed Feb.1915, by Martin Hale, Cotton Powder Co. Faversham Kent) <https://<www.museumoftechnology.org.uk&gt; and <https://www.en-wikipedia.org&gt;

(3) Occoches: a 23 mile march east-northeast of Abbeville, N. France.

NEXT POST: 2nd MAR 1916.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


21st Feb. Mon. Battalion marched to new billets at PROUVILLE (1).                                   22nd – 27th Feb. Sun. Battalion Training.                                                         

Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings.

Treasured Sayings in Letters from Ida and Mother:  On my photo, taken at Marseilles with a Leica, Ida thought I looked ‘a wee bit sad’Mum altered the opinion – ‘I think your photo simply lovely & very happy. You look alright & everybody likes it & thinks it fine to be taken with an Indian* (2). (I did not send Miss Foster* one),  Mother’.

LETTER to Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall.

 Sexagesima Sunday (3). Feb 28/ 16

Mother at Tea.
Mother at Tea.

In weariness & painfulness; in watchings often, In hunger & thirst, in fasting often (4). Be not anxious, but by prayer & supplication Let your requests be made known unto God (5). Bring forth fruit with patience (6).

My Very Dear Mother,

How can I express my feelings after reading such delightful letters & enjoying the parcels.  The currant bread was fine & I toasted a slice, it was excellent with butter.  I think you have set me up for some considerable time with this pad, the three pencils & other paper & envelopesI will do my best to use the paper in writing comforting letters to you.

I feel a little better to day after the shock I got yesterday when you so much wanted me to get to England straightaway.  I will put the matter to a chummy officer I know.  I should have thought Sydney would have explained my circumstances to you.  I believe a candidate for a Commission has to be an NCO for 2 months, that is why A.O. Jones* is a Lance Jack (7).  As for keeping on arsking (sic)- worrying the officers it is counted as a breach of disciplineA private is supposed to be escorted by an NCO if he wishes to converse with an officer.

And then again, dear Mum, there are NCOs, even Sergeants, who have been out here as long as I have & NOT been home yet.

You ask me to say more about myself. Well all I can say is that I was keeping very happy & in good health, but reading your letter wanting me so to get to England worried me a little. Yet I am very anxious & do so hope that you, including the others & Harold (are) calling the photo a ripping one (8).

Indian soldiers arriving in France. 1914. ww1blog.osborneink.com
Indian soldiers arriving in France,  greeted by a French child.  September, 1914.

I was a little disappointed with the photo, yet I risked sending it you & hoped you would like it & – please take note that (I thought) you would not detect the slightest sign of sadness, but rather that I should cause you at least another brighter ray of happiness & comfort to you, Mother, & all of you.  I only wish I could send you a really jolly one  of myself with the sleeping helmet you sent me & Miss Foster’s handsome muffler round me, & taken in my bed of blanketsI guess there are several people at Home who live the life of Tommy just for fun.

Tell Basil I have had all his letters up to date & they were rippers.

PS  M.P. HIBBETT:  I meant to say a word of congratulations towards Dad after praising Mum for her calmness during that awful time at night, before the glow of the fire in the darkness, with Basil & Ida doing Sentry Go (9).  I meant to say how self-sacrificing in everything is Dad. I thought of that trait in him when I read what Councillor Evans* said at the meeting with regard to Salaries (10).

Three cheers from France to my brave & loving parents & hearty handshakes to jolly jolly Dodger & excellent Ida.

The Assembly Rooms Derby.
The Assembly Rooms Derby.

I wrote to Sydney the other day too, but he has not sent me his address.  I had to risk the one at the Assembly Rooms at Derby (11).  I enclose you his jolly lettersMy word I wish I could write like him Aren’t mine absurd & hard to understand?  I really am of no reputation that you should all so want to see this poor self.(12).

I am quite happy, yet I do hope what Basil saidto kiss your dear cheek in reality & not in mere dreams.  Yet again I hope you will have ‘beaucoup’ happy dreams till I see you ‘face to face’.

God bless you all.


PS I went to Holy Communion in a barn this morning & of course thought of you & Ken Marshall* (13) & the Mayoress* (14) etc.



This letter is a good example of how Pte Bertie Hibbett, in the increasing anxiety & uncertainty of the War, found comfort in the words of the Gospel and Epistle each Sunday; identifying with and applying the biblical message to himself & his family. 

(1) Prouville, Picardie N. France15 miles northeast of Abbeville(2) Buckshee Ichbye Singh Waltu, Indian Expeditionary Force (Hindustani Sikh). Photo above: Indian Soldiers arrived in France 1914. <ww1blog.osborneink.com>

(3) Sexagesima SundaySunday within sixty days of Easter. (Book of Common Prayer, 1662). Term rarely used today.

(4) Epistle and Gospel for Sexagesima Sunday (Book of Common Prayer 1662): 2 Cor. 11.27. (Paul’s description of his sufferings for the Gospel) and (6Luke 8. 15. (Parable of the Sower)(5) Philippians 4.6. (AD 60-62, Paul, under threat of death himself, writes to the first European Church which had suffered great persecution & poverty since AD49). 

(7) Lance Jack: Lance Corporal in the Army. An informal promotion/appointment; became a rank in 1961). From Italian ‘lancia spezzata’ – broken lance (i.e. when unseated from horse in battle he joined the infantry on foot. WW1 Army song ‘If you want to find the Lance Jack . . .’

Ur-Leica Original Leica, from 1914.
German Ur-Leica ‘Original Leica’,  from 1914.

(8) Leica photo of Pte Bertie Hibbett and Buckshee (i.e Private) Ichbye Singh Waltu at Marseilles.

(9) ref. Zeppelin Raid, Arthur Hibbett acting as ‘M.P. like his son in Bellancourt(10Walsall Education Department Salaries. 1915. It appears Councillor Evans, (Vernon’s father) praised my grandfather for declining a pay rise to help the War effort.

(11) The Assembly Rooms, Market Place, Derby. Gutted by fire,1963. (12Of no reputation‘. Pte Bertie accepts he’s a Private and must not expect preferential treatment re Home Leave. Unconscious ref. to Philippians 2.7 ?  (humility of Christ the Servant).  

(13) Ken Marshall, wounded/ missing son of QMS Headmaster, E. N. Marshall*?   (14Mrs: Maria Julia Slater*, Walsall Mayoress.

NEXT POST:  28th FEB. 1916.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5TH SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

Pont Remy France.
Pont Remy, France. <map-france.com>




          14th Feb. Mon. 5.0 pm  Detrained and marched to BELLANCOURT (2). 15th-20th Feb. In  Billets. Battalion Training. 


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT  ‘No. 2 Platoon ‘A’ Company’: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.                                        

Septuagesima Sunday (3).  February 20/ 16

Mon Chere Mere et Pere,

Arthur Seymour Sullivan. English Composer.

The weather today has been fine & sunny, but somewhat cold with a sharp wind.  I enjoyed the Parade Service in the field, on the outskirts of a park of fir treesThe old familiar formation of the Battalions in a square came with a freshness as we lined up on the field & the officers took part.  ‘Onward Christian soldiers (4) was the opening hymn.  After the service I went to Holy Communion in a barn in the village.  The Brig. Major & the other officers I knew attended. 

In the afternoon every man had to play football or have physical exercise.  Of course the majority voted for football.

So, Dodger! we had a game for those who did not know the rules of football.

We played platoon against platoonno rules – no fouls except the hands – no inside right – no forwards – no centre half – no inside left, in fact everything was inside out & the game was a game indeed.

I have been able to read the Walsall Observer account of the air raid (5) but it did not give the list of the injured.  I trust you are all safe. How sad for that RAMC to return home & find his wife, daughter & son had all lost their lives. I, like Mother, leave your safe keeping in those Higher Hands.  I think you have more to put up with than we men out here.

I wrote to you on Friday when I received your letter of February 6th.  To ensure the correspondence  I repeat that I am now back with the Batt. at No 2 Platoon A Coy .  We were paid the other night & I met A.O. Jones* & Cyril Hinde* who told me lots of news from Home, & Clifford Hackett* had a chat with me & said he met Bob Charlton* in Egypt (6).

You said Sydney walked into dinner one weekend.  How long did he spend at Home?  The letter was very ‘newsy’.  Many thanks my Dear Mummy for being so busy knitting socks.  – Yes every stitch will be a blessing.  I shall think of you as I tramp along in your socks & hope they will return to the very rooms you knitted them in soon, in God’s good time. 

Leave , I heard from Hackett, has been postponed till the end of March.  I hope it is only a rumour.

I am reading your letter & you are concluding as I am now. 

God be with you all & bless you all.

Yours affectionately,   Bertie.



(1Pont Remy,  Picardie: ancient crossing of the Somme, 7 miles SE of Abbeville.  (2) Bellancourt5 miles march approx from Pont Remy. Pte Bertie Hibbett was M.P over Bellancourt farm billets waiting for 1/5th Staffords’ return from Egypt.

Pont Remy France.
Pont Remy France.

(3) Septuagesima Sunday. Ninth Sunday before Easter. (Lit. within ‘seventieth’ day before Easter. Book of Common Prayer. 1662.            

(4) Hymn: Sabine Baring Gould, 1834 -1924. (1865 processional hymn for children based on 2 Timothy 2.3endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Tune: ‘St Gertude’ 1871Arthur Sullivan,1842 -1900.

(5) Zeppelin Raid on WalsallJan 31st – Feb.1st 1916.

(6) Old QMS pals, Walsall.

NEXT POST: 27th Feb. 1916.

See also NEW PAGE: ‘My Memories’. A.H.H.


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, attached Notts & Derby TransportPAGES 4-6 of  LETTER to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd Walsall. 

(Sun. 13th Feb. 1916?) (1)

. . . .  They have passed me as a qualified Sniper (2) & I satisfied our old Coy. Com. Capt List-r (3).

British Sniper. NB Steel helmet issued 1916.
British Trench with Sniper and dead /sleeping soldier?  NB Steel helmet issued 1916.

He has a brother in the 3/ 5th (S.Staffs) who wrote to him concerning Sydney.  Captain L — r, now Major, is acting as Colonel while R—r (4) is away.  I am sorry for a reason; Sydney’s release will be delayed again.

I am what you might call ‘humbly’ glad you liked my small gift, & really did not think it would give you so much pleasure as you made out in your letterThe cross  must be yours for all time.  (I don’t know so much that I shall have a cross dangling from a watch Chain)I might go in for a couple of wrist watches.  I say two – so that I can take the average, or otherwise the medium (sic) time (5).

Camouflaged Springfield Rifle with telescope. www.pinterest.comimgres
Camouflaged Springfield Rifle with telescope. https://www.pinterest.comimgres >

I shall have to finish on this fourth sheet.  

I am especially glad that you received my letters on the dates which were most appropriate. 

Now, dear Sister, don’t you think it would be a weee bit impertinent to bother the Colonel aboot Leave It is like this, you cannot die of your own accord before your appointed time, you cannot die before God wishes you to die& so with everything in life. I shall have my Leave in all good time; do not think for a moment that I have been easy going & let opportunities slip, far from that.

In the Corps (6) we are now attached to there is no Home Leave, so I have heard.  We shall be leaving the Corps at the end of the month & then Leave will start againThere are lots of other men – & so accordingly there are lots of other men’s parents who are just as anxious to see their relatives.

Oh! Bukhshee* was very fond indeed of me, I might say without any self-assertion. Luckily he saw me again on entraining, & after we were dismissed, immediately came up & shook hands with me.  He also gave me his address & your letter has just reminded me to write to him.  He & thefrogeater’ will serve as jolly correspondence chums when ‘aprés le guerre’ (7).

Thank you very much for your advice. Yes Sydney & Bertie have a very brave & patient Mother.   So Mum was very different from those ‘silly, three fat ladies’ who clung to Dodger for protection. (8).

Best love to all,




Whilst his family would have been pleased Bertie had passed as a Sniper they were obviously very anxious to see him on Home Leave. He had been in France & Flanders for almost a year.

(1) 13th Feb. is the most likely date for this Letter.

James Paris Lee. 1831-1904.

(2) Pte Bertie’s Lee-Enfield Rifle, took its name from the designer of the rifle’s bolt systemJames Paris Lee , British Canadian & later American manufacturer  – and the factory in which it was designedthe Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield.

(3) Captain Lister*. Old Company Commander. (4) Lt. Colonel Raymond Raymer* 1/5th S. Staffords.

(5) Pte Bertie wanted to know the Greenwich Mean Time & new Summer Time at Home to compare with the time in France‘Mean’ time rather than ‘medium’ is meant.

(6) Notts & Derby (Transport Coprs). (7) Bukhshee Ichbye Singh Waltu* an Hindustani soldier met at Marseilles Joe Albene*, farmer landlord of Pte Bertie’s billet at Bellancourt.

(8)Ref. to Basil’s actions during Zeppelin Raid over Walsall. 31st Jan -1st Feb.1916. See New Page: ‘My Memories’ A.H.H. 1967. published 10th Feb 2016.

NEXT POST: 20th FEB.1916.





Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: PAGES 3 -5 of LETTER to All the Family, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

Saturday 12th Feb. 1916. (1)

. . . I came back from a Sniping Test  (Note the Chart at the head of my letter).

Lee-Enfield short magazine. Mk 1.
Lee-Enfield Rifle short magazine. Mk 1.
Winchester British Enfield Pattern. Sniper Rifle. 1914.
Winchester British Enfield Pattern. Sniper Rifle. 1914.

A day or two ago I happened to do well at potting at a target & I think they must have mistook me for my brother Sydney (Good old Sydney comes in useful even in his absence & leaves his footprints behind in the sand). (2)

So I was recommended for a Sniper(3) & this morning I had an idea I was going to do badly, but of course hoped & tried to do well, with the result that I made 3 bulls, & inners within a bull, the size of half a crown – of course with a special sighting arrangement.

So my happiness went up, & was gradually going up, when I was dismissed from the range first & marched to billets with great expectations of enjoying the contents of the first parcel.  What was my astounding, delightful surprise, on going up to this attic, than to see the Corp. hand me two more, similar parcels as the 1stI then sat down to work undoing the stitches, not one by one, butthe few onlookers (the others were on parade) commented on the excellent way in which the parcels were wrapped (4).

The first contained the serviettes, chocolate, cigs& now blow me I don’t know which was in which –  at any rate I placed them all in front of me.  What a fine show!  ‘Onze’ (sic). Now for ‘Douze(sic) as I strode back for the second parcel hidden in my pack.Douzecontained the very excellently knitted khaki socks. I did admire them & could see the thoughts inter-twined in them. 

Oh! I shall be especially thinking of you when I mange moi gateaux & pork pie I was in ecstasy as I withdrew the currant bread, but I looked for the butter & was about to be disappointed when the thought came to me, the butter might be in the third THURD parcel so in half a jiffy I strode one big stride & was into Treize or Troi (sic) as these frog-eating people call ‘three’; and my hopes of enjoying the currant bread with butter from Home soon were satisfied & gratified.

Thank you again for this writing pad, a guarantee that I did really get your three parcels. I have never read such interesting & full, stock- full of news, as those enclosed in the parcels, especially Sydney’s long account of his doings.  As for Basil’s, I shall have to write him a letter to read all on his owny own.  And well, as for Mum’s letters, I am at first very touched & then I flop down & down & DOWN I go, & I shall have to conclude now I have reached THE LIMIT.

To be continued tomorrow Sunday.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

SIDI BISHR CAMP, ALEXANDRIA.               1st – 4th Feb. Battalion Training.

H.M.S. TRANSPORT. 5th Feb. Sat. 9.15 am.  Embarked en route for FRANCE.

H.M.S. Transylvania.
R.M.S. Transylvania. <https://www.en-wikipedia.org&gt;

H.M.S.TRANSYLVANIA (5).  6th -12th Feb. Voyage to MARSEILLES. MARSEILLES. arr. 12th Feb. Sat. 8.30 am. Disembarked and entrained en route to PONT REMY at 7.12 pm.   



After so many weeks deprived of all contact with his family and not knowing whether they had received what little correspondence he had  been able to send, Pte Bertie Hibbett was overcome with emotion opening his parcels and reading their letters. Counting in French obviously not his strong point!

(1)12th Feb. 1916 is the most likely date. (Continuation of letter is missing).

(2)‘A Psalm of Life’.1838. Henry Wadsworh Longfellow 1807 -1882. Collection: ‘Voices in the Night‘.  ‘. . .  In the world’s broad field of battle. In the bivouac of Life. Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife!  . . . Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime And, departing, leave behind us footprints in the sands of time . . . ‘

French Sniper team. 1914.
French Sniper team. 1914.<https:// http://www.alarmy.com&gt;

(3) The British Sniper was a trained marksman, alone or in a pair or sniper team:to maintain close visual contact with a target and engage targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the detection capabilities of enemy personnel.<https://www.en-wikipedia.org&gt; <https://www.gunauction.com&gt;

(4) A ‘parcelwrapping’ compliment to his father.

(5) S.S.Transylvania: Cunard – Anchor Line. Torpedoed & sunk by German U-boat, 4th May 1917, whilst carrying troops to Egypt from Marseilles. 412 lives lost.

NEXT POST: 13th FEB. 1916. Pages 4-5 of Letter to Ida. NB Continuation of Letter of 12th Feb. is missing).

NB. NEW PAGE:MY MEMORIES’ A.H.H. published 10th Feb. 2016 to mark centenary of the Battle of the Somme. 1st July, 1916.





Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings. February 1916.

Bellancourt (1). Had a good time with Transport at Bellancourt, where I acted as MP over billets.  Got in with French chap & an old couple and baby who would greet me as ‘Daddy‘ and cry awfully when I went away.  Albene by name. Invited me to supper. Menu: Pork et Pomme de terre. Cider. Macaroni pudding. Pommes de fritters. Cafe. Promised to keep in touch with Bukhshee Ichbye Singh Waltu (clerk). No 5. Base Supply Depot, Indian Expeditionary Force, France.’ .

POSTCARD ‘Notre Petit Gars’ to Mother, Marie Neal Hibbett (omitted from post by mistake, illustrated below): 27/ 1/ 1916.

 My very dear Mother, still here.

Any amount of flies in this orderly room, but half dazed. I squashed one on my ear. Trust you got the PC I sent to Dad. Not much I can tell you now, but hope to do so in time.  The French are great at painting mind pictures.  PCs are ½ d each here but these two were a 1d each owing to them being hand finished. I bought several PCs and hope to paint a picture or two when I have leave at home (when that is). 

I wonder if S(ydney) is at home or in England yetSorry you will not be able to write to me as I am still away from the Batt.

Best love, Bertie.


Mother at Tea.
Mother at Tea.

Pte BERTIE tries his hand at ‘L’Angue Francais’ in LETTER to Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall, she had not heard from him for some time.

NB Neuve Address (1)       Lundi, Fevrier 7/ 16

Mon bien Chêre Mère, (2)

Comment-allez vous mon Mama. Je vous espère – ne heureuse – about me not being able to write you on Janvier 31st Demanche.  Que pensez vous le raide des zeppelins sur l’Angleterre? Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Liverpool, & Nottingham.

I spent Sunday January 31st in a cow truck, so of course I could not very well write to you as the train shook too much for reading even, let alone writing.  Je suis bien triste mon Mère that I have missed my usual Lettre de Demanche. 

I guess you will be ‘Bien Heureuse’ to receive a letter from me, & still happier I know that you can send parcels & letters from now on until further orders to Private AH Hibbett 8832 1/5 South Staffordshire, attached to A Company 1/5 Notts & Derby Regiment BEF.  Please note the latter Regiment Basil can make a copy for you to keep safe I was told to write the address in the letter & not on Top

Notre Petit Gar.
Notre petit Gars! Mon Dieu! dans les dangers Daignez le proteger! PC to Mother: 27.1.1916.

I hope now that I shall soon hear of Sydney. I wonder if he has left England yet When I wrote you last I sent you two French Postcards with something of little interest written on them, for then I could not tell you much.  But since thenJe suis avons une longue journé dans le chemin de fer & spent some happy days at a little village composed of nothing but farm houses & ‘chateaux’. (3).

I was in charge of a billet as ‘police hommes en garde’ & got to know the farm people who lived there.  The old lady invited me to supper every evening free of charge.  The supper was fine every time.  I had no less than four courses, but curious enough all the courses, except the second, was the same every night:

Menu: PremPommes de terres frittres. 2. Macoroni au lait.  3. Pommes des frittres et du pain4. Cafe.  – see torn leaf.  (4)

[Torn Leaf: We all made ourselves quite happy & at home with L’Angue Francais. Je connaissez petit – causing one another to break into roars of laughter now & again. They had one little child who mistook me for her ‘Dada’ & she would break into crying everytime I promenaded down La Rue de Ville. The farmer gave me many souvenirs. ]

So do not Rêre but be en L’Alerte  for a letter from my French Chum, Joé by name.  They were very interested, as well as surprised, when I got them to understand that my home was in Staffordshire over which des Zeppelins travelled (5).  We got to know of the damage done at Nottingham & Liverpool & I made them understand that I wanted to send the news in French to mon Père et mon chêre Mère as the news in French would beBien Interestanté’.

Je suis fatigue – êcriré l’angue Francais.  Je suis bien ignorant.  Monsieur Basil (the French compris ‘Basil’ as it is a French man’s name also) will think my scraps of French ‘Bien faible’, but I just put the phrases in as I like plenty of variety when writing letters.  I hate reading letters which are written in the same ‘olde style’. 

Buckshee-HindustaniAimez-vous les petit timbres et les petit photograph de moi-même et mon ami Bukhshee – il un Hindustani Sikh:–  that is his name.  He could speak, not only his own language but French fluently, & English too. (6).

I will conclude nowJe vous promets que vous serez heureuse when je vous vois at Home. 

Please note Notts & Derby Reg. Let Basil make a copy for you to keep in a safe place.  You can, if you wish, send me any thing you like in a parcel.

Je suis votre aimable fil, (7).  Bertie.

PS  Que pensez-vous de la raide des zeppelins sur L’Angleterre?  Mon Basil     [. .  the rest is censored . .]



(1) BELLANCOURT, a tiny settlement in Picardie, 3 miles north-east of the Cathedral City of Abbeville.  Pte Bertie, was now attached to Notts & Derby Regt (Transport) & acting as military policeman (until 1/5th South Staffords arrived back in France from the Eastern Front). He accounts for the lack of a Letter Home on 31st January (on a train journey in a cow truck) and his Mother may not have received anything from him in January except a couple of postcards with ‘little of interest’ (see above PC 27th Jan).  The British Army was keen to keep its movements quiet. 

(2) Pte Bertie’s French is exactly as he wrote it (including accents) but readers, even with little French themselves, can make out the gist of his meaning!  Here he confuses ‘bien’ (good) with ‘très’ (very) and signs himself ‘Your kind (fil) thread‘! instead of ‘Your loving (fils) son.   ‘Je suis bien ignorant’ I can hear him laughing, but he made himself understood & his Little Book of Words & Doings has pages of French vocabulary. NB. Walsall’s Blue Coat Elementary School curriculum would probably not have included French and at Queen Mary’s Grammar his studies would have been geared towards his mining surveyor apprenticeship. 

(3) Pte Bertie’s position as an MP (military policeman) may account for his happier billet on Joé Albene’s farm.

(4) ‘Pommes des terres Frittres‘: Potato chips. Pommes des frittres‘: Apple fritters. NB omission of Pork listed in his Little Book’.

Wednesbury Rd Congregational
Zeppelin Raid : Wednesbury Rd Congregational Church, Walsall, corner of Glebe St. Walsall.

(5) Zeppelins L 21 & L19 intended to bomb Liverpool on 31st Jan -1st Feb. 1916 but got lost in the Midlands and bombed the Black Country instead  – with high explosives & incendiary bombs.  

Zeppelin L 21 (LZ 61)
Zeppelin L 21 (LZ 61). Nordholz Airbase, 1916. 587 ft long 61 ft diameter. Largest combat aircraft ever flown. Shot down in flames 28th Nov. 1916, over Lowestoft.

Walsall was hit on the afternoon of 1st Feb. The Lady Mayoress, Mary Julia Slater, died later (20th Feb.) having been badly injured whilst riding on the top of an open-air tram 16 in the centre of town near the Science & Art Institute in Bradford Place (at the spot where the War Memorial now stands). My grandfather had a narrow escape and my grandmother at 95, Foden Rd watched the sinister aircraft pass overhead. Total Casualties: 35 killed. <https://www.expressand star.com/tag/walsall> <https://www.en-wikipedia.org&gt;

(6Bukhshee Ichbye Singh Waltu: one of 130,000 members of Indian Expeditionary Force who served in France & Flanders, of whom 9,000 died. Memorials at Ypres & Neuve Chappelle. <https://www.greatwar.co.uk&gt; < https://www.en-wikipedia.org&gt;

NEXT NEW PAGE:  10th Feb. 2016. ‘My Memories of the First World War & the Battle of the Somme’ by the Revd A.H. Hibbett. Essay: 1967.

NEXT POST: 13th Feb. 1916.