Pte BERTIE HIBBETT:A Little Book of Words & Doings.
Bomb Accident. I was practisingsniping. Moorekilled & Lieut. Robinson & Cooke wounded.(1).
1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY
BELLANCOURT. Battalion Training.
28th Feb. BOMB ACCIDENT:
The following CASUALTIES caused by accident:- KILLED: 983Pte Hough W.; Died Of Wounds,7986Sgt Rooker S.;
WOUNDED; Capt W. E. Moore*; Lt P.W. Robinson*; Lt J.P. Thorne; 2/ Lt J.E.M. Cooke*; C.S.M. 8360Cartwright A.H.; 9603Cpl. Betteridge J.9865Pte Hingley W.; 9489Pte Burne J.G.; 9643Pte Timms H.; 921Pte White A. 9677 Pte Leach F.; 8007Sgt 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.
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.‘
9.30am. Battalion marched to new billets at OCCOCHES (3).
FEBRUARY CASUALTIES. KILLED 1; D.O.W. 1; WOUNDED 12; Slightly wounded remained at duty1. 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 waswounded. 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.
(2) British Mills No 5Grenade (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.
21st Feb. Mon. Battalion marched to new billets at PROUVILLE (1). 22nd – 27th Feb. Sun. Battalion Training.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings.
Treasured Sayings inLetters fromIda andMother: ‘On my photo, taken atMarseilles with a Leica, Ida thought I looked ‘a wee bit sad’. Mum altered the opinion – ‘I think your photo simply lovely & very happy. You lookalright & 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
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 breadwas 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& envelopes. I 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 officersit is counted as a breach of discipline. A 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 Englandworried 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).
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 theslightest 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 helmetyou sent me & Miss Foster’s handsome muffler round me, & taken in my bed of blankets. I 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, withBasil & 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.
I wrote to Sydney the other day too, but he has not sent me his address. I had to risk the one at theAssembly Rooms at Derby (11). I enclose you hisjollyletters. My 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 said – to 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.
PSI 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. France; 15 miles northeast of Abbeville. (2) Buckshee Ichbye Singh Waltu, Indian Expeditionary Force (Hindustani Sikh). Photo above: IndianSoldiers arrived in France 1914. <ww1blog.osborneink.com>
(3) Sexagesima Sunday: Sunday 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(6) Luke 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 . . .’
(9) ref. Zeppelin Raid, Arthur Hibbett acting as‘M.P. like his son in Bellancourt. (10) Walsall 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. (12) ‘Of 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*? (14) Mrs: Maria Julia Slater*, Walsall Mayoress.
NEXT POST:28th FEB. 1916.
The WW1 Letters and Drawings of Private Bertie Hibbett, 1/5th South Staffordshire Regiment, to his family in Walsall, will be posted again, one hundred years on, from August 1914 to November 1918, by his daughter Elizabeth Hibbett Webb. The first posting will be the Recruitment Postcard sent by Queen Mary's Grammar School Headmaster to the Hibbett family on holiday in Abergele, Wales.