Tag Archives: Bivouac.

1st JULY 1915: OUDERDOM – ‘BULLY BEEF BUNGALOW’.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

YPRES SALIENT – OUVERDOM CAMP.

1st July, Thurs:  Moved into Bivouacs.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to Mother, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.     Censor: 447 WE Wright.

Mother at Abergele, August, 1914. Watercolour. A.H.Hibbett.

Dominion Day.  July 1/ 15. (1)

My Very Dear Mother,

Glad to hear you got our letters all right.  We both always like the parcels you send, with a fresh liking & delight every time we get one from home.  We got the last parcel the day we settled in the new hutments.  We have moved again today & will bivouac for some time now.

Leut Cozens 1914
Lieut. Tim Cozens.

I was so sorry on hearing of Jack Wade* getting wounded.  You wish we were lieutenants?  Well for my part, every time I see Tim*(2), who is the bright spark, I wish I was like him, but I am generally content & my only wish now is that Sydney will get to be a full Corporal (3).

So the Vicar (4) gave a pleasant sermon?  Do you remember me giving you a form of intercession with a picture of an angel guarding a soldier & a sailor?

My word another parcel.  I have your letter by me & am answering & referring as I read on Anything will be welcome, but don’t let us put you to any out of the way trouble. The last tin of cream was lovely & thick – send the same another time.  Many thanks for the bit of cash which came in useful.

Vernon, Sydney & I had a letter each from Mrs Penning, dear old lady (5).  Mine was a long one too & all of them written in a motherly way.  She said we had been there a long time & she was getting to know us & we were as children to her.  She said, in Sydney’s letter, that she would very much like a line from you Mother;  she must sympathise with you.

I have managed to get with Vernon in our bivouacsmade of oil sheets we carry on our packs & any poles or sticks we find in the field.  It has been a fine day today.  America will be having celebrations today & Miss Foster* (6) will be seeing the Royal Show (7) pass her window in Lenton. There’s signs of Parading soon – digging I suppose –  so I will close.

What can I send you on your birthday Mother dear?

Best love from The Trio –  V. S. B.  (Bertie).

PS  You need not send any watercress, but we get very little or no green food.

Tell me if you got letter to Basil dated 30 June/ 15 Woden’s Day(8). Could you of your generosity send Bailey* (9) that small parcel in next parcel to us,  – you promised, but just as you please.

PPS All the men are giving their tents names.  I have named our bivouac Bully Beef Bungalow (10).  Everybody is cheeringthe Brass Band has come to give us a tune.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1Dominion Day/ Canada Day : Canada received national status on 1st July, 1867(2) Lieut. Tim Cozens*, formerly Sunday School Teacher, St Paul’s Walsall.

(3) Pte Bertie’s Mother perhaps thought her sons would be better & safer as Officers, but life expectancy was 6 weeks for a young subaltern (2nd Lieut, most junior commissioned officer/ led a platoon of 50 men). Six Weeks – The Short & Gallant  Life of a British Officer in the First World War. 2011. John Lewis- Stempel (historian, author & farmer).

(4) The Revd. E. More Darling*. (5) Mrs Alice Penning: the Trio’s landlady, Saffron Walden. Not I think all that ‘old’,  she was to lose her only son, Arthur Penning* in August, 1915. (6) Miss Foster: Bertie Hibbett’s Godmother, lived in Lenton Sands, Nottingham.

(7Royal Agricultural Show. 1st July 1915, Woollaton Park, Nottingham (103,883 visitors). Commercial Motor website. The Wheel of Industry. ‘Exhibition of steam & internal combustion engined vehicles, tractor engines & agrimators’. The 1915  (&1916 Show at Manchester) ‘suffered from hostilities’;  those of 1917 -1918 were cancelled.  NB Interestingly, one exhibitor was an Edwin Foden,  Son & Co. Ltd. Elworth Works, Sandbach, producer of commercial vehicles. Any connection with Foden Rd Walsall? (

8) Woden’s Day: : Old English wodnesdaeg/ wednesday.(9) F.S. Bailey or Leonard Bailey*: probably a few cigarettes.(10) Naming of Places: an attempt to take some control in a life of total uncertainty.

NEXT POST: 4th JULY, 1915:  Rumours of Home Leave.

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30th JUNE 1915: OUDERDOM BAGPIPES & INDIANS.

South Staffordshire BadgeeTHE  HISTORY of  SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT 1914 -1918 (1).

General Plumer.
General Herbert Plumer.

June 1915: South Staffs moved further north to Ypres Salient as 46th N. Midland Division now joined the 2nd Army under General Plumer (2).

SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.    

27th 28th 29th June:  In Hutments near OUDERDOMCASUALTY: No 9713  Pte J.Monk, ‘D’ Coy, wounded while on working party.  30th June, Wed:  In Hutments near OUDERDOM. CASUALTY: No 9006 Pte. B. Hopley, ‘D’ Coy wounded while on working party.

JUNE 1915 CASUALTIES: OTHER RANKS KILLED 4;.  WOUNDED 12.  (Accidentally WOUNDED 2).  

Signed:  R. RICHMOND RAYMER Lt. Col. 1/5th S.Staffs Regt.   4.7.15.

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Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to brother, BASIL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall. ( With newspaper cutting contrasting Lord Kitchener favourably  with Lord Fisher, First Sea Lord) (3 &4).

Basil Hibbett Age 18. 1916.
Basil Hibbett 1916. Age 17. 1915.

Woden’s Day me Lord. June 30th / 15

My Dear Dodger,

I’ve just finished tea so if there’s any sticky marmalade besmeared somewhat on the pages of this letter today I will hereafter be right sorry somewhat.

It’s a lovely hot day again, but oh dear we’ve started having six-hour drills per day in full pack (5).

Before I go any farther I must thank Mother for her very nice letter written on Sunday.   I will answer it  tomorrow for sure an’ I will.

You would like to have a fortnight –  say out here as an holiday.  On Sunday & Monday evenings I visited the I(ndianCamp (6).  They were dressed in khaki, just like us, only with khaki turbans on with red tassels. Tell Mother (I know she admires themthey are really splendid & marvellous & so sociable I am ‘struck’ by them everyday I see them, but they have left us now.  I had some of their oatmeal cakes called chipatte & they gave me some corn that they eat.  You would be amused at their sergeant beckoning –  & when they fall in they cease whatever they are doing & fall in straight away, some of their braces dangling behind, some in shirts sleeves, some with blankets around them & anyhow.

Vernon. Sydney & I had a letter sent to each of us from dear Mrs Penning*.  I will refer to them in Mother’s letter.   One night this week as I slept under this canvas tent, (by the by Sydney & Vernon are with me), I was awakened by the sound of bagpipes, such a lovely sound & the music came familiar to me.  Then early this morning, about 3.30, I heard a most glorious brass band, big drums & hornets, trumpets, clarinets, euphoniums, trombones of all keys, bass, soprano.  What a fine marching air & then I heard the sound of men singing & when the band ceased they cheered like billy ho.  We made out that it was the L & L coming out of the trenches (7).

We go on a route march often while in Camp & once I saw the men in kilts & glengarry & the men practicing the pipes. How we cheered when the Reserves came in to us the other evening with our band escorting them.

Tell Dad  Charlie H.* (8) is with us nowPoor chap, –  you know he had the bridge of his foot brokenI admire the General of the Division every time I see him. He does remind me of Mush* (?).  Why, by the by, isn’t Mush in khaki like the others?   Vernon gave me a most humorous letter from his sister Molly to Sydney & myself.  He showed me some funny photos of Norman & Molly playing at soldiers. I wonder if Mrs Evans showed Ida the one of Molly as a soldier.

Tell Ida  I didn’t  ‘Stand it’. Perhaps she’ll think I’m a bit of a tomnoddy slacker (9), jokingly putting it, but you see I lay down.  ‘Underconstubble un’stand’ – as a sergeant sais when drilling us.  She said she felt jolly tired & wondered how I stood it in the shell hole.

I will close now wishing you the best of luck in the exam. ‘Keep ya pecker up‘ as Okoo* sais.

Bertie.

PS  The last pot of cream was richer than those before – we like it thick.  Could Mother put some water cress in the next parcel as we get little or no green vegetables.

  PPS  To let you know we got everything & enjoyed everything I say I relished the plum cake with its nuts. The bit of cash will come in handy.  I hear the place where we can get something in the way of luxuries has been shelled The sugar will be sure to come in useful.  As a matter of fact the whole jolly parcel was spiffing.  The tomatoes arrived quite whole in a splendid condition.

Bertie.       Censor: WE Wright

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

NB: Pte Bertie Hibbett was in a canvas tent / bivouac, not a wooden hut at Ouderdom; a very large Camp accommodating  several Regiments ‘lent’ to the Division  after the bitter fighting of the 2nd Battle of Ypres in May – & all with their morale-boosting Bands. My father knew his musical instruments & knows his brother will be interested.

(1) The History of the South Staffordshire Regiment is kept at the Regimental Museum, Whittington Barracks, Lichfield. (2) Field Marshall Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, Commander V Corps 2nd Battle of Ypres April 1915, took command of 2nd Army May 1915; June 1917 won Battle of Messines.  

(3Admiral of the Fleet, John Arbuthnot ‘Jacky’ Fisher 1841-1920; ‘argumentative, energetic, reform mindedconsidered to be second only in importance to Lord Nelson in history of the Navy.  See wikipedia.

Admiral of the Fleet John Arbuthnot Fisher. 1841-1920.
Admiral of the Fleet John Arbuthnot Fisher. 1841-1920.

(4) Newspaper Cutting (Times? no date, marked in pencil):  ‘A CONTRAST. Compare this action with the dignified and patriotic attitude of Lord Kitchener – that silent sentinel of our Empire.  No attack, no personal consideration of any kind, perturbs him. He is the Soldier of his Job; and from early morning till late night, and frequently through the night, there he is at his post –  creating a British Army three millions strong, and all the while keeping his hand on the pulse of the colossal fighting bodies of all our forces in the field.  Try to realise the immensity of the task – and then you will get some idea of the greatness of the man. And why shouldn’t Lord Fisher be equally great?  Perhaps the comparative inactivity of the Navy may have dulled his imagination; but who shall say how soon our great sea leviathans may be spawning out the fumes of hell which the Germans have flamed into fury?  Then indeed will the First Sea Lord be a mighty factor in our Empire’s life.  And Britons would sleep more peacefully in their beds if they knew the “Kitchener of the Navy” was sharing with the Kitchener of the Army the supreme responsibility for the conduct of the war.‘                                      

On the back of this cutting is an article about the American people ‘who cannot remain unmoved by the war that was to shake the world.  Eighty million people, bound to Europe by ties of blood, tied by sacred traditions which cannot be wiped out in a generation, allied to all the great commercial and manufacturing centres’

(5) Full Pack weight: 1914: 50 -58 Ibs. By 1916 ‘with addition of steel helmets, box respirators, wire cutters, bulldog shovels, grenades and ‘extra’ ammunition 70 – 90 Ibs. <www.Tommy1418.com>

Memorial to Indian Forces 1914-1918.
Memorial to Indian Forces 1914-1918.

(6) Indian Camp Ouderdom9,000 Indian soldiers died on the Western Front, through severe winter conditions as well as action of the enemy.  A monument dedicated to 130,000 Indian forces that served in WW1 is to south of Ypres Menin Gate, Memorial to the Missing

(7) L & L: either 4th & 5th Leicesters or Lancashires & Leicesters. (8) Charlie Harrison*. (9) ‘tomnoddy’ ‘: etymology possibly from ‘dodman’ the snail hence ‘slow‘ and therefore ‘foolish‘, ‘stupid‘ person.

NEXT POST: 1st JULY 1915.  Bully Beef Bungalow.

23rd JUNE 1915: NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS TAKE OVER FROM STAFFORDS.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH  STAFFORDS  WAR  DIARY

WULVERGHEM TRENCHES  

21st June, Mon:  Hostile aeroplane over trenches, 4.15 am. dropped signals (1 white 2 green, 1 red) (1) C.1. MONMOUTH FARM and N. MIDLAND FARM shelled during morning. 2 shells dropped on parapet C.1. CASUALTY: No. 9822 Pte E. Birch wounded.

WULVERGHEM /MESSINES MAP of FARMS. redrawn with help of
WULVERGHEM / MESSINES: showing BRITISH FRONT LINE in Red and FARMS named by British Troops.  Redrawn with help of http://www.martlet-books.co.uk/bible.htm

22nd June, Tue: Three Hostile aeroplanes crossed line towards NEUVE EGLISE about 4.am. N. MID. FARM shelled in afternoon. 

149th  Brigade relieved 137th Brigade in trenches occupied by them. The 5th Northumberland Fusiliers took over C.1,  C.2 & Diagonal and position of C3 held byA’ and ‘B’ Coys.  The 6th Northumberland Fusiliers took over SOUVENIR FARM S.P. 4 dug-outs and N. MiIDLAND dug-outs occupied by Company of 6th S Staffs. (2)

23rd June, Wed:  NEUVE EGLISE. In Hutments, BULFORD CAMP.

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

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to MOTHER & FATHER, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.   Post Mark 27 JU F P 149     Censor 447 E A Wilson   

Prince of Wales Coming of Age.  Wed, June 23/ 15  

My Dear Mother & Father,

‘1894 –  Notts fell on the floor!” (3)   

The Notts fighting men have been doing a bit of fine work (4) & it will soon be the time when we shall have the opportunity.  Our trenches have been highly commended by the General & those who are coming to take them over.  I think we shall not go back to them again We again spent only three days & so came out last night.  We were expecting to bivouac (5) but I suppose, because it rained, we came to the hutsHow delighted we felt on entering Camp to think we had the comfortable huts again & not be exposed to the cold & rain; for these last weeks it has been cold at nights.  

Prince Albert PC

I suppose if it were peace time there would be great rejoicing & celebrating today.  You see I have a unique way of heading my letters so that you can tell me, in a brief way, which letter you received at a certain date, for a delayed or missing letter causes anxiety to both sides.

We had lovely service after an equally pleasant celebration of Holy Communion in the open fields on last Friday morning.  The people of these two countries are of a more religious nature than the English.  What interested me during Holy Communion was a small group of children playing in the green grass, they were as quiet as mice.  I suppose they were somewhat impressed by the lovely little altar with the little cross & cloth,  also by the surplice & purple stole the Chaplain wore.

I’m sorry I forgot to say how I enjoyed the Jamaica orange.  I ate it on one of those very hot days & how I relished the juicy orange without pippins.  We shall have to fall in now for mess tin inspection.  I guess its Brewin’s savvy that’s spread such a rumour about the privates coming home.

Best love to all,    Bertie.

PS  Had letter from the Vicar this morning enclosing his address on socialism.  I need some dentifrice, perhaps Harold could supply that.  Before getting this into the post I will tell you that Vernon has had sent him two tins of Rowntrees Chocolate which he gave to Sydney & myself.  Shall I write to Mrs Evans?

Envelope June 27th PostmarkCensor

Censor 447.  EA Wilson. 

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) German Markers dropped by Reconnaisance Planes to indicate main Farms & new Diagonal Trench for shelling? (2) cf. website:  Northumberland Fusiliers 1914 -1918.  A useful summary of the Wulverghem Trenches & their dangers:  Monday, 21st June 1915. The 4th Bn marched to Aldershot huts near the town of Neuve Eglise and twelve miles south of Ypres. It was a very hot and dusty journey that sapped the mens’ strength, but they soon recovered.

The following day Bn officers rode off to reconnoitre the new trenches under the guidance of an officer from the South Staffordshire Bn they were about to relieve.The trenches were to the east of Wulverghem village and ran along a high ridge with a wide expanse of ‘dead’ ground behind them. They had been very well built and significantly improved by the Staffordshires during their two month occupation. The German trenches were between one and three hundred yards to the east. It would appear that on the ride out to the trenches the officers were spotted by the Germans, because Col Foster, Major Gibson and their two orderlies were subject to directed artillery shelling for most of the ride back.’

(3) 1894 Notts Rhyme. Does anyone know  origin & meaning? (4) Notts Hand to Hand Fighting referred to in previous Letter. (5) Bivouac: portable canvas tent.

NEXT POST: 24th JUNE 1915. STAFFORDS ‘A Model to the British Army’.