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.
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 by ‘A’ 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.
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 huts. How 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.
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?
Censor 447. EA Wilson.
(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’.