Tag Archives: Course of Armoury 1916.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


May 29th May – June 1st Thur: LUCHEUX.  In Rest billets. Battalion Training.

CASUALTIES for May : OTHER RANKS: 1 found drowned. No 957 Pte J. Bird (attached 182nd Tunnelling Company R.E.). 3 WOUNDED: 8434 L/Corp. S. Goode; 8375 Ptre R Harris; 9724 Pte G.Bradford. (1)

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



Ascension Day (2)Thursday June 1st

The Glorious First of June (3).

ARTHUR HIBBETT: 56 in 1914.

My Dear (Mother) Father,

No – sorry,  My Dear Father.

I have a reason for writing to you Dad, although the letter is really intended for you all to read, but on condition that you ‘censor’ it first.

Mother’s & your letters were read with great interest.  Sydney returned from his course of instruction last night & wasfull up to the brimwith all he had done. He was given a highly good report, with the exception that he had not such a good word of command.

My idea of him going there for a Course of Armoury was incorrect (4). He thought it time I was going on leave; he expected I should have gone while he was away. 

Now this is where I wish you to use your usual good discretion.  I think there is no need for me to ‘use every opportunity‘ to hasten my going on Home Leave, for I went to the Orderly Room this dinner time to give my address to the Serg. Major, & tonight I heard that I am due to leave tomorrow & am going with another, Drummer Woodfield*. If his word is true, as he seemed to be quite sincere, I shall fulfill what Mum said in her letter -i.e. I shall see you very soon with the ‘very’ underlined, as Mum generally does when she wishes to emphasise anything.

I thought of not saying anything until matters get more certain & definite, & Sydney also suggested that idea when I saw him this morning. But the actual time of informing a chap to Parade for Home Leave comes suddenly & unawares, just like when Sydney went, & he only had time to write to you when he got into England. At any rate I am in the next six & I hope matters won’t turn out like they did before Easter.

I conclude my reference to this sudden ‘attack’ by saying I promise you a telegram at my earliest opportunity when I arrive in Angleterre & I hope Mum’s patient look-out for the bearer of The Telegram will be speedily gratified. (5)

Women's land army Training.http://dailymail.com>
Women’s Land Army Training.<http://dailymail.com&gt;

I had a very interesting letter from Ida. She is living the typical farmer’s life & Miss Brookes* said in her letter how she enjoyed the tea with Ida & admired her economical jersey for the farm work. No wonder dear Dad called her ‘Champion’. 

I shall have lots to tell you when I come Home, but the idea I have had lately is to do as Sydney did, according to Mum’s letter – take things as a matter of course’.

Should you ‘let the cat out of the bag’ (6) to the others tell Mum not to be in a hurry to buy luxuries and such things that will cause you to deny yourselves unnecessarily. I shall be only too pleased with bread & dripping & shall think of rice pudding as much as I loved an expensive dish when I was at Home. All I am worrying about is that I hope so much that I am not buoying you up with false hopes. My opinion is to keep the news quiet until I send the telegram.

Now I will start another page with news that Mum can read.

All good wishes,

Your affec. son,  Bertie.



Pte Bertie Hibbett was well aware that a ‘Big Push’ on the Somme was imminent but he had not given up hope that after two years at the Front he would be granted Home Leave. His parents had been frequently disappointed and he did not want to buoy them up with false hopes, especially his Mother. Once again Bertie addresses important news to his Father first. 

(1) Found DrownedPte J. Bird had gone missing on Vimy Ridge when attached to182 Tunnelling Coy. 2nd April 1916. See Hibbett Letter: 17th May, 1916. 

(2) Ascension Day: Christian Festival, 40 days after Easter. Ascension of Risen Christ to Heaven. Based on text of all 4 Gospels/ mainly Luke-Acts AD 75-90. Celebrated at least since 4th Cent AD.

Philippe-Jacques de Louthergourg. 1795< http://www.en-wiki.org&gt;

(3) The Glorious First of June: Naval Battle, French Revolutionary Wars, Bay of Biscay 1794, when British won a tactical victory turning their ships towards the enemy & French won a strategic victory breaking food blockade.

(4Unclear whether Sydney Hibbett had been on an Armoury Course at Abbeville (‘to get out of the way of these new draft of officers’) or on an Instruction Course for Serjeants in preparation for the Battle of Somme. Most probably the latter. See Hibbett Letter: 28th May 1916.

(4) ‘My Memories of the First World War’ re Mother watching out for weeks to see whether Pte Bertie was coming up the road to No 95. See Top Menu (5) ‘Cat out of the bag’colloquialism for disclosing a secret. A favourite Hibbett family saying. Origin obscure: possibly discovering the buying of false market goods. cf 16th Cent. German & Dutch refs to buying ‘a pig in a poke’. 

NEXT POST: 1st June 1916 (enclosed letter to Mother).


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


21st- 31st May: Battalion Training. In Rest Billets.


Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MARIE NEAL & ARTHUR HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. 

‘Yea and slew mighty Kings, for his mercy endureth for ever’.  Psalm 136. (2)

‘For the Lord be high, yet he hath respect unto the lowly; as for the proud he beholdeth them afar off’.  Psalm 138.

I am not alone, because the Father is with me’. ‘I will pray the Father for you, for the Father himself loveth you’. (3) Gospel for:- 5th Sunday after Easter.  May 28/ 16.

My Dear Mother & Father,

I guessed it was Empire Day (4) on Wednesday when I sent you my ‘Doggerel Illustrated’ – one copy,  whichever you choose, was for Miss Foster.

Photographer in a water-logged trench lined with hurdles. <http://www.gettyimages.co.uk&gt;

After a long day’s work in a big wood, making hurdles for trenches, I came back rather tired with the expectation of the parcel you told me to look out for. 

Lo! what a pleasure indeed to find it when I returned, just in time for a comfy luxurious Sunday tea; I washed my sweaty hands, wood stained through chopping, & then took the parcel into a neighbouring field & there I did enjoy the things – and so fulfilled your wish.


You remembered it seemed, that I love those ginger cakes with icing on top. Are they  any dearer now?  Bates* used to have them for lunch & send me to Pathesons (5) for them.  Many thanks for the favourite chocolates & the very acceptable and ‘suitablelime juice pastilles; both Dodger & you still remember what I like in confectionery.

So also the DUCKY eggs which I am keeping to enjoy for tomorrow’s breakfast. After a thirsty day the Pineapple chunks were deliciousThank you for the notepaper. Could you send some envelopes with the next lot?

Now, dear Mum, the thought of those sketches in Fragments of France (6) more particularly the wording underneath, did enter my mind as vulgarLieut Sanger* told me he (Bairnsfather) had been libelled for one of his sketches.

Sniper Atkins A.H.Hibbett. May 1916.
Sniper Atkins: A.H.Hibbett. May 1916.

I do hope you will not think my pictures, illustrating that poem of mine, are vulgar also, but mine are chiefly originals.

You will recognise one or two of them as copies from Fragments of France. One of the Snipers had it sent to himThe features in my pictures are similar to Bairnsfather’s.  What do you think of the verses? I wrote to Miss Bore* last night & sent her a copy.


I had two lovely letters from Miss K.E. Brookes* from Malvern & today the parcel of cigarettes, (which were from Samudas (7) & first intended for me & which Miss Brookes said had been returned to her, for what reason she did not say) came with your parcels & were readdressed to Sydney and I had his lot. Miss Brookes sent me a PC of Malvern also; they are doing their bit well I think.

Yes I ‘compris’ your meaning  of the amusing display of swank and ‘offishness’.  Do you read the texts at the top of my letters?see what I have written about the ‘Proud’ in today’s Psalms.

www.historic-uk.comempiredaycelebrationsEmpire Day generally turns out sunny.  We had it sunny too. You were all alone you said, see that part of  the Gospel I particularly thought of you when I read it & the text has been mine before the war & since.

I was very, very pleased indeed to hear that Sydney got his birthday parcels on the very day.  I have written twice since he left me. Once on his birthday & one previous, which I hoped he would get on the dayDo you know Mum, between we selves, I think the reason Sydney has gone in for the Course of Armoury (8) (and in hopes to be an Armoury Sergeant) is to get out of the way of these new draft officers. But excepting Lieut Sanger* of course, who wished he had Sydney as his Platoon Sergeant.  Sanger is over us now – 2 Platoon. I remembered you to him & he often asks me concerning you both.

I had a nice long letter from Auntie (Pattie) about Military Sunday (9). She said she could not help, with others, feeling sad at the sight of so many soldiers – not so much of those particular soldiers, but it reminded her of the War.

Rats: & Rat catcher WW1.
French Rats,  Rat Catcher & dog.  WW1.

There are not so many rats in this barn, why I can’t say.  I have not seen one yet. The sketch I drew of ‘A night attack repulsed’ is typical of a usual night’s rest in the last barns previous to these.

www sparticus-education
<www sparticus-educational.com>

Oh Auntie doesn’t know yet that Ida is away doing farm work & she said how pleased matters turned out for Basil, he could go out with IdaSo is Basil full up with Wednesday afternoons now like Sydney & I were?  Does he go firing at Tame Valley Range? (10).

You can write long letters Mummy but do they interfere with your ‘business’? Yes I told you in my last that the (cooker) refill arrived safely.  Apparently you did not get my last Sunday green letter before Wednesday. You would get it on Thursday I guess rightly eh?

How queer that you should be thinking of the same subject as I have been thinking about this last week & today even. No I have not a stripe yet, I still class as a ‘Tommy’.

The Soldier’s Friend. Pearl Plate Paste.

You need not send me any money thank you very much MummyI should only spend it on things which you could send me in parcels, for instance I want some Soldier’s Friend’ a kind of ‘Perka’ (sic) (11), only in tins, for brightening my buttons.

I will close now with my Best Love to all.  B.

PS  I saw Ball* yesterday morning since his return from Leave.  He told me he met a ‘Lady’ in Lichfield & that he went into Father’s Office (12). I offered him a few chocolates at tea time. I guess your ear would burn at tea time for I guess we were, both sides of the water, enjoying a nice Sunday’s tea.

God bless you all.  Bertie.



Both Serjeant Sydney & Bertie Hibbett, still a ‘Tommy’, had yet to hear about their application for Commission in 1/5th & 3/5th South Staffords, respectively. It appears the ‘new draft of officers’ displayed ‘swank and ‘offishness‘ – a proud lot, not to be compared with those who came out with the Staffords in 1914.  From this letter we learn that my father was worried his Mother might think his ‘Sniper Atkins’ ‘vulgar’. Also that Ida’s new voluntary work was in the Women’s Land Army, a decision she had kept from her Mother.

Lucheux Castle entrance. en wiki
Lucheux Castle entrance. <en-wiki.org>

(1) Lucheuxmedieval villageapprox.13 miles from the Front. Place for rest & training – with a 48th Field Ambulance (37th Division) Hospital. Here the 137th (Staffordshire) & 138th (Lincoln & Leicester) Brigades (46th Division) created a large scale model of German Lines at Gommecourt for Battle Practice. French farmers called the 46th Division ‘Les autres Bosches’ for taking up valuable arable land. Lucheux Woods were exploited for cutting sapplings for hurdles & ‘revetments‘ (trench supports). See Gerald GliddonSomme 1916 A Battlefield Companion. 2012.

(2) Psalms for 28th Day, Evening Prayer (Book of Common Prayer) are again applied by Pte Bertie to comfort his family & make sense of his life. (3) I am not alone/ the Father loveth you: Gospel of John, 16.32.

www.historic-uk.comempiredaycelebrations(4Empire Day: celebration of British, Empire 24th May 1904 -1958. Inspired by Earl Meath (friend of Baden Powell). To remind children that ‘They  formed part of the British Empire, and that they might think with others in lands across the sea, what it meant to be sons and daughters of such a glorious Empire.”, and that “The strength of the Empire depended upon them, and they must never forget it.” <http://www.historic-uk.com&gt;

(5) ‘Pathesons’: Walsall Bakery?  Bates* could be Bertie Hibbett’s former supervisor in Mining Surveyor’s Office, Lichfield Street, Walsall. (6) Fragments of France: Captain Bruce Bairnsfather. Published in The Bystander. 1916.<http://brucebairnsfather.org.uk&gt; & Hibbett Letter: 17th May 1916. (7) ‘Samudas: familiar name in Walsall/ Birmingham area. No direct reference found. 

(8) Armoury Course: oldest trade in British Army /maintenance & repair of small arms & weapons systems. Details outlined in ‘Instructions for Armourers’, 1897. <http://www.rifleman.org.uk/instructions&gt;.

(9) Military Sunday: national Fund Raising Day for Soldiers? (10) Tame Valley: South of Tamworth on Staffordshire/Warwickshire border. Firing Range for Army/ O.T.C. Queen Mary’s School Walsall. (11) ‘Perkatext unclear/ could be ‘Perika‘/ brand name for cleaning polish?

Post card new town Hall, Walsall 1905.
Post Card: New Town Hall, Walsall 1905.

(12) Town Hall, Walsall.1905. Arthur Hibbett’s Education Office was at the back of the building to the left I think.

NEXT POST: 1st June, 1916.