Tag Archives: Easter 1916.

28TH APRIL 1916: BALMY BALLAD MORAL: ‘CONSIDER MOTHER BEFORE EITHER BROTHER’.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5TH SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

CHELERS.

22nd – 30th Apr: Battalion Training.

APRIL CASUALTIES:  OFFICERS KILLED.1.  WOUNDED 3.  OTHER RANKS KILLED9. MISSING BELIEVED KILLED. 6. WOUNDED 28. Slightly wounded remained at duty 2. Self Inflicted Wound.1.

Signed: W.A. WISTANCE, Major Cmdg 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt.

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Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT, No 3 FIELD AMBULANCE NORTH MIDLAND DIVISION: LETTER to BASIL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.

Friday April 28th/ 16.

P.S. Trusting this reaches you none too late, if not ‘on the right’. (1)

Oh! Restless Child Wait & See Do not dare be wild – ‘They’ have need of thee. (2)

Mye Jollye Olde Dodger,

I can’t say in this what I mean by ‘they’, perhaps the censor would blush and perhaps do more than that if I ‘let out’, but you know that word covers a lot of reasons.  Of course I don’t believe you were all that serious when you spoke of ‘attesting’. (3)

Now:- Dearest, Dutiful, Dodger. Don’t die! Balmy Bertie blubbers badly, Boo bye! Sergeant Sydney swanks splendidly, Shoo shy! (4)

GoathlandEd290912
Goathland,  North York Moors.

What think you on that? Of course  do not dare to show Dad, ’cause as you said we know what Dad is? (perhaps?) but I remember, when I lost my walking stick on the Moors at Goatland sic (5) & had a poetic fit, how Dad behaved when I began to recite my ‘balmy ballad’. 

Still these little bits of doggerel have their moral – for instance, although Bertie blubbers (which is a lie) and Sydney swanks (which is true)Basil must learn from that:- to ‘Consider Mother before either brother’ – and that I think puts the cap on’t.

Yes the Queen of Seasons, bright (6), she finds me still in the War Zone, but bless her, she has cheered us downhearted ones all up, by her gorgeous appearance since Easter began.

Ah! my dear Loidies & Jellyfish (7) who write such pathetic & stinging epistles to the humble self!  We have a vast lot to be grateful for although the War will be all over soon (America) (8). Just let your minds run (but take care you catch ’em again) across to Aye joipt (Egypt) & think of those who have been besieged since Dec. 1915 & perhaps have never seen Home for two years or more (9).

The best thing I can tell you to do (the thought is not mine originally) is to do what Mum said to me in a past letter:-  When I feel ‘like that’ I go out for a walk, whether it is snowing, raining or what. (Now methinks dat’s goot adtvice an’ it don’t cost yer even a ‘penning’ sic (10).  Go, bathe thyself in the flood of Spring Sunshine and charm away thy dross feelings with the song of the lark’ – ahem!

My word! the Easter parcel was a ripper, everything that we could desire –  an’ above all sent with your combined love.  I did larf at the article in the QMS (11) & tried to read as much as I could, those you marked, before I left for the Field Ambulance, where I am still. The hooters that hooted for their own mischievous lust!

Sydney told me how you’d growed, that explains the meaning of you writing : the expansion due to several causes eh? –  an’ I doubt not you’ve expanded both in height & width. My word, I can’t allow this Sydney alarmed me by adding that you were taller than me.  I expect you will stand up on your bed on May 1st morning to see if you have gained another inch since you digested your Christmas pudding.

Well I will close now with my best love to Mother & Father & Sister – & Harold I guess:

Vous avez Bon Native Jour, Je espère.

Votre beloved Bertie.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

This Letter shows Pte Bertie Hibbett’s love of dialect, rhyming words and alliteration in his banter with his brother. It had a serious purpose – to persuade Basil not to attest on his 18th birthday – for the sake of their parents. He loved him for wanting to be with his brothers but raw experience had changed Bertie’s attitude to War since he volunteered in Aug.1914. The ‘Big Push’ Battle of the Somme was in preparation and the War might be over before Basil was conscripted.

(1) ‘On the right’ /‘on the right day’ i.e. Basil’s Birthday, 1st May. (2) ‘They‘ – their parents, not the Army.

(3) ‘Attesting‘ – signing up as volunteer in the Army on /after 18th Birthday. cf Hibbett Letters 2nd Mar.1916; 27th Oct 1915. Also http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/derbyscheme.htm.

(4) Doggerel with nonsense rhyme, nevertheless with a serious note/ Bertie was very anxious that Basil did not join up until it was compulsory so as not to add to his parents’ anxiety.

(5) Goathland: North York Moors /near Whitby where Hibbett family went on holiday alternate years. Bertie’s ‘Goatland’ links with ‘giddy goat’. See definition, Hibbett Letter 18th Aug. 1915. (6‘Queen of Seasons’ i.e. Easter, from the Hymn ‘Come ye faithful raise the strain’ See Hibbett Letter 23rd April 1916.

(7) ‘Loidies & Jellyfish’: Ladies & Gentlemen. (8) America: hopes appear to have been high for American intervention but it took two years (after the sinking of the Lusitania by German submarine, 7th May 1915, when 128 Americans went down with the ship) before the USA entered the War, 6th April 1917.

Long Long Trail.Railway_construction_across_the_Sinai_during_World_War_I_Aust_OH_Photo_597
Railway in Sinai Desert. 1916.

9) B.E.F. Campaign in Egypt: April 1916 saw the building of a railway across the Sinai Desert to serve Allied advance on Ottoman/German forces at Battle of Romani 3-5th August 1916. See Long Long Trail.

(10) Walk to lift one’s spirits when restless/ down hearted/troubled. ‘That’s good advice and it doesn’t cost you a penny’. (11) Queen Mary’s School Magazine , April 1916 Number?

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NEXT POST:  1st May 1916.

 

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21ST APRIL, 1916: ‘FORGIVE THEM FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO’.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

ECOIVRES.

17th Apr. Mon: In Brigade Reserve. Very quiet day. 18th Apr. Tue: Ditto. Enemy artillery active at 4.20 pm and 5.30 pm.  Otherwise quiet19th Apr. Wed: Ditto. Very quiet day.

20th Apr. Thur: Ditto. Battalion relieved by 11th CHESHIRES, relief complete 11.40 pm.

21st Apr. Fri: ECOIVRES  Battalion in Huts by  2.0. am.  Marched to new billets at CHELERS (1) starting 10.0 am arriving 2.15 pm.

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Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. 

Good Friday. Ap 21st 1916.

‘Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves’. (2)

‘Forgive them for they know not what they do’. (3)

My Very Dear Mother,

St Paul's at Crossing
The Crossing at St Paul’s Walsall. East Window, 2001.
St Paul's Interior Walsall
St Paul’s Walsall as the Hibbett Family knew it.

I do hope you too are having sunny Spring weather like we are having today: 

I think the time must be about 11 o’clock so I am picturing you all attending St. Paul’s – the light of the sun is beaming through the windows & giving the interior a bright appearance. It lights up the pew that Mum & Dad, Basil & Ida are in. 

Heleborus Niger (Christmas or lenten Rose).
Heleborus Niger:(Christmas or Lenten Rose).

As I listen to a thrush singing its lovely song in these budding trees it reminds me of you all singing together with the choirboys’ treble voices There is a green hill far away’ (4) and ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ (5). All the bushes & trees are showing new life & the fields look beautiful in their fresh green coat.  I send you some white flowers with a tinge of purple on the back of the petals; they remind me of the Passion Flower (6).

I received your welcome letter of Friday 14th & Palm Sunday,  yesterday (Thursday 20th). How funny that I too wrote to you on the Friday following Harold’s Birthday & again on Palm Sunday & you, like me & Mr W.H. Cozens*, headed our Sunday letters by that familiar name. The Batt. came back to huts last night; I saw Sydney & gave him your letters to read as well as Harold’s, Basil’s & Miss Foster’s; he handed to me the shirt & the handsome three bladed sharp knife, for which I thank you very much dear Mum.

Sydney was inclined to be cross with me (and rightly too, I think too now) for telling you that I should be Home soon. Well I did hear I was included in the next six, but where ‘the STING’ of it all was I forgot at the moment Leave has the ‘knack’ of stopping anytime.

gpembertononline.coukLegionww1Wounded.html FieldAmbulance
Motor Ambulance: gpembertononline.co.uk

You will be thinking of Our Lord’s Heavy burden of the Cross and his long walk with it to Calvary (7).

The Batt: too are most likely on their long march in full pack of about 15 kilometres this morning.  Grateful to say I came by Motor Ambulance – lucky beggar eh?  So I am waiting here for them.

Stourport on Severn. Cast Irton Bridge 1870.
Stourport on Severn. Cast Iron Bridge. Built 1870.

I will wait till Easter Sunday and enclose this in with that.  Harold told me he, Miss Bore & a few friends were going to Stourport today (8); well I hope they will enjoy themselves, but it seems a pity Harold does not have more holiday to enable them to go on another day than Good Friday, eh Mum?

Having been behind them and away from the Batt. I have had some difficulty in getting off letters to Harold, Miss Foster etc.

I have heard that Leave starts again soon, lets hope so.  Oh! I shall see you –  so ‘bide a wee an’ dinna fret’ (9). I think of Our Lord’s saying on His Way to the Cross ‘Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves’ (2).

They said the enemy shook hands with us at Xmas (10); I think they should do so today & more so being Good Friday don’t you?‘Let us forgive one another’ for man doesn’t know what he is doing when he is at War.

* * * * * * *   Continued on Easter Day.

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

My father’s Good Friday Letter is full of the language & imagery of the Passion of Christ – seen as an ever-present reality in his experience of War & the pity of War – with Nature the only sign of Life and hope of Easter. 

(1) Chelers: village near Tincques, approx.10 miles (15 km) from Neuville St Vaast & 13 miles (22 km) from Arras. That Pte Bertie went by Motor Ambulance shows he was not fit enough to carry a full pack – 50-58 Ibs in 1914 increased to 70-90 Ibs by 1916 (included steel helmets, wire cutters, respirators & extra ammo).

(2)Weep not for me. . .’ Luke 23.28. Jesuswords to women of Jerusalem on road to Calvary. (3) Forgive them . . . ‘  Word of Jesus from the Cross/ central to the Gospel message. Luke 23.34. Both sayings (in Luke only) proclaim a universal Gospel of Good News/ show Jesus’ unprecedented concern for women, poor, sick & all outcasts of society.

(4‘There is a green hill’. HymnMrs. Cecil F. Alexander. 1818-1895. Inspired by grassy hill outside Derry, Ireland & serious illness of her daughter. Published in Hymns for Little Children, 1848.

(5) ‘When I survey . . . ‘  Hymn. Isaac Watts 1674 -1748. TuneRockingham. Edward Miller. 1790. (Charles Wesley said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one).

Passion Flower. A vine.
Passion Flower. 

(6) Passion Flower: I think he sent home a helebore, as illustrated above.

(7) Calvary. Hill outside Jerusalem city wallsAlso called Golgotha ‘Place of a Skull’. (Greek transcription of Aramaic, Gol Goatha ‘Place of execution’. King James Bible translates Latin ‘Calvariae’ in Vulgate Bible as ‘Calvary‘).

(8) Stourport on Severn. Rapid industrial rise when Staffordshire & Worcester to Birmingham Canal built in 1768. Plenty of history & industrial architecture to interest Harold Hibbett & his friends.

(9) ‘Bide a wee an’ dinna fret. . .’  Leisure Hours. 1878. cf Hibbett Letter 27th March 1916.

(10) Christmas Truce 1914 & 15. See Menu Page.

NB I took a copy of  this letter to Embrace the Base at Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp/ Cruise Missile Base. October 13th 1983. Hung at the Violet Gate celebrating world-wide religious/spiritual messages of peace. e.f.w.

NEXT POST: 23rd Apr. 1916. Easter Day.