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 OUDERDOM. CASUALTY: 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.
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(ndian) Camp (6). They were dressed in khaki, just like us, only with khaki turbans on with red tassels. Tell Mother (I know she admires them) they 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 now. Poor chap, – you know he had the bridge of his foot broken? I 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.
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
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.
(3) Admiral of the Fleet, John Arbuthnot ‘Jacky’ Fisher 1841-1920; ‘argumentative, energetic, reform minded‘ considered to be second only in importance to Lord Nelson in history of the Navy. See wikipedia.
(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>
(6) Indian Camp Ouderdom: 9,000 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.
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