Tag Archives: General Plumer.


Staffordshire Regt. Brooch.THE HISTORY OF THE SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGIMENT. Held at the Museum of the Regiment, Whitington Barracks, Lichfield, Staffordshire.

Earl Haig.The 46th North Midland Division in the 2nd Army, under the command of General Plumer,  moved south  at the beginning of October 1915, to take part in the Battle of Loos, (pronounced Loss).  

General Sir Richard Cyril Byrne Haking. 1862 - 1945.
Sir Richard Cyril Byrne Haking. 1862 – 1945.

They were now attached to the 1st Army, under the command of General Sir Douglas Haig,  and later the 11th Corps, under the command of General  Sir Richard Haking.

Rough Map/ modern roads deleted: Artois Region, France : Hohenzollern Redoubt. Approx Front Line in Red. October 13th 1915.
ARTOIS REGION FRANCE: Red Line. Approx Front Line. October 13th 1915.Rough Map/ modern roads deleted. efw. 


” The first and most trying test was attacking Hohenzollern Redoubt on Oct 13th 1915, fighting over the same ground where 1/5th had been attacking at Loos The heaviest part of the 2nd phase of the attack, on Oct 13th, was borne by the 46th N. Midland Division, the objective of 1/5th and 1/6th Battalion being the German Trench, Big Willie.

Loos Hohenzollern Redoubt showing Big Willie Little Willie, Fosse Trench Foss 8 and the Dump.
Loos Hohenzollern Redoubt showing Big Willie, Little Willie, Slag Alley, Fosse Trench Fosse 8 and the Dump.

. . .  ” The attack was made at the east end of Big Willie Trench and was intended to work forward to Fosse 8.

Loos Fosse 8
Loos Fosse 8

As soon as South Staffs left the parapets they came under deadly cross-fire from 3 sides.  In the rush they captured the main trench but, owing to heavy machine gun fire, progress was impossible and the attack resolved itself in a struggle of bombing parties.

The S. Staffs fought their way along Big Willie, and far into the night this soldier’s battle continued.  It had become an affair of individual gallantry & endurance rather than battle plan.  For three days they fought and endured like heroes of old until relieved by 2nd Guards Brigade . . .[NB Discrepancy with 1/5th Staffords War Diary ‘relieved by 3rd Guards Brigade‘]

”  The result was a gain of the main trench of the Redoubt and no moreThis was not the fault of the Battalion who led the attack. The artillery preparation was insufficient to clear obstacles and make progress across awful ground.’   


South Staffordshire Badgee


Centre: Sgt S. HIBBETT when training as a Sergeant.



12th Oct. Tue: In Billets. Proceeded to the trenches in relief of the 3rd GUARDS Brigade.  Line taken over runs from G.5.c.8.7. to G.5.c.8.9. – 6half – 8 – 6.7half -5half.7 thence along “BIG WILLIE” trench  to G.5.c.half.10.   Reference Map BETHUNE combined Sheet.

************     1/5th Bn FIELD STATE Oct 12th 1915: Available for:- TRENCH DUTY 13.10.15:  24  Officers; 721 Other Ranks. TOTALS 745.   DUTY with TRANSPORT and STORES: 2 Officers; 56 Other Ranks. TOTALS 58. DETAILS: 1 Officer; 30 Other Ranks. TOTALS 21.   SICK: 1 Officer; 20 Other Ranks. TOTALS 21. TOTALS: 28 Officers;  827 Other Ranks. TOTALS  855.   ************

13th Oct. Wed: TRENCHES EAST OF VERMELLES. Took part in a Division Attack (See Narrative of events from 12 NOON 13th to 12 MIDNIGHT 14/15th). (below)

1/5th Bn South Staffordshire Regt.

Narrative of Events from 12. noon on 13th October 1915

 At 12 noon on 13th October 1915, the Battalion was disposed as follows:-     Headquarters, ‘A‘ and ‘Dcompanies in the old front line trench between ‘Hulluch Alley’ (1) and ‘Border Alley’ (2) (G.10.b.8.9 half to G.11.a.half.60) to form second line of attack (3).

Battle of Loos Hohenzollern Redoubt. Sgowing Auchy Vermelles and Loos with Hulluch Alley
BATTLE OF LOOS  HOHENZOLLERN. 13th October.  Showing Auchy,  Vermelles and Loos with Hulluch.  Courtesy: The Long Long Trail.

‘B’ and ‘C’ Companies, with Nos 3 and 4 special bombing parties (137th Brigade Operation Orders No.22 para.2.) in the old German trenches (from G.5.c. half.9 half to 7.8.)to form first line of the attack .

During the Bombardment, especially from 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm the communication trench (from G.4. d.8. half -G.5.c.5.7.) between the two lines was shrapnelled by the enemy down its whole length.

The bombardment did not appear to affect the ‘South Face’ (4) or the ‘Dump Trench’ (5) (south of G.5.a.3.5.) as a great deal of sniping from these trenches took place between 12. noon and 2.0 pm, three of our periscopes were hit between 1.40 pm and 2.0 pm.

At 2.10 pm No 7 Platoon, on the right of ‘B’ Company, left the trench to form up on the parapet for the assault, and was followed by No 8. and No. 6.  

Capt Millner, commanding the Company, the Platoon Officers of No. 7 and 8, and most of No. 7 Platoon were almost immediately hit by enfilade machine gun fire from the left, and the rest of the Company was withdrawn into the trench to await the arrival of the 1/5th North Staffordshire Regt.  The Company also suffered from shell fire directed on their trench by the enemy.

‘A’ and ‘D’ Companies (3) in the second line moved over the parapet at 2.5 pm and advanced at 2.10 pm. They came immediately under heavy fire from machine guns and rifles which swept the parapet of our trenches in G.5.c, those of the old front line, and the ground between them.  The fire was very deadly and appeared to come mainly from the left Before the two companies had reached the front line trenches all the officers and most of the men had fallen. 

At 2.20 pm the Germans instituted a bomb attack on the barrier in BIG WILLIE (at G.5.c.half.9 half) which was held by 8696 Sgt J. Beards and a section of ‘C’ CompanyLt H. Hawkes at once took forward No. 4 special bombing party to reinforce the post.  At the same time a number of Germans in the South Face Trench got out of their trench and attempted to cross to Big Willie, but were driven back with loss by rapid fire from No. 10 Platoon.

The German bomb attack came over the second barrier into the space between the two barriers and was there engaged by our bombers, who drove the enemy back again beyond the second barrier. 8698 Sgt J. Beards and 7952 Pte W. Barnes doing good work with the Bayonet.  At this point our men came under bomb fire from three directions, right, front, and half left, and were forced to retire to the first barrier from which they carried on the fight till about 4 pm when our losses in trained bombers made it necessary to retire over the first barrier into our own portion of the trench, the Germans using a longer range grenade than the Mills (6 ).

A sufficient supply of G.S. hand grenades (7) did not reach us until later, brought up by a carrying party under Lt. McKinnis, 6th Sherwood Foresters.

After the first advance had been stopped by the German fire, the Battalion occupied our original line in the old German trenches, where it was joined by two officers and 20 men of the 6th South Staffordshire Regt., and about 3. pm by Captain Robinson and 60 men of the 6th Bn Sherwood Foresters.

The defence was then reorganised as follows:

Capt. Wistance ()
CAPTAIN WISTANCE  1/5th South Staffs Regt.

in order from right to left6th Bn Sherwood Foresters, ‘B’ and ‘D’ Companies, 5th Bn South Staffordshire Regt., 6th Bn South Staffordshire Regt.,  – the trench sections being commanded by Capt. Robinson (6th Bn Sherwood Foresters); Captain Wilson, Capt.Thursfield (6th Bn South Staffordshire Regt) and Captain Wistance*

As a German attack appeared imminent, and a thick mist settled over both lines, half the men were kept on watch while the other half took what rest they could.  Towards evening the Germans opened a persistent shrapnel (whiz-bang) fire on our trenches.

Aerial Photograph. Hohenzollern Redoubt. 1915. German Front Line top.  British Front Line bottom.

During the night parties from the 6th Bn South Staffordshire Regt rendered much assistance in collecting our wounded who were lying in the open between trenches.

At 6.15 am on the 14th October a Company of the 5th Sherwood Foresters, under Captain Kerr, arrived in our trenches and was posted to the left of our line to support a new bomb attack on the German sector of Big Willie.  This attack, which was intended to cooperate with a similar attack by the138th Brigade from the West Face, and was supported by rifle grenade fire, was unsuccessful against a very determined and vigorous defence.

The detachment of the 6th Bn South Staffordshire  Regt was withdrawn about 12 noon and the trench garrison reorganised as follows:-

from right to left6th Sherwood Foresters;  A, B, C, D Companies, 5th Bn South Staffordshire Regt;  6th  Bn Sherwood Foresters.

Our heavy batteries shelled the South Face severely, from about 11.30 am onwards during the day and at 1.15 pm another bomb attack was made on Big Willie by the Company, 5th Bn Sherwood Foresters, but could make no progress, though maintained for nearly 6 (?) hours.  The cooperation of the 138th Brigade from the West Face appeared to be very short lived.  During practically the whole day the enemy directed H.E. shrapnel (whiz-bang) fire on our parapets and caused several casualties.

At midnight 14th -15th October, the Battalion (with the Sherwood Foresters attached) was relieved by the 3rd Guards Brigade and returned to billets at Sailly-la-Bourse, arriving there at 8. am on 15th October. (8)

Signed:  R. RICHMOND RAYMER, Lt Col Comdg. 1/5 South Staffs Regt. 

46th Division Memorial. Hohenzollern Redoubt.
46th Division Memorial. Hohenzollern Redoubt.

CASUALTIES: OFFICERS Killed 5; Wounded 6; Died of Wounds 2.   OTHER RANKS  Killed 41 ; Wounded 213;  Wounded and Missing 53 ; Died of Wounds 3 . TOTAL CASUALTIESOFFICERS 13;  OTHER RANKS: 309.

Loos CWG Cemetery & Memorial to the Missing.
Loos CWG Cemetery & Memorial to the Missing.



(1) Hulluch Alley (see plan above) where Germans released poison chlorine gas on British troops, April 1916. (2) Border Alley: named after Scottish Bn?

(3) Corporal Sydney Hibbett in 1/5th ‘A’ Company at first but transferred to ‘D’ Company by this date.  Pte Bertie Hibbett ‘A’Coy (one of the 20 Sick listed in 1/5th Staffs Field State for 13th Oct.) would have been in the thick of this murderousfray‘ if the Army had got him back up the line in time.  He did not arrive in Bethune until 15th Oct.  – or I and my brother & sisters might not have been born. 

(4) South Face: 300 yards long, with views in all directions. (5) The Dump: a 20ft Crassier/ Spoil Heap (Mine ‘deads’) from the Fosse 8 / Pithead; with excellent views in all directions over the British Line.

(6) Mills: hand-thrown grenade with stick attached, see photo: 12th July 1915, Hibbett Letter.  (7) G.S. Hand Grenade: Gas Smoke Grenade, used for signalling/ camouflage/poison?

NEXT POST: 14th Oct. 1915.  Battle of Loos Hohenzollern Redoubt: The What & The Why.


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).


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.


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


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.


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.  

(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.