NEUVILLE ST VAAST
29th Mar. Wed: Battalion in Brigade Reserve. Carrying party took explosives up to B.4. Battalion, (less ‘A’ Company and 2 platoons of ‘B’ Company, which were placed at the disposal of Officer Commanding 6th South Staffordshire Regt) stood to at ‘Alarm Posts’ at 6.30 pm. German mine under B.4. successfully camoufleted (1) at 6.30 pm.
CASUALTIES resulting from bombardment. WOUNDED: 9609 Corpl. J. H. Naylor; 8816 Pte H. Flynn; 770 Pte J. Jones; 9693 Pte H. Johnson.
30th Mar. Thur: TRENCHES 063, 064, 065. Battalion relieved 1/6th South Staffordshire Regt in the trenches. Relief complete 9-45 pm.
Thursday Mar 30th/ 16. Excuse bad writing & soiled paper. I will let you know more on Sunday.
My Very Dear Mother,
On coming from duty in the trenches early yesterday I found the draft of men in this place – some of them were sleeping, including Sydney, so I did not disturb him until he woke of his natural will.
When he did wake we greeted one another quietly, cheerfully & with the usual xxxxxxx. Then we had a quiet chat. I took particular notice to see if there was any difference in him, but could not tell very well in the candlelight. He gave me dear Ida’s Xmas Card with the scented sachet inside, – how ‘bon’, many thanks to Sister (2). I gave him the rest of your Embassy Cigs & have since made hot drinks & cocoa.
The weather is sunny & bright during the day with a little snow & rain getting on towards night.
For my part, as yet, the only difference I have noticed in Sydney is that he is more quiet than he usually was, but he still cracks out in touches of humour & I fairly split my sides once.
I noticed, in one particular case, that he became absent minded; it was when I got him a pair of Jack Boots to go into the water logged trenches and when I wanted them back he could not tell where he left the pair I gave him, but he had a pair on when he came back, & said those were a pair someone had carried up for him. But, dearest Mum, I am telling you candidly what I think or rather feel for him – do not be at all anxious. He is in splendid physique & has taken the roughness we have experienced last night surprisingly cool (2). I have felt sorry for him since he came back to such an extremity.
I shall have to close now.
I am in need of a clasp knife. Could you get me one with just one blade & a tin opener.
Best love & kisses, Bertie.
PS Sydney is attached to No 3 Platoon A Coy. (4)
Pte Bertie Hibbett had not seen his brother Serjeant Sydney Hibbett since he was sent to hospital in England with ‘catarrhal jaundice’ in Nov. 1915.
(1) ‘Camoufleted’: mine exploded underground. (2) Ida’s Xmas Card: indication that the family did not know where Bertie was at that time. (3) ‘Roughness’ & ‘extremity’: German bombardment 29th Mar. see S Staffords War Diary above.
(4) Sydney Hibbett in ‘A’ Coy, therefore on 29th Mar. attached to Officer commanding 6th South Staffordshire Regt. when German mine camoufleted under Crater B.4.
NEXT POST: 9th APR. 1916.