Tag Archives: Green Envelope 1916.

28TH MAY 1916: LES AUTRES BOSCHES ‘MAKING HURDLES FOR TRENCHES’ & ‘A PROUD NEW DRAFT OF OFFICERS!’

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

LUCHEUX. (1)

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

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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.

www.gettyimages.co.uk
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.

www.pinterest.com
<http://www.pinterest.com&gt;

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.

www.
<http://virtual-library.culturalservices.net&gt;

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’.

www.huffingtonpost.com2014-10-03-photo1
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.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

24TH MAY 1916: NIGHT MARCHES, TIPPERARY & AAAAAAAAAAW FIREWORKS!

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

LUCHEUX. 

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

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

‘Home Sweet Home’ (1)

Woden’s Day. May 24/ 16.

My Dear Mother & Father,

General Sir Douglas Haig.
General Sir Douglas Haig.

Mum’s long letter of last Sunday 21st was beautiful & interesting.  I received it this evening after a good day’s work.  We have been inspected by the Gen. of the BEF (2).

Lady Postman.
Lady Postman. WW1.

So very, very  glad to hear you had a sunny Sunday and a ‘happy’ day on the 17th. 

I liked the account of how you got my letter from the lady postman (3). How delightful to have had Sydney’s favourite hymn (4) on the Sunday following.

Your letter had the opposite effect to the one previous & seemed to have had that ‘forgiveness’ I told you of in my last letter which has turned the story beautiful again, & how queer that I should have written about it last Sunday too.

Yes, I guess you would miss Ida, & do you know I had an idea she had kept her intention from you for she never mentioned you in her letter as reference Well I do praise her up to a certain extent & if she were a boy she would undoubtedly win a medal on Active Service. 

Sorry you have been ill, but I love you for the way you took it so lightly by your writing.  Bravo Dr. Utting*! (5)

Yes, Ball* was always decent to me, he is only a Private like I am, but one of the decent chaps among the ranks.  He is dark haired & has a rosy  fresh complexion, hasn’t he?  Yes, I will do as you said & he will deserve all I give him poor chap.  Yes, he is quiet & that’s the best of him, all the others are rowdy.  As for the Hinds I think Cyril* is the better.

Home Sweet Home.
Home Sweet Home. http://www.en-wiki.com&gt;

Ah! your description of Basil cutting the grass & of your sitting in the garden gave me much pleasure.

I am looking forward to the lilies. This is the Land of the Lily (6), but I have not seen any yet this year.  I think the lily (the symbol of this country) is theArum’ – that which you  decorate the altar with. 

Wild Arum or 'Cuckoo Pint).
Wild Arum or ‘Cuckoo Pint). <http://www.beforeitsnews.com&gt;

Mrs Hurst* told me it would soon be the Sunday School Festival & Mr Key* loves white flowers.

Am pleased you like Mrs Hurst, she is very much like Mrs Jones in her manner of writing.

220px-Fleur_de_lys_(or).svg
Fleur de Lys.

ThursdayYou told me in one of your past letters that I could have one of the washing squares as you had sent Sydney some. The one I have is simply a ‘tres bon’ ideaI found, when I had a bath last night, that it is much easier to get a lather with it than without, & also there is no waste soap as I put my soap inside the ‘bag’ & that which gets smeared on the square is used next time.

I told you in my last letter but one that Lieut Sanger* wished to be kindly remembered to you, at any rate I will give him theBoomerang’ (wish).  It was sometime after that I saw Allen Machin* I think S(ydney) is the best of the lot & Allen looks fine.

We have been out of the trenches since Saturday night & have done a route march each night for 3 nights.  It is cooler to march at night.  I guess you have wondered whether we march at night or not & you would think all sorts of things, not missing out that we are cheerful.  And we are not always singing ‘Tipperary’ (7). There are always some of us who find out something fresh & they are not always songs.

One night a few of us imitated the rocket we saw at the Arboretum Flower Show (8). I think someone behind us must have seen an artillery rocket, at any rate it was not long before nearly all of us picked up the jokeA long whistle for the rocket &, as we imagined the illumination to burst & show all its different colours gracefully fall to earth we should utter that expression of those who saw fireworks –  ‘aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw  – & then the excited quick Hurrah! at the end.

www.ebay.coms-l300

Monkey Soap.
Monkey Soap.

 

 

 

 

 

At another time I fancied I could smell the old ‘bread & milk’ I loved when a little school boy. I could indeed smell a kind of burnt bread & burnt milk.  Sorry I lost the choc and Terry’s sweets with the parcel, but I am hoping they will turn up after me writing.  And I suppose you sent some Monkey Brand for my mess tin (8). I need also some Emery Cloth (9).

Captain Bruce Bairnsfather. Warwickshire Regt.
Captain Bruce Bairnsfather. 
<http://www.worldwar1postcards.com&gt;
Title Page Sniper Atkins
Sniper Atkins. AHH. May 1916.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have at last managed to sketch something original but of course I could not better Bairnsfather’s features in his sketches.  Have drawn two, one you could send to Miss Foster*, if you think she would like it, & the other for yourself Choose which you like the better, the one with ‘Yours faithfully’ in front has the more original sketches in & I have substituted a verse for a better one about the Kaiser(10).

I am expecting Sydney soon, as his course should not last more than a month.

Best love to all,    Bertie.

PS  Did you get the ‘green’ to Ida dated about 14th? [Ed: if so then it hasn’t survived].

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

The inspection by Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig was a clear sign that the Battle of the Somme was imminent. Pte Bertie Hibbett has to send Home for more emery cloth & cleaning powder to spruce up his uniform & equipment.

www.epth-bresle.comFascine
Fascine <http://www.epth-bresle.com

1/5th South Staffords, at Lucheux (on top of the usual bombing, sniping & bayonet practice) were kept fit by night marches, whilst during the day they cut wood for hurdles & fascines; these were used to strengthen the long communication trenches over the dangerously exposed ridge from Souastre to the Front at Fonquevillers. 

My father was happy in his peace-making efforts at Home. He took comfort from signs of Spring & thoughts of Home Sweet Home which in the song gave him ‘the peace of mind dearer than all‘  – but in his letters from now on there seems to be a growing acceptance that he would not see his Home again until after the coming Battle.

John Howard Payne 1791 -1852. American dramatist,poet & actor,
John Howard Payne 1791 -1852..

(1) Home Sweet Home:1823. Lyrics: John Howard Payne, 1791-1852. American dramatist, poet & actor. Music: Sir Henry Rowley Bishop 1786 -1855.  

(2) Field Marshall Sir Douglas Earl Haig Commander B.E.F. replaced the First Commander, Field Marshall Sir John French after the Battle of Loos, Oct. 1915.

 (3) ‘Lady Postman’: 35000 women were drafted in during 1914-1916The Post Office was ‘the largest single employer of labour in the world‘. Dealt with 5.9 billion items of post, responsible for nation’s telegraph/ telephone system/ savings bank & 1000 branch post offices.  By 1917 19,000 mailbags crossed the Channel everyday. See websites: <http://www.postalheritage.org.uk <http://www.worldwar1postcards.com/soldiers-mail.php >

Charles Wesley.1707-1788.
Charles Wesley. 1707-1788.

(4) Sydney’s favourite Hymn: Rejoice, the Lord is King’. 1744.  Chorus: ‘Lift up your heart lift up your voice. Rejoice again I say rejoice!Words: Charles Wesley. 1707 -1788. Based on Philippians 4. 4. See Hibbett Letter: 23rd April 1916. 

(5) Dr Utting: Hibbett family doctor/ later tended Ida in her last illness. Utting & Hibbett family grave/memorial, Church of St Michael the Archangel, Rushall, Walsall. 

(6) Land of the Lily: Fleur de Lys/ Iris or Arum Lily/ symbol of France. See Hibbett Letter: 14th April 1916. 

wikiJack_Judge
Jack Judge.
Statue Jack Judge.
Bronze Statue Jack Judge. Stalybridge, Tameside, Greater Manchester.

(7) ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’. Music Hall Song: Jack Judge, in collaboration with Henry James Williams. 1912. 

Monkey Brand Black Tooth Powder.
Black Tooth Powder.

(8) ‘Monkey’:at least 3 different items with this brand name. Rather than tobacco, the context implies ‘Monkey Soap’, a scouring soap (produced in 1899 by Sydney & Henry Gross, Philadelphia, USA/later called Port Sunlight Soap) – or even black tooth powder for cleaning a mess tin. See Hibbett Letter: 21st Oct 1915.

Corundite (emery rock).
Corundite (emery rock)..

(9) Emery: ‘dark granular rock‘ used to make abrasive powder (corundum/ aluminium oxide). Rock mined over 2000 years in Turkey & Greece (Island of Naxos), world’s main supply. Used in Asia for grinding rice. Emery Cloth: coated abrasive, bonded to cloth, for hand use. 

NEXT POST: 28th May 1916.