Tag Archives: Home Leave Rumours.


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


1st July, Thurs:  Moved into Bivouacs.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to Mother, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.     Censor: 447 WE Wright.

Mother at Abergele, August, 1914. Watercolour. A.H.Hibbett.

Dominion Day.  July 1/ 15. (1)

My Very Dear Mother,

Glad to hear you got our letters all right.  We both always like the parcels you send, with a fresh liking & delight every time we get one from home.  We got the last parcel the day we settled in the new hutments.  We have moved again today & will bivouac for some time now.

Leut Cozens 1914
Lieut. Tim Cozens.

I was so sorry on hearing of Jack Wade* getting wounded.  You wish we were lieutenants?  Well for my part, every time I see Tim*(2), who is the bright spark, I wish I was like him, but I am generally content & my only wish now is that Sydney will get to be a full Corporal (3).

So the Vicar (4) gave a pleasant sermon?  Do you remember me giving you a form of intercession with a picture of an angel guarding a soldier & a sailor?

My word another parcel.  I have your letter by me & am answering & referring as I read on Anything will be welcome, but don’t let us put you to any out of the way trouble. The last tin of cream was lovely & thick – send the same another time.  Many thanks for the bit of cash which came in useful.

Vernon, Sydney & I had a letter each from Mrs Penning, dear old lady (5).  Mine was a long one too & all of them written in a motherly way.  She said we had been there a long time & she was getting to know us & we were as children to her.  She said, in Sydney’s letter, that she would very much like a line from you Mother;  she must sympathise with you.

I have managed to get with Vernon in our bivouacsmade of oil sheets we carry on our packs & any poles or sticks we find in the field.  It has been a fine day today.  America will be having celebrations today & Miss Foster* (6) will be seeing the Royal Show (7) pass her window in Lenton. There’s signs of Parading soon – digging I suppose –  so I will close.

What can I send you on your birthday Mother dear?

Best love from The Trio –  V. S. B.  (Bertie).

PS  You need not send any watercress, but we get very little or no green food.

Tell me if you got letter to Basil dated 30 June/ 15 Woden’s Day(8). Could you of your generosity send Bailey* (9) that small parcel in next parcel to us,  – you promised, but just as you please.

PPS All the men are giving their tents names.  I have named our bivouac Bully Beef Bungalow (10).  Everybody is cheeringthe Brass Band has come to give us a tune.



(1Dominion Day/ Canada Day : Canada received national status on 1st July, 1867(2) Lieut. Tim Cozens*, formerly Sunday School Teacher, St Paul’s Walsall.

(3) Pte Bertie’s Mother perhaps thought her sons would be better & safer as Officers, but life expectancy was 6 weeks for a young subaltern (2nd Lieut, most junior commissioned officer/ led a platoon of 50 men). Six Weeks – The Short & Gallant  Life of a British Officer in the First World War. 2011. John Lewis- Stempel (historian, author & farmer).

(4) The Revd. E. More Darling*. (5) Mrs Alice Penning: the Trio’s landlady, Saffron Walden. Not I think all that ‘old’,  she was to lose her only son, Arthur Penning* in August, 1915. (6) Miss Foster: Bertie Hibbett’s Godmother, lived in Lenton Sands, Nottingham.

(7Royal Agricultural Show. 1st July 1915, Woollaton Park, Nottingham (103,883 visitors). Commercial Motor website. The Wheel of Industry. ‘Exhibition of steam & internal combustion engined vehicles, tractor engines & agrimators’. The 1915  (&1916 Show at Manchester) ‘suffered from hostilities’;  those of 1917 -1918 were cancelled.  NB Interestingly, one exhibitor was an Edwin Foden,  Son & Co. Ltd. Elworth Works, Sandbach, producer of commercial vehicles. Any connection with Foden Rd Walsall? (

8) Woden’s Day: : Old English wodnesdaeg/ wednesday.(9) F.S. Bailey or Leonard Bailey*: probably a few cigarettes.(10) Naming of Places: an attempt to take some control in a life of total uncertainty.

NEXT POST: 4th JULY, 1915:  Rumours of Home Leave.


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH  STAFFORDS  WAR  DIARY


21st June, Mon:  Hostile aeroplane over trenches, 4.15 am. dropped signals (1 white 2 green, 1 red) (1) C.1. MONMOUTH FARM and N. MIDLAND FARM shelled during morning. 2 shells dropped on parapet C.1. CASUALTY: No. 9822 Pte E. Birch wounded.

WULVERGHEM /MESSINES MAP of FARMS. redrawn with help of
WULVERGHEM / MESSINES: showing BRITISH FRONT LINE in Red and FARMS named by British Troops.  Redrawn with help of http://www.martlet-books.co.uk/bible.htm

22nd June, Tue: Three Hostile aeroplanes crossed line towards NEUVE EGLISE about 4.am. N. MID. FARM shelled in afternoon. 

149th  Brigade relieved 137th Brigade in trenches occupied by them. The 5th Northumberland Fusiliers took over C.1,  C.2 & Diagonal and position of C3 held byA’ and ‘B’ Coys.  The 6th Northumberland Fusiliers took over SOUVENIR FARM S.P. 4 dug-outs and N. MiIDLAND dug-outs occupied by Company of 6th S Staffs. (2)

23rd June, Wed:  NEUVE EGLISE. In Hutments, BULFORD CAMP.


BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to MOTHER & FATHER, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.   Post Mark 27 JU F P 149     Censor 447 E A Wilson   

Prince of Wales Coming of Age.  Wed, June 23/ 15  

My Dear Mother & Father,

‘1894 –  Notts fell on the floor!” (3)   

The Notts fighting men have been doing a bit of fine work (4) & it will soon be the time when we shall have the opportunity.  Our trenches have been highly commended by the General & those who are coming to take them over.  I think we shall not go back to them again We again spent only three days & so came out last night.  We were expecting to bivouac (5) but I suppose, because it rained, we came to the hutsHow delighted we felt on entering Camp to think we had the comfortable huts again & not be exposed to the cold & rain; for these last weeks it has been cold at nights.  

Prince Albert PC

I suppose if it were peace time there would be great rejoicing & celebrating today.  You see I have a unique way of heading my letters so that you can tell me, in a brief way, which letter you received at a certain date, for a delayed or missing letter causes anxiety to both sides.

We had lovely service after an equally pleasant celebration of Holy Communion in the open fields on last Friday morning.  The people of these two countries are of a more religious nature than the English.  What interested me during Holy Communion was a small group of children playing in the green grass, they were as quiet as mice.  I suppose they were somewhat impressed by the lovely little altar with the little cross & cloth,  also by the surplice & purple stole the Chaplain wore.

I’m sorry I forgot to say how I enjoyed the Jamaica orange.  I ate it on one of those very hot days & how I relished the juicy orange without pippins.  We shall have to fall in now for mess tin inspection.  I guess its Brewin’s savvy that’s spread such a rumour about the privates coming home.

Best love to all,    Bertie.

PS  Had letter from the Vicar this morning enclosing his address on socialism.  I need some dentifrice, perhaps Harold could supply that.  Before getting this into the post I will tell you that Vernon has had sent him two tins of Rowntrees Chocolate which he gave to Sydney & myself.  Shall I write to Mrs Evans?

Envelope June 27th PostmarkCensor

Censor 447.  EA Wilson. 



(1) German Markers dropped by Reconnaisance Planes to indicate main Farms & new Diagonal Trench for shelling? (2) cf. website:  Northumberland Fusiliers 1914 -1918.  A useful summary of the Wulverghem Trenches & their dangers:  Monday, 21st June 1915. The 4th Bn marched to Aldershot huts near the town of Neuve Eglise and twelve miles south of Ypres. It was a very hot and dusty journey that sapped the mens’ strength, but they soon recovered.

The following day Bn officers rode off to reconnoitre the new trenches under the guidance of an officer from the South Staffordshire Bn they were about to relieve.The trenches were to the east of Wulverghem village and ran along a high ridge with a wide expanse of ‘dead’ ground behind them. They had been very well built and significantly improved by the Staffordshires during their two month occupation. The German trenches were between one and three hundred yards to the east. It would appear that on the ride out to the trenches the officers were spotted by the Germans, because Col Foster, Major Gibson and their two orderlies were subject to directed artillery shelling for most of the ride back.’

(3) 1894 Notts Rhyme. Does anyone know  origin & meaning? (4) Notts Hand to Hand Fighting referred to in previous Letter. (5) Bivouac: portable canvas tent.

NEXT POST: 24th JUNE 1915. STAFFORDS ‘A Model to the British Army’.