HUMBERCAMP. 27th June Tue: In Rest Billets. Y Day.
SYDNEY HIBBETT’S LAST LETTER HOME to MARIE NEAL & ARTHUR HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.
Wed. June 28th 1916.
My Own Dear Mother & Father,
This is to say that if I am knocked over for good in this charge we are making tomorrow I want to say how glad I am I have such good, loving parents.
If I have ever caused you grief I hope you will forgive me as I am a forgetful chap all right.
I am leaving my watch and cigarette case to you, and Sgt. Marden* ‘A’ Coy, has my instructions to send them to you in case.
May God bless and keep you safely, my dear parents, and remember I tried to do my duty. The war will soon be over now.
Ever your own loving & dutiful son.
Soldiers were encouraged to write a Letter Home before the Battle of the Somme, to be delivered in the event of their death. The ‘Big Push’ to end the War was planned for Thursday 29th June ‘Z Day’. Serjeant Sydney Hibbett was preparing to lead his platoon in the ‘first wave’. Poor weather postponed the Charge until Saturday 1st July.
Compare Sydney Hibbett’s Last Letter with that of his First to his Parents on Holiday at Abergele, Wales. 19th August, 1914.
NEXT POST:1st July 1916. (delayed until 5th July as I do not return from Fonquevillers & Gommecourt until 4th July).
26th June, Mon:Enemy heavily shelled our front line and supports between 8.30 and 9.15am. Calibre of gunswere 77 m.m. 4.1 and 5.9. Enemy barraged our support line during the 9.45 a.m. bombardment. W Day.
CASUALTIES: OFFICERS KILLED: Lt H. W. Devereux. WOUNDED: 2/ Lt C. P. Powell. 2/Lt A.G.A. Barton.
OTHER RANKS: KILLED: 9399Cpl R.Ford; 9861 M. Cpl Baker; 444 L/Cpl T.Grundy. ; 8840Pte J.F. Price ; 8817Pte R.W. Hemsall ; 8621Pte J.R. Somerfield: 730Pte J. Hopson; 814 Pte A. Bradley.
WOUNDED: 1111Pte A. Workman; 770Pte J.J. Jones; 9651 Pte E. Gordon; 9087 Pte H. Smith; 9056 Pte J. Hunt; 9148 Pte T. Athersmith; 9159 Pte E.H. Cartwright; 8872 Pte P. Whatley; 1163Pte G. Hill; 831 Pte J. Ferguson; 714Pte F. Griffiths; 7800Sgt S. Moore; 1307 Pte T. Bissell; 7 (?) Pte J.H. Davis (returned to duty). SHELL SHOCK: 9430Pte D. Morgan; Shell Shock returned to duty; 9744 Pte H.B. Bailey; 8665L/ Cpl S. Cogger; 977Pte F. Henry; 1277Pte H. Coulthard.
Battalion relieved by 1/4th LEICESTER REGT. Proceeded to HUMBERCAMP (1). ‘C’ Company remained behind as working party under instructions received from Brigade. W Day.
27th June Tue:HUMBERCAMP. In Rest Billets. ‘C’ Company relieved by 1/4th LEICESTER REGT. Proceeded to HUMBERCAMP. X Day.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT’S LAST LETTER before the BATTLE OF THE SOMME to his ‘MOTHER & FATHER, BASIL, HAROLD & OTHERS’, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.
‘A Rose in a Picture of Gold’.Kind Words.
At last I have found a few June Roses.
Tuesday June 27/ 16
My Very Dear Mother & Father and Basil and of course Harold & the others,
I send you Mum something to wear along with the Flag.
Our Batt. has been highly commended, our Colonel winning the DSO (2) & several officers & men medals.
You will be proud, I hope, to accept the brooch which I send as a knot of love, hoping it will tighten with every pull from both ends till both ends meet.
I have not much I can tell you.
Sydney is keeping well. I wrote on Sunday & could not send it till today; same with the letter previous, so you will have another kind of bundling-on-top-of-one-another-through-the-letter box.
Bestest love to Dad, Basil. Hoping to see you soon.
God’s will be done. Your ever affec. Bertie.
PS. Hoping that Sydney & I will go Home together soon.
This is Pte Bertie Hibbett’s last Letter Home from France. He has been directed to write to his Family in the event of his death. In the last week of June many men had been wounded or were suffering from shell shock. To cross No Man’s Land to reach Gommecourt Wood without injury must have appeared well-nigh impossible. They were exhausted, physically & emotionally.
At this point my father did not know the ‘Big Push’ would be postponed, he thought it would be on 29th June, in just two days. He sends his Mother some wild roses for her to wear with his present of a Staffords Knot brooch & flag.
My sister Rosamund & I are now on our way to France to stand, a hundred years to the day, where my father and his brother stood waiting to ‘go over the top’ at 7.30 am on 1st July, 1916.
(1) Humbercamps, Nord Pas-de-Calais.Small commune 3 miles from the Front Line at Fonquevillers.
(2) D.S.O.Distinguished Service Order awarded since 1886 for distinguished service during active operations against the enemy. (Officers of Major rank & above, very occasionally to junior officers).Awarded to Lt Colonel Robert Richmond Raymer. 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt. (Wounded 1st July 1916).
NEXT POST: 28th June 1916.
The WW1 Letters and Drawings of Private Bertie Hibbett, 1/5th South Staffordshire Regiment, to his family in Walsall, will be posted again, one hundred years on, from August 1914 to November 1918, by his daughter Elizabeth Hibbett Webb. The first posting will be the Recruitment Postcard sent by Queen Mary's Grammar School Headmaster to the Hibbett family on holiday in Abergele, Wales.