Tag Archives: L’Angue Francais.

12th FEB 1916: SNIPING TEST & FOOD PARCEL ECSTACY!

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: PAGES 3 -5 of LETTER to All the Family, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

Saturday 12th Feb. 1916. (1)

. . . I came back from a Sniping Test  (Note the Chart at the head of my letter).

Lee-Enfield short magazine. Mk 1.
Lee-Enfield Rifle short magazine. Mk 1.
Winchester British Enfield Pattern. Sniper Rifle. 1914.
Winchester British Enfield Pattern. Sniper Rifle. 1914.

A day or two ago I happened to do well at potting at a target & I think they must have mistook me for my brother Sydney (Good old Sydney comes in useful even in his absence & leaves his footprints behind in the sand). (2)

So I was recommended for a Sniper(3) & this morning I had an idea I was going to do badly, but of course hoped & tried to do well, with the result that I made 3 bulls, & inners within a bull, the size of half a crown – of course with a special sighting arrangement.

So my happiness went up, & was gradually going up, when I was dismissed from the range first & marched to billets with great expectations of enjoying the contents of the first parcel.  What was my astounding, delightful surprise, on going up to this attic, than to see the Corp. hand me two more, similar parcels as the 1stI then sat down to work undoing the stitches, not one by one, butthe few onlookers (the others were on parade) commented on the excellent way in which the parcels were wrapped (4).

The first contained the serviettes, chocolate, cigs& now blow me I don’t know which was in which –  at any rate I placed them all in front of me.  What a fine show!  ‘Onze’ (sic). Now for ‘Douze(sic) as I strode back for the second parcel hidden in my pack.Douzecontained the very excellently knitted khaki socks. I did admire them & could see the thoughts inter-twined in them. 

Oh! I shall be especially thinking of you when I mange moi gateaux & pork pie I was in ecstasy as I withdrew the currant bread, but I looked for the butter & was about to be disappointed when the thought came to me, the butter might be in the third THURD parcel so in half a jiffy I strode one big stride & was into Treize or Troi (sic) as these frog-eating people call ‘three’; and my hopes of enjoying the currant bread with butter from Home soon were satisfied & gratified.

Thank you again for this writing pad, a guarantee that I did really get your three parcels. I have never read such interesting & full, stock- full of news, as those enclosed in the parcels, especially Sydney’s long account of his doings.  As for Basil’s, I shall have to write him a letter to read all on his owny own.  And well, as for Mum’s letters, I am at first very touched & then I flop down & down & DOWN I go, & I shall have to conclude now I have reached THE LIMIT.

To be continued tomorrow Sunday.

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South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

SIDI BISHR CAMP, ALEXANDRIA.               1st – 4th Feb. Battalion Training.

H.M.S. TRANSPORT. 5th Feb. Sat. 9.15 am.  Embarked en route for FRANCE.

H.M.S. Transylvania.
R.M.S. Transylvania. <https://www.en-wikipedia.org&gt;

H.M.S.TRANSYLVANIA (5).  6th -12th Feb. Voyage to MARSEILLES. MARSEILLES. arr. 12th Feb. Sat. 8.30 am. Disembarked and entrained en route to PONT REMY at 7.12 pm.   

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

After so many weeks deprived of all contact with his family and not knowing whether they had received what little correspondence he had  been able to send, Pte Bertie Hibbett was overcome with emotion opening his parcels and reading their letters. Counting in French obviously not his strong point!

(1)12th Feb. 1916 is the most likely date. (Continuation of letter is missing).

(2)‘A Psalm of Life’.1838. Henry Wadsworh Longfellow 1807 -1882. Collection: ‘Voices in the Night‘.  ‘. . .  In the world’s broad field of battle. In the bivouac of Life. Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife!  . . . Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime And, departing, leave behind us footprints in the sands of time . . . ‘

French Sniper team. 1914.
French Sniper team. 1914.<https:// http://www.alarmy.com&gt;

(3) The British Sniper was a trained marksman, alone or in a pair or sniper team:to maintain close visual contact with a target and engage targets from concealed positions or distances exceeding the detection capabilities of enemy personnel.<https://www.en-wikipedia.org&gt; <https://www.gunauction.com&gt;

(4) A ‘parcelwrapping’ compliment to his father.

(5) S.S.Transylvania: Cunard – Anchor Line. Torpedoed & sunk by German U-boat, 4th May 1917, whilst carrying troops to Egypt from Marseilles. 412 lives lost.

NEXT POST: 13th FEB. 1916. Pages 4-5 of Letter to Ida. NB Continuation of Letter of 12th Feb. is missing).

NB. NEW PAGE:MY MEMORIES’ A.H.H. published 10th Feb. 2016 to mark centenary of the Battle of the Somme. 1st July, 1916.

 

 

 

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7TH FEB.1916: HAPPY & AT HOME WITH ‘L’ANGUE FRANCAIS’ & ‘MON AMI JOE ‘.

Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings. February 1916.

Bellancourt (1). Had a good time with Transport at Bellancourt, where I acted as MP over billets.  Got in with French chap & an old couple and baby who would greet me as ‘Daddy‘ and cry awfully when I went away.  Albene by name. Invited me to supper. Menu: Pork et Pomme de terre. Cider. Macaroni pudding. Pommes de fritters. Cafe. Promised to keep in touch with Bukhshee Ichbye Singh Waltu (clerk). No 5. Base Supply Depot, Indian Expeditionary Force, France.’ .

POSTCARD ‘Notre Petit Gars’ to Mother, Marie Neal Hibbett (omitted from post by mistake, illustrated below): 27/ 1/ 1916.

 My very dear Mother, still here.

Any amount of flies in this orderly room, but half dazed. I squashed one on my ear. Trust you got the PC I sent to Dad. Not much I can tell you now, but hope to do so in time.  The French are great at painting mind pictures.  PCs are ½ d each here but these two were a 1d each owing to them being hand finished. I bought several PCs and hope to paint a picture or two when I have leave at home (when that is). 

I wonder if S(ydney) is at home or in England yetSorry you will not be able to write to me as I am still away from the Batt.

Best love, Bertie.

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Mother at Tea.
Mother at Tea.

Pte BERTIE tries his hand at ‘L’Angue Francais’ in LETTER to Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall, she had not heard from him for some time.

NB Neuve Address (1)       Lundi, Fevrier 7/ 16

Mon bien Chêre Mère, (2)

Comment-allez vous mon Mama. Je vous espère – ne heureuse – about me not being able to write you on Janvier 31st Demanche.  Que pensez vous le raide des zeppelins sur l’Angleterre? Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Liverpool, & Nottingham.

I spent Sunday January 31st in a cow truck, so of course I could not very well write to you as the train shook too much for reading even, let alone writing.  Je suis bien triste mon Mère that I have missed my usual Lettre de Demanche. 

I guess you will be ‘Bien Heureuse’ to receive a letter from me, & still happier I know that you can send parcels & letters from now on until further orders to Private AH Hibbett 8832 1/5 South Staffordshire, attached to A Company 1/5 Notts & Derby Regiment BEF.  Please note the latter Regiment Basil can make a copy for you to keep safe I was told to write the address in the letter & not on Top

Notre Petit Gar.
Notre petit Gars! Mon Dieu! dans les dangers Daignez le proteger! PC to Mother: 27.1.1916.

I hope now that I shall soon hear of Sydney. I wonder if he has left England yet When I wrote you last I sent you two French Postcards with something of little interest written on them, for then I could not tell you much.  But since thenJe suis avons une longue journé dans le chemin de fer & spent some happy days at a little village composed of nothing but farm houses & ‘chateaux’. (3).

I was in charge of a billet as ‘police hommes en garde’ & got to know the farm people who lived there.  The old lady invited me to supper every evening free of charge.  The supper was fine every time.  I had no less than four courses, but curious enough all the courses, except the second, was the same every night:

Menu: PremPommes de terres frittres. 2. Macoroni au lait.  3. Pommes des frittres et du pain4. Cafe.  – see torn leaf.  (4)

[Torn Leaf: We all made ourselves quite happy & at home with L’Angue Francais. Je connaissez petit – causing one another to break into roars of laughter now & again. They had one little child who mistook me for her ‘Dada’ & she would break into crying everytime I promenaded down La Rue de Ville. The farmer gave me many souvenirs. ]

So do not Rêre but be en L’Alerte  for a letter from my French Chum, Joé by name.  They were very interested, as well as surprised, when I got them to understand that my home was in Staffordshire over which des Zeppelins travelled (5).  We got to know of the damage done at Nottingham & Liverpool & I made them understand that I wanted to send the news in French to mon Père et mon chêre Mère as the news in French would beBien Interestanté’.

Je suis fatigue – êcriré l’angue Francais.  Je suis bien ignorant.  Monsieur Basil (the French compris ‘Basil’ as it is a French man’s name also) will think my scraps of French ‘Bien faible’, but I just put the phrases in as I like plenty of variety when writing letters.  I hate reading letters which are written in the same ‘olde style’. 

Buckshee-HindustaniAimez-vous les petit timbres et les petit photograph de moi-même et mon ami Bukhshee – il un Hindustani Sikh:–  that is his name.  He could speak, not only his own language but French fluently, & English too. (6).

I will conclude nowJe vous promets que vous serez heureuse when je vous vois at Home. 

Please note Notts & Derby Reg. Let Basil make a copy for you to keep in a safe place.  You can, if you wish, send me any thing you like in a parcel.

Je suis votre aimable fil, (7).  Bertie.

PS  Que pensez-vous de la raide des zeppelins sur L’Angleterre?  Mon Basil     [. .  the rest is censored . .]

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) BELLANCOURT, a tiny settlement in Picardie, 3 miles north-east of the Cathedral City of Abbeville.  Pte Bertie, was now attached to Notts & Derby Regt (Transport) & acting as military policeman (until 1/5th South Staffords arrived back in France from the Eastern Front). He accounts for the lack of a Letter Home on 31st January (on a train journey in a cow truck) and his Mother may not have received anything from him in January except a couple of postcards with ‘little of interest’ (see above PC 27th Jan).  The British Army was keen to keep its movements quiet. 

(2) Pte Bertie’s French is exactly as he wrote it (including accents) but readers, even with little French themselves, can make out the gist of his meaning!  Here he confuses ‘bien’ (good) with ‘très’ (very) and signs himself ‘Your kind (fil) thread‘! instead of ‘Your loving (fils) son.   ‘Je suis bien ignorant’ I can hear him laughing, but he made himself understood & his Little Book of Words & Doings has pages of French vocabulary. NB. Walsall’s Blue Coat Elementary School curriculum would probably not have included French and at Queen Mary’s Grammar his studies would have been geared towards his mining surveyor apprenticeship. 

(3) Pte Bertie’s position as an MP (military policeman) may account for his happier billet on Joé Albene’s farm.

(4) ‘Pommes des terres Frittres‘: Potato chips. Pommes des frittres‘: Apple fritters. NB omission of Pork listed in his Little Book’.

Wednesbury Rd Congregational
Zeppelin Raid : Wednesbury Rd Congregational Church, Walsall, corner of Glebe St. Walsall.

(5) Zeppelins L 21 & L19 intended to bomb Liverpool on 31st Jan -1st Feb. 1916 but got lost in the Midlands and bombed the Black Country instead  – with high explosives & incendiary bombs.  

Zeppelin L 21 (LZ 61)
Zeppelin L 21 (LZ 61). Nordholz Airbase, 1916. 587 ft long 61 ft diameter. Largest combat aircraft ever flown. Shot down in flames 28th Nov. 1916, over Lowestoft.

Walsall was hit on the afternoon of 1st Feb. The Lady Mayoress, Mary Julia Slater, died later (20th Feb.) having been badly injured whilst riding on the top of an open-air tram 16 in the centre of town near the Science & Art Institute in Bradford Place (at the spot where the War Memorial now stands). My grandfather had a narrow escape and my grandmother at 95, Foden Rd watched the sinister aircraft pass overhead. Total Casualties: 35 killed. <https://www.expressand star.com/tag/walsall> <https://www.en-wikipedia.org&gt;

(6Bukhshee Ichbye Singh Waltu: one of 130,000 members of Indian Expeditionary Force who served in France & Flanders, of whom 9,000 died. Memorials at Ypres & Neuve Chappelle. <https://www.greatwar.co.uk&gt; < https://www.en-wikipedia.org&gt;

NEXT NEW PAGE:  10th Feb. 2016. ‘My Memories of the First World War & the Battle of the Somme’ by the Revd A.H. Hibbett. Essay: 1967.

NEXT POST: 13th Feb. 1916.