Tag Archives: Listening Post.


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

S.W. SLOPE OF HILL 60. TRENCHES:  35, 36  & 37 with their Supports.

17th July Sat: Relieved 5th Leicester Regt. Trenches 35, 36, & 37 with their Supports about 11.45 pm.

18th July, Sun :  V Quiet day. Enemy aeroplane appeared hit by Anti-aircraft guns, descended quickly behind German lines.  Howitzer battery (1) fired with good effect on enemy trenches on our left at 9.00 pm. N. W. wind.  CASUALTIES:  KILLED: No 8536  Pte. J. Wilkinson. WOUNDED: No 9709 Pte W. Ball.

19th July, Mon: RE reported having bored through to enemy mine in gallery in front of 37 Trench. No working was heard from enemy mine. Our Listening (2) near old mine crater reports all quiet.  Enemy shrapnelled old 35 communication trench about 12.5 pm.  RE removing explosives from enemy mine. S.W. wind.                           

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
20 in 1915..

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Arthur Hibbett & Marie Neal Hibbett. 95, Foden Rd. Walsall. 

In the Trenches.  Monday Washing Day. July 19/ 15

My Very Dear Mother & Father,

It is a lovely sunny evening with beautiful blue sky & fine with white clouds. Just before tea – no about 3 o’clock, I went to Sydney’s dugout, a very comfi one in comparison to others.  If it could have some green baize round the mud walls it would compete with an officer’s

Sydney had all his picture PCs hung up over his head.  We had a nice little talk with Charlie Harrison* (Dad’s clerk) and an NCO chum of Sydney’s, Clive Hammonds* of Lloyds Bank, a sergeant; – he was relating what he had heard from a Sergeant Major about the War.

Piccalillie Advert. Crosse & Blackwell 1867.
Piccalillie Advert. Crosse & Blackwell 1867.

Sydney had a tune on his mouth organ & we had some bully beef with some of Harrison’s pickles called Cross & Blackwell’s Piccalle (sic) (3). Then Charlie & I came away to our dugout until tea time  – which consisted of little bits of biscuit, gooseberry jam & some butter.  For Sunday’s tea I used some of your tea & sugar & we had a ration of milk, the whole making a delicious drink. 

With Harold’s Mineral Spring Health Granules & his bottle of Lemonade Crystals I can make a lovely morning’s drink. 165_medium There are two wells in these trenches & we can get as much water as we like up to a certain time at night  – ‘Stand To’ I believe.

Well I am sorry I have told you so much about our doings so far.  I intended starting by saying how delighted I was on receiving your two letters.  [While I was at Sydney’s dugout I asked him if he had got any letters, he pointed to his overcoat pocket & I pulled out two letters & an envelope with this note paper in]. Two very nice letters, ones which I was looking forward to as I lay down in my dugoutI had not had one from you since 14th.  So the weather was fine at home for my & your birthdays.  It rained at breakfast here but turned out sunny & windy & we both had a very enjoyable tea together in Camp. 

How lucky I was to spend the day at rest  – we had come from the trenches during the night & on your birthday we went digging all day.

I shall be pleased to get a letter from Ida.  I hope she had a fussy welcome at Ashton* & will she go on to York next (4)?  Auntie said something about her going there.   I pray that Jack Wade* is safe & will be found & that the anxiety in Ashton will not last long.

Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall.
Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall.

I pray also that Basil will succeed well in his exam & his health will not crash down for Mother & Father’s sakes.  You are pleased I am sure that he will be nearer home if the exam is at the Grammar School (5).

You will have him arrive sooner to tea  and he will spend more time over his breakfast.

Dear Mother how very good of you to send a parcel –  another one so soon after the two ripping ones.  We have demolished all the contents of them & we shall look forward to going back to where the parcels are awaiting us, –  with the one from your kind friend Mrs Jones*(6).   You will tell me when you get the letters acknowledging your parcels?  I guess you got them on the 16th –  the day you wrote to Sydney & meSee if you can tell me exactly when you got all my letters from the date I send you the card.

By-the- by did you really get that card on your birthday? – if so what luck eh!

I say isn’t this letter cramped! – I have put these little bits in since I concluded my letter proper.  Did I mention that I gave Leonard Bailey* your generous little gift & he was delightedIsn’t he a funny chap & he didn’t wish me many happy returns either, but I forgive him, with all my heart I do.

How many more Washing Days will it take before I see you all againMr Nightingale’s little daughter* used to count by washing days for the holidays to come.

Best love Bertie.                            Censor: S.O. Allday



My father has covered every available space with his rambling ‘little bits‘ and appears increasingly anxious about receipt of his Letters to & from Home.This Letter was posted in a white envelope; presumably Green envelopes had not yet been issued in sufficient quantity.

(1) Howitzer Battery: artillery piece between a ‘gun‘ and a ‘mortar‘; designed to propel projectiles at high trajectories, with steep angle of descent.  (2Listening Post.  Pte Bertie Hibbett often volunteered for this dangerous underground duty.  cf. Previous Hibbett Letters & A Little Book of Words & Doings. Tunnelling Companies were very active in 1915, laying mines under enemy lines.

(3) Piccalillie: English version of an Indian Pickle. Etymology: ‘Paco-Lillo‘ 1578; ‘To pickle a Lilo’, an Indian pickle‘.1694. Ingredients: chopped vegetables, usually cauliflower, marrow, mustard & turmeric. Crosse & Blackwell estab. 1706. cf Wikipedia.

(4) Ashton under-Lyne; former home of Marie Neal Hibbett (nee Yoxall). York: former home of Arthur Hibbett.  Ida Hibbett is visiting relatives; Jack Wade* (missing in action) is probably her cousin.  (5) 95, Foden Rd is about 500 yrds up hill from QMS (now the Girl’s Grammar School). 

(6) Mrs Jones*.  A little bit of oral family history Apart from being a ‘kind friend’ of my Grandmother, and sending parcels to my father in WW1, I knew nothing about this lady until today when my older brother casually remarked that he thought Mrs Jones came from Ashton under Lyne  – and was the ‘Nurse Jones’ who came to help my Mother when I was born. My brother also informed me that I did meet my grandparents before they died in 1940. At 6 months old, the family took me to visit them in Rhyl.  But we had to leave suddenly – it was Sept 2nd, 1939, the day before World War 2 broke out. Changing trains at Chester or Manchester, my 8 yr old brother remembers the station crowded with refugees.

NEXT POST: South Staffords War Diary 20th July -31st July 1915 will be posted on 20th JULY 2015.   


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


20th June, Sun.   Hostile aeroplane over trenches about 5.30 am.  Quiet day. Demonstration at 11.30 to ascertain enemy’s strengthArtillery fired 2 salvos, 2 burst of rapid fire opened with interval of ten minutes. Impression that enemy’s trenches more weakly held than usual. CASUALTY: Pte. B. Lakin wounded.   

Bertie in UniformPTE BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Mrs A. HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall

3rd Sunday after Trinity                                                             June 20 / 15

My Very Dear Mother,

‘O anxious one!  Sit still at Jesus’ feet, In quiet there thou hearest words so sweet.’   Very beautiful, comforting & soothing are those verses by Bessie Porter (1).  Yes they are all full of Mother, as I said in my letter after Mothering SundayThey also apply to me.  I have thought of a quaint coincidence.  I must ‘stand still’ on Sentry & you must ‘sit still’ at HomeI have just read them over again they are so fine. 

Bessie Porter: Elizabeth Ann Porter Head.
Bessie Porter: Elizabeth Ann Porter Head.

You got the pamphlet from the case of Bibles.  You were so generous as to call it mine I am half sorry that you sent it, but really such a poem helps wonderfully in my life away from home.  Yes we must ‘sit stillnot so literally speaking though.  I shall guess rightly if I say that your letter on the 16th Wednesday afternoon (when you said Ida was cutting the grass & it is nearly teatime) was sent posthaste to the General (PO), for I noticed the post mark – 5.15 pm 16.

So naughty Sidney, besides disappointing you with saying we shall move tohotter quarters’, will tend to make you more anxious, but ‘Be not impatient, but in stillness stand’ & again ‘leave it in His wise hands’. (2). He can work the impossible.  Yes none of us on earth can actually tell when this War will be over.  Peace can come any time, sooner or later. Let us pray that Peace will come soon.

Now I must say how sorry I was for not addressing my letters to you more often, but you know dear Mother, who said in her short address that Sunday afternoon (sunny as this is) to the girls in the Sunday school,  ‘Let our minds be as broad as the skies(3) & you will have noticed that I mention you in most of them.  I must apologise too for not letting you know that I have got your two pencils now, the one made in Manchester, called the ‘Popular copying’ and the yellow B pencil I am writing with the ‘Popular’ one now.

We had our rest this morning after doing Listening Post in the new place last night.  So I spent some of the time in reading the Psalms & I again pictured you in St Paul’s.  I can remember some of the chants now (4).

Now I will have my say with regard to Home leave.  We heard that Capt L. (5) & the Adjutant* had gone yesterday, Sat. so your words came true.  Our Platoon Commander seems to have an idea the privates will not get Home Leave for some considerable time, but it is not improbable that the NCOs will have Home leave after the officers & then there will be four men out of each Company go each day.

Oh rumours have been quite at large lately, but we, (Sydney & I) have thought it wisest not to alarm you & get you disappointed for fear we do not go home (6). Brewin* also had a curious letter saying they expected him coming home with Capt. L.  & W. (7).

Well I will close now, hoping you are spending a very Happy Sunday together.

The Hibbett Family at Tea:  Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida.
The Hibbett Family at Tea: Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida. Abergele. 1914.

I can picture you all at tea.  Sydney & I are going to have some of that nice tea from Home today.

Best love from Bertie.

PS  On Saturday morning we had a celebration of Holy Communion out in the open fieldThe Chaplain wore his surplice & purple stole & the altar was a lovely little one with cross & cloth complete.  What interested me were three little children, as quiet as mice, playing together without the circle of men in khaki (8). After the Eucharist we had an ordinary service when the Chaplain gave a very useful address upon the Gospel for the 2nd Sunday in Trinity about the feast (9).

I am finishing this letter about 6.o’clock.  I have been digging a communication trench all afternoon & thought of you about 4.30 at tea.  We are waiting to be relieved by the next (digging) party so that we can go & have our teas & I can enjoy some tea from home.  We were paid last Thursday so I got a tin of milk from a stall outside camp.   Shall you go to Rushall (10) this lovely evening?  I read that Mrs Jones* went to St Paul’s one Sunday.

PS  I shall have quite a number of headings to letters this week.  Tues. ‘Summer Commences’.  Wed. is ‘Prince of Wales Coming of Age’.

Censor WE Wright.



(1) Bessie Porter:  Elizabeth Ann Porter Head. 1850 -1936.  b. Belfast. Evangelical Hymn writer/ secretary to YWCA. Refs on the web to ‘O anxious one…’ state origin unknown, so thanks Dad. (2) ‘Be not impatient’: my father implies this is also by Bessie Porter. 

(3) Mrs Kathleen Brookes. Walsall Sunday School superintendent. (4) Anglican Chant grew from Medieval Plainsong tradition during Reformation.  Devised to provide musical settings to English language version of Psalter in Book of Common Prayer. 1662. ‘Matches natural speech-rhythms to notes in a simple harmonious melody‘ (Wikipedia).  Earliest known are by Thomas Tallis 16th Century. Used by Christian denominations world-wide. Under the influence of his father, Arthur Hibbett, organist & music teacher, my father loved both Plainsong and Anglican chant

 (5) Captain Lister*.  (6) Home Leave: in the event, NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) Sydney Hibbett did not get Home Leave until hospitalised with jaundice in Autumn 1915.   Private Bertie Hibbett never had Home Leave the whole of his Active Service (i.e. 17 months) and probably not until hospital discharge in Spring of 1917. 

(7) W: W.E. Wright: adjutant? /censor of most of the 1/5th Staffords Letters.  (8) Bulford Camp, Neuve Eglise attracted local people (& their children) eager to sell wares to soldiers. (9) St Luke 14.16. (10) Rushall Church, an evenings walk from 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

NEXT POST:  23rd JUNE 1915.


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

12th June. Sat: In Hutments Bulford Camp. Proceeded to trenches in relief of 6th South. ‘B’ Coy Somersets attached.


13th June, Sun:  Enemy fired  single shells at varying intervals, commencing just after midnight at the Diagonal.  

Portrait of Herman Struck in Officer's Uniform 1915 by Lovis Com, German 1858-1925.
Portrait of  German /Jewish Artist Engraver, Herman Struck in Officer’s Uniform, 1915,

Germans wearing dark grey caps with red bands and patent leather peaks (1) observed behind their parapet opposite C.4.   Diagonal shelled at 1.30 pm. Enemy  aeroplane reported over village. CASUALITIES: KILLED 9074 Pte H. Walter. WOUNDED: 8719  Pte J. Sherratt and 7984  Pte J. Pargeter.  


Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.
Marie Neal Hibbett. Abergele 1914. Watercolour. A.H.Hibbett. 19 yrs.

2nd Sunday after Trinity.  June 13 / 15

My Dear Mother,  

How can I thank you for the lovely letter, & how surprised I was on seeing another parcel on Sat.  I was thinking on Sat. breakfast that we shall have to wait another fortnight. Yes you’ve spoiled me at any rate.  I can’t do without a bit of luxury with my tea or dinner.

I was exceedingly interested with the newspapers you sent.  Very sad though about Colonel Wade* (2) .  I guess you would like to keep the photo so I send it back.  How curious, on the one side of the paper was all about war whilst the other side was mostly concerned with home & peace.  I mean the procession of Sunday School children. I well remember dear Mother you telling me all about the banners & the long procession of gaily & neatly dressed children & the meeting places.

St Paul's Interior Walsall
St Paul’s Walsall before modernisation into St Paul’s at the Crossing.

I am aware that it is St Paul’s Sunday School Festival today & I picture them going up to the altar with flowers & singing ‘Here, Lord, we offer Thee’ (3).

I do hope you will have my parcel safe & the roses will be fresh.  I have written more than twice to the Vicar* since on active service & I guess he has not written back because of Mrs Key’s sorrow on losing her brother. Very sad.  I read the letter in the magazine you kindly sent me, thank you very much Mother for the Mag.

A month today will be your birthday  won’t it?   I set to work on this letter before having my tea.  How nice it was to know that  you can tell when we go in & out of the trenches, but dear Mother, the usual run has been changedI am now one of the ration party again at the farm (4).  I wonder if you remember me writing before when on ration party.  How queer we had currant bread then too.  Oh the currant bread is absolutely ripping &  not at all stale.

Yes I think we gave Brewin* some of the good things on Sydney’s 21st  because Sydney gave a slice of cake & a huge lump of toffee all round.  Vernon & our favourite Corp. had a large share, as for Ford E.* he is in another Company & we did not see him.

Sydney & I had a happy chat with our old friend R. Ball*.  Ida remembers him.  Could you send him a few De Riske? (5) cigarettes (I don’t know the correct name)  .  De Reszke Cigs.(6) Matchin*  told me to convey his thanks for the cigs & he will write later.  Father knows Allen*, he wanted to know how you and Father were.  I told him Dad was busy with exams. (I had previously got your letter saying so).  

You popped in your letter a hurtful question as to what I should like for my birthday.  Well you know I like lemon curd,  I like the bit of currant cake you sent addressed by Ida in the flat box, the cheese tarts were fine & with the short cake arrived wonderfully well.  Well excuse me being mercenary & yet, to save you getting puzzled, if you want to send us both a parcel put a pot of curd in & a small currant cake with nuts in, tin of pineapple & cream, currant bread & butter. Is that too much?

Yes I remember having the scholars around me on the lawn & the maid coming shyly to serve (7). Did you manage to get through Hospital Saturday? (8).  Yes it must have been undoubtedly trying.  I guess Basil’s fingers were busy elsewhere, it will soon be the examination.  I hope and pray he will pass successfully.  I reckon it is as vital as this war.  

Well I must close now. I owe letters to Harold and York.  I will get my tea & enjoy the rest of the good currant bread & brown bread.  This is your pencil I am writing with, thank you for the paper too. I don’t know how I should have managed to tell you & answer all you enquiries.  You will be able to tell how long your parcels take by the Field Postcardsof course not getting them in the trenches they have to wait till we get back to Camp.

I say Mother isn’t it queer we are often of the same mind – during the hot weather Vernon & I were on Listening in a shell hole & we wished all that we liked.  I said I should like some lettuce, radishes, young onionsIf you put some in a bottle or made a salad of some – what say?

I  have read all the service, excepting Morning and Evening PrayerI picture you listening to the story of Sisera, how he fled & his army was scattered & for the evening lesson Deborah’s Song of Praise (9).  I derive a lesson from the two that we should always be thankful and sing praises.

Best love to all. Khaki Case with Photo


I see Ida’s face smiling up & Mother’s looking straight at me, in my little khaki case (10).

Hibbett Family c. 1908.
HIBBETT FAMILY  c. 1908.  Standing: Mother, Basil, Ida and Sydney ‘who didn’t like having his photograph taken’. Seated:  Bertie.  Note the family pose.

Your affec.   Bertie.



Recent Letters Home reveal an exchange of parcels, flowers, roses & lilies as well as an exchange of photographs & letters. Otherwise this is a typical Bertie Hibbett Letter, full of thanks for food parcels and cravings for fresh salad; taking comfort in pictures of life at Home  – and in coincidences which he calls ‘queer‘ – as he answers his Mother’s questions about his friends at the Front.

(1) 1/5th Staffords notice a change B German Uniform. Portrait of German/Jewish artist/ engraver, Herman Struck by Lovis Corinth, German 1858-1925. (2Colonel Wade: (info. pending).

(3Hymn written for a Flower Service at St Luke’s  Chelsea, London. Words: Abel G. Blunt, 1879. Music: Blumen. Uzziah C. Burnap, 1895Here, Lord, we offer Thee all that is fairest, Bloom from the garden, and flowers from the field; Gifts for the stricken ones, knowing Thou carest More for the love than the wealth that we yield.’

 (4) Ration Party: Souvenir Farm? cf Letters: 5th; 23rd April.  (5) De Reszke: Jan Reszke (Jan Mieczyslow) famous Polish Tenor. 1850 – 1925. YouTube recording 1901:  Cigarettes manufactured in Piccadilly, London. Adverts: ‘Just as good & pure a cigarette as was specially made for & always smoked by that great singer’; ‘Mines a Monor . . . why don’t you try one of mine?

6Alan Machin* correct spelling.  (7Ref. Bertie’s  19th Birthday Tea ,July 1914, at 95, Foden Rd. 

(8) Hospital Saturday Fund. Inspired by 12th Earl of Meath, Victorian Social Reformer. Saturday was traditional pay-day and the  working-class donated a ‘penny in the pound’ to ensure a Free Hospital. The Manor Hospital Walsall, 1863, was an early example.  It seems that Pte Bertie’s Mother found collecting ‘trying’.

(9) Anglican Book of Common Prayer. 1662. Reading for 2nd Sunday after TrinityJudges 4 – 5 tells of Deborahpoet and prophet  – who inspired an Israelite Victory over the CanaaniteSisera, and all his iron chariots. Her Song of Praise is considered one of the oldest pericopae in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) –  with its powerful tale of three women in time of war: Deborah, ‘a Mother in Israel , Jael, who kills the sleeping Sisera with a tent peg  and Sisera’s Mother who waits for him in vain. 

(10) This particular photograph is lost but those illustrated here were with Pte Bertie Hibbett when he ‘saw Ypres Cloth Hall shelled to the ground.  Grateful thanks to my sister, Rosamund Neal Hibbett, for getting Dad to label things in the 1960s.

NEXT POST:  17th June 1915.


1st MAY 1915: Friendly Fire & Forget-me-nots.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


26th April, Mon: Two working parties of 200 men each on G.H.Q. lines.  Bn paraded for Trenches at 8.50 pm & relieved 1/6th S Staffs Regt.   27th April, Tue: Wulverghem Trenches.  Heavy artillery fire all day, mainly on our right. Aeroplane duel about 6.0 pm over Wulverghem. Casualties: 085 Sgt W. Stevens, 9491 Pte J. Parkes both of ‘A’ Coy, wounded by rifle fire.  Gap between 10a & 10b completely closed.

28th April, Wed :  10a support trench shelled. Sniping from Messines. Casualties: Wounded:4468 Sgt W.J. Yardley, ‘A’ Coy 9012 Pte G. Wyley, ‘D’ Coy wounded. 29th April, Thur:  Shell from supporting battery struck 10b Trench seriously wounding Capt. Mc Craith, (North Midland R.E.)  Killing Pte W. Martin, (M.G. section). Other Casualtieswounding 8436 Dr. H. Mills ‘A’ Coy., 8526 Pte J. Lewis. ‘A’ Coy.

30th April, Fri:  Quiet day. Six shells fell in Wulverghem village about 4.0pm.  Casualties – Wounded:9332 Pte N.C. Hilton, M.G. section wounded.  1/6 S Staffs Rgt. relieved us 11.45 pm Bn to Bulford Camp. Casualties: L.Cpl. H. Meyrick, ‘B’ Coy & 8908 Pte V.C. Hough ‘C’ Coy wounded during relief.

CASUALTIES during month : KILLED: 7 OtherRanks  (includes 8990 Sgt J. Sanders (attd R.W.) killed at Dickebusch, 27.4.15);  DIED OF WOUNDS: 2  O. R. ; DIED IN HOSPITAL: 1 O.R. ; WOUNDED: 2 Officers, 25 Other Ranks.   

Signed Raymer Lt Col Comdg. 1/5 S. Staff Regt. 



Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall. (Pages 5 – 8 only)                                                                                                         May Ist/ 15  (Basil’s Birthday)

Page 5 . . . . . .  Our little place under the ground (1) was nice & cool while Sid and I broke into a parcel from Mrs Jones*How generous of her to have sent again & she must have kind thoughts of us to pop a long letter in each time and to say “There is something very pleasant in sending comforts to our ‘dear lads at the front.

Two tins of Embassy cigs for Syd and some Nestles ChocNow this war is on I do not think Nestles Milk choc is such good quality, but I enjoyed it very much because it was from a friend of Mother’s.  She told us you had gone to tea that Monday afternoon.

I am proud of Sydney & admire him for his modesty (2).  He has done some sniping & I shouldn’t be surprised if the result was – well I’ve suddenly taken a serious turn – rather sad to say.

Ask Ida what afiller-inis. I managed to get hold of a Daily Mail.  One of the days I read a jolly article, yet a pretty one, entitled Poor Georgia – she was a ‘filler-inall through life & it ends up something like this  ‘And heaven was full but there happened to be just a little spot that no one would take & so Georgia ‘filled it in’!

Wouldn’t you all like Sid & me to come on Home Leave now?  I have had a new tunic and puttees & bootsYou would admire the little bit of scarlet at the back of our hat badges (red & khaki go well together) and Sid with his a new tunic and stripe

In camp I frequently come across our friend Ball* with his rosy cheeks & kindly smile.  Last time I saw him at the washing place in the field.  He said he had got another boil; the one on his neck has quite gone.  I remembered Mrs Jones* to Cyril Hind* & he went on to say that Miss K. Brookes* had read part of my letter, and his, to her Class. (3)

I’m glad Dodger had a good time at Easter, he will miss the rides with Mr Cox (4) as well now Mr Cox is going to Devonshire.  I received a very interesting letter from Miss Foster* telling of her time in Scotland.  She says she is also anxious about us both.  I got her letter with Basil’s mile long one today.

Sid, I think, would like for his 21st birthday a few crumbs of comfort – cigs, some chocolate 3d and 6d Cadbury’s Mexican & a cigarette case You can pop a few cakes in & perhaps a tin of Nestle’s Milk to make tea taste nice.  A tin of pineapple chunks would not be amiss for we crave sometimes for something cool to eat or drink.

If Miss Bore* wants to send us anything tell her to send some acid drops & bulls eyes again, for its time for those now.  Well I’ll finish up my May Day letter referring to the Boy of the Day (5).  How goes he on the piano now?  I should think he ought to give you real pleasure with some nice tunes.

Vernon’s older brother* has his birthday today the first of May too.  I hope sincerely that Basil will get through & not be excited about the exam after all the long time of preparation.

Remember us both to Tom Ser* [& Bes] (6) – if they are ‘nice’ yet- ha!  ha!

Dear Mother I hope this letter will give you some comfort.  I have tried & I hope my little effort will have good effectalso the lovely little forget-you-nots;  but the pressing has taken the pretty light blue out of them.

They remind me of Rudyard Kipling’s hymn:–  Lord God of Hosts be with us yet, Lest we forget – lest we forget! Lord bless my Home – guide there my affections-  my thoughts – my pen. Tho’ sundered far – by faith we meet   Around one common mercy seat. (7)

Fondest love from your affect. son,   Bertie.


(1) Listening Post ‘like a Walsall pit’. (2Sydney Hibbett had just been promoted to Lance Corporal. (3) Sunday School Class at St Paul’s, Walsall. (4)  Mr Cox, probably the farmer Basil Hibbett (future agriculturalist) helped out during school holidays. (5May Day 1915 was Basil’s 17th Birthday. His exam was probably Junior Oxford. (6)Tom Ser & wife Bess ( Uffington friends? information pending).

(7) Rudyard Kipling: b. Bombay, India.1865 -1936. The People’s Laureate’. Short story writer, poet & novelist/ children’s classics. Won Nobel Prize for Literature. Lost son at Battle of Loos, Oct 1915. Critical of British Army. Involved in Imperial War Graves Commission.

Poem: ‘Recessional’ (composed for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, 1897) repeats the refrain ‘Lest we forget‘ (i.e. the sacrifice of Christ/ representative of all Humanity). Adapted by the Anglican Church as a hymn/ used especially at Armistice Day/ Remembrance Services. Frequently found on War Memorials.

NEXT POST: 3rd May 1915.



5th April 1915 Dawn
Easter Dawn. Home Words, Vol XLV No.4.   April 1915.


WULVERGHEM TRENCHES  (Pte Bertie Hibbett in Trench 8)

3rd April 1915 Brigadier Gen. E. Feetham (1) visited trenches of Battn. on taking over command of Staffs Infy Bde.

Trenches in considerable disrepair. Gaps between 10a & 10b.  Practically impossible to visit them in daylight. V. little wire. Work on improvements & extensions commenced at once.

Trenches 10a & 10b  subject to enfilade (2) fire from left  – & 8 & 9,  from right (MESSINES HILL).  CasualtiesKilled:- 8137 Pte A. Hunt, ‘D’ Coy; 9579 Ptes T. Childs,  ‘A’ Coy. Wounded: 9866 Pte G. Derby, ‘A’ Coy; 8765 Pte W. Law ‘B’ Coy.

4th April. (Easter Sunday).  At 3.15 pm German Artillery began to shell Trenches 8 & 9 afterwards attacking 10a.  Later they shelled Wulverghem village., & set on fireGable Farm’.  At 2.pm just before shelling began a white flag  was shown in enemy trench opposite to Trench 8. (Pte Bertie’s).

Casualties: Wounded by shell fire:9110 Sgt J. Hayward & 7667 Pte F. Stockholm. Much firing during the evening.  8109 Pte A. Weston, ‘C’ Coy wounded while carrying rations to trenches.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETTA Little Book of Words & Doings. Easter Dawn:  ‘with Sam Harvey* on Listening Post at ruined house in front of trenches at Messines. Drizzle & rain chiefly all day. Wrote to Mr. Darling* (3) censored by Lieut Wright*. Remember rain making the blue lead run. Beautiful sunset & fine on close of day.  

LETTER  to Mother, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall.  (Middle page 3 found in mud stained envelope dated May 2/15)                                                                                                                                                          . . . told my ‘mate’ it was Easter SundayThe greeting was not recognised by him at first and then I guess we both thought of home & last yearEaster evening was different, the sun sank in a veil of crimson and purple with a thrush singing an evening hymn. ‘£8 for a violet (?)’

Well Sid went and picked some of those lovely light blue May flowers, the Forget-me-nots, & I thought of the brilliant idea of sending one in my letter to adorn the heading of a real May Day story letter.

We are about . . . (censored). . . and we are sorry for we’ve had a lovely time in the . . . (censored). . .  trenches.

The weather is simply glorious, like June.  Picture me on sentry from early dawn, watching the sun rise in all its splendour, then the thrush whistling its morning sacrifice & the lark at heaven’s gate singing.  Later in the day I heard the faint call of the cuckooThere I stood for two hours, standing, watching, waiting under a cloudless sky.  I frequently heard the buzz of those birds, the aeroplanes.  I would gaze into the sky but could see nothing. . . (censored). . . although he was in the ethereal blue.

Sid and I were together in one dug out (and by the by it was the first occasion of [his] taking  command).  Sid & I tried to make our corners as homely as possibleI gave him half of a number of cigarette cards & he went and got some flowers.  Sid you know was fond of bringing you flowers, and added to the decoration of his part, while I rummaged among my letters for some PCs.  I had the one of ‘Home’, 95 Foden Road, Harold’s PC of St Paul’s and Sunday S. Scholar’s PC of the Hospital, – all three on a shelf over my head. I placed Basil’s lovely PC of  ‘The Dingle’. . .


(1Brg. Gen Edward  Feetham, C.O. Staffs Infantry Brigade. (Killed in Action 29th March 1918. Age 57 yrs. memorial Picquigny Cemetery). (2) enfilade (or flanking attack) fire that can travel the length of a trench or column of soldiers/ medieval tactic used by English yeomanry against French in  Hundred Years War 1337 -1453).  (3) The Revd. E. More Darling, Vicar of Walsall.

(4) ImageEaster Dawn: Church Magazine Home Words Ltd 11 Ludgate Square. (Vol. XLV. No. 4. April, 1915). ‘ NB  Easter Day,1915 was actually 4th April. It is likely that Bertie saw this picture only after he came home and wrote ‘Bertram on Listening Post. Easter Dawn. April 5th/ 15.’

Poem: Adelaide Anne Proctor, 1825 -1864.

Adelade Anne Proctor. 1825- 1864. Poet & Phlanthropist.
Adelaide Anne Proctor.

(Poet & Philanthropist working for unemployed women & homeless):

Be strong to hope, oh Heart!  Though day is bright, The stars can only shine In the dark night. Be strong oh heart of mine,  Look towards the Light!          

Be strong to bear, oh Heart! Nothing is vain: Strive not for life is care, and God sends pain. Heaven is above, and there  Rest will remain!

(5) Sydney Hibbett could have been promoted to Lance-Corporal or Corporal in the days he was away.

NEXT POST: Easter Day5th April 1915.