Lance Corp. SYDNEY HIBBETT: LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, Ward 6, No 9 GENERAL HOSPITAL, ROUEN.
Same Place. Sunday Aug 29th/ 15
Dear Old Bert,
Many thanks for your interesting letters, & also for Basil’s enclosed, which I read with much interest. It appears that he has not had such a bad time of it at Whitby in spite of being alone so to speak. I shall be writing to him soon, but you know what it is to be in the trenches – all work.
We were in the dugouts in the wood, when we went in after you left us, – for 6 days and then we had a rest in the huts for 6 days.
I had a parcel from home & a small one from M. Overend*: she is spending her holidays as a nurse at a Herefordshire Hospital (1).
I also had a few apples & pears from the market in Whitby from Mother: you know they returned home on Friday the 27th.
Well we came up here again on the 23rd and 1 & 2 (2) are in the line this time. We had a Daily Mail photographer or correspondent (3) up here yesterday.
A parcel from Mrs Hurst* came for you yesterday, but as we could not send it on to you (as you know) I had it to myself & wrote her a letter of thanks & gave her your address as she wanted to send you some cigarettes. There was some Mexican chocolate, soap, matches, this writing paper, condensed milk & sardines in it, so I had a good time with Brewin* & as our rations have been very thin lately, the things were doubly welcome.
Are you near the sea or the harbour?
I hope earnestly that you won’t miss any chance of being sent to England if there be one – & not be misguided by any desire to return here – just because I am here.
You will be sorry to hear that our Company Sergt. Major* was shot through the lungs on Thursday & died almost immediately. It was a great shock to me. We were shelled heavily this morning but our artillery replied steadily to great effect. There were very few casualties on our side.
Cousin Thornie (4) is out here somewhere with the R.E. & I hope I shall come across him as he is the only other member of our family out here. Sgt. Silvers* went home the other day with a commission, lucky fellow. Sgt. Hayward* has also been on leave 7 days: he is now Sgt Major, & Billy Harrison* is our Platoon Sgt. Cecil Jackson* was visited by Mrs Evans* & daughter in hospital in Llandudno & he was able to show them round & took them to his house. Isn’t he a lucky dog!
I will close now & get some blessed bully beef down, also some biscuit of the ‘dog’ order.
Hoping you will get on all right & with the best of luck
& good wishes, from Sydney.
Pte Bertie Hibbett, no doubt impressed by his brother’s concern for him, added the following comment before posting-on to his parents;- ‘I do not profess to examine & ‘give marks for this paper’ – it is genuine & too good and sincere‘.
(1) Herefordshire Hospital: this could be one of 8 temporary WW1 Hospitals in Herefordshire. Attached to central Military Hospitals, they were set up by the Red Cross (in town halls, private houses and schools) for patients less seriously wounded & needing convalescence). 3,000 total in UK. Women volunteered on part-time basis. <http://www.redcross.org.uk/WW1>
(2) ‘I & 2′: 1/5th & 2/5th S. Staffs? (3) Daily Mail Online photograph, 31st Aug. 2015 to illustrate the enormous danger news/ intelligence photographers went to (with heavy plate-glass cameras) to take panoramic views of the Line. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk> . (4) Cousin Thornie R.E. : I’m unable to discover as yet this member of the family, on either Hibbett (York) or Neal (Manchester) side.
NB * Starred Names: I hope to provide basic facts eventually for all names mentioned in the Hibbett Letters.
27th Aug. Fri: All quiet till 1.30 pm. Several British and enemy aeroplanes very high over our trenches from 8. till 11 am. Enemy shrapneled all trenches in our sector from 1.30 pm till 6.30 pm damage done two holes blown in parapet of 36 and dug out blown down in 36 support. Enemy trench Howitzer damaged parapet of 34. Enemy put three bombs into North end of 35; we replied with rifle grenades.
CASUALTIES: WOUNDED: 8888 Pte R.J. Booth; 9187 Pte B. Walford slightly wounded remained at duty.
28th & 29th Aug. Sat & Sun: Very quiet day. Aircraft heard proceeding N.E. about 11.35 pm and returned about 12.5 am. Red light seen over HILL 60 about 3. am. Patrol examined wire in front of 34 and found it in fair condition. At 9 am enemy shelled 35 and 36 supports. At 9.30 am enemy commenced shelling the wood; about 50 H.E. shells dropped on and around Battalion Headquarters; two dugouts blown in. Fire from supporting batteries inadequate except from 4th Belgians. About 7 pm enemy shrapneled 35, we replied with trench howitzer and bombs. Supporting battery also retaliated.
CASUALTIES: KILLED: 7900 Pte W. Simmonds; 9721 Pte R. Haselden. WOUNDED: 242 Pte W. Allen; 7630 Pte J. Parker; 9287 Pte L/T. Harper; 7818 Cpl R. Davies.
NEXT POST: 29th Aug. 1915 ‘In the Dumps & Knocked Up’ will be posted on 1st Sept. 2015. (Apologies for delay).