Tag Archives: Mont St Eloi Neuville St Vaast. 1916.

14TH APRIL 1916: ‘I HOPE I AM MORE OF A ‘GENTLEMAN SOLDIER’ ON LEAVE.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5TH SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

NEUVILLE ST VAAST / LABYRINTH

10th Apr. Mon: Artillery active both sides.

The aerial Torpedo
The Aerial ‘Torpedo’

11th Apr. Tue: V. Quiet Day.  12th Apr. Wed: Enemy shelled Support/ Communication Trench.  Trench 063 Grenade and Aerial Torpedoed (1).

14th Apr. Fri: Snipers claim to have hit man looking over parapet behind B 4. Otherwise all quiet.

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Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT’S WAR DIARYA Little Book of Words & Doings.

April 13th. ‘First Birthday (2), Harold’s, Thursday at Mont S Eloi ruined Monastery looked very picturesque with Spring plumage. On MP duty Arras Rd. Wrote home Sunday previous & hoped Harold would be at home for his Birthday & so it turned out’.

LETTER to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT & BASIL HIBBETT.  Censor H. Chorlany.                                                                                          

 Friday April 14/ 16

Basil Hibbett Age 18. 1916.
Basil Hibbett. Age 18, 1st May. 1916.

‘Protect & preserve the soul of Thy servant amidst so many dangers of the corruptible life, and, by Thy grace accompanying, direct him in the path of peace, to the land of everlasting brightness.  Amen’.  Thomas a Kempis (3).

My Dearest Mother & Basil,

And of course all of you really. Although I intended this, my next letter, to be for Basil I have changed my mind owing to Harold’s Birthday.  I meant to write yesterday, so sorry, but time seemed to have gone short after doing duty.  I wrote to Harold though, but could not find much to say.  Alas! another 13th of April finds us in the land of the lily (4). Leave also has stopped for an indefinite period.

I have a notebook (5) in which I wrote the above prayer in Rouen.  I thought of Harold when I read it yesterday. I hope he had a nice birthday & being Thursday I wonder if he went over to see you?  Next Friday (6) you will be ‘mangingHot Cross Buns eh! We are having typical April weather with perhaps a little above the average rainfall & wind. 

Mont St Eloi Monastery. 2016.
Mont St Eloi Monastery, Neuville S Vaast.  2016.  Pte Bertie Hibbett on guard here April 1916.

I am on duty behind the line while the Batt. is in the trenches (7).

Tommy's Cooker.
Tommy’s Cooker & Mess Tin 1915-1918..

I met Sydney with the Coy. last Sunday night carrying a parcel from Harold. I also had one from Miss Foster* containing Pear’s Soap, Cigs and a Boots Heater (8)

How queer! – I dreamt a vivid dream of Miss Foster* last night & in that dream the memory of my ill manners & behaviour I had, while she came to visit us last time, came back to me.  I dreamt I was very ill mannered, but in spite of it my Godmother seemed to overlook my behaviour & she was most sympathetic.

Pte Bertie Hibbett's Dictionary of Etiquette. 1915.
Pte Bertie Hibbett’s Copy. Dictionary of Etiquette. Quotations right: ‘Manners maketh MAN’ & ‘None so great as a gentleman soldier’. Dated 1914-1915.

Let us hope that if she comes to Walsall when I have Leave I am more of a gentleman (9).  After 13 months of this life here it frequently comes across me, very suddenly, that I am very low off the mark of good manners.

Ah! now I see there was more than I thought in Vernon, although he went about it in a strict way of correcting me.  I ought to have reaped out the good parts in his correction.

I have been looking out for your parcel, the transport passes our place, but I shan’t be disappointed if Sydney gets hold of it, he has been a long time without a parcel from Home, although he has had something from Miss Thacker*often of late, & Mrs Hurst*. His photos are tres bon & I like the carbon.

I will close now & try to get this off today; enclosed you will find some more silk cig. cards (10). I was thinking of making a wax taper holder by stitching them together, it would make a unique ‘Easter Egg’, but I am short of cotton & needles.

Soldier's 'Housewife' 'Huswif'
Soldier’s ‘Housewife’ ‘Huswif’:  Needle & Thread Case.

Oh! by the by, that reminds me –  could you please send me a Housewife (11) & some brown wool to mend your woollen gloves dark brown. Yes, I have them still & needed them these last two or three mornings, the wind was so cold.

Best love & wishes to all. 

Basil –  you mustn’t attest on May 1st.  I shall have to talk the matter over if I see you before then.

Ta ra  Bertie.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Pte Bertie Hibbett wants  his brother Basil to wait until he is conscripted rather than attesting as soon as he is eligible (i.e. on his 18th birthday). He wants to ‘protect & preserve’ his brothers from all the dangers of War. He cannot do this in a letter which his Mother might read and the censor might destroy but he can warn about War’s corrupting effect on character. War has made Pte Bertie feel very low off the mark of good manners’.

(1) Aerial Torpedo: a ground to air missile as illustrated above, rather than one dropped by plane over water. See <http://www.flikr.com&gt;wiki aerial torpedo300px-Sopwith_Cuckoo

(2) First Hibbett Birthday of year: Harold, 13th April. Basil,1st May 1916 when he would be 18 and could attest as a volunteer in the Army.

Thomas a Kempis.
Thomas a Kempis.

(3Thomas a Kempis: 1380-1471.  Dutch writer, (named after Kempera his home-town in Germany) – copyist (of Bible 4 times). Known for popular devotional work: ‘The Imitation of Christ’. ‘I have sought peace & found it not save ‘in a little corner with a little book’ (Latin/Dutch mix: in angelio cum libello).

220px-Fleur_de_lys_(or).svg
Fleur de lys.

(4) ‘Land of the Lily’ – fleur de lys – stylised lily /iris: national flower of France.

(5) ‘Notebook’ i.e. A Little Book of Words & Doings begun when Pte Bertie was in Hospital in Rouen, Aug – Oct 1915. (His original War Diary ‘lost in the straw of a barn 1915’ cf Hibbett Letters 17th March 1915. (6) Good Friday homemade Hot Cross Buns.

(7) Mont St Eloi: a ruined monastery near Neuville S.Vaast. Tower used as observation post over-looking Vimy Ridge. German shelling reduced its height nearly 30 feet from 173 -144 ft. (53m – 44m). (8) Boots Heater: cf Hibbett Letter 18th Nov.1915. <http://www.frontlinecrates.com&gt;

(9) Good manners. Dictionary of Etiquette. Compiled by Marjory Luxmore. 1914.  Pte Bertie’s Quotations front & back: Manners maketh man’ William Horman, Headmaster of Eton & Winchester. 1440 -1535; None as great as gentleman soldier’: origin unknown; Endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ’. 2 Timothy 2. 3-5.  ‘Follow the examples of General Gordon & Earl Roberts, Wellington & Nelson.’  Pte Bertie’s advice to himself before embarkation to France?  Inscription names Colonel Crawley & Capt C. Lister and gives details not found elsewhere e.g. Pte Bertie Hibbett ‘No 1. Section. ‘D’ Platoon’ in 1914-1915. 

Silk Cig Cards
Silk Cigarette Flags: England & Belgium. Hibbett Collection.

(10) Silk Cigarette Card: ‘small piece of printed/woven ‘satin’ (rarely silk) given away free in cigarette packets, sometimes on a backing card’ cf ebay: Military & Regimental Cigarette Silks of WW1.

(11) ‘Housewife’ /’Husif‘: Sewing Kit. My Dad was good at sewing and once made me a pencil case out of a date-box which he covered with material carefully stitched together & labelled with my name. A holder for spills/ wax-tapers (for lighting candles) would not have been beyond him.

Soldier's Hussif.
Soldier’s Hussif.  Sewing Kit.

 

 

 

 

NEXT POST: 16th Apr. 1916.

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9TH APRIL 1915: ECOIVRES CONCERTS: ‘HOW TOMMY CLAPS & LAUGHS!’

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

NEUVILLE ST VAAST.

3rd Apr. Mon . Enemy quiet except for sniping.  A 10 pm enemy exploded a mine in front of the 51st Brigade.  Artillery fire for 15 minutes very heavy, our support and communication trenches being in some places considerably knocked about. Our trench mortars and artillery kept up a continual fire all night on the enemy’s trenches.

CASUALTIES:  OFFICER WOUNDED2/Lt A.T. ShortmanOTHER RANKS KILLED: 9676 Pte G. Bate.  WOUNDED8833 Sgt A. Perry; 9248 L/Cpl G. A. Wentworth. 

AVIATIC -C.1became principal German Reconnaissance Aeroplane from 1915. 160hp Mercedes engine.  Max. speed 89mph; ceiling 11,480 ft.
AVIATIC – C.1  became principal German Reconnaissance Aeroplane from 1915.  160 hp Mercedes engine.  Max. speed 89 mph; ceiling 11,480 ft.

4th Apr. Tue:  Enemy Artillery very active 0.65 and 063 being heavily shelledA whiz-bang exploded in O.S. 65 killing 3 and wounding 6.  Our artillery replied effectively and enemy’s shelling ceased.  At 10.20 am enemy aeroplane fell on left of Battalion Headquarters.  Battalion relieved by 1.6th South Staffordshire Regt., relief complete 9.15 pm. Battalion in Rest Huts by 12.15 a.m. 

CASUALTIES:- KILLED: 554 L/Cpl L. Sutton ; 9254 Pte A.H. Price; 938 Pte S. Bates.  WOUNDED:-7519 Sgt F. Madeley; 8236 Corpl A. James; 9147 L/Cpl L.T. Morgan; 1005 Pte E. Badger; 1023 Pte R. May; 7761 Pte A. Gould; 1123 Pte J.H. Perchase.

'Charlie Chaplin' dressed for Trrops Concert Party Ecoivres.
ECOIVRES Divisional Reserve: ‘Jock’ & ‘Charlie Chaplin’  dressed for Concert Party.  Kate  Chambers. <http://www.iwm.org.uk> 

5th, 6th -7th Apr. ECOIVRESIn Divisional Reserve. Battalion Training. 

9th Apr. Sun: Marched to Trenches in relief of 1.6th South Staffordshire Regt. 0.63. 0.64. 065 TRENCHES.

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

.Champion Ida Hibbett VAD Nurse.
Ida Hibbett.

Treasured Sayings in Letters from Home: Mother re The Mines:

God keep you under the shadow of his wings (1). I will let Miss Foster* know you are safe & sound’.  Ida. ‘How thankful we are to have your precious letter this tea-time.’ 

LETTER to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT & ARTHUR HIBBETT.  FPO A 13/  AP 16. Censor J. T. Douglas.

5th Sunday in Lent. April 9/ 16

‘Next to the Sunlight of Heaven is the cheerful face’. Wayside Memories.

My Very Dear Mother and Father,

Our short but enjoyable Rest is soon o’er and we, or rather the Batt, goes into the trenches again tonight for a short time.  I & five others are doing guard behind the line for a ‘Rest’, so dear Mum you have less to be anxious over.

Most likely your parcel you promised to send last Monday will reach the Batt. today.  Should Sydney find it a little difficult to get the parcel to me I have told him to have the contents himself & only keep such things that will keep in a convenient space.  I had a parcel from Aunt Pattie* on Friday & a letter on Saturday.

I admired Sydney’s Photos very much; the carbon tint gives them a High Cla(r)ss effect. I am so sorry I spoilt the only surviving photo of myself & the Sikh during the ‘Bust Up’ (2) – I was going to send it to Miss Foster* if you thought the ‘wee sad look’ would not impress her much.

It is Harold’s Birthday on the 13th is it not?  I suppose my letter, which I wrote him today, will arrive too late, but never mind, better late than never They say I am in the next six for Home Leave so take things in patience & hope & D.V. I shall perhaps spend Easter with you (3).

I will close now, with Best love to all. 

I hope you have had my letter in answer to your combined one from Ida & Basil & Mum.  My next will be to Basil.

Ta ta.  Bertie.

britishmilitarybadges.com CA Hut Fundimages
<http://www.britishmilitarybadges.co.uk&gt;

PS.  We found a Recreation Hut rigged up when we returned from our tour & we have had Sports & Concerts.

You should see the ‘frog eaters’ do the Tango in time with our Band & they do appreciate our Sing Songs so much that one or two gave us a song in their language;  they use more action with their arms & limbs than we do & how Tommy claps and laughs.

Recreation Hut Poperingue.
Recreation Hut Poperingue<http://www.youtube.com&gt;

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

In April, Pte Bertie Hibbett’s ‘Rest’ was Guard Duty at Mont Eloi Monastery behind the Neuville St Vaast lines and later M.P. Duty on the Arras road.

Reading between the lines: – though not recorded as ‘casualties‘ he and the ‘5 others’ down for Home Leave were probably kept back from the trenches on 9th April because they showed signs of ‘shell shock’. In his War Diary 2nd April, my father admits the explosion of German mines underground affected him deeply. He had felt it his duty to be cheerful and to comfort his pals but the strain had taken its toll – that and his trench foot may have earned him his extraRest‘.

(1) Psalm 17.8 & 91.4. Under the shadow of thy wings’ An image of God as a Mother Bird (favourite saying of my father); image also in Genesis 1.2 ‘hovering over the face of the waters’ at Creation and in Mother Hen Parable of Jesus, Matthew 23.37 & Luke 13.34‘How often have I longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood’. A pre-Bronze Age divine image of the Great Mother, before devaluation by patriarchy & the rise of the ‘male‘ God in world religion & mythology. cf The Myth of the Goddess. Evolution of an Image. Anne Baring & Jules Cashford. Viking 1991.

(2‘Bust Up’: German Mines 2nd – 4th April when Pte Bertie lost the remaining photo of his pal Bukhshee Ichbye Singh Waltu in bombed Support Trench. (3) D.V. Latin Deo Volente. ‘God willing’.

NEXT POST: 14th Apr. 1916.