PONT REMY. (1)
14th Feb. Mon. 5.0 pm Detrained and marched to BELLANCOURT (2). 15th-20th Feb. In Billets. Battalion Training.
Septuagesima Sunday (3). February 20/ 16
Mon Chere Mere et Pere,
The weather today has been fine & sunny, but somewhat cold with a sharp wind. I enjoyed the Parade Service in the field, on the outskirts of a park of fir trees. The old familiar formation of the Battalions in a square came with a freshness as we lined up on the field & the officers took part. ‘Onward Christian soldiers’ (4) was the opening hymn. After the service I went to Holy Communion in a barn in the village. The Brig. Major & the other officers I knew attended.
In the afternoon every man had to play football or have physical exercise. Of course the majority voted for football.
So, Dodger! we had a game for those who did not know the rules of football.
We played platoon against platoon – no rules – no fouls except the hands – no inside right – no forwards – no centre half – no inside left, in fact everything was inside out & the game was a game indeed.
I have been able to read the Walsall Observer account of the air raid (5) but it did not give the list of the injured. I trust you are all safe. How sad for that RAMC to return home & find his wife, daughter & son had all lost their lives. I, like Mother, leave your safe keeping in those Higher Hands. I think you have more to put up with than we men out here.
I wrote to you on Friday when I received your letter of February 6th. To ensure the correspondence – I repeat that I am now back with the Batt. at No 2 Platoon A Coy . We were paid the other night & I met A.O. Jones* & Cyril Hinde* who told me lots of news from Home, & Clifford Hackett* had a chat with me & said he met Bob Charlton* in Egypt (6).
You said Sydney walked into dinner one weekend. How long did he spend at Home? The letter was very ‘newsy’. Many thanks my Dear Mummy for being so busy knitting socks. – Yes every stitch will be a blessing. I shall think of you as I tramp along in your socks & hope they will return to the very rooms you knitted them in soon, in God’s good time.
Leave , I heard from Hackett, has been postponed till the end of March. I hope it is only a rumour.
I am reading your letter & you are concluding as I am now.
God be with you all & bless you all.
Yours affectionately, Bertie.
(1) Pont Remy, Picardie: ancient crossing of the Somme, 7 miles SE of Abbeville. (2) Bellancourt: 5 miles march approx from Pont Remy. Pte Bertie Hibbett was M.P over Bellancourt farm billets waiting for 1/5th Staffords’ return from Egypt.
(3) Septuagesima Sunday. Ninth Sunday before Easter. (Lit. within ‘seventieth’ day before Easter. Book of Common Prayer. 1662.
(4) Hymn: Sabine Baring Gould, 1834 -1924. (1865 processional hymn for children based on 2 Timothy 2.3 ‘endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ‘. Tune: ‘St Gertude’ 1871: Arthur Sullivan,1842 -1900.
(5) Zeppelin Raid on Walsall. Jan 31st – Feb.1st 1916.
(6) Old QMS pals, Walsall.
NEXT POST: 27th Feb. 1916.
See also NEW PAGE: ‘My Memories’. A.H.H.