Tag Archives: QMS

1ST MAY 1916: HOME LETTERS FIND ME IN BARNS, CAVES, HUTS, SCHOOLS & TUMBLE DOWN DUGOUTS WITH RATS SQEAKING!

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

CHELERS.  

29th April – 1st May 1916. BATTALION TRAINING.

Bertie in Uniform

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, No 3 FIELD AMBULANCE N. MIDLANDS DIVISION: THE PICKWICKIAN LEAFLET to IDA HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.

Pickwickian Envelope.

Envelope: THE PICKWICKIAN LEAFLET, Active Service Supplement of The Pickwick Magazine, Organ of a Pickwick Club. (1)                                             

Basil Hibbett Age 18. 1916.
‘Dodger’ Basil Hibbett Age 18.
VAD Nurses Ida Hibbett & May Overend. 1915.
VAD Nurses Ida Hibbett & May Overend. 1915.

cont: No 1. ISSUED MONTHLY  This month’s leaflet is dedicated to ‘Our Dodger’ and ‘MayO.  On back: ‘Oh! If you like you can send this to May Overend*’ (2).   (Censor A. S. Hoads)

Pickwickian leaflet 1
The Pickwickian Leaflet. Side 1.

Many Happy returns to Basil & May but we hope that we shall be enjoying ‘Peace’ next May Day.  I wish I had made a decent article but being on Active Service I can’t start afresh see over . . .                               

NO I.  MONDAY              MAY 1st 1916.                                     MONTHLY.   

News from the Papers. Not a reflection upon De Coverley (3). I could not help thinking that this name of ‘Sir Roger’ has been disgraced.  Goldsmith’s ‘Sir Roger’ was a good man, but the one who was put in the Tower of London ought instead to be shut up in a case of cement, then the noble knight would not even have a chance to ‘Wait & See’ what his Case meant, and repent.

W.A.A.C Poster. Pressure began in 1914 butNot till Dec 1916.
Pressure for WAAC began in 1914 but not officially established until Dec 1916.

Women War Workers (4). What does Tommy on Home Leave think of ‘her’ who salutes and exclaims ‘Sir’ in the street, whenever they meet to greet him?  Although I heartily agree with Women War Workers & congratulate their good work at the same time I should not like to see ‘Pickwick’ in masculine dress salute me at the door and address me as ‘Sir’ when I go on Leave. Pickwick you remember, when the Club was in being, was the name given to Ida.

On the Recruiting Crisis (5). Rise fellow men! Our country yet remains. By that dread name We wave the sword on high, And swear for Her to live, For Her to die (6). This Easter tide ought to give us, along with its bright weather, a stimulus. This Spring we hope is the Herald of Victory before the Autumn.  In any case `Victory’ will, in the end, be for the ‘Allies’.

Pickwickian leaflet 2.
Pickwickian Leaflet.  Side 2.  NB See Welcome page Smiling Letter Home.

Members Birthdays. Today the weather is beautiful, just the ideal May Day weather, & I hope the members of the Pickwick Club are enjoying Happy Birthdays.                                                                               

Where Home Epistles Go! ‘I wonder what my son is doing at this very minute’, sais a Mother who has just sat down to write a letter to her son at the Front. There are many who ask this to themselves & there are many at Home who wonder, not only where their friends & relatives are, but where their letters find them. I have  received letters in places  you would not dream of. The number of  letters I have  had while in the trenches are many, so also those received while encamping for the four or five days before going into the trenches again. 

I have had letters while in barns of old farms, in caves like those of Linley Caverns (7) besides huts, theatres, schools and dugoutsThe daughter of Flo’s’ letter (8) I read at the entrance of a cavern, a letter from Father was  read in a half  tumble down dugout dripping with  water and amidst the sound of rats squeaking.  Many letters have been read by a log fire in an old barn and by the brazier in the trench.  I shall never forget the letter I read as soon as daylight was strong enough. 

It goes without saying that all the letters are welcome to Tommy,  he is so eager & keen to open them that he takes first opportunity no matter what is preventing.  I once read a letter on the side of the road when I went for rations & had one handed to me from the QMS.

A detailed account of one or two letters ‘where they went to’ will be given in each monthly issue of the paper.  Look out to see where your next letter reached me.

More Articles. The Pickwickian Leaflet, as its name implies, consists of literature on one page only.  I have only been able to give a few articles this time. but I shall try to put more articles in next month; but it will be a case of Multum in Parvo (9).

Yours sincerely,  Winkle (10).

**********************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
The PICKWICK CLUB of 1905.
The PICKWICK CLUB of 1905.

(1) The Pickwick Club: See Hibbett Letters 23rd April 1915; also 7th, & 13th Sept and 26th Dec. 1915. 

Transcription left: October 1905. The Pickwick Magazine. Editor: Sam Weller MPC (May Overend*). Motto: NIL DESPERANDO (Never Despair).

Sam Pickwick President: I Hibbett.  Augustus Snodgrass Member: Sydney Hibbett (8 yrs). Sam Weller Member: May Overend. Tracy Tupman Member: Bertie Hibbett (7 yrs). Sam Wardle Member: I. Cozens*. Nath(anual) Winkle Member: D Cozens* (10 yrs). NB The Cozens were sons of W.H. Cozens*, Superintendant of St Paul’s Sunday School Walsall, lived at Furzedown, Streetly Lane, Sutton Coldfield, mentored Bertie Hibbett’s Sunday School work from 1913.

(3) Sir Roger de Coverley: character in The Sir Roger de Coverley Papers, The Spectator 1711 (daily publication byJoseph Addison (1st May 1672- 1719) & Richard Steele ). An English Squire with values of old country gentleman, ‘lovable but ridiculous’, politics ‘silly but harmless’.  <http://http://www.enwiki.com&gt; and http://www.enotes.com/topic/sir-roger-de-coverley/critical essays> ‘a gentleman of Worcester, of ancient descent, a baronet/ ‘quaint & lovable representation of Tory landowning class an aimiable but rather inneffectual anachronism’. Also a English/Scottish country dance, published c 1695.

Oliver Goldsmith 1728-1774: Anglo-Irish novelist, poet, dramatist. (NB I am unable to discover connection with Sir Roger or with 1916 newspaper). 

29th-April-1916.-Cartoon-Sister.(4) Women War Workers/women in uniform. See Hibbett Letter Cartoon 28th April 1916

(5) The Recruitment Crisis 1916. Military Service Act (27th Jan. 1916): compulsory conscription of 19- 41 yr old men/ no choice given re service, regiment or unit. Age lowered to 18 yrs on 25th May 1916. Tribunal Appeals (re illness, disability, ‘starred occupation’ – essential work on Home Front) meant Military Act failed to deliver numbers required. <http://www.1914-1918.com&gt; Long Long Trail.

(6) Rise fellow men!Sir Thomas Lawrence Campbell, 1777-1844, Scottish Poet – re Battle of Maciejowice, Poland 10th Oct. 1794 (Russians defeated the Poles).

(7) Linley Caverns, Aldridge, Staffordshire. Extensive 19th cent. limestone workings now flooded: ‘an incredibly dangerous place’. Used for storing bombs in WW2. See <https:brownhillsbog.com> Urban Exploration at Linley Caverns. 1957 (Walsall Observer:16th Aug.1957).

(8) i.e. Flo’s daughter’s letter: Flo?  (9Multum in Parvo: LatinMuch in a small space‘. (10) Winkle: a Pickwick Club name for Bertie. NB the Pickwick Club note above, gives him as Tracy Tupman.

NEXT POST: 10th May 1916.

 

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10TH OCT. 1915: ‘THE RUSSIAN WILL BE OF IMMENSE IMPORTANCE.’

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT.  No 6 General Base, Convalescent Camp, Rouen: POSTCARD  Nos Allies Cosaque to BASIL HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

October 10th 1915.  Got this in Rouen last Friday, near Cathedral (1).

Nos Allies: Cosaque. PC 1915.
Nos Allies: Cosaque. PC 1915.

Dear Dodger,

How are you blowing old boy.  This gruesome old chap looks as if he means business on somebody’s blood.  Yes, the Russian when he gets civilised will be of immense importance (2).  

Good Luck and best of success at QMS (3).

Love from Bertie.

*********************************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) So Pte Bertie Hibbett got his hoped for pass to visit Rouen Cathedral  before he went back up the Line.

(2) Russia had joined the Triple Entente with Britain & France in 1907.  In 1914 it had the largest Army in the world  – but its poor infrastructure made effective deployment difficult. <http://sparticus-educational.com&gt;.

(3Basil Hibbett was back at Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall to re-sit his Junior Oxford Exam.

NEXT POSTS: 11th OCT. 1915. If you keep this card & I see it again’.

23rd APRIL 1915. WULVERGHEM: ‘EXCITING TIME’ RATION FATIGUE & GAS ALERT!

GAS MASK DRAWING: Pte BERTIE HIBBETT Dec.1915.
A CHRISTMAS GHOST:  GAS MASK DRAWING: Pte BERTIE HIBBETT. Dec.1915.  ‘They rose suddenly from the earth,wearing  smoke helmets over their faces, and looking not like soldiers but like devils.’

SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

NEUVE EGLISE.  April 18th. Sun Practice in crossing barbed wire entanglements. Bn paraded for Trenches 7.20 pm. Casualties. Wounded: 8948 Pte C. Weaver, ‘C’ Coy wounded during relief.  83 02 Pte L. Benton ‘B’ Coy wounded while carrying rations. Now possible to visit all Trenches by daylight.

April 19th Mon.  WULVERGHEM Trenches.  Fired on German working party opposite 10b trench. Outburst of rapid fire from German trenches about 3.30 a.m. Two H.E. followed by two shrapnel fired at S.P.4 at 6.0 am. No damage. Casualty: 9468 Pte J.T. Stanley ‘C’ Coy wounded.
April 20th Tue.  Six rounds shrapnel fired by German artillery at 120a left. No casualties. Trenches  8 (Bertie’s) & 9 troubled by German sniping from MESSINES..
April 21st Wed.  Further sniping along 8 & 9 trenches. Casualties: 9199 Pte A. Walker; 8817 Pte R.W. Hempshall, both ‘A’ Coy, wounded. Two HE shells & two shrapnel  burst near & over SOUVENIR FARM about 1 pm. Casualty: Major J. Lees wounded.  6 H.E. shells fell in Wulverghem about 1.30 pm. 16  H.E. shells burst in & near Trench 9, doing much damage to parapet of 9b.  Working parties brought in & fire 10 rounds) opened on German Trenches at 10.30 pm.  Casualty: Pte Hounslow  ‘D’ Coy wounded (died later).
April 22nd Thur. Lt Cozens* & Pte Thorne exploded grenade in German Listening Post at 2.am and returned safely. Relieved by 1/6th South Staffs.  Marched to BULFORD CAMP. Fumes of asphyxiating gas caused smarting of eyes. Received warning to be prepared to embus at short notice. (1)
April 23rd Fri.  NEUVE EGLISE.  Bath & cleaning up. Working party of 200 men on G.H.Q. line. 8 – 12 midnight.
**************************************** 

Bertie in UniformPTE BERTIE HIBBETT LETTER to sister IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.                                                                                                            Friday April 23/ 15 (White envelope, Post Date 27th).

My Dear Sister,  

A simple address  –  I won’t say dearest or dear dear or very dear and couldn’t say darling!  Yet I guess that Sid and I love our only sister with infinite love & I find it difficult sometimes to keep it from sentiment, for we seem to love one another more when we are apart than when we are together at home, what say you? yet again I guess you often wish us to be at home again.

The censor is growing stricter.  I am afraid of letting you know in detail the exciting time we have had this week. 

We have not spent our time in the trenches but have been on fatigue carrying rations & other things to the trenches, making about 3 journeys each night.  Pretty exciting. (2)   Well I must keep this letter quite free from officialism.

The more you say or think your letters not good enough the more we like them.  Your last letters we received today are simply ripping and so homely and above all the letter from E. Overend* brings back old 106 New Rowley Rd Days (3).

The PICKWICK CLUB of 1905.
The PICKWICK CLUB of 1905: scribbled note amongst Pte Bertie Hibbett’s Letters.

Has the 13 years gone yet?  Where are the members of the Pickwick Club? (4)

October 1905. The Pickwick Magazine.  Editor: Sam Weller M.P.C. (M. Overend)

Motto: NIL  DESPERANDO (sic) (5)

Sam Pickwick PresidentI. Hibbett. Augs. Snodgrass MemberS. Hibbett. (8 yrs).  Sam Weller MemberM. Overend*. Tracy Tupman  Member – Bertie Hibbett (7 yrs). Sam Wardle Member I. Cozens(?). Nath Winkle MemberD. Cozens(?).

Has Dodger come back from his holidays yet? –  if not he is thoroughly enjoying himself?   Did all your ears burn ?  I mean those of Mother, Dad’s as well as yours, on Monday teatime? – because you can picture us in a ruined farmyard eating with enjoyment the sardines, butter & finishing off Mother’s currant bread.  Tell Mother the bread kept lovely & light, not dry in the least.  We get tins of butter now & again, but we preferred the butter from home with the currant loaf.

Don’t forget to try & send us one or two different photos of the family, especially a good one of MotherI have not one of Mother close to.  I hope Harold will get settled well at Bedale (6) rather a long way from Mother.  He will make a third one away won’t he?

Miss Foster would be greatly interested in what and where we are, so could you send her a Walsall paper now and again giving her a description of our experiences?  as I dare not say much in these letters.  You can tell the Overends* we QMS (7) boys manage to keep together most times.  Lucky isn’t it? 

I will finish this in the candle light.   Sid and I received a parcel of chocolates and parkin from Auntie* (8), so have you written to York then?

I could do with another towel.   Best love, Bertie.

PS I should like to say a lot  – what the censor will not allow but you will be patient won’t you & wait till we get home –  it is with regard to an officer I like very much indeed.  You will hear of him in the Walsall papers I dare say. (9)

Sid will tell you of the queer coincidences with regard to a parcel from good Mrs Penning*.

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) ‘Fumes of asphyxiating gas’: April 22nd 1915 marked the first use of POISON GAS by the Germans on unprotected French troops at Ypres. Until I read Simon Jones‘ article in the Guardian (for 22nd April) that the smell of chlorine gas spread for ‘miles around’, I thought this 1/5th S. Staffs War Diary reference was to the fumes caused by exploding  Lyddite shells (see Sydney Hibbett’s letter to his sister, 24th April 1915).  Wulverghem is less than 8 miles from Ypres and the order to be ready to ’embus’ at short notice could well indicate poison gas alert.

My father’s drawing ‘A Christmas Ghost’ is included in his Christmas Letters of December 1915 – as if he had only just been issued with a ‘smoke helmet‘.

2Ration fatigues had to be made at night because of the danger from snipers.  Ration Farm,  (La Plus Douve) half a mile east of Wulverghem, south of road to Messines (Mesen) was most probably where Bertie met up with his brother after his absence in March.

(3) 106 New Rowley Rd, Walsall; where Hibbett family first lived in Walsall, before moving opposite to 95, Foden Rd. (4) The Pickwick Club seems to have been formed by Ida & Mollie or May Overend  for adventures and to share observations  – vis a vis Dickens’ novel Pickwick Papers. (More to come in 1916 Letters Home).

(5)Nil Desperandum – Never despair!  (6) Bedale, Yorkshire; Harold’s new post as Shop Manager, retail Chemist (cf.1911 Census)(7) QMS i.e. Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall. (8) Auntie Pattie (Pat) Yoxall/Neal? unable to trace on family tree/ possibly lived in north Manchester.

(8) Lieut Tim Cozens* see S. Staffs War Diary above 22nd April 1915. Also Walsall Observer for April 1915. 

NEXT POST: 24th April, 1915. Wulverghem Village: bombs, bullets & biscuits.