Tag Archives: R.G.A.

2ND MAR. 1916: ‘FORCIBLE LETTERS’ RE ‘A COMMISSION IN 3/5TH STAFFORDS’.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

PROUVILLE.  

29th Feb. Mon: 9.30 am. Battalion marched  to new billets at OCCOCHES (1).  1st Mar. Wed. – 2nd Mar.Thur.  OCCOCHES BILLETS:  Battalion Training.

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Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to ARTHUR HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd Walsall. (2)

In the Field.  2/ 3/ 16.

My Dear Sir,

Yesterday I handed in my application form for the Com. in the 3/ 5 South Staffs Regiment (3). I told the Captain you would see to the other form signed by the C.O. of the 3/ 5. (4). I was also told I needed my Birth Certificate.  Of course I guess you will be only too eager to attend to any other necessity.

This morning I carried away the Platoon’s Post; quite a shoal of letters, but they were all of an early date being those addressed to the Notts & Derby’s.  I thank Ida for her very kind letter of Sunday 14/ 2 /16 and the one dated the Friday following (5).  I also received Mother’s of Feb 14 and her’s of New Year’s Day. 

en-wiki200px-Edward_George_Villiers_Stanley,_17th_Earl_of_Derby_by_Sir_William_Orpen
Edward George Villlers Stanley. 17th Earl of Derby 1865-1948.

I was especially pleased to have a letter from Harold, (Feb 16). I was uncertain about his address, I see that he is still at ‘Penarth’ (6).  On reading that he was attested under Lord Derby’s scheme for the R.G.A. I was keenly interested; but hopes of seeing him, after he has joined the R.G.A, were vague. (7)

I will reply to Ida’s & Harold’s letters at my first opp.  (We are on the move again).

Every success to Sydney’s Commission & Best love to all. 

Bertie.

See Over –

PS  You all want me to say more ‘aboot me sen’ Well all that I can say is that Je suis tres bien portent et tres heureuse beaucoup.  Compris? My handing in the form was partly due to Mum’s forcible letters.

I will send those letters of Sydney’s, which Mother sent me in the parcels, in my next green (8).

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

My Grandmother’s ‘forcible’ letters were the result of months of anxiety over the health and whereabouts of her two sons.  By March 1916, Pte Bertie Hibbett had been at the Front without Home Leave for a year. Since enlistment he had been in Hospital several times with ‘trench foot’ and ‘blood disorders’.  She must have argued that a Commission in one of the Reserve Battalions at Home would take him out of the firing line, improve his health and give him work more suitable to his abilities & background – and importantly, of course, give the family a chance to see him. 

My father had already informed his family that he felt the life of an Officer was not for him.  His reluctance to apply for a Commission appears also to have been influenced by a sense of loyalty to his pals at the Front and his wish to be near his brother Sydney until the end of the War.

(1) Occoches: a village commune in Picardie, Somme. An 8 mile march from Prouville.

(2Pte Bertie addressed important news, such as this application for a Commission, to his father, as a matter of course,

(3) 3/5th Bn & 3/6th Bn South Staffordshire Regiments were formed at Home Bases in 1915 as ‘third line’ units. On 1st Sept 1916, they were united as ‘3/5th Bn.’.  Interestingly (in view of my father’s later connection with Lincolnshire), in 1917 3/5th Bn moved to Lincoln & Mablethorpe; in 1918 to Lincoln again & Sutton on Sea, ending the war at Mablethorpe, November 1918. 

(4) Name pending. (5) Date on envelope rather than on letter as Sunday was 13th Feb. (6) Penarth. A Victorian resort in Vale of Glamorgan, 5 miles south-west of Cardiff. 

(7) Lord Derby: Secretary of State for War 1916-1918. Lord Derby’s Scheme. The National Registration Act for Military Service was initiated by Lord Derby, and passed on 15th July 1915.  It  required all men, between the age of 18 and 65 years, to register their residential location on 15th Aug.1915.  See Hibbett Letter, 21st Oct. 1915. Ida Hibbett was an admin volunteer in Walsall. See also: <http://www. 1914-1918.net/derbyscheme> and < http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/derbyscheme.htm&gt;.  R.G.A. Royal Garrison Artillery.

ENVELOPE(8) Green Envelope. Official envelope/Army’s attempt to speed up censorship of letters sent home in 1915. Soldier signed on backI certify on my honour that the contents of this envelope refer to nothing but private and family matters. See esp. Hibbett Letter: 17th April 1915. 

NEXT POST: 5th March 1916.

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16TH JULY 1915: PICTURES & MEMORIES OF HOME.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

YPRES SALIENT: OUDERDOM CAMP.

14th – 16th July, Fri: Bivouacs.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to HIBBETT FAMILY, 95, Foden Rd.Walsall.

Bully Beef Bungalow’.  Friday July 16/ 15.

Dear People,

I must first say how comfi  the socks, I mean the khaki socks, were. I don’t know how the grey ones kind Mrs Barrans* knitted feel  – for Sydney needed a pair so I gave him those & I kept the soft onesthey are nice and soft too. I thank you so very, very much.  How lavishly the gifts were stowed in the parcel & something even in each letter.  A bit a cash in Mother’s & what I thought by feeling a pencil but turned out to be a cigarette holder silver too my word.

I was especially pleased to have a letter from Dodger* & I read Corp. Penning’s letter with great interest (& enclose it with this letter as Dodger said he wanted to answer it).  We have seen many of the RGA (1) & thought I might have overlooked him.

I had a letter from Miss Foster* the same day as Mother’s  & it was written on Sunday & posted on Monday.  She said that Nottingham had a storm which lasted all that Sunday from 7 in the morning till 9 at night, so all the Midlands must have had the large storm, if not all England.  I was going to head this letter ‘Raining’ for the weather here has been unsettled.

Well ‘you do surprise I’ – at promising to send us another parcel next week.

Harold’s gifts to us both you would like to know – sugar sweets, Bovril, Chocolate, Country Life Cigs, Bottle of Lemonade Crystals, Tin of Mineral Spring Salts (2), toothpaste etc. & a nice long letter.

Tins of Mineral Salts. 1915.
Tins of Mineral Salts. 1915.

In my letter to Okoo* thanking him for the parcel I have got confused as to whether I said the same in my letter to MotherDid I tell you I was delighted with Dad’s few lines at the end & amused at his witty little bits?  I often think of you when the post comes to you.  Do you generally have our  letters in the morning & do you generally  breakfast in the dining room?

I have a sunny  recollection of Dodger at table and the morning bright light through the lovely curtains & window on a white tablecloth & flowers on it.  Dodger is finishing his breakfast, in a hurry to catch the train, when he sees the form of the postman through the stained glass window.  Ida hears the sound of his feet from the kitchen & races to the door in a  desperate effort to out do Basil Dodger  – as he coolly pops his hand through the window & secures a letter from his affec. brother,  

Bertie.

PS Mother will be interested  to hear that I got a photo of the kiddies (3) at Sutton today. Miss Bore* sent me some Boardman’s & Player’s bacca  & a card of Sutton Keeper’s Pool (4).

Sutton Park: Keeper's Pool.
Sutton Park: Keeper’s Pool.

I recognised the path along the side of the lake, where the kiddies flocked round me & I had to keep a sharp eye on them for fear they fell in.

Players Navy Cut Tobacco.
Players Navy Cut Tobacco.

 

Well goodbye for a time.

PS  My Dear Dodger,  I have just re- read Penning’s* letter. It is now raining miserably & into the tent & I am smoking a pipe of Miss Bore’s bacca to cheer meself up -somewhat like once – (well on the 18th of May I look in my diary, & see we were in camp).  We returned from the trenches on previous Sunday night & it was Sydney’s birthday on the Monday we were in camp.  As for the 29th of June we had a Route March & saw the pipers & spent most time in camp drilling in full pack.

Edward James Montague-Wortley.
Edward James Montague-Wortley.

Sir Stuart Wortley* (5) came to see the Reserves – in which is Charlie Harrison*, who’s foot seems quite all right now.  We will keep a sharp look out & it will be a hearty hand shake.  You will picture us looking up at him on his horse & us squeezing his hand – so if the palm of your hand itches you’ll know that I have nearly  rung his hand off see (6).  Bertie.

PS  Looking forward to Ida’s Champion chatty letter.  We are always marching, marching – went digging all day again on Thursday & saw Harold  Hinde* who is in the Cycle Corps (sic) (7).

Army Cyclist Corps Badge.
Army Cyclist Corps Badge.

His brother Cyril*, who has been with us all along, has gone to a Rest Camp.

I will stop now – got a lot more correspondence.   Bertie.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) RGA: Royal Garrison Artillery (active 1899 -1924) manned heavy gun batteries attached to each infantry division, with cavalry. After Battle of Marne (Allied Victory, 5-12 Sept. 1914 ) RGA was positioned well behind infantry, firing on unseen targets, often supported by Royal Flying Corps using wireless telegraphy. cf. Wikipedia.

(2) Harold the chemist’s gifts of Mineral  Salts & Bovril indicate concern at Army’s unhealthy diet.  (3) St Paul’s Sunday School Outing, Walsall.

(4) Sutton Keepers Pool. Sutton National Nature Reserve, 7th largest urban park in Europe.  WW1 Convalescent Camps in the Park. <www.scnhsc.org.lakes> originally built as medieval fishpond (lido built 1887, closed 2003).

(5Edward James Montague Stuart-Wortley. 1857 -1934. Kings Rifle Corps. Distinguished colonial service. WW1: General Officer Commanding (G.O.C.) 46th Midland Division.T.A.  Kept King George V informed re- activities of the Division. Controversely dismissed  for ‘lack of offensive spirit’ 1st July 1916, Battle of the Somme.

(6) Charlie Harrison*: before War, one of Arthur Hibbett’s clerks in Education Office, Walsall. (7) Cyclist Corps : chief role – armed reconnaissance & communication. Also security patrols along canals. See Website Old Sweats Centurion. Often used as manual labour & in Front Line.

NEXT POST: 19th July 1915.