26th April, Mon: Two working parties of 200 men each on G.H.Q. lines. Bn paraded for Trenches at 8.50 pm & relieved 1/6th S Staffs Regt. 27th April, Tue: Wulverghem Trenches. Heavy artillery fire all day, mainly on our right. Aeroplane duel about 6.0 pm over Wulverghem. Casualties: 085 Sgt W. Stevens, 9491 Pte J. Parkes both of ‘A’ Coy, wounded by rifle fire. Gap between 10a & 10b completely closed.
28th April, Wed : 10a support trench shelled. Sniping from Messines. Casualties: Wounded:4468 Sgt W.J. Yardley, ‘A’ Coy 9012 Pte G. Wyley, ‘D’ Coy wounded. 29th April, Thur: Shell from supporting battery struck 10b Trench seriously wounding Capt. Mc Craith, (North Midland R.E.) Killing Pte W. Martin, (M.G. section). Other Casualties – wounding 8436 Dr. H. Mills ‘A’ Coy., 8526 Pte J. Lewis. ‘A’ Coy.
30th April, Fri: Quiet day. Six shells fell in Wulverghem village about 4.0pm. Casualties – Wounded:9332 Pte N.C. Hilton, M.G. section wounded. 1/6 S Staffs Rgt. relieved us 11.45 pm Bn to Bulford Camp. Casualties: L.Cpl. H. Meyrick, ‘B’ Coy & 8908 Pte V.C. Hough ‘C’ Coy wounded during relief.
CASUALTIES during month : KILLED: 7 OtherRanks (includes 8990 Sgt J. Sanders (attd R.W.) killed at Dickebusch, 27.4.15); DIED OF WOUNDS: 2 O. R. ; DIED IN HOSPITAL: 1 O.R. ; WOUNDED: 2 Officers, 25 Other Ranks.
Signed Raymer Lt Col Comdg. 1/5 S. Staff Regt.
1st May 1915: NEUVE EGLISE, BULFORD CAMP HUTMENTS.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall. (Pages 5 – 8 only) May Ist/ 15 (Basil’s Birthday)
Page 5 . . . . . . Our little place under the ground (1) was nice & cool while Sid and I broke into a parcel from Mrs Jones*. How generous of her to have sent again & she must have kind thoughts of us to pop a long letter in each time and to say “There is something very pleasant in sending comforts to our ‘dear lads at the front’.
Two tins of Embassy cigs for Syd and some Nestles Choc. Now this war is on I do not think Nestles Milk choc is such good quality, but I enjoyed it very much because it was from a friend of Mother’s. She told us you had gone to tea that Monday afternoon.
I am proud of Sydney & admire him for his modesty (2). He has done some sniping & I shouldn’t be surprised if the result was – well I’ve suddenly taken a serious turn – rather sad to say.
Ask Ida what a ‘filler-in’ is. I managed to get hold of a Daily Mail. One of the days I read a jolly article, yet a pretty one, entitled Poor Georgia – she was a ‘filler-in’ all through life & it ends up something like this ‘And heaven was full but there happened to be just a little spot that no one would take & so Georgia ‘filled it in’!
Wouldn’t you all like Sid & me to come on Home Leave now? I have had a new tunic and puttees & boots. You would admire the little bit of scarlet at the back of our hat badges (red & khaki go well together) and Sid with his a new tunic and stripe.
In camp I frequently come across our friend Ball* with his rosy cheeks & kindly smile. Last time I saw him at the washing place in the field. He said he had got another boil; the one on his neck has quite gone. I remembered Mrs Jones* to Cyril Hind* & he went on to say that Miss K. Brookes* had read part of my letter, and his, to her Class. (3)
I’m glad Dodger had a good time at Easter, he will miss the rides with Mr Cox (4) as well now Mr Cox is going to Devonshire. I received a very interesting letter from Miss Foster* telling of her time in Scotland. She says she is also anxious about us both. I got her letter with Basil’s mile long one today.
Sid, I think, would like for his 21st birthday a few crumbs of comfort – cigs, some chocolate 3d and 6d Cadbury’s Mexican & a cigarette case. You can pop a few cakes in & perhaps a tin of Nestle’s Milk to make tea taste nice. A tin of pineapple chunks would not be amiss for we crave sometimes for something cool to eat or drink.
If Miss Bore* wants to send us anything tell her to send some acid drops & bulls eyes again, for its time for those now. Well I’ll finish up my May Day letter referring to the Boy of the Day (5). How goes he on the piano now? I should think he ought to give you real pleasure with some nice tunes.
Vernon’s older brother* has his birthday today the first of May too. I hope sincerely that Basil will get through & not be excited about the exam after all the long time of preparation.
Remember us both to Tom Ser* [& Bes] (6) – if they are ‘nice’ yet- ha! ha!
Dear Mother – I hope this letter will give you some comfort. I have tried & I hope my little effort will have good effect – also the lovely little forget-you-nots; but the pressing has taken the pretty light blue out of them.
They remind me of Rudyard Kipling’s hymn:– Lord God of Hosts be with us yet, Lest we forget – lest we forget! Lord bless my Home – guide there my affections- my thoughts – my pen. Tho’ sundered far – by faith we meet Around one common mercy seat. (7)
Fondest love from your affect. son, Bertie.
(1) Listening Post ‘like a Walsall pit’. (2) Sydney Hibbett had just been promoted to Lance Corporal. (3) Sunday School Class at St Paul’s, Walsall. (4) Mr Cox, probably the farmer Basil Hibbett (future agriculturalist) helped out during school holidays. (5) May Day 1915 was Basil’s 17th Birthday. His exam was probably Junior Oxford. (6)Tom Ser & wife Bess ( Uffington friends? information pending).
(7) Rudyard Kipling: b. Bombay, India.1865 -1936. ‘The People’s Laureate’. Short story writer, poet & novelist/ children’s classics. Won Nobel Prize for Literature. Lost son at Battle of Loos, Oct 1915. Critical of British Army. Involved in Imperial War Graves Commission.
Poem: ‘Recessional’ (composed for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, 1897) repeats the refrain ‘Lest we forget‘ (i.e. the sacrifice of Christ/ representative of all Humanity). Adapted by the Anglican Church as a hymn/ used especially at Armistice Day/ Remembrance Services. Frequently found on War Memorials.
NEXT POST: 3rd May 1915.