Tag Archives: Someries Chapel

31st JAN. 1915: LUTON: TA Reading Room & ‘A’ Coy Firing Scores.

Bertie in Uniform
BERTIE HIBBETT 19 yrs.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: First of Two LETTERS to Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall.

44 Cromwell Road, Luton. (1)

Sunday afternoon.  Jan 31/ 14 (sic).

My Dear Mother,

I just feel like writing to someone and now I come to think of it I have a great many letters to write to a great many people, but I prefer to write to you first.

Ha hem!  Tar Shar eh! (2) Well at any rate he’s top of all those in ‘A’ Coy. who joined since mobilisation.  An’ I shouldn’t be surprised if he don’ come out on the very top of all.

I will just put it in more schedule form of course.  The firing was a Regular Course and taken from Table ‘B’ Classification i.e. a Test to see what degree of efficiency each soldier attains.

First comes the Marksman who gains 130 or over, next comes the 1st  Class Shot who gets below 130 and above 105, then there is the 2nd Class down to 70.  Less than 70 comes the 3rd Class Shot.

Course of firing by untrained men of ‘A’ Coy: Marksman – 130 (nobody);  Sig. S. Hibbett  –  112, 1st Class; Corporal Page* – 1061st Class; Lance Corporal Bendall – 103 /4?2nd Class; Pte A.H.Hibbett  – 902nd Class.

Sid started with a full group (3) & you know I told you that Colonel Crawley* commended him. Sid would not tell me what he said.

Next day was fine but very cold, especially having to wait our turns.  Some played at ‘tick’, back to school days again.  Some had that most thrilling game of pick-a- back that Sid has told you of.  Most of us put on our great coats & sleeping helmets & mits.

Sid –  well I nivver – inspite of him firing with sleeping helmet on & oh! Miss Foster’s mitshe got 5 BULLS  – at the silhouette targets too – the most difficult test of all.  I shall have to tell Miss Foster that her mits are lucky, for the silhouettes are cut out like the shape of a man’s head & shoulders & painted a drab colour & stuck on a pole which is held up for, I think, not more than 5 secs & down it goes.  A hit counts a bull – the alternative is a miss.

I watched Sid with great excitement firstwhich is the most anxious shotHe got a bull, then another bull would come, until the 4th was a bull again.  At the 5th shot I got equally anxious as the first for I wanted him to get 5 & so he did.  Hurrah! 

Poor Sid  then had to undergo another ordeal – this time our Capt. Lister* had a word with him.  When I got back to my billet everyone was talking of Sid.  “There’s a stripe for him” one said.  (I was only just thinking – coming “home” from Church  – Sid comes of age this year).

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well so much for shootingI hope you have all spent a quiet & happy Sunday.  I was just thinking  of Rev. Darling*.  I did not send him a Christmas Greeting.  Never mind, now you’ve got a servant you can, if you like, have him to tea sometime.

I am spending a very quiet Sunday afternoon in writing you this letter in Sid’s billets. Vernon & he are nestled down asleep on the floor.

I went to the Parish Church at the 11 service, being no parade, & the sunlight did make the Church Choir look grand – white lilies & red flowers adorned the altar, which has not got a cross but a beautiful painting of the Last Supper.

After the service, in which we had Hymns No:- 351,565, 546, 525 (in Church Hymnal (4) so Dad can play them) I went to have a look round in the Someries Chapel, just been restored.  There, there is a most beautiful Communion altar with Reredos & silver Cross. 

Wenlock Luton 1915
Stained Glass window of Sir John Wenlock, Parish Church of St Mary, Luton.

Tell Ida.  I was shown the tomb of the Archbishop of York’s Mother in the reign of Edward IV & that of Lord Wenlock, a Yorkshire squire (5).          

The Widow of Sir Julius Wernher* has a beautiful name:- Dame Alice (Wernher) and she has given a Bible & fitted the Chapel with every accommodationThe Archbishop of York in Edward IV reign had residence near Luton (6).

On Sat. night I went to see what this Territorial Reading Room, in the New Bedford Road, is like.  It was there when I left Luton at first.  I had not been in before.

I say  wouldn’t it be simply “Topping” if we had a large enough house, that we could afford to make a library or back room into a room where the soldiers can enjoy recreation & reading.  Well that is what a generous private person has done with one of his rooms.  I walked up the steep winding gravel path until I came to the French window & on looking in I saw no one.  I entered & tapped a door to enquire if the use of the room was free.  Yes, was the answer the housemaid gave, so I sat down and read about Kitchener & looked at the pictures on the wall.

WW1 Kitchener
Field Marshall Herbert Kitchener. 1850 -1916.
John Jellico Admiral of the Fleet.
John Jellico Admiral of the Fleet.

Ida, it was just like our ‘Top Attic Study’ but most beautifully coloured portraits of Kitchener & Jellicoe (6) & the other generals & flags 9th Nov 1914 smallover the fireplace & along the walls.  Games of draughts etc, writing material & magazines of all kinds.  All of the above were neatly laid in piles on the forms and tables.

Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke. 1848-1916.
WW1 Kluck
Alexander von Kluck. 1846-1934.

I had a look at the Times’ ‘History of the War’ and noticed – (well I had never noticed before) how vulgar are the countenances of the German orcifers (sic) Von Moltke (7), Von __, Von __,  Von Kluck (8) – all have got double chins, ugly flat noses, horrible dishevelled hair, broad hard faces. So different from the other nations (9).

Marshall Joseph Jacques Cesaire Joffre
Marshall Joseph Jacques Cesaire Joffre. 1852-1931.
Sir John French
Field Marshall, 1st Earl of Ypres.

 

 

 

 

I read your last letter, with deep interest, on the Range last Wed or Thursday, between the turns.  But I cannot but admit that when I got to know what a fuss the P. C. caused I felt very M____ble (10).

Dear Mother, I could give you all I get excepting just say 1/- for fear of a question from the Captain.  I noticed your paper was getting short when I was on Home LeaveI know you like some good note to write on.  Well here’s some for your very self.  You will not very well be able to rip the sheets in two, as you generally do with the ordinary leaf note.

I thought of your advice to save my money.  Well I went and got a 2/- P.O. intending to send it home, but I had to break into it at the end.  Never mind I will send some home next week. If anything happens to me then it will be a “little” help to you.

I admired Ida’s dress when I was at home & ‘eyed’ the dainty ‘blouse’ with its pretty red, white & blue ‘border,’ so I could not resist going & buying what I thought a pretty knot to match the blouse.  Staffordshire Regt. Brooch. Should Ida not like it, then I think Miss Mary Overend* should have it,  for she has been very good to us in sending chocs etc.

What does Basil do on Saturday & Sunday afternoons now?  Bless him.  I do hope he will manage to get through (exam) without injuring his health. Does Harold often come & see you at weekends?  When I send him a P.C. I often wonder whether to send it to home or his Wol’ton place (11).  Does he show you the P.Cs I send him?

Have I told you that we have had good meals here, no two dinners alike – change every dayMilk pudding to-day, being Sunday.  Am having a glass of hot milk for my supper.

If you would like a tie like the one I sent for Miss Foster* (I sent it to you to have a look at it, for it was your idea & I hope you mentioned it to Miss Foster. I shall in my next letter).  I say if you want another tie (I can’t get one like yours) just write by return & I will get one before we leave Luton on Tuesday Feb. 2/ 15.

Is there anything else?  Not as I know of yet.  Got some P.Cs in store for future use & your collection. Field firing begins next week at Dunstable, when we shall take billets.

Yours affec.        Bertie

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB 2009
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB.

(1Sydney’s Billet next door. New Year  date wrong again. (2)’Ta Sha’ (Staff’s dialect –  meaning ?) (3) ‘Group’: See 26th Jan. (4) Must mean English Hymnal, 1906. (19th Cent. research – Medieval plainsong & celebration of Saints). See Robert Alwell Article.  http://www.englishhymnal.co.uk and http://www.stmary’sprimrosehill.com. 

(5) Hibbett interest in Yorkshire history (grandparents’ home). i) Edward IVth 1461-1470 & 1471-1483. 1st Yorkist King (eldest son of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York) granted Luton estates to ii) Archbishop  of York, Thomas Rotherham (formerly Bishop of Lincoln – brother iii) John Rotherham became Lord of Manor of Luton  Hoo, 1476).  ivLord William Wenlock d.1471 (fought for both Yorkists & Lancastrians in Wars of Roses; Knight of Bedfordshire; Speaker 1455 Parliament). Wenlock Chapel, St Mary’s Parish Church, Luton).

(6) Earl John Jellicoe, Admiral of the Fleet 1914 -1916. Governor of New Zealand, 1920-1924. (7) Helmuth Johann Ludwig von Moltke, Chief of German General Staff, 1906 – 1914(8) Alexander von Kluck, German General.. (9) iMarshall (Papa)Joffre 1852-1931. French General; iiSir John French. Anglo-Irish Officer, British Army(10PC re Monday’s ‘bad scoring’? (11) Woverhampton abbrev.

NEXT POST: 31ST JAN. 1915: 2nd Letter with a FOR LUCK Note.

 

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24th Jan.1915: LUTON FIRING COURSE & GUARD DUTY.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MARIE N. HIBBETT at 95 Foden Rd, Walsall.

Cromwell Road, Luton. Jan 24 / 15

My Dear Mother,

Another Sunday has come along & it finds me writing in another strange house.  Never in my life before have I been in so many houses.

I went to the Parish Church this morning on the occasion of the Dedication of the Someries Chapel restored by Lady Werner (sic) in memory of  Sir Julius Werner (1). The Bishop of St Albans preached and conducted the ceremony.  Two lovely anthems-I was glad when they said unto me’, (2) ‘Comes at times a stillness’(3). On the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany we had that lovely hymn As pants the hart’ (4).

I am sending 3/- shillings homeI got  a 4/- P.O. on Pay Day so that I should make certain of not yielding to spending all my pay.  But when I got here I had to break into it & cash the PO.  I better send it off at once & so prevent further temptations.  I shall not be able to get to Church tonight for I am ordered to be On Guard to-night.

6.30 pm.  Two jolly Privates and a Corporal.  The Corporal is playing on a piano & one is about to singThis is in the Guard Room – funny room ain’t it?  My friend Cope (5) is on the first guard.  I am on from 2 in the morning till 6, the finish.  So I have all night to wait while Cope will finish altogether in 4 hours time.  Of course he will have to wait in the Guard Room for fear the Guard has to turn out.

Ask Father if he knows of Sanger*, a teacher of his – well he is the Corporal in command (6). There is a bonny little boy watching us.  He is very fond of us soldiers, sais he will be a soldier when he grows up, but he is very quiet and reserved, so good. Light hair just like Basil.  By the way how is Dodger getting on now?  I guess he felt it when I had gone.  He wished he was coming in the London train with us.

Does Dad play the hymns we have here on Sundays – those I give you in my letters ?  – 332 & 118 were  two we had this morning (7). You should hear a whole church full of soldiers singThe Church is one foundation’  – my word how thrilling!

When I heard of me having to be on Guard I was thinking I should not have time to send or write this letter –  and  I have forgotten something now.  I remember what you said dear Mother about the present for Miss Foster* – well I could not get the exact pattern of flag I got for you, but will this one do for Miss Foster?   The flag is in the centre & pictured as on a mast.  I will save this letter until I put the kerchief in.  Syd wanted to change guard with me, but I thought I had better do as I was told, – so here’s luck.

Tell Dodger Luton town is full of Kitchener’s Army now & officers do look queer in dark navy blue & khaki short great coats.  When I went down town to get the tie for Miss Foster it was nothing but arm exercise up and down, down and up again with the left hand and the right (8).

Sergeant Hartley*, another of Dad’s teachers, is now an Officer.  They have seen him in town.  Sanger is a funny but sociable chap; he is sick of the long-winded business.  I daresay the Education Committee thought that, when they offered so many teachers, the teachers would soon get to real business.

I had an egg for breakfast with my bacon & an egg for tea, both new laid. This was on Friday.  Does Ida remember me having a letter from one of my scholars?  – that one the Deaconess (9) gave her?  & does Mother remember picking up another letter with note like hers  with flags?  Well another PC awaited me when I got back that Friday night.  It was from another little chap.  So you see the little beggars have not forgotten me.

I expect Syd will come out a crack shot after the course.  Everyone knows he is THE SHOT, but he’ll have to control the cig. smoking.

Well the letters are getting long again.  I try to keep ’em short, but my agile fingers will scribble.

I have something at the back of my mind & can’t just think of it. . . (‘Oh its nice to get up in the morning, and its nice to stay in bed’, so the song goes. . . Let’s see when is the Conversion of St Paul?  . . .  Has the Revd J.W. Dixon our late [former] Vicar, been to see you lately? . . .  . . . . . .) (10).

Now what can I say to fill this page?   

Oh the people of my billet ARE just all right.  They don’t interfere wiv we & we don’t interfere wiv them, except wash our crockery up.  They are paid to provide us with the food – no more trolling out with the jug & coming back with arms full of provisions.

Today we had sausage & bacon cooked in butter, beef – brussels or Belgian sprouts & Yorkshire pudding for dinner & of course apple pie 2nd course; tea –  jam, bread and butter & cake.  We don’t expect any luxuries on weekdays & especially washing day tomorrow.  ‘See’ sais the landlady ‘its Sunday today’  Ho! Ho! that’s why.

I think its best to send the money home, then it’s safer for it can’t keep even in a money belt.  I sent a PC to Harold.  You will larf when you see it.  I was interested in Ida’s last letter.  What a joke it was about that beggar and so Dad reads our letters aloud does he?  I can see I shall have to be rather careful in what I say in my letters.  I guess Dad was rather disgusted at the beggar (11).

Can you read my writing?  I always am tempted to scribble when I write in pencil.

Best love to all,

Yours affectionately,  Bert.

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB 2009
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB.

Kitchener’s New Army Firing Courses in Luton, were there to test the quality of its recruits and who was the ‘best shot’.  Bertie’s mixed emotions about what he and his brother were soon to do ‘for real’ in France, are evident in this long letter.

(1)Sir Julius Wernher. 1869 -1948. German banker/ diamond magnate: art collector with his wife Lady Wernher (later Lady Ludlow).  In 1902 he bought Luton Hoo (the de Hoo Family Manor since 1455, which passed through the Someries Family); setting for Steven Spielberg’s film War Horse.

(2Coronation Anthem/Introit: Sir Hugh Parry, 1902, Psalm 122 v1-3, 6,7 (PsalterBook of Common Prayer. 1662.  (3) The Revd Isaac Gregory Smith, parish priest & academic, author of books on ethics and philosophy; born 1826. Music Sir Herbert Oakley.

‘ Comes at times a stillness as of even, Steeping the soul in memories of love; As when the glow is sinking out of heaven, As when the twilight deepens in the grove. Comes at length a sound of many voices, As when the waves break lightly on the shore, As when the dawn the feathered choir rejoices, Singing aloud because the night is o’er. 

Comes at times a voice of days departed On the dying breath of evening borne; Sinks then the traveller, faint and weary-hearted”,  Long is the way” it whispers – ” and forlorn!”. Comes at last a voice of thrilling gladness Borne on the breezes of the rising day, Saying the Lord shall make an end of sadness; Saying the Lord shall wipe all earthly tears away. 

1884.  Written for the unveiling of the Albert Memorial, Edinburgh.

(4)Handel Anthem on Psalm 42, composed for Chapel Royal. (5)Norman Cope* one of the Four billeted at 29 Gold St. (lived same street as Hibbett family in Walsall.  See Menu Page). (6Corporal Sanger*.

(7)Hymns Ancient & Modern, early version?  NB  Bertie was to find great comfort in the fact that the Church of England at this time followed the Christian Calendar as set in the Book of Common Prayer, 1662;  he knew that his family would be hearing the same readings, saying the same liturgical prayers  – and mostly singing from the same Hymn Book (either A & M or the English Hymnal. 1906).

(8) Saluting with both hands? – must be Bertie’s joke! (9) Kathleen Brookes*or Mary Brookes*. (10) Typical habit of Dad when he couldn’t remember something – think of something else. (11) Possible ref. to his description of Sunday School children as ‘little beggars‘ or ref. to story of a real beggar?

NEXT POST: 26th Jan. 1915. Luton Musketry Course – Good Scores.