Tag Archives: ‘The Highwayman came riding’.

29TH NOV.1915: ‘PATER’S BUTHDOI & NO CIGAR TO SEND WITH MY HEART’S LOVE!’

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

NEUVE CHAPELLE BRIGADE RESERVE: LORETTO ROAD .

29th Nov. LORETTO ROAD. In Brigade Reserve ‘C’ Subsector Rest Houses.  CASUALTIES: 2 men 672 Pte S. Gee wounded by shrapnel whilst on working party. 9187 Pte L J.  Harper slightly wounded.

 TOTAL CASUALTIES NOVEMBER 1915: KILLED 1. WOUNDED 4.  Slightly wounded 4.

Signed: H. A. WISTANCE Capt. Comg 1/5 South Staffs Regt.

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BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
BERTIE HIBBETT:
20  in 1915.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to HIBBETT FAMILY, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.

Pater’s Buthdoi.    29/11/ 15.

A MORNING’S  X  Mum; X  Ida; X Dodger;  X  Harold; X  Sydney; X  Myself.

11.30 am. In a billet.

That our sons may grow up as the young plants and that our daughters may be as the polished corners of the Temple’. 30th Day. (1)

 ALAS!  I HAVE NO CIGAR TO SEND HIM WITH MY HEARTS LOVE

My Very Dear People,

Walter Crane: The North Wind doth blow.
‘The North Wind doth blow’. Walter Crane..

So you all tried the soft woollen helmet on, & fancied yourselves in a barn like the Cock Robin (Bertie)when he knew Winter was coming, to keep himself warm, he hid in a barn (2).

Well you will be happy to hear that the parcel came on Saturday when I was in the trenches, so I wore it that very same night – & luckily too it was the night I was able to get the most of the hours sleep since I was in; for the night before I was on sentry all through.

Oh how I did larf Champion –  at Father’s Nellie Grey (3). I had an idea you would send those poems out ofTroubadour’ (4), how good of you, you brick, to rip the pages out.  Forgive me, I was somewhat disappointed on seeing that the ‘The Highwayman’  was not in the parcel, it is such a fine poem eh?

Now you’ll all enjoy a good lunch, a good tea & tell me if Dad had bacon for breaker.  Also tell me if he gets to be N.U.B. (5) Also tell me if Dodger wants M.I.K. (6) also Mum tell me if Ida is M.Xant  –(i.e. Most Xtravigant) with the butterfood rationing WW!search

Also lastly tell me if you’ve adopted any Table Economy (7).

’Ello what’s this? I said to me sen as a letter addressed to Sydney from Mother was handed to me.  On the envelope it had ‘NOT AT BASE Try Front’.  So by that poor Sydney is of course not at the Convalescent Camp, but I wonder if he is on the way to see me or joined a wretched Entrenching Battalion (8). Forgive me, I took it into my head to read the letter and I will keep it for the dear boy.

Yes poor Vernon is still ill with a chill, woke this mornin’ and greeted me in a whisper, no improvement in his voice, but the voice of influenza is creeping o’er him.

Mum, I made some coffee on getting intobed’ last night& I saved Brewin* some for him to drink after going out on duty.  Brewin made some Porridge this morning & said it is the ‘finest thing one can have in the trenches’.

Dodger, you aren’t preparing for anything at Christmas at the Grammar School like you did at B’ham?  I am looking forrard to Christmas, no matter in what way it comes, how when or where.

Toodle oo,  

7381788Best love Bertie Arfer, Cock Robin. X X X X X.

PS  Auntie* sent me a letter, the longest she has ever written – on large foolscap She said she is knitting a pair of socks for Dad & also making a Cake for Christmas & is sending some to Sid & me.

Had a letter from Miss Foster* yesterday, a jolly letter, she wants me to tell her anything and everything and wants me to give her a description of a dugout, but oh my after knowing the result my letter of Sunday Nov 14th and the effect it had on poor Mum I could not tell Miss Foster, for she too was taken by a simple heading to one of my past letters to herWritten Within a Barn by Candlelight’.  She added that she was aware that we have to put up with worse things & I think I will leave it to her imagination.  She told me you had written to her about Sydney.

Well  Ta Ta.  Dad’s letter must not go without a PS.

Whit too whoo’ said the owl last night.

X Mum,  X Ida,  X Harold,  X Dodger, X Sydney, X Myself.

PS NB  Also tell me if Dad smoked a cigar & if he got my letter of Thursdayon right’. (9).

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Pte Bertie draws a picture of how the Hibbett Family made their Father’s  Birthday/’Buthdoi’ special.

(1) Psalm 144.12. (Book of Common Prayer). Original Hebrew words used here are rare and difficult to translate into English. In some versions ‘sons‘ are ‘towers‘ rather than ‘plants‘ and ‘daughters‘ are ‘corner/foundation pillars‘ of a palace rather than merely ornamental statues. (Good example of how translators can perpetuate gender stereotypes).

220px-Walter_crane_small
Walter Crane.

(2) Nursery Rhyme ‘The North WindorThe Robin‘: The North Wind doth blow and we shall have snow and what will Cock Robin do then, poor thing. He will sit in a barn to keep himself warm & hide his head under his wing, poor thing. Last verseWhat will children do then, poor things?  ‘They must skip, jump and run until they have made themselves warm, poor things‘. Mother GooseimagesMother Goose: imaginary author of Fairy Tales & Nursery Rhymes. A Baby’s Bouquet 1878. Illustrations by Walter Crane.1845-1915. English artist/children’s books.

220px-Benjamin_Hanby_bw
Benjamin Hanby.

(3) Nellie Gray: popular 19th Cent. song against slave-trade. An African-American male slave of Kentucky mourns the sale of his beloved into slavery in Georgia. Benjamin Hanby, 1856.

(4) Poem The Troubadourappears in ‘A Magazine of Verse’. January 1915. Madison Cawein, 1865-1914.  American Poet (‘Keats of Kentucky’). His poem ‘Waste Land’, 1914, is said to have inspired Ezra Pound’sThe Waste Land‘, 1922, foundation of modernism in poetry. ‘Night they say is no man’s friend and at night he met his end … Hate crouched near him as he strode… Eyes of murder glared and burned at each turning of the road… And with Death we stood and stared… but he never looked nor cared.’ cf The Poetry Foundation.

(5) N.U.B: ‘Nigh to Bursting’. (6) M.I.K: ‘More in Kitchen’.

Illust LondonRationing-begins2(7) Table Economy: Food rationing was not introduced until 1916 but pressure was put on public to be frugal. 60% of food in Britain was imported. 300,000 tonnes of food shipping was sunk every day by German submarines. cf. The Illustrated London News. 

(8) Entrenching Battalion: temporary units to provide ‘pools of men‘ in a Corps from which to draw replacements in infantry battalions. See Wikipedia. Fuller details in Long Long Trail <https://www.1914-1918.net/entrenching.html >

(9) ‘on righti.e. on the exact day 29th Nov. ‘Pater’s Buthdoi’.

NEXT POST5th Dec. 1915.

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23RD NOV. 1915: A MERRY PARTY OF TOMMIES AT ‘A ROUGH TIME – A COLD TIME – A NIGHTLY TIME’.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

BRIGADE  RESERVE : LORETTO ROAD

22nd Nov. Mon:  V. Quiet day. Enemy shrapnelled Communication Trenches. Relieved by 4th Batt. KINGS LIVERPOOL Regt from LIVERPOOL STREET to CHURCH ROAD.  1/5th Bat NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE Regt took over trench NORTH of CHURCH ROAD. 1/6th Batt. SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE Regt took over trench SOUTH of LIVERPOOL STREET.

23rd Nov. Tue: LORETTO ROAD.  In Brigade Reserve in  ‘C’ SUBSECTOR Rest Houses.

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BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
BERTIE HIBBETT:
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95  Foden Rd Walsall.

Tuesday Night. November 23/ 15

A Merry Party of Tommies.

My Dearest Mum, Dad & all,

What  really ripping parcels you have sent lately, and the best of it  – they have really come at a very happy & convenient time.  The one & the only one which was brought into the trenches that day. Indeed the towel came also very timely  to cleanse my very dirty black fuzzy wig & the toffee too came at an acceptable time,  a rough time, a cold time, a time when my tummy felt cold & frozen, a nightly time. 

Zebra Polish Tin c. 1930.
Zebra Polish Tin.  c.1930.

And oh the handsome Zebra Polish tin, – so neatly packed with rich, delightful, delicious, appetising confectionery – came at a most welcome time & a jolly time.

We came out of the trenches yesterday & after a long tedious march through the long. . . (censored). . . with our packs & overcoats on as usual, we settled down for the night in this barn where I am writing  – or trying to write a letter of thanks, expressing my heart’s love to you for such good, homely comforts.

Round the barn are seated Tommies & in the centre is a blazing warm coke fire.  Such a comfy sightA sight which has set our hearts aglow and which had made us feel like having a sing song of some sort.  At length the Corporal proposed a little concertAfter much persuasion I volunteered to give them one.  I only wished ’’The Highwayman’ (1) had come timely too, at any rate the recitation I gave these men was fresh to them.  Oh how they clapped & how their attention was drawn, they listened with keen interest & all was quiet.

Mum, the Pork pie came ‘at the right’ as Dad puts it.  The Parcel came by the second post when we were all laid down to sleep, but with the help of the candles, thanks so much for them, I laid the parcel outVernon, I am glad to say, got with me for the night & we enjoyed a slice of pork pie eachEverything in the parcel came in nicely, something suitable for each meal of the day; the pork pie & a hot drink of coffee with the milk you sent for dinner, those tasty crisp flat cakes for a sweet after breakfast, the wholesome fancy bread loaf & butter for tea, the apples, one each eaten on waking up this morning. 

Sllep Trenchese93063fb23c8b5fbd33cccfeb68c38a2
Poor Vernon had caught his chill & lost his voice sleeping in trenches like this. <https://www.pinterest.com&gt;

I could only find Vernon’s nose to rub the cold little apple on, he had huddled himself in the blanket overcoat & had his sleeping helmet on, his head was buried in his clothing.

The thick lovely chocolate came nicely between meals & a lump helped to stay Vernon’s coughVernon, poor chap, has lost his voice again & has a cold the same one he had at Saffron Walden (2); don’t say anything to his people, he would be huffy with I – oh my!

Mum, it was a homely tea.  I toasted the two slices of the lovely loaf & spread some of the lovely home butter on & then, Mum, I had that which you love, Damson Jam on TOP of the jolly lot.  Then I had some of the simply superb Genoa  nut cakeVernon said it was very nice & the bread too.  But, poor boy, he could not enjoy a second or rather as much pie as I offered him.  It was fine & he did enjoy it all the more.

Don’t be, I hope you aren’t, anxious about your long & many lettersyou have so laid your spare time, yes & even taken some of your time for attending to domestic affairs.  How my heart leaps in gratitude to you when you talk of being busy in making things for Xmas time.

Just had a most jolly letter from Sydney, he told me not to send it Home it was so childish.

9.0 pm. The conclusion of this letter has been delayed through fatigue duties  & V & I have been transferred from comfy billets to next door where there is no fire

Well Ta Ta.  Goodnight pip, pip.  I pray you will have a good night’s sleep, although you might get this in a morning.

Best love to all, will write to Dodger soon & send a Boomerang to Champion in reply to her champion epistles.

What oh! Jolly old Flo.

Bertram Arfer.

PS   Nil.  Napou.  Finis.  Oosh Cha. (3)

I will gollop down the last piece of bread & butter with cake betweenand Verney will share in & we are both settling down to sleep the night through.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Pte Bertie’s jolly rhymes & school-boy jargon reflects his happy mood at the success of his Concert party-piece, despite the move fromcomfy billets&blazing coke fire‘ – on which he had no doubt made his toast

(1) The Highwayman. Alfred Noyes: 1880-1958. cf Letter: 5th Nov. 1915.  (2) Saffron Walden, Essex. Training. Letters: Dec. 1914 Jan 1915.

(3) Nil (Latin ‘nothing more‘); Finis (Latin ‘the end’); Napou: soldier French for ‘finis; Oosh cha: a tea-time cheer?/ from Hindi cha/tea?  Ta Ta/ Pip Pip are cheery farewells; but what is ‘Jolly old Flo’?

NEXT POST:  27th Nov. 1915.

5th NOV: GUY FAWKES NIGHT IN THE TRENCHES & A GRENADIER SINGSONG.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

FOUQUIERES

3rd – 4th Nov. In Rest Billets. (Refitting Bn after Battle)

5th Nov. Fri: Marched at 8.30 am to PARADIS  near MERVILLE  and went into Billets.

Map Bethune to Nevee Chapelle.
Map Bethune to Nevee Chapelle.

Bertie in Uniform Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Mother, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.

GUY FAWKES DAY. 5 th Nov/ 15

My Very Dear Mother,

parachuteflare
PARACHUTE FLARE.

Another coincidence MumToday, or rather tonight, will be the unique Bonfire Night.  For the purpose of seeing the enemy’s movements at night star lights (1) are used & these lights have been improved & there are many different kinds, some giving off an illumination like those of the Flower Show (2)  Indeed every night in the trenches is a Guy Fawkes  affair, what with shells & star lights.

And again another feature, which is all the more unique, is that I am undergoing a course in bombing.  I was examined in the oral part yesterday (3).

The Batt. has moved further away todaySydney I’m partly sorry to tell you is in Hospital with influenza, but I think it is the only way of obtaining a rest, – as the Doctor put it alsoThirteen went including Arthur Brown* who came back, I think on Wednesday, after 3 or 4 days.

I hope you aren’t giving up making toffee on this bonfire night  & I hope Dodger will enjoy a lump and not deny himself a second piece either. I was not able to see the Observer  about the attack, (Vernon having gone to Hospital when your letter of  Tues 26th arrived, about the Bishop at St Paul’s) – but never mind I am not the worse off. 

The bombing party will go near the Batt. tomorrow.  I am afraid this letter will not be accepted here.  I shall have to keep it until I get to my Company.  I shall be rather glad when I get back to my platoon again.

Mrs Evans sent a parcel to Vernon when he was in Hospital, the parcel went to the trenches & I had a letter from her saying the contents were for Sydney, myself and pals.  Wasn’t it jolly good of her to think of us.  We must bear in mind it is not so much the gifts as the thoughts, especially nowadays.  I am looking forward to a parcel from you as I expected one today if the Batt. had not moved.

I suppose all the little boys in Walsall will substitute the dummy of Guido for William eh! 

News in the papers has somewhat surprised us out here.  Oh! that reminds me, we Grenadiers (4) had a bit of a concert in the barn here on Wednesday last & I gave the men an effort of mine.  We shall very likely have another soon. When I entertain any party I like to give them a really good piece of recitation or a jolly good song.  So I wonder if you could try & send me that poem Ida loved so much ‘The Highwayman came riding, riding, riding up to the old inn door’ (5). I should be delighted if you could.  Don’t think that I am absolutely theatrical with the men, but I have come to the conclusion that one cannot get on with such a crew of chaps like these without chumming up & being merry with them.

Any other humorous poem you’ve got just send along by return post & obligeIda loved to gather us around the study fire & have a little ‘Sing Song’.

Well, what think you of these two I’m enclosing? Laddie in Khaki’ (6) was sung by a lady (of means) in the YMCA at the Base when I was thereIFSL01532

As for the other it is appropriate for a fireside song & reminded me of the singsongs we had round the fire at Home Sweet Home, the Little Grey Home in the West.

Best love to all,  Father and bestest love to Mummy, 

Bertie Arfer.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) “Star shell”: artillery shell for illuminating Battlefield & No Man’s Land at night, to catch enemy patrols or wiring activity.   Fuse burst at a given height igniting a magnesium flare which burned while the shell, with parachute, gradually fell to earth. Multi-coloured flares used for passing signals. <https://www.firstworldwar.com&gt;

(2) Flower Show: Aldridge near Walsall held a annual Flower Show and no doubt Mr Frank O. Bates*,  exhibited his roses. cf. Letter: 12th July 1915.

53px-N°23_MkII-Version_Fusil(3) Bombing Course: Training in throwing  & firing Mills grenades: stick attached extended their throw.  Used effectively in Battle of Loos/Hohenzollern. See Post 13th Oct.1915. Also 20th -31st July 1915.

Alfred Noyes. 1880 -1958.
Alfred Noyes. 1880 -1958.

(4) Grenadier: (from French ‘grenade’) ‘bomb thrower’ from 17th cent.

(5) Alfred Noyes: 1880-1958. English poet, short story writer & playwright. Born Wolverhampton. The Highwayman: ‘best narrative poem in existence for oral delivery‘. Voted 15th in The Nation’s Favourite Poem. BBC poll. 1995. Film made.

The Highwayman: The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees.  The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas.  The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,   And the highwayman came riding—Riding—riding—The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard. He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred.  He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there   But the landlord’s black-eyed daughter, Bess, the landlord’s daughter, Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair. (Part I verse 1 & 3).1906.

(6) Laddie in Khaki: Ivor Novello. 1893 -1951. Words: James Edward Myers. 1915.

There is a girl who waits at home Who’s full of charm and grace.  Tho’ her heart is saddened She keeps a smiling face. Ask her whom she’s thinking of All the livelong day With a smile that lights her face. She  will softly say: ” Laddie in khaki I’m waiting for you. I want you to know That my heart beats true.  I’m longing and praying And living for you, So come back little laddie in khaki!”.

NEXT POST: 7th Nov. 1915.