Warriors For The Working Day
Military Art
Paul Hitchin
145 Walsall Road



'Private, 1st Battn. North Staffordshire Regiment. France, Spring 1918

This soldier represents the backbone of the British army during World War One. The ‘PBI’ or ‘ poor bloody infantry’. In this instance a private of the 1st Battn. North Staffords. This battalion had been in France since August 1914 initially with the 6th Division and from October 1915 with the 24th Division. This was one of Kitchener’s new army divisions and it was common wherever possible to stiffen the new division brigades with regular battalions. The battalion fought in the later stages of the Somme campaign and then continually until 1918 suffering more than 35,000 casualties.

This illustration of a typical “Tommy Atkins” is actually based on a photograph of the artist’s grandfather, Pvt. 28627 George Hitchin who was not a regular soldier and joined up in late 1915, being transferred after training to the Staffords in late July 1916 and serving continually with the battalion until March 1918 when he was wounded and captured near St Quentin in the German Spring offensive. He is shown in marching order as if about to return to the front line. He bears a wound stripe on his left sleeve indicating one wound already received in France. His right shoulder shows the Divisional badge. The service cap appears to have had the wire reinforce removed, giving it a softer appearance and bears the badge of the Stafford knot surmounted by the Prince of Wales’ feathers. He wears the standard khaki serge uniform and webbing introduced just before the war.

He is armed with the standard rifle of the British Army, the short magazine Lee Enfield, a bolt action repeating rifle with a ten round magazine, a popular and highly effective weapon in the hands of trained soldiers which had, early in the war, convinced their German adversaries that the Tommies of the British Expeditionary force were armed with machine guns.

It was soldiers such as this man who suffered the hell of the trenches of the Western Front, dying in their thousands in what was mistakenly called

‘The War to end all Wars’



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