PARCELS TO THE FRONT & LETTERS HOME is dedicated to World Peace, in Honour of my Father, The Revd Arthur Hubert Hibbett (Bertie), his brothers, Harold & Basil – all three wounded in WW1 – and in Memory of my Uncle Sydney Hibbett, Killed in Action 1st July 1916. Also of my Aunt Ida Hibbett, Red Cross Nurse, who died of cancer following work in an ammunition factory.
NEW VIEWERS might like to go back to the beginning of my father’s Letters in August 1914, after reading this Welcome Page. See Archive July/August 2014. If viewers are looking for a relative’s name go to the Left Menu & select South Staffordshire Regiment: Officers & Men. Editing is on going so I would be grateful for any further information you might have on the individuals listed. There are also Monthly Summaries of the Letters from Jan. 1915, set in relation to the South Staffords’ War Diary.
That this website was built in time for the 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the Great War is due to the wonderful care I have received from the National Health Service. See Acknowledgements below.
UPDATE: Family events have interrupted this website since 2017 but I did manage to post my father’s Armistice Day Letter 11th November 1918 as close to ‘one hundred years on’ as I could. I was also very glad to visit Walsall in 2018 and gather round the War Memorial on Sunday 11th Nov. at the 11th hour, remembering my uncle Sydney and all the members of the Hibbett Family. In lovely sunshine, I visited some of their old haunts, St Paul’s Church and the Arboretum & then walked up Foden Road to the old Family Home which saw such extremes of sorrow & joy in WW1.
I hope to finish posting the Hibbett Letters in 2021.
In August 1914, Bertie Hibbett,19, a Mining Surveyor Apprentice, was on holiday in Abergele, Wales, with his Family, when the Headmaster of Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall, sent a Recruitment Post Card to his brother Sydney Hibbett.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS ON THIS FATEFUL CARD WAS POSTED AGAIN: 11th AUGUST 2014: the first on-line post in a remarkable collection of Letters, Drawings and Sketches Pte Bertie Hibbett, 1/5th South Staffordshire Regiment, sent Home from the Trenches in France & Flanders. Some 200 Letters have been posted on the day they were written, between August 1914 and July 1916.
BERTIE HIBBETT’S STORY for the most part is told in his own words: with extracts from his own War Diary and ‘My Memories of the First World War’ 1967, and information from the South Staffords Regiment War Diary & The History of the South Staffordshire Regiment, woven in where appropriate.
EDUCATIONAL AIM: My Grandfather, Arthur Hibbett, was Chief Education Officer for the Borough of Walsall 1903 -1925 and it will be a great satisfaction to me, a onetime teacher, to know that this 1st World War Primary Source Material is in a convenient form for study in Schools and Colleges, as well as by the General Public.
READING THE LETTERS: Today, as I gently open out these flimsy sheets, I wonder at their history and the journey they have made from the trenches, through the years, into my hands. I think about those who first opened and read them and of the brave young man who wrote them, much younger than my own son now.
Reading the letters, one after another, I feel I am in the same position as those who first received them, entering into my father’s life at the Front, seeing it unfold day by day and week by long week, waiting in expectation of what will happen next, caught up in the immediacy of it all. I want all who read them to feel in that position too.
The Letters will appear under the following Headings:-
1. Recruitment & Training in Bedfordshire & Essex: Aug.1914 – Feb. 1915.
2. Embarkation to the Front, Armentiers & Wulverghem Trenches, Listening Post, opposite Messines. March – June 1915.
3. Ypres Salient: Armagh Wood, Zilibek; Yves Canal; Railway Embankment; Hill 60, Trench 32. June – August 1915.
4. No 12. & No 9. General Hospital, Rouen. Aug. – Sept. 1915.
5. Battle of Loos. Battle of Hohenzollern Redoubt. Sept. – Nov. 1915.
6. Neuve Chappelle Trenches & Listening Post. Nov. – Dec. 1915.
7. Mnerville Hospital, Boulogne. Transport to Marseille to join Battalion in Egypt. Return to Western Front . 14th Dec.-14th Feb..
8. Battalion at Bellancourt. 15th Feb. – 18th March 1916.
9. Neuville St Vaast, Vimy Ridge, holding the Labyrinth. 19th March – 3rd May.1916.
10. Battle of Somme. Preparation. Fonquevillers, L Sector Trenches, overlooking Gommecourt Wood. 3rd May – 1st July 1916.
11. Hospital in France 1st July 1916; Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Birkenhead. 9th July – May 1917. Discharge from Army, July 1917.
12. Lichfield Theological College, Armistice Day, 11th Nov. 1918. Ordination as an Anglican Priest,1924. Ministry in Diocese of Huntingdon & Lincolnshire.
NOTE: I look forward to your Comments – especially from members of Walsall Families mentioned in the Letters, and from Staffordshire Regiment historians.
I have been researching these Letters since my father died in 1973. For their helpful interest, grateful thanks must go to the late Vernon Evans, Bertie’s best friend; the Penning Family; Arthur Venables’ Family; Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall; The Record Office, Essex Street, Walsall; Members of The Western Front Association; The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and The Imperial War Museum. I am especially indebted to The Staffordshire Regiment Museum, Lichfield, for sight of their Roll Book , precious and rare, and for copies of the Staffs Official War Diary, through which I was able to discover the exact location of my father when he wrote Home.
That this website has been built, in time for the 100th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the Great War, is due to the wonderful care I have received from the National Health Service. My most grateful thanks go especially to my GP, Dr B. Kalsi & Health Workers at Queens Medical Centre, Barnstaple; Cardiac Consultant, Dr. C. Gibbs, Nurses & Rehabilitation Team at North Devon District Hospital; Cardiac Surgeon, Dr Fazil Azeem and Intensive Care Nurses from all over the world at The Royal Brompton Hospital, London – and lastly, for good measure, my most grateful thanks to Breast Cancer Surgeon, Mr J. Groome, Anaesthetist, Dr. Hibbard & Nurses at NDDH. And now I’ve just had the jab! Thank You NHS!
Heading Illustration: Poppies on the Battlefield. Watercolour. 4″x 4″. AHH.1917.
Website Copyright. EFW 2014.