8th Dec. 1914: Bishops Stortford Corn Exchange, Army Orders & Underwear.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT  to Mrs Marie N. Hibbett at 95, Foden Road, Walsall.

Corn Exchange (1),                                                            Bishops Stortford.                                                                                Tuesday night. Dec. 8 / 14



My Dear Mother,

We are moving tomorrow to Saffron Walden, a provincial town about 12 miles north.  I daresay Syd has told you.  We had orders to pack ready and leave nothing behind, else we shall not see them again, for arrangements will be entirely different from what they have been with regards to communication from here to Luton.

I send home the two pairs of jypamas (sic) and the once pair of  Sunday boots.  I am bound to send these home now.  I have my valise, haversack etc stuffed already and there are still more things to go in.  If I need the army undervest I will write for it.  I found it too rough and not such a comfortable make as yours.  I have worn the trouser parts of the pyjamas while being here.  I do not think I will be able to wear such things again now we are on the move. I changed my underwear last Saturday night, after going to the Baths at a College in the morning  (they are not to be compared with those at Luton – of course these were free – all ‘A’ Company went by orders).

I read the Walsall paper you sent (3) (Evans* had one which I read the day before) and received the Parish Magazine this morning which I shall enjoy reading in my spare time.

We, the trio ( Syd, V. Evans and I ) will try to get together when we get to the new place, where I sincerely hope there will be comfortable house billets – ( of course we must get used to places more like the trenches or what shall we do when we have to sleep and dwell at the Front).  Of course things have been awkward somewhat here, and trying to comply with Army Orders.  I preferred sleeping at the proper place.

Have you received the blankets from Luton yet? (4)

I will pay the carriage forward for this and then I think it will get to Walsall all right & safe.  I am not only squeamish about sending parcels carriage forward, but I do not like the idea of you paying at your end when I can afford to pay at this end –  only when I’m really & excusably hard up.   Thank you for the letter (you said we could read one another’s ) and for the Yorkshire Herald cutting.  The Yorkshire Hussars are going to Harlow where Sir E. Wood (5) saw us on Friday.

I think we shall be in England by Christmas so there’s a chance of sharing the turkey & pudding with you.  I know you’d like us to.  Goodbye for the present.  I’m writing this in the Drill Hall – time’s up – ink bottles are going  – shd’v re-written this (6) – so sorry.



NB. On 5th Dec. 1914: King George V th visited the Front and on 7th Dec. Lloyd George became Prime Minister.

(1)The Corn Exchange appears to have been used as a Billet as well as a Drill Hall in 1914. (2LatinA Noble Pair of Brothers, ref. to stoicism in face of uncomfortable billets.  (3) Walsall Observer, Dec 1914: reports increasing number of photographs of local Casualties; requests for mittens & other comforts for the Front; Bishop of Lichfield called for  ‘Christmas as Usual‘ to help keep up soldiers’ ‘confidence’. (4) Blankets appear to have gone missing in transit home. (5Field Marshall Sir Evelyn Wood VC.  (6) Ref. to untidy writing and crossings out.

NEXT POST:11th Dec. 1914: Training in Saffron Walden: Trench Digging. Long Letter: Part 1, pages 1-13  to brother Basil.

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