SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
20 in 1915.

Pte SYDNEY HIBBETT: POSTCARD to Pte ARTHUR HUBERT HIBBETT on Home Leave at 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

Saffron Walden.  13/ Jan. 1915

Dear Bert,

Mrs Penning thought you would like a view of the street and Dorothy (1) wants to know if you know where it is?  The house with the X over it seems familiar somehow to me: if you know who lives there you had better tell me. Show the other ‘bodies’ this & do not bring it away with you.

29 GOLD ST. SAFFRON WALDEN, marked with cross.

Our new uniforms are a bad fitGuard last night at Orderly Room.  Hope they are looking after you well!  Had a Transport horse to lead for exercise this morning.




29, Gold St. Saffron. Walden 2001. Pink house with steps.

This PC is typical of Sydney’s often teasing style. (1William & Alice Penning* had two children: Arthur serving in France and Dorothy (who died young according to Kathleen Penning *writing in 2001).

29, Gold Street is now on the market, obviously much modernised and extended since 1914. See <Rightmove.co.uk>.(Land Registry).  Bertie Hibbett would still have recognised the front and the view of the garden from the back, but gone are the cobbles.

 Grandmother Penning. Seated in Cart: (dark dress) Elizabeth Penning, sister of John Francis, Bertie's Landlord., George and William.
Outside the Old English Gentleman Inn, Gold St. Saffron Walden in 1914.  Far right: Grandmother Penning. Seated in Cart: (dark dress) Elizabeth Penning, sister of William Penning, Bertie’s Landlord. Is the soldier Arthur Penning, the landlord’s son? Killed in Action 20.08.1915.

* Names: see Menu Page.

NEXT TWO POSTS: 24th Jan 1915: Luton Firing Course.



Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT on Home Leave in Walsall: POSTCARD to Sig. (1) SYDNEY HIBBETT,  8830, ‘A’ Coy, 5th South Staff Reg. 29 Gold Street, Saffron Walden. 

                                12 Jan / 15

Audley End Village 1915.

Got to Walsall 2pm  –  Birmingham 1pm.  Arrived safe and sound after a delightful journey straight from S.W. to  Birmingham via Ely, Peterborough and Rugby; changed at Birmingham for WORSLE train (2).   Was in carriage with Walsall Tommies when I caught sight of Basil passing.  At once got out and Basil and I travelled to Walsall (3). Met Boothroyd in Foden Road, with Davies and Frith spoke to me (4).

Don’t forget the Imp. Service Badge (5).

All at home very wellAll’s well – about go on ‘fatigue’.  Mother sends her love.  Bring this PC home when you come see.



* Namessee Menu Page.

(1) Sig./ Signaller. (2Worsle /Walsall. (3)No corridor train. (4)J? Boothroyd (Borough Surveyor’s Department, Walsall), lived at 93, New Rowley Street (i.e. next house to Hibbett Home at 95 Foden Rd cum Rowley St after the War); 2nd Lieut.J. Davies, old boy QMS, brother to Taff Davies; A.G.Frith, MA, Classics Master at QMS, Walsall, (late Exhibitioner, Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge).

(5)Imperial Service Brooch. Bertie wants his parents to see this before he leaves for the Front. Imp.Service BroochThe Long, Long Trail website <www.1914-1918.net>  has image and the following description:-

 When TF (Territorial Force/ Terrier) troops agreed to overseas service, they signed the “Imperial Service Obligation“. They were then issued with a special badge, known as the “Imperial Service Brooch“, to be worn on their right breast. . .

 On 15 August 1914 orders were issued to separate the “home service” men from those who had undertaken to serve overseas, with the intention of forming reserves made up of those who had not so volunteered.  Those men that did not agree were separated out into “Home Service” or “Second Line” units. The original units now became known as the “Foreign Service or “First Line.

 In 1915 the “First Line” and “Second Line” units were given a new title; for example the 1/5th and 2/5th South Staffordshires were what had been the first and second line formed by the original 5th Battalion. ‘

NEXT POST: 13th Jan. 1915. Saffron Walden. War Horse & Uniforms.


3rd Jan. 1915: Saffron Walden & a Christmas Carol.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: POSTCARD: Lion Lodge, Audley End, to Miss I. N. Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall, Staffordshire.

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.

3/1/15. Sunday night. Tattoo playing in Market Place. 9.10 pm

Lion Lodge Audley End, Saffron Walden.
Lion Lodge Audley End, Saffron Walden.






I wish I had kept Mother’s letter open to tell you what a very,  very interesting service it has been tonight.  Intercession Day you know. But I will let you know in a letter later on or when we see you.   Mother I know would be greatly interested in what seemed to be a very old & quaint Carol.A virgin most pure as the Prophets did say‘ (1).

Will send you a ‘telly’ when we’re about to come Home.  Regret I mentioned the mishap to vase now.

What a lot of letters we have and shall have to write for the many presents. Who sent the papers! Mrs or G. Lallermand (2).


NB  I used this Audley End Postcard to illustrate Bertie’s 28th Dec. Birthday Letter to Ida forgetting that there was a message to Ida on the back.


(1)Traditional, West of England Carol: earliest version found in New Carolls for the Merry Time of Christmas. London. 1661. Printed version 1734. Popularised in Victorian times by Davies Gilbert’s Some Ancient Christmas Carols.1822. [Other endings to first line ‘do tell/ foretold’. ]

(2)George Lallermand was Ida’s young man, a family friend since their arrival in Walsall, 1904.

NEXT POST: 12th Jan. 1915.

2nd Jan. 1915: New Year & Question of Home Leave.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Mrs Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

29 Gold Street, Saffron Walden. Jan 2 / 14 (sic). 

My Dear Mother,

New Year’s Day I finished off the last of the mince pies and nuts.  I did not go to the  Watch Night service, but I thought  I would have liked to have gone when I was getting into bed – it being a rather unique Watch Night service in time of War.

Epiphany today (1). The Colonel of the 6th South Staffs read the Gospel as the lesson.  Hymns were again lovely and the chaps round me sang very well. I tried and I must say something like a mellow fog horn proceeded from the lower regions of my throat.

Our Chaplain gave us another good sermon telling us to keep a good resolution, following from the text from the Creed – ‘The resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting’.  Soldiers, some of them, think that there is only one life – the earthly one  – & they make the best of it by selfish pleasure etc & think that death will end it all & all will be just the same as ever.  He mentioned about self-sacrifice & V.Cs etc to explain that there are worse things than death.

I believe it was on New Year’s Day that I turned back to days gone by I mean that  I re-read all the old familiar letters from home, for I have saved some just the same as you have, & even carried them from place to place on removing.

How very pleasant it seemed reading Mother’s writing about Oct & Nov. especially one telling me what each of you were doing one Sunday evening –  Ida at the piano, Basil writing to us,and Dad reading the news of that old & famous soldier. I like to keep & read letters for another reason.  I often find something in that needed answering & I neglected the answer.

Yes, I rummaged amongst the little pileI could tell quite easily each of your hand writing, Mother’s large hand appearing through the thin paper,  Ida’sswanky” thick hand, &  what appeared to be just a plain sheet of paper for Basil’s,  because he writes generally in pencil & I can tell Harold’s small & sprawly yet neat hand.

Basil’s letter, by the by, still retains the smell of the handkerchief which was wrapped up in it. No, not one of your letters ever grow stale, all of them can stand reading again.

Now aint the arrrmy funny! I can hardly believe it that Leave IS FREE for 5 daysMondays or Thursdays (2). We cannot tell you anything for certain.  I am sure you can trust us to get every information about the matter as we possibly can.  Yes, we’ve worried  ‘Colours’ till he’s blue (3).  I think the married and trained men are having the first chance.  We might come home any day now  –  but you will receive a wire from us when we are about to leave.

At any rate I am of the opinion we ought to be doing something of a more advanced nature i.e.  –   at the front or where the fighting is going on.  I shall take things now as a matter of course &  – as Dad said  – ‘Leave it all to the authorities’.

ON THE MATTER OF WRITING LETTERS  – Am I downheartedNO!  We have received a ‘lot’ of presents & just when we think it’s all over first one and then another comes.  Fancy Fred York sending us a patent lunch tin of chocolate , and some toffee  – scrumptious  & the very idea of  Miss Bore (4) making a Cake & even putting our initials on top of it, & Mrs Bore enclosing HUMBUGS & acid drops, a great demand amongst the soldiers  (not Territorials now (5).

We are just going to make a side advance & attack on the Cake with just a knife as bayonet and attempt to ate him for to-day’s (Sunday’s) tea (all these (gifts) will, have been, are, require a letter in exchange).

Some magazines, readdressed I guess by Dad, came just in time for a little quiet Sunday’s reading.

Goodbye for the present.  I will leave the rest for when I see you face to face on Home Leave.  But just before I say I am etc etc I thank Ida for the letter, but (I) expected she was getting up a record one to beat mine, the days I have not heard from Sister.

Going back to the old letters once more, I came across a few lines of poetry which I thought Ida had composed herself –  all about you.  I began exactly at the beginning & read until I came to the end – then I was disappointed to see it was from PunchYes, after all the socks & things you have knitted for us, a piece of poetry is worthy to be dedicated to you dear Mother.  We got such an interesting letter which flabbergasted me when I knew who it was from – Ernest Lagden.  I expect he is in the Navy now.

Your ever affec. 

 Bertie Hubert           See over for latest news

P.S. STOP PRESS : I  guess you got a letter somewhat like a business one with a firm’s name on the flap?  It was from “Boss” (6) saying how mean he was not remembering me at Christmas, the typist has been a month in hospital & 3 months away  & so he has to do what he calls a double shift & if anything is not put into its proper place he sais he get’s huffy.  After relating adventures down the pit & promising Vernon E(vans) to take him down Walsall Wood (7),  – isn’t it queer that that very night Evans read about the death of Lord Bradford, the very owner of the Pit.  I suppose the village will not fear of having workers “out of work” now.

PS  I have just been shown the latest (way of) addressing letters – the one enclosing my letter is an example. This will be the last letter of mine written in ink.  I mean to write all my letters in pencil during 1915 and the War.



(1)Date confusion: Bertie talks of ‘today’s tea (Sunday’s)’ i.e. 3rd Jan 1915, (not 2nd Jan. 1914!). He also calls ‘today’ ‘Epiphany‘ because Saffron Walden Church was anticipating the Feast of the Epiphany  or the ‘Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles’ 6th Jan. The Gospel read by the Colonel would have been the Visit of the Three Wisemen  Mtt. 2.1. (2) Home Leave (before embarcation to France) was for 5 days / to begin  on either a Monday or Thursday. (3Colour Sergeant; non-commissioned officer, rank above Sergeant & below Warrant Officer, carried the Regiments’ colours.(4) Harold’s fiancee.

(5)Territorial soldiers did not serve abroad. Bertie now counts himself ‘trained’ and ready for the Front. (6)Bertie’sBoss‘ : Mr Nightingale, Mining Engineer, Walsall. (7) Walsall Wood Colliery and Lime Pits in region of Lichfield road. (Literally the ‘Wood of Walsall’, in 1200, AD, once part of Cannock Chase).

NEXT POST: 12th Jan. 1914.