1st – 3rd May 1915: In Hutments ‘Bulford Camp‘.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to his Sister IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.
Camp. May 3 / 15
My Dear Sister Ida,
The Battalion Band has just struck up a lively air. Sid & I and F. Bailey* etc are lying in the grass in a hollow listening to it (1). I am of course trying to write to you as well.
Another sunny afternoon for Church Service. Sid & I have been on parade & have attended a most beautiful service of Holy Communion, administered on the field.
I found out, when I sent my May Day letter to Mother, that I had missed some touchy bits I had put in my draft (I made a draft being a special letter). Sentry duty being monotonous at times one’s thoughts are likely to wander. Now don’t come to the conclusion it’s through laziness yo ho! I’m aye ready for any of the wiles of the enemy – but you can just understand although not in the same circumstance.
Well my thoughts were – where do you think – why of Home Sweet Home (2).
I repeat those words again (3), ‘Guide there my affections, my thoughts‘ – & now my pen or rather pencil. Well I thought of Mother as usual & I also missed the music of Home & so I began to whistle songs & hymns. I whistled & half sang that lovely song ‘The Brook’(4). I pictured Mother at the piano accompanied by Dad playing. Other songs were ‘Jerusalem’(5), which reminded me of Nottingham (6).
I promised to tell you about the article I read in the Daily Mail I managed to get hold of. Well I think I could have begun the article a little better than Miss Wise by letting Poor Georgia have been an adopted child; it would have been more fitting for the object of the article’ a filler- in‘. At any rate Poor Georgia was plainly dressed & had ugly features somewhat. At Sun. School the Teachers had quite a dispute & none would have her in their classes, but it so happened that the pianist took pity on her & said that . . . . (Pages missing here sadly!)
PS I enclose two letters which I know you & Mother & all at Home will be pleased to read & so you will know that we are remembered & we are often if not continually in the thoughts of all in dear old England.
We have discarded pants, but the day we took them off – & since – the weather has been colder. Today there has been a cool breeze, but how lovely it was to have Church Service in the sunshine.
‘Brother clasps the hand of brother’ goes that lovely hymn. (7)
We should be delighted with either a tin of pineapple chunks or Mother’s favourite apricot & cream Yo ho!
Best wishes, Bert.
PS You may let Mother read this too. Let me know if & when you got my letter to Basil & Mother. PS Vernon has just given me another letter of his to read.
(1) My father always loved to hear a Band; he had a fine singing voice and used it well for intoning the Anglican services after he was ordained. (2) Home Sweet Home: music Sir Henry Bishop; lyrics John Howard Payne, 1823. (3) Kipling: See Letter 1st May 1915.
(4) The Brook: Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1809 -1892. Poet Laureate. (Born Somersby, Lincolnshire, where his father was Rector. I like to think that I was taught in the same rooms as he was at King Edward VI Grammar School, Louth, and that his poem‘Flower in the crannied wall. . . ‘ was inspired by the School House Lane wall I passed everyday. NB Unable to locate the music score unless it is the hand-written one in Indian ink, titled ‘Spring’ – found in the same envelope. (5) Jerusalem: William Blake. 1757 -1827. Romantic Poet & Painter
(6) Bertie Hibbett was born in Nottingham, (1895) where his father Arthur Hibbett was Organist & Choir Master at St. Mary’s High Pavement. The family moved to Walsall around 1903.
(7) Hymn: Through the Night of Doubt & Sorrow. Bernhardt S. Ingermann 1826. (Translated from Danish by Sabine Baring Gould, 1834 – 1924). The line quoted above continues: ‘Stepping fearless through the night‘.)