YPRES SALIENT – OUVERDOM CAMP.
1st July, Thurs: Moved into Bivouacs.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Mother, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall. Censor: 447 WE Wright.
Dominion Day. July 1/ 15. (1)
My Very Dear Mother,
Glad to hear you got our letters all right. We both always like the parcels you send, with a fresh liking & delight every time we get one from home. We got the last parcel the day we settled in the new hutments. We have moved again today & will bivouac for some time now.
I was so sorry on hearing of Jack Wade* getting wounded. You wish we were lieutenants? Well for my part, every time I see Tim*(2), who is the bright spark, I wish I was like him, but I am generally content & my only wish now is that Sydney will get to be a full Corporal (3).
So the Vicar (4) gave a pleasant sermon? Do you remember me giving you a form of intercession with a picture of an angel guarding a soldier & a sailor?
My word another parcel. I have your letter by me & am answering & referring as I read on. Anything will be welcome, but don’t let us put you to any out of the way trouble. The last tin of cream was lovely & thick – send the same another time. Many thanks for the bit of cash which came in useful.
Vernon, Sydney & I had a letter each from Mrs Penning, dear old lady (5). Mine was a long one too & all of them written in a motherly way. She said we had been there a long time & she was getting to know us & we were as children to her. She said, in Sydney’s letter, that she would very much like a line from you Mother; she must sympathise with you.
I have managed to get with Vernon in our bivouacs – made of oil sheets we carry on our packs & any poles or sticks we find in the field. It has been a fine day today. America will be having celebrations today & Miss Foster* (6) will be seeing the Royal Show (7) pass her window in Lenton. There’s signs of Parading soon – digging I suppose – so I will close.
What can I send you on your birthday Mother dear?
Best love from The Trio – V. S. B. (Bertie).
PS You need not send any watercress, but we get very little or no green food.
Tell me if you got letter to Basil dated 30 June/ 15 Woden’s Day. (8). Could you of your generosity send Bailey* (9) that small parcel in next parcel to us, – you promised, but just as you please.
PPS All the men are giving their tents names. I have named our bivouac Bully Beef Bungalow (10). Everybody is cheering – the Brass Band has come to give us a tune.
(1) Dominion Day/ Canada Day : Canada received national status on 1st July, 1867. (2) Lieut. Tim Cozens*, formerly Sunday School Teacher, St Paul’s Walsall.
(3) Pte Bertie’s Mother perhaps thought her sons would be better & safer as Officers, but life expectancy was 6 weeks for a young subaltern (2nd Lieut, most junior commissioned officer/ led a platoon of 50 men). Six Weeks – The Short & Gallant Life of a British Officer in the First World War. 2011. John Lewis- Stempel (historian, author & farmer).
(4) The Revd. E. More Darling*. (5) Mrs Alice Penning: the Trio’s landlady, Saffron Walden. Not I think all that ‘old’, she was to lose her only son, Arthur Penning* in August, 1915. (6) Miss Foster: Bertie Hibbett’s Godmother, lived in Lenton Sands, Nottingham.
(7) Royal Agricultural Show. 1st July 1915, Woollaton Park, Nottingham (103,883 visitors). Commercial Motor website. The Wheel of Industry. ‘Exhibition of steam & internal combustion engined vehicles, tractor engines & agrimators’. The 1915 (&1916 Show at Manchester) ‘suffered from hostilities’; those of 1917 -1918 were cancelled. NB Interestingly, one exhibitor was an Edwin Foden, Son & Co. Ltd. Elworth Works, Sandbach, producer of commercial vehicles. Any connection with Foden Rd Walsall? (
8) Woden’s Day: : Old English wodnesdaeg/ wednesday.(9) F.S. Bailey or Leonard Bailey*: probably a few cigarettes.(10) Naming of Places: an attempt to take some control in a life of total uncertainty.
NEXT POST: 4th JULY, 1915: Rumours of Home Leave.