South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


4th July, Sun. Furnished working parties to the 1st and 2nd Coys. N. Midlands and 57th Coy R.E. CASUALTIES: 4 men wounded : No 8697 Pte A. Anson, 8396 Pte G. Davies, 8877 Pte C. Evans, and 8749 Pte J. Cater.  


BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

Sunday July 4/ 15.

Mother at Tea.
Mother at Tea.

My Very Dear Mother,

Sydney & I have received this dinner time a parcel from Auntie (1).  There are some very delicious things in it, so I must write & acknowledge it as a soon as possible.  By the by, I do not very often write to Yorkbut I really must write to dear Mother on SundaySunday always makes me think more of you & Dad.

Hush! – there’s signs of us coming Home.  Our Captain (2) has asked the Serj. Major for privates recommended for Home Leave.  But to prevent any anxiety or disappointment we cannot make certain of coming home.  But still you, dear Mother would, I thought, like a little more light on the matter.

Now Mother I know you love our children of St Paul’s Sunday School & give them a smile from me now & then,  so I thought you would be interested in this dear letter from a jolly little chap in my old class.

England's Glory Matches.
England’s Glory Matches.

He sent me a little parcel in which was  –  I wondered whatever it would be  –  there were 2 boxes of England’s Glory matches (3), a box of cigarettes & some hum bugs.  But what a generous thought of the little boy eh?

Ivory Floating Soap.
Ivory Floating Soap.

We are still in bivouacs & go to the trenches in a day or so.  Auntie sent us both a tablet of floating soap  (4) again, some cake & parkin.  The best in the parcel was a box of large chocolates including Cream Walnuts & marshmallows.  She sent fourwhat do you think?  ba-na-nas, allyou know hm – hm.  But very luckily the other contents were not spoiled. 

Forgive me referring to you sending more luxuries for my b – day, but I should like what Mother likes instead of pineapple chunksYou like apricots – well send us a tin of apricots. See PS.

PS Top of Letter. Hoping you are spending a very happy Sunday all together having tea in the sunshine. 

Best love to Dad  –  & all of you.   Bertie.



(1Auntie (Pattie?) Hibbett of York. (2Captain Charles Lister*. (3) England’s Glory matches. Made in Gloucester by S. J. Moreland & Sons (subsidiary Bryant & May, 1913). Image is of H.M.S. Devastation; turret ship built to Admiralty design,1869; first ocean-going ship without sails, described as ‘one of the most powerful warships in the world’.

(4) Floating Soap: James Norris Gamble (son of founder Proctor & Gamble establ. 1878). Origin: Proud Paper: vintage art & ads (Ebay). The World’s Biggest Advertiser all began with One Product. ‘White Soap’ produced by accident when mixing machine was left on & excess of air mixed in – buyer asked for ‘that floating soap again’.1879.  Harley T. Proctor (son of founder Proctor & Gamble) changed name  to ‘Ivory Soap‘ 1882; inspired by Psalm 45.8 All thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.   cf  ‘Ivory Soap’: Wikipedia and <www.todayifoundout.com>

NEXT POST: 5th JULY, 1915. 




South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


1st July, Thurs:  Moved into Bivouacs.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to Mother, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.     Censor: 447 WE Wright.

Mother at Abergele, August, 1914. Watercolour. A.H.Hibbett.

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.

Leut Cozens 1914
Lieut. Tim Cozens.

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 bivouacsmade 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 cheeringthe Brass Band has come to give us a tune.



(1Dominion 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.

(7Royal 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.