Centre: Sgt S. HIBBETT when training as a Sergeant.

Lance Corp. SYDNEY HIBBETT: LETTER to  Pte BERTIE HIBBETT,  Ward 6, No 9 GENERAL HOSPITAL, ROUEN.                   

Same Place. Sunday Aug 29th/ 15

Dear Old Bert,    

Many thanks for your interesting letters, & also for Basil’s enclosed, which I read with much interest.  It appears that he has not had such a bad time of it at Whitby in spite of being alone so to speak.  I shall be writing to him soon, but you know what it is to be in the trenches – all work.

We were in the dugouts  in the wood, when we went in after you left us, – for 6 days and then we had a rest in the huts for 6 days.

VAD Nurses Ida Hibbett & May Overend. 1915.
VAD Nurses Ida Hibbett & May Overend. 1915.

I had a parcel from home & a small one from M. Overend*: she is spending her holidays as a nurse at a Herefordshire Hospital (1).

Whitby Market.
Whitby Market.

I also had a few apples & pears from the market in Whitby from Mother: you know they returned home on Friday the 27th.

Well we came up here again on the 23rd and 1 & 2  (2) are in the line this time.  We had a Daily Mail photographer or correspondent (3) up here yesterday.

HILL 60.  Photograph 1915.  The sites are labelled from left: British;  Germans;  Early Mine Craters;  British;  Germans  – and Lovers Lane! <http://www.dailymail.co.uk> 

A parcel from Mrs Hurst* came for you yesterday, but as we could not send it on to you (as you know) I had it to myself & wrote her a letter of thanks & gave her your address as she wanted to send you some cigarettes.  There was some Mexican chocolate, soap, matches, this writing paper, condensed milk & sardines in it, so I had a good time with Brewin* & as our rations have been very thin lately, the things were doubly welcome.

Are you near the sea or the harbour?

I hope earnestly that you won’t miss any chance of being sent to England if there be one – & not be misguided by any desire to return here – just because I am here

You will be sorry to hear that our Company Sergt. Major* was shot through the lungs on Thursday & died almost immediately.  It was a great shock to me.  We were shelled heavily this morning but our artillery replied steadily to great effectThere were very few casualties on our side.

Cousin Thornie (4) is out here somewhere with the R.E. & I hope I shall come across him as he is the only other member of our family out here.   Sgt. Silvers* went home the other day with a commission, lucky fellow.  Sgt. Hayward* has also been on leave 7 days: he is now Sgt Major, & Billy Harrison* is our Platoon Sgt.   Cecil Jackson* was visited by Mrs Evans* & daughter in hospital in Llandudno & he was able to show them round & took them to his house.  Isn’t he a lucky dog!

I will close now & get some blessed bully beef down, also some biscuit of the ‘dog’ order.

Hoping you will get on all right & with the best of luck

& good wishes,   from Sydney.



Pte Bertie Hibbett, no doubt impressed by his brother’s concern for him, added the following comment before posting-on to his parents;- ‘I do not profess to examine & ‘give marks for this paper’ – it is genuine & too good and sincere‘.

(1) Herefordshire Hospital: this could be one of 8 temporary WW1 Hospitals in Herefordshire. Attached to central Military Hospitals, they were set up by the Red Cross (in town halls, private houses and schools) for patients less seriously wounded & needing convalescence).  3,000 total in UK.  Women volunteered on part-time basis.   <http://www.redcross.org.uk/WW1&gt;

(2) ‘I & 2′: 1/5th & 2/5th S. Staffs?  (3) Daily Mail Online photograph, 31st Aug. 2015  to illustrate the enormous danger news/ intelligence  photographers went to (with heavy plate-glass cameras) to take panoramic views of the Line. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk&gt; . (4) Cousin Thornie R.E.  I’m unable to discover as yet this member of the family, on either Hibbett (York) or Neal (Manchester) side.

NB * Starred Names: I hope to provide basic facts eventually for all names mentioned in the Hibbett Letters.


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

27th Aug. Fri:  All quiet till 1.30 pm. Several British and enemy aeroplanes very high over our trenches from 8. till 11 am.  Enemy shrapneled all trenches in our sector from 1.30 pm till 6.30 pm damage done two holes blown in parapet of 36 and dug out blown down in 36 support.  Enemy trench Howitzer damaged parapet of 34.  Enemy put three bombs into North end of 35; we replied with rifle grenades.

CASUALTIES: WOUNDED: 8888  Pte R.J. Booth; 9187 Pte B. Walford slightly wounded remained at duty.

28th & 29th Aug. Sat & Sun: Very quiet day. Aircraft heard proceeding N.E. about 11.35 pm and returned about 12.5 am.  Red light seen over HILL 60 about 3. am.  Patrol examined wire in front of 34 and found it in fair condition.  At 9 am enemy shelled 35 and 36 supports. At 9.30 am enemy commenced shelling the wood; about 50 H.E. shells dropped on and around Battalion Headquarters; two dugouts blown in. Fire from supporting batteries inadequate except from 4th Belgians.  About 7 pm enemy shrapneled 35, we replied with trench howitzer and bombsSupporting battery also retaliated. 

CASUALTIES: KILLED: 7900 Pte W. Simmonds; 9721 Pte R. Haselden.  WOUNDED: 242 Pte W. Allen; 7630 Pte J. Parker; 9287 Pte L/T. Harper; 7818 Cpl R. Davies.     

NEXT POST: 29th Aug. 1915  ‘In the Dumps & Knocked Up’  will be posted on 1st  Sept. 2015. (Apologies for delay).


BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.


In Red White & Blue                                                   Thursday Aug 26/15


My Very dear Mother & Father,

I’m in ecstasy over having such a shoal of letters & parcels.  Had quite a dearth & even it did not last long only about a week & a half, I got to long for something from the post as days came by. 

Now before I say anything further, let me say how very sorry I put Mother into such anxiety over ‘my poor head’ I’m practically better now, & I hope to be out of hospital soon.  Very likely the idea of me being in HOSPITAL  & the silly idea of bandaging me up like I was, has made you so anxiousApparently then you did not enquire of Harold, I told him what was wrong with me, & to him it has been an old complaint, & Harold, I presume, has not yet told you.

No doubt, dear Mummy, you understand my idea of letting you know such things ‘second hand’.  When the doctor’s assistant bandaged me up I said anyone would think I was amake believe’ of being wounded; to which he said:My boy they are worse than a wound’.

Ruswarp, Yorkshire.
Ruswarp, N. Yorkshire.  Sketch.  A.H. Hibbett. 1913.

Another thing, I was so very sorry indeed to hear, was that you had such unsettled weather, but I was glad to hear that the Sunday you went to Ruswarp (1) was fine & that the last days of the holidays the weather had ‘picked up somewhat

Mummy you have been busy writingHow very good of you to spend so much time of your holidays by so doing & such long ones too, & I got quite a lot all together.  When I received your letter of the 23rd, or rather the two letters in one posted on the 23rd, I could not wait any longer to answer in detail the parcel & letters of yesterday too, as long as opportunity was open to me to write.

So I am seated in a lovely canvas chair outside in the shade.  The weather has been sunny & bright ever since I have been in hospital.  I have enjoyed a lump or two of your (Whitby) rock & am struggling to keep my writing up to the mark.  Poor artful Dodger, ‘swishing about on the pier like an old tar’ – how could he find a corner of his seabeaten  heart to pine about his two bruvvers at the front.  Indeed I am more anxious about my younger brother getting a good result of his exam than I am of anything to do with me sen, except of course my career equally as much as his.

Did you, dear Mum, read the story in theLondon Magazine’ (2), which was included in the bundle you sent me (& Sydney) the story entitledMissing’?  It  put me in mind of two things – (first) of Jack Wade*.  An officer wearing a square white badge with a red cross on it, comes occasionally into the wards & enquires of each patient whether the patient has heard anything about so & so – missing since such & such a time.  He opens quite a volume full of nothing but lists of missing (3).

The second thought comes to me of the many mothers & relatives who are anxious about their sons missing & then of course above all, and really which hits me more than any, is the case of  Lieut. Jack Wade*.

The story in the Magazine is very interesting isn’t it?, but I was disappointed on reading the 1st letter from the soldier to his mother – the nature of it.  But did you noticeMummy’ in the second letter of his. You know he got wounded in the head & lost consciousness, but when he got better he remembered his Mother’s face & said ‘good old Mum’ in the front of it & ‘Cheero Mummy’.  Yes ’twas a nice tale but the affair about the girls I did not care much forYet they reminded me of Harold & Miss Bore  sh!  sh! (4).

I have heard such a lot from you all in a heap that I shall have to re-read & re-read again & write again in a day or so to make all things plain.   Am looking forward to the apples and socksAuntie wrote to me saying she had sent us both a parcel but I guess Sydney carried out what I told him & ate all & demolished the contents himself.  So sorry he will have to wait for the papers to read.  Yes I got three letters, a PC & two parcels besides the letters inside the parcels.  In fact I almost cleared all the post for No 6. Ward.

A letter from Idatell her I got her letter posted 9th Aug. too.  A letter from Auntie, a PC from Miss Foster*; by what she said on it I conclude you have not told her where I am & what is up with me eh?  Also a letter from Miss Winifred Evans* from Thlandidno (5) which I acknowledged by a F.P.Csame with t’others.

You told me to buy something good with your generous little ‘bit’ again so I bought a few biscuits for my supper & you say they are a good thing to eat early in a morning.  We do not get any ‘bits’ in hospital (6).  I suppose I shall go into a Convalescent Camp after coming out of Hospital, as is the general case.  A patient went to England (what is that place?) with having boils on his legsMine arn’t half or a quarter as bad, in fact they are better now.

I had a good smell at your little bit of seaweed in each letter you sent me & the heather off the moors.  Yes, I have often thought of the heather & Goathland.

Whitby. Watercolour. A.H. Hibbett. from PC The Linden Series.
Whitby. Watercolour. A.H. Hibbett. 1913.

I don’t suppose Mummy missed my coming into the apartments with sketchboard under one arm & her shopping bag filled with paints & brushes & painting material in the other, arriving late as per usual for tea & boastfully exhibiting a hideous half-finished daub on the mantlepiece.  No I think the nuisance was a good riddance what oh!  – you don’t mind me saying so eh! what.

And, dear Mummy, I kept a bit of the heather & you don’t mind me having given the sister the rest to put in her room.  I said it was from England, the Yorkshire Moors, & asked her if she knew the novel Between the Heather & the Northern Shore (7) & she remembers the York Pageant (8).  We have some heather besides some other flowers in the Ward, but she was especially thankful & blissful over the little bunch of English heather.

I had to open the parcel of eatables in her room & show the other sister what I had: result was nothing in it to do me any harm & so I had the ginger cake & apricots to enjoy at tea.  How very good of you to be so eager to send me the things I put in my letter; if I had known such nice things were forthcoming when I wrote that letter I should have felt ashamed to askfor more’ as Oliver Twist did & I feel such a glutton now.  Yet I’d love an egg.  Patients in the Ward have an egg every tea time, but they have marked on their head boards for eggs, each board having on the diet for each patient.  I am on ordinary diet with medicineSalts (9) on waking in the morning at 6.00 & iron after each meal.  Don’t you think Parish’s Food (10) would do me good for its all to do with the blood being out-of-order.

When I was opening your letter today I was expecting to see some photos in side by the feeling of the stiff paper.  You won’t forget to persuade Harold to do some for Sydney & me if he has taken any.   You will forgive me opening the letter to Sydney  which came with the Magazines.  I sent it off to him in a green envelope with Basil’s long letter.

I don’t think Mrs Hardcastle* will have to re-post any letters from me.  I sent you a letter last Friday & another on Sunday, the latter I believe I addressed to Home Let’s pray that we shall see each other before Winter comes along, but Cheero Mummy we are happiest as we are now, if we trust & believe that it is God’s Will & in His mercy hope for the best,  

Your very affec. son   Bertie. 



(1) Ruswarp & Goathland: N. York Moor villages near Whitby.  (2) The London Magazine estab.1903 (previously Harmsworth Magazine 1898) encouraged new writers. July 1915 copy included stories by a Corporal F. Ward. (WW1 Price: a shilling).

(3) The Red Cross was the only organisation permitted by the War Office to make enquiries for the missing. Regular searches were made in Base Hospitals & Army Rest Camps abroad as well as in Hospitals in UK.  A monthly Enquiry List was circulated. (4Harold & Hilda Bore were recently engaged. (5) Llandidno, Wales. (6) ‘Bits‘/ ‘A little bit of cash‘, i.e. no pay in hospital.

(7) ‘Between the Heather & the Northern Shore‘. 1884. A second novel by Mary Linskell  b. 1840, Blackburn Yard, Whitby; one of many 19th Cent. writers associated with the town.

(8) York Pageant: Medieval Mystery/ Passion Plays (from Creation to Last Judgement; performed on Feast of Corpus Christi (23rd May – 24th June.) MS dated 1463-1477, British Library. Performed in York 1569. NB Research suggests they were originally Lincoln Mystery Plays.

(9Liver Salts: a tonic. (10) Parrish’s Food: compound syrup of iron phosphate (Syr Ferri Phos Co) first appears in Martingale’s Extra pharmacopoeia of Unofficial Drugs & Chemicals. . . 1883 (invented by Prof. Edward Parrish pharmacist, Philadelphia) cf National  Library of Medicine.

11) Verbranden Molen an old mill 300 yrds behind the Front Line, Hill 60 area.


South Staffordshire BadgeeLance Corporal Sydney Hibbett & 1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

26th Aug. Thur:  Enemy dropped two shells in ravine between 33 and 34 trench and one in front of 34 trench at 11. am; 4th Belgian Battery replied on enemy trenches.  Enemy aeroplane driven off by our aeroplane about 11.15 am otherwise all quiet during the day until 7. pm when the enemy shelled Verbranden Molen  (11) with about 20 shrapnel and 12 H.E. shells.  CASUALTIES: KILLED 6515 Coy S Major H.Gee*.  WOUNDED: 7800  L /Sgt S. Moore; 8783 Pte R. E. Ellens.

NEXT POSTS: 29th AUGUST 1915 will be published 31st August 2015. Apologies for delay.


Bertie in UniformFIELD SERVICE POSTCARD to Miss I. N. HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall. Staffs, England.

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.
28 in 1915.

Stamped ‘Army Post Office S.15. 26 AU 15’

25th Aug 1915 Ida FPC






I have been admitted to hospital and am going on well. I have received your letter dated 21st August.  Letter follows at first opportunity.

           Signed:  A.H. Hibbett.  Aug. 25th. 1915.


FIELD SERVICE POSTCARD to Mrs. Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall, Staffordshire, England. Stamped: ‘Army Post Office. S.15. 26 AU 15′


I have been admitted to hospital and am going on well.  I have received your letter dated 10th & 16th Aug.  I have received your parcel dated 10th & 16th Aug.

Letter follows at first opportunity.

Signed: Bertie Hibbett.  Aug. 25th/ 15.


South Staffordshire BadgeeLance Corporal SYDNEY HIBBETT & 1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

23rd Aug. Mon: Relieved the 4th Bn Middlesex in 33 left & 34 trenches and 6th North Staffs in 35 & 36 trenches.  CASUALTY KILLED: 5594 Pte D. Knight.    

24th Aug.Tue:  between 12 MN (midnight) and 1 am enemy kept shouting over but it is impossible to distinguish the words (1); about noon some 20 HE shells burst near battalion headquarters; our Field and Howitzer guns replied until the enemy ceased firing. CASUALTIES –  KILLED: 9532 Pte B. Harding; 9313 Pte S. O. Oakley;  8407 L /Cpl C. Edwards.  WOUNDED:  8407 Pte H. Edwards; 8024 Pte T. Harper; 8080 Pte A. Meeson; 9150 Pte H. Fenn; 7986 Pte S. Rooker; 5281 Coy S. Major A. Moseley, slightly wounded remain at duty.

25th Aug. Wed: Very quiet day. British aeroplane attacked enemy high over our lines about 11 am.  Signalling by the enemy in aircraft observed in N.W. direction and movement of aircraft overhead heard between 10.55 and 11.15 pm.  CASUALTY KILLED: Corporal H.W. Green No 9185.


(1) It is possible that the German soldiers were shouting a warning about the HE shells to come.

NEXT POST: 26th AUGUST 1915 will be published on 30th Aug. 2015 (apologies for delay).


 Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: Ward 6. No 9. General Hospital: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall, forwarded on by Ida to 7, Victoria Square, Whitby. (1).                                                                                                                                             In Red White & Blue.                                                                     Sunday Aug 22/15  

My Very Dear Mother,

54 in 1915.

Today is Sunday & I have just come back from a beautiful little service inside a tent.  Neat little chairs, & neat little forms, scrubbed white, a beautiful little altar covered with a nice plain green clothOn the altar was laid a beautiful brass cross, & vases in which were some lovely white flowers.

A soldier in khaki rang ‘The Bell’, which was in the form of a bar of iron & to make it ring the soldier smote it with a wooden hammer  – quite a good imitation.  Then in came some patients in Royal Blue suit, white shirts & wearing scarlet ties, just like me.  Yes, in Red, White & Blue, the Hospital Dress.  Then soon after, a few nurses (Sisters we call ’em) came & sat down in the chairs, they looked so ‘spick an’ span’ in their caps & aprons so perfectly white.  Then in came the organist or rather a nurse who sat down to a fine pianoThen the clergyman, a very gentlemanly M.A., no bombast at all about him.  He walked up the aisle to his little stained wooden desk & prepared the service.

Then a whole party of R.A.M.C. Soldiers in khaki came in & we had a good few,a handsome little muster of souls’ altogether.  A nice motley of colour – to see the scarlet copes of the Sisters, the hood of the priest, the green & white of the altar, the blue of the patients’ uniform & the khaki of the R.A.M.C.

SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
21 in 1915.

The service started with that glorious old Hymnal March ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ (2). I think of Sydney when I think of this hymn now, praying that he may goOnward’, while he is the indirect cause of me resting here. 

Sabine baring Gould, devon, UK.
Sabine baring Gould, devon, UK.

The sermon was good & just right for the congregation, about prayer, why some are not answered.  Then the climax of the service came, after the sermon we had that hymn reminding me so much of your dear daughter & my affectionate sister.

John Arbuthnot.
John Arbuthnot.

The Sister at the piano played exquisitely & we all joined in the anthem tune of  ‘As pants the hart for cooling streams’ (3) & a sweet voice from one of the Sisters sent me back to the memories of Ida as a nurse.

I spoke of resting here.  Well as a matter of fact we have work to do.  Just a bit of light duty in the way of house wifery I was orderly one day, but owing to vaccination & the irritation of sores round the ankle Sister put me on ‘The Bright Things’, as she calls the dinner tins & trays & milk cans.

Well isn’t it funny Mummy, you said I was fond of brightening, when I mentioned Sydney’s bayonetWell I of my own accord cleaned a dozen or more rusty knives (included in the bright things) which looked as if they had never been cleaned for half a century.  Yes Mummy your painstaking & care will  – & always will leave a trace in the family.

I was told to pick up all the rockeries around the front of the hut & put them beautifully straight again.  Well here again, you can tell the reflection of your nature upon mineI scrubbed all the stones, they looked so dirty & the result gained great commendation from the Senior Sister.

I will close now.  Hoping again that you are enjoying a sunny Sunday like it is here, all together & another nice evening’s walkI can picture the calm sea & sunset of a Sunday’s evening.

Mum, you know I like bread butter pudding, well I had a second serving for Sunday’s dinner & it was so nice, with currants & large sultanas in & custard on TOP, poor SydneyI hope to rejoin him soon & be proud to live the campaign through, yet above all how nice it would be if Home Leave would buck up in coming eh Mum.

Best love,    Bertie.

PS  It takes a week for a letter to come from England.  So if you wrote last Sunday afternoon I should not get the letter till tomorrow Monday.  I went to the 6.30 Holy Communion this morning too in the tent.  You can let Ida read this letter if you like.  I addressed this Home, as I guess you will be home in a week’s time, the length of time this letter will take. (1)



(1) This Letter only took  3 days instead of Bertie’s expected week so Ida forwarded it on to Whitby

Arthur Sullivan.

(2) 19th Cent. HymnOnward Christian Soldiers. Sabine Baring Gould. 1865. Music: Arthur Sullivan. 1871.

(3) Anthem:  As Pants the Hart for Cooling Streams.  George Frederick Handel (5 versions 1713 -1738, for use in Chapel Royal). Words (based on Psalm 42) attributed to John Arbuthnot, 1667 -1735. Scottish physician, mathematician and political satirist, (John Bull series). 


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY shows Lance Corporal Sydney Hibbett still in Reserve Camp.

20th – 22nd Ouderdom ‘F’ Hutments, Divisional Reserve.

NEXT POSTS:  Apologies for late posting of Letters dated 22nd, 25th, 26th, 29th  & 30th AUGUST 1915. (I needed a walking break in the Lake District and will be back to original post dates by end of August).


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, ROUEN:  Ward 6,  No 9. GENERAL HOSPITAL .  LETTER to  MOTHERMarie Neal HIBBETT, c/o Mrs Hardcastle, 7, The Square, Whitby.

In Red White & Blue.  Friday Aug. 20/ 15.

Marie Neal Hibbett 53 in 1915
Marie Neal Hibbett. 53 in 1915

My Dear Mother,

Don’t you feel sorry for Sydney?  I do – don’t feel sorry for me.  (Just gone to put another record on the Pathephone)  (1) – ’Cos I am quite happy you know.

Pathephone Record Player.1916.
Pathephone Record Player.1916.

I am in No 6. Ward of No 9. General Hospital.  Oh! the difference after coming from the trenchesall spick & span neat beds, neat everything and meals served out to us.  Porridge for brekker, vegetables with our dinner & cocoa & milk at night.

Pathephone Advertisement 1915.
Pathephone Advertisement. 1915.

All this I owe to Sydney, who I found out consequently, had recommended me for a rest.  Twenty of us came down a week last Monday & all had to go up the line again 4 days afterwards.

Thought I was going, but there happened to be a Medical Inspection & I was marked unfit & sent here.  All wots up we me is that I’m run down, & blood out of order.  So I was vaccinated larst night (2).

If you want to send me anythink it must be in the way of biscuits & chocolate if you like.  I ’ope as you are still Enjoying yourselves.  I guess Harold has by this time gone to Bedale (3).

Tell me when you go home.  I am expecting a letter from you today. So will leave the last page blank until the post comes.

There goes the bugle for lettersWe have all the bugle calls (4), in fact everything is done Regimental Style, from Parade Calls to folding the dish cloth neatly into four

I hope Ida will keep the letters I’ve sent you so that you can read them too.

After Tea.  No letters forthcoming today, rather disappointing, hope for the best tomorrowa letter so enlivens me up.  We look uncommonly like Germans with our hair cut short (5).  I wonder if you could manage to send me some more hard boiled eggs like Bailey* used to get.

Best love dear Mummy,   Bertie.



Pte Bertie waited 10 days in Hospital before writing directly to his Mother, still on holiday to inform her that he wasrun-down‘, with ‘blood out of order’.  Ailments: ‘facial paralysis‘ from boils on face, neck & head;  boils & sores on legs. Treatment: ‘hot fomentations’  ‘vaccination’ & shaved head to get rid of lice.

(1) Pathephone: record player. (2) Harold was new manager of  pharmacy/chemist at Bedale, Yorkshire.

(3) ‘Vaccinated’:  for what  is unclear; could be against trench fever.  (4) Bugle Calls: short tune/ military signal to announce scheduled order/ event of the day. List of Bugle Calls with music notation <http://www.wikipedia.org/wikiBugle_call&gt;

(5) Lice & Fleas: an ever-present misery in trench life.


Meanwhile Lance Corporal SYDNEY HIBBETT was in Reserve Camp.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFS WAR DIARY.  1 8th – 20th Aug. 1915. 


NEXT POST:  22nd AUGUST, 1915. Tent Service in Colour & Sister’s ‘Bright Things’.





Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, ROUEN:   LETTER  to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

In Red White & Blue                                                               No 6. Ward,  No 9. General Hospital.                                               Woden’s Day.  18th / 8/ 15.

My Dear Sister,

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.

I think it time to write to Mum, but somewhat shirk letting her know 1st Hand  lest she should think I’m wounded  

Well anyone would think so, if they saw the way my head was bandaged up & my almost second pair of puttees.  An’ Oh! Larks –  if I appeared in Whitby, just as I am now, they would take me for a Pierrot acting the giddy-goat (1).

I have a gorgeous Royal blue suit lined with soft white material, having a turned down front, like these fashionable summer suits, a white shirt and a vivid scarlet tie (2).

I am scribbling this on the table in the Ward, where the beds are so neatly lined & made; the tidiness, cleanliness & general smartness of the place, together with the flowers & the sunny beams shining through the windows, are a great help in making one better.

ym34 [1600x1200].jpg.opt610x395o0,0s610x395
YMCA Waterloo Hut, London.
The Ward is in the form of a YMCA hut & is installed with electric lightOh! all is so spick & span, the effect is marvellous after coming from the muddy, ‘smelly’ trenches & dugouts to sleep in a nice neat bed & have milk pudding & hot milk once again.

I had a nice chat with a nice boy in the ward.  He told me all about a charge he had been in (mentioned recently in the papers) & his description of it was indeed vivid; to get genuine tales – & told naturally, hospitals out here are the only places (3).

R.A.M.C. Hut with soldiers & nurses. Hibbett Collection but anonymous.
DOES ANYONE RECOGNISE THEM?   R.A.M.C. Hut:  Soldier & Airman (with seated soldier)  and  Nurses.  Hibbett Collection but no names or location given. 

The nurses are dressed in grey & white with short scarlet capes, so nice, but one sister is so fussy & treats us all like little b’hoys, you know –  ‘Now laddie sit down – silly boy’ etc. she occasionally pops out.  She once said I gave her more trouble than all the others put together – (there’s a reputation for you).  But she said to a s’nice sister hardby – ‘He is a nice boy with always a smiling face’.  Indeed I could not help but smoile the whoile & then she said,  ‘Now sit down laddie, and let me put this fomentation on and smile’,  she aptly added.  So I did like – see.

The weather all the time I’ve been in hospital, ie Tuesday morning, has been delightfully sunny, but since we came down to the Camp there has been frequent heavy rainsthought the bell tent would come down one night when I slept under canvas, but not a drop came in (4).

Talking about smiling facesyou would also have a smiling face if you saw the poor chap (5) with facial paralysis  (where goes the ‘y’?) smile when he hears he is going to ‘Blighty’ & the Doctor  puts the Big Blue B on his head board, meaning ‘Medical Board.  Yes he is going, as you say to his little grey home in the west –  going West where I hope this letter will safely arrive. (6).

Tell me if you have received all my letters – with their corresponding dates & of course headings.

Ta Ta.  Best & kindest regards to Capt. and Mrs Overend* & fam:

Your very affec.     Bertie.

PS Tell me too if you manage to read this epistle word after word I leave it to your wisdom to forward this to Mum or not?  I think if you put No 6 General Base, until further notice, letters will get to me.  I mun move from this hospital shortly.  I hope so & indeed I should be proud to get back to the trenches again & see this campaign to the ‘finis’.



This Letter is a good example of how Pte Bertie Hibbett relies on his sister for advice – and plays around with Black Country dialect  – in an effort to protect his Mother from anxiety. 

(1) Pierrot: pantomime character (from late 17th Cent.) a sad clown/ a fool – usually with white face & white long-sleeved clothes.  Acting the giddy goat:  ‘behaving foolishly’.  [Giddy: ‘foolish’ ‘stupid’; ‘capricious/ changeable’ from Latin ‘capra’  goat]. 

(2) & (3) First-hand information on WW1 Hospitals/ Uniform etc see:The Project Gutenberg EBook Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914 -1915.   <http://pgdp.net&gt;

Poem:Early Morning over Rouen’. May Wedderburn Cannon 1893 -1973. selected by Philip Larkin for Oxford Book of 20th Century English Verse. 1973.

(4) No 12 Gen. Hospital was mainly in tents.  (5) ‘Facial paralysis’ could refer to  another patient but I think my father is the ‘poor chap‘ (face stiff with boils and bandaging) who would ‘smoile‘  if he saw the official ‘Big Blue B on his head board & got aBlighty‘.

MEANWHILE  Lance Corporal SYDNEY HIBBETT was still at the Front.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH  STAFFORDS  WAR  DIARY.


15th Aug. Sun:  Old trench between 37 and German trench opposite reconnoitred by a patrol and found to be clear of enemy. Four rounds fired by our trench mortar, enemy replied with 5 trench mortar shells without doing damage. Enemy shrapneled 365 and the Strong point in the wood.   Two enemy mortars located. CASUALTY WOUNDED: 7863 Pte A. Leaming.

16th Aug, Mon:  Enemy opened rapid fire for about 10 minutes on 35 trench at 12.45 am. At about 5.pm enemy opened rapid fire on our aeroplane.  Estimate from volume of fire that their numbers are about equal to our own in the trenches. 17th Aug. Tue: Grenaded and bombed enemy trench. Germans replied with trench mortars into (Railway) Cutting, compelling our working party to cease work.  Enemy shrapnelled 35 and 35 support trench between 7 and 7.30 am. Our guns replied.  Artillery of both sides damaged 35 trench parapet.   CASUALTIES WOUNDED: 9985 Pte J. T. Rowley, 9293 Pte J. Hickinbottom.  Relieved by 6th North Staffs about 11. pm.  


NEXT POST: 20th AUGUST 1915.  Red White & Blue Blood Out of Order.



Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, ROUEN:  LETTER in ink to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd,  Walsall.

‘All in Bandage’. Rest Camp.  Aug. 16/ 15.

My Dear Sister,

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.

I did envy your capital heading –  ‘The Little Grey Home in The West’ (1) and don’t you think you were the only one who thought it was their own original idea.  16th August.1915. All in Bandage.


Got such a long epistle from Dodger to us both on his doings during the first week at Whitby.  Sorry Sydney cannot read it.  Got it the same day yours arrived here so they are forwarded on to me.

Anyone would think I was wounded by the way my head is bandaged up all over with hot fomentations (2) – & on my legs.  I might say I have another pair of puttees (3) ’cos of the bandaging.

Pink Pills for Pale People.
Pink Pills for Pale People.

‘Unable to sleep at nights through heartburn’ sounds like reading from one of those cases in Dr Williams ‘Pink Pills for Pale People’ which are popped under the front door eh! (4)

Glad to hear from you at last & more still to hear that you are having a good time  – & with the jolly gal who dreams & walks in her sleep to greet those ‘B’hoys who are not’, as so beautifully pictured, at Home Sweet Home with their only sister eatin & relishin & patronising her dainty dishes & fine cookery.  My advice is –  tell her to go on dreaming such dreams, but don’t get hurt again.

But let’s keep up to the highest matters & do & die eh what! –  Yes indeed, whateffer & we shall, afore England’s under –  but that will never be & we shan’t die.  Q.E.D. see. (5)

Ta Ta.     Bertie.

PS  (In pencil) Have written to 3 Hibbetts – one in Whitby, one in Yorkshire, one in Staffordshire. (6) 



(1) ‘Little Grey Home in the West‘: WW1 popular sentimental song.  D. Eardley Wilmot. 1911. Sung by Australian baritone Peter Dawsonrecorded 1912. Youtube.

(2) Hot fomentation /poultice: ‘hot moist substances applied to body to draw abscesses’ treat inflamation & reduce pain.  VAD nurses taught to use these in WW1. (I remember my  Mother using hot saline solution & bandaging for sceptic fingers & whitlows).

(3) Puttee/ from Hindu ‘patti ‘(bandage): canvas/ cloth binding, wound in cross-over pattern round leg from ankle to knee, for support & protection. (4) ‘Pink Pills’. Cure-all medication/energiser/tonic (iron oxide & magnesium sulphate) for blood & nerves; produced, 1890 by G.T. Fulford & Co. under trade name ‘Dr Williams’.  (Often suggested by my Dad as a joke when we were off-colour as children). 

(5) Q.E.D. Quad erat demonstrandum: Latin from the Greek ‘which had to be proven‘; traditionally placed at end of mathematic/scientific proof or philosophical argument.

(6) Basil in Whitby; Auntie Pattie (Miss M. Hibbett) in York & Ida in Walsall.

NEXT POST: 18th AUGUST.  1915. ‘In Red White & Blue


BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT:  Y.M.C.A. (1) POSTCARD to Mr BASIL HIBBETT c/o Mrs Hardcastle, 7, Victoria Sq, Whitby,     Yorkshire. (Censor M. Davey)

Basil Hibbett Age 18. 1916.
Basil Hibbett in 1916. Age 18..
YMCA Postcard. 14th Oct 1915.

 Date 14/ 8/ 15.   8 am.  

Got your interesting PC last night which was forwarded from the Front to me at No 6 General Base, Rouen (2).  Am looking forward to your long letter & tell me if you get my letter I wrote on the 12th.

Best love to Mum & all of you.     Bertie.

6 pm.  Just got a letter from you & Ida as I am off to post this lovely sunny evening.


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH  STAFFORDS  WAR  DIARY


13 th Aug. Fri:  Enemy shrapnelled our working party in 37 new Communication Trench, slightly damaging the parapet.  Our Artillery replied damaging enemy parapet.  Vicinity of 35 support shrapnelled by enemy without doing any damage. CASUALTIES:  WOUNDED: 8079  Pte  W. Aldridge;  9055 Pte  B. Chamberlain;  9067  Pte  E. Jones accidentally wounded.

14th Aug, Sat:  Suspicious noises reported under 35 Trench about 2 am. Nothing further heard during the day.  CASUALTIES:  WOUNDED: 9582  Pte  W. Ellis; 9647  Pte  B. G. Humphries;  8839 Sgt.  W. J. Callow;  91 85  Cpl.  H. W. Green, slightly wounded remain at duty.****

SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.

Lance Corp. SYDNEY HIBBETT:  FIELD SERVICE POSTCARD to Miss I. N. HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

I am quite well and am going on well. I have received your letter dated Aug 9th.  Letter follows at first opportunity.      Sydney.

Aug. 14th 1915.



(1) Young Men’s Christian Association. (cf Letter 20th Feb. 1915. Saffron Walden ‘YMCA Hut Opened’, one of nearly 300 in first year of War). Note Red Triangle symbol in photo below.

Y.M.C.A. Trench Dugout Cafe.
Y.M.C.A.  ‘Red Triangle’ Front Line Hut.







 (2) B.E.F. ROUEN: No 6  Gen. Hospital is not mentioned in  ‘A Little Book of Words & Doings’ for 10th Oct 1915, but like No 9. & No 12.  Hospitals, No 6. was in the vicinity of Rouen race courses. cf Great War Forum, ‘Old Sweats’ online. <http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/ymca.php&gt;

NEXT POST:  16th AUGUST 1915.  All in Bandage.



Bertie in Uniform Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings (1).

‘ Went for a Rest to Base at Rouen, Medical Inspection.  After 4 days I was stated  unfit for Entrenching.  Sent to 12 General Hospital & 9 Gen. Hospital with boils (2). Fine sunny weather.  Lovely wards at No 12.  Two Irish sisters at No 9.  Fussy little elderly sister.  Fine time at YMCA Huts –  attended Bible Class in afternoon.  Good food at T.B. (3). Learnt chess at YMCA with Ruberry.’   

FIELD SERVICE POSTCARD to Arthur Hibbett  Esq. c/o Mrs Hardcastle, 7, Victoria Square, Whitby, Yorkshire, England . Same  FPC to Ida Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

ARTHUR HIBBETT: 56 in 1914.
56 in 1915.

I am quite well. I am sent down to the base.  Letter follows at first opportunity.

Bertie Hibbett   Aug. 12th/15.  

Rouen. 1915. PC to Ida Oct . 1915. from Bertie Hibbett.
ROUEN.  PC to Ida Hibbett from Bertie Hibbett. 11th Oct 1915.


SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.

Lance Corporal  SYDNEY HIBBETT remained at the Front.


11th Aug. Wed:   Very quiet day. Aeroplanes of both sides very active. CASUALTY: 8825  Pte S.J. Parkes slightly wounded.  Remained at duty. 

12th Aug Thurs.  Enemy grenades fell short of 37 trench.  Enemy working party observed and bombed opposite 36 trench.  Sounds of enemy mining reported by listeners in defensive mine in 37 trench but could not determine in what direction.  Hill 60 trench mortared from 37 trench.  CASUALTIES: WOUNDED:  7886  Pte S. Noble. 9415  Pte W. Pearson.


(1) Note Book most probably begun in Hospital at Rouen. Aug. – Oct. 1915.

(2ROUEN:  B.E.F. General Headquarters in France. Many R.A.M.C. Stationary & General Hospitals. Main point of Red Cross casualty evacuation to England (getting a ‘Blighty‘ – See Bertie’s question on PC to Ida, 11th Oct. 1915 above).  No 12 Gen. Hospital Rouen held 1,350 beds in tents.  No 12 (and possibly No 9) were in vicinity of ‘champs de courses’ (race courses), cf ‘Great War Forum‘ ‘The Long Long Trail’ and ‘Old Sweats‘ online.

(2T.B. (Territorial Base).

NEXT POST: 14th AUGUST 1915.



South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH  STAFFORDS  WAR  DIARY


 9th  Aug. Mon:  Furnished Working Parties to RE. CASUALTY: 6443  L/ Cpl J. Williams wounded. 10th Aug.Tue: Ditto.


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings.

“Aug. 10th 1915:  Last  conversation with Capt. Cozens* (Tim) on leaving Railway Dugouts. Not been five minutes with him before a whole crowd was round him. Talked of a Charge in which Earl Cardigan (1) , dressed in civvies with frock coat, fancy socks, swagger cane & cigar astonished the enemy.  Offered Tim a State Express cig.  Harper* and Serg Major Gee* whom I saw also.  All three killed while I was at Rouen.  Aug – Oct 14th.

SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
21  in 1915.

Lance Corporal SYDNEY HIBBETT:  FIELD SERVICE POSTCARD to Miss I. Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall.

Field Post card from Sydney Hibbett to Ida Hibbett. 10th Aug. 1915.
Field Post Card from L/Crpl Sydney Hibbett to Ida Hibbett. 10th Aug. 1915.

I am quite well.  I am going on well.  Letter follows at first opportunity. 

Sydney.           Aug 10th/ 15 .



On Tues, 10th August, 1915,  Pte Bertie Hibbett was sent down to B.E.F. Base at Rouen for a Rest.  He had been ‘recommended for a rest’  by R.A.M.C. since 25th July.  His feet were considered unfit for the march from Wulverghem to Ouderdom Divisonal Base, Ypres Salient, so he went by ambulance’.  

(1) Earl Cardigan, 1872 – 1961: George William James Chandos Brudenell-Bruce, 6th Marquis of Ailesbury, styled ‘Earl of Cardigan’ from 1894.  Boer War awarded D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order).  WW1 mentioned in Despatches/ awarded T.D. (Territorial Decoration). Knight of the Garter/ St John; J.P;  Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire. 

(2) ‘Swagger cane’. A short stick (not cane) made of rattan.  Symbol of one in authority usually military. e.g. Roman Army centurions in Punic Wars. 264-146 BC.

NEXT POST:  12th AUGUST 1915.