Pte BERTIE HIBBETT ROUEN: LETTER continued to Mother, Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall
6.30 am about.
Another Sunday Monday letter.
I am indeed making the most of my time in Hospital. I have written no less than eight letters, including Ida, & Harold & there’s Sydney’s too, besides Miss Molly Evans, Mrs Hurst* & Her Ladyship Mrs Jones* & to make the list complete I must write to Mum, that’s one reason why I wrote last Friday.
Whatever the others say Mum, I say it is a Rest to write to Mummy and I think Mum will sympathise with me & be happy at the thought of her very affectionate son, Bertie.
PS Of course I must have a Post Script else the letter ain’t complete.
Now I don’t expect a long letter from Mum, although I have had comparatively long epistles which have surprised me as well as pleased me . So I enclose the size of the letter you need to send me next if you wish. It is from the Writing Pad in the Lucky Bag I chose from the bundle sent from Ireland (1).
I enclose too some cuttings from John Bull, my word ain’t it tolerant. It does use strong views. But I quite see in the article about ‘Blood will out’. I remember Capt Tim Cozens*, so popular with the Tommies getting quite a crowd around him & he said he loved a charge. It was when he told us about the knut leading the charge dressed practically in mufti (2). The article also puts me in mind of the Lancashire lads you know Mum (3). Ta ta.
PS Sorry I am not in a hurry about a letter – its only the tie of family love I want really. So (if) you are busy, forgive me for insinuating. I expect I shall get your long letter tomorrow, but I will send this off tonight at any rate.
Kind regards to Woody – safe journey back to Hospital I hope (4).
NB Pickwick Club (5) reminds me – Snodgrass (6) had a letter from May (7). I hope Capt Flo* is a good help to Sydney getting a Commission.
Something for you to fathom about in your spare time – I like letters which last a long time for you to read. Isn’t Mrs. Hurst jolly good, I enclose her letter. Thank you Mother for the magazine. It goes without saying that I enjoyed the perusal so to speak eh what! Sorry Mrs Hurst’s letter must be in the incinerator with Sydney’s letter I told you about (8).
PS NB 13/ 9/ 15
Oh! I shall fall through the earth next. I have just received Basil’s long epistle – & nearly banged my head through the back of the deck chair when I unrolled Champion’s mile long letter of such black writing but so neat. I had another letter too, it was from Cousin Muriel*.
Have I to write in turn to such a windfall, such a gasping slap. I think you will think I am taking things to extreme but I shall have to write a letter to you all soon & will let it be just plain & serious, so you will forgive me for this my long letter.
Oh! Basil dear Dodger. Oh! Mummy (Hush I saw your writing in Ida’s & read yours before her’s, – don’t tell her though) & Oh! Ida’s was a record for a Champion. Yes I will tell her of a Jock we call the ‘Scotch’. 32 beds in my Ward. Did you get my letter to you & Father in a green envelope dated Sunday 6th?
Now you won’t lose any of the sheets as this last letter marked PS NB is important.
This Letter clearly shows how important writing & receiving letters was to Pte Bertie Hibbett. In his heightened emotional state, in an agony not to break this ‘tie with Home‘, he adds Postcript after Postscript.
(1) The Hospital Bag Fund (one of WW1’s many ‘morale boosting & practical schemes for soldiers’) was set up by Lady Smith-Dorrien 1881-1951 for the benefit of the sick and wounded in Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations. In <http://easttextile.co.uk/onewebmedia> Janette Bright 2015 writes that Volunteers produced an estimated 5,000,000 ‘Treasure Bags‘ to provide a store for a soldier’s personal treasures: papers, pay-sheets, photos & letters. Around 12″ x 14″ in size, made of strong material (flowered cretonne preferred) each had a drawstring and could be hung where a patient could easily reach it. Volunteers often added little gifts such as sachets of lavender and lucky charms. In Pte Bertie Hibbett’s case his ‘Lucky Bag‘ arrived with a little writing pad & envelopes and amongst his treasures would have been his Prayer Book – & the Bible given to each soldier by the Army. Sadly it did not prevent some of his letters being lost in the Steamer De-louser when, for a day or two, he was put back into khaki.
NB Lady Smith-Dorrien was the wife of General Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien who was relieved of command of 2nd Army in 1915 ‘by Lord French for requesting permission to retreat from the Ypres Salient to a more defensible position‘. Wikipedia.
(2) Lord Cardigan. Letter 10th Aug. 1915. (3) Marie Neal Hibbett’s relatives/ close friends in Ashton?
(4) Leicester Hospital.(5) Childhood Pickwick Club. Letter 23rd April & 7th Sept. 1915.(6) Sydney’s Club nickname. (7) Mary Overend.
(8) Steam Disinfectant De-louser. Letter 7th Sept 1915. (9) Dickebusch: in parish of Ypres (Ieper). Divisional Rest Camp; notorious history of soldiers ‘Shot at Dawn’.
Lance Corp. SYDNEY HIBBETT & 1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.
CANADA HUTS NR DICKEBUSCH (9).
13th Sept Mon: In Divisional Reserve
NEXT POST: 14th Sept. 1915.