12TH SEPT. 1915: ‘THIS WAR IS ROTTEN FOR HAMPERING CAREERS’.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: No 9 GENERAL HOSPITAL ROUENLETTER  to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.  

Pages 1-4 missing.  Sunday 12 Sept. / 15

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I have eaten the last of your Lady chum’s chocolates, Nestles as usual,  but I love them.  Isn’t she (Mrs Jones*) a brick eh! –  to send us both something again, but Hoo Hic! if only her Ladyship knew what I’m calling her.  She, by the by, calls Mr Jones ‘His Lordship’. And ain’t she a rattler to enclose a letter every time.  She’s a genuine old sport because you see it is not only the gift but the thoughts behind the gift & so she tries to express hers by sending a short letter with it & a little news in with it as well.

Yes this War is rotten for hampering careers.  Now Mummy is it that Dodger passed in 3 subjects or that he passed all subjects but 3 eh? (1).  I conclude, after thinking, that it is as you say,  but I am disappointedPoor Basil –  after all his sweated labour, after all his confinement in the study, alone, to swat with his head in his hands as Harold did – and he will have to go through it all again, but I hope he will pass this next time.  But of course there’s this in it, it will come to him easier with regard to the 3 subjects he passed,  what were they? – anything to do with the Doctor’s profession?  To be a Doctor he will have some stiff exams, as hard, in fact harder than Harold had to pass (2).  He isn’t going in for agriculture following George’s* work is he! (3)

If I had have known I was going to stay such a long time in Hospital I would have sent for some Greek & Latin I was almost going to write to Mr Darling* on Saturday, but I had an idea I shall be soon out again for good.   I should like a line from Dad about my career (4).

Today’s Gospel tells us not to be over anxious, but as it says in the Parish Magazine, for which I thank you, it says we must be prudent & take prudent provision for the future.  Doesn’t it seem that I was destined to live through the Campaign after all?  Well its only right & very much so that we should HOPE.  ‘Hope still & thou shall see, he is all & all in thee’ (5).

I went to the YMCA Popular Evening Service while I was at the Base last Sunday & the hut was full of soldiers & my word didn’t I singFight the Good fight’ – just tried like I did when I had my voice in childhood & sang with you in Church.  Do you remember?

Do I want any shirts?no not yet MumI have two, one is new.  When I go back into khaki I shall be all in khaki  ’cause of your socksNo Mum I won’t touch tinned stuff, like crab. Macinichies images I put it (6) down to the tinned meat & vegetables called Marconochies (sic) I ate one in the train but not all the meat.  I left a great deal of that & ate more of the vegetable.  They are part of the Rations & of course I could not go all day on the journey  without something to eat.

Lichfield Cathedral AHH cropped1918
Lichfield Cathedral.  A.H.Hibbett. 1918.  Pen & ink.

I expect I shall hear from Ida tomorrow.  I am so pleased Woodie* came after all, they would indeed enjoy themselves in the ride to Lichfield Cathedral. I hope to get a pass into Rouen to see the famous cathedral there.

Rouen. 1915. PC to Ida Oct . 1915. from Bertie Hibbett.
Rouen:  Cathedral in centre.  PC. 1915.

I will conclude after I have come from Kirk.

There are a great many Jocks at this Base & some do afford amusement in the Ward, one especially was taken to by one of the Irish Sisters.

I will just refer to Sydney’s would-be Commission before putting my boots on to go to the Dining Hall for tea.

Bedtime — instead of coming to finish this letter after tea it is after supper now.

I had to go to sweep the floor & go for my medicine, my horrid medicineno wonder when it has such a dreadful jaw-breaking name as Mist: Ferri Perclilor, and you can tell Mrs Jones that her chocs came in pretty handy to take away the nasty taste (7).

We had a nice little service this evening,  but it was held in the Soldier’s Institute Tent, electric light installment (8).  There was nothing but patients there & most of them from my Ward I was grateful to see – all but the organist, I mean the pianist On the way back the Chaplain told me there were 40 men from the Base to be confirmed tonight at another tent, just after the service.  I did not go, but we had a prayer for them.  I thought of my confirmation & Basil’s & you being with us.   I was confirmed too on the 12th day: Blessed is the man whom thou choosest was the Bishop’s text (9).

I was interested in the 1st article in the Parish Magazine about Life wasted.  Did you read it Mum?  I guess you read it all through & the thrilling story of the nurse who rode  on horseback to deliver an urgent message.  Chiefly I was interested in the Vicar’s letter about Mr Henning* (J.P. is he now?)

I wondered whether I shall see anything  about Dad being promotedCharlie Harrison’s* opinion is that Dad ought to take Dr Sauler’s  position & have a combined Head.  By the by Charlie must have been sent to Blighty, I have not seen him here.

What can I say to fill the page Mum?  I am too late to wish Allen many Happy Returns of his birthday at Home.   I remember Dad’s wit in his letter to me on mine.  Let’s see tis 3 months today –  Hoo hak, my word the time does fly, Tempus Fugit it does  – and the 13th, well let us hope it doesn’t bring ill luck but Yah!  I dunno believe in superstition a lot.  It seems instead ’tis bringing good luck, so there.

The 12th, yes I took my prayer book, mended with the gum you sent me. ‘Be thou faithful unto death & I will give you a crown of life’ (10) & the Bishop of Stafford’s address ‘Blessed is the man whom thou choosest & receivest unto thee’ & the Collect because the frailty of man cannot but falllead us to all things profitable for our salvation.  Look up & trust that we shall never fall (11).  Queer ain’t it Mum?

Now you’ll press the matter in & push it along if Sydney wants a Com(mission).  But it was nasty of Capt. Flo* to talk about carelessnessShould anything happen to Sydney or me you would perhaps think we were careless dear Mum.  He was naughty, to say that, of course you know he ain’t been in the trenches.  The Life of the Tommy there is different. Tommy gets careful there  – even if he is apt to be careless in Camp where discipline is.

Lights out  – 8. o’clock in Wards.  Finish Tomorrow.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) Oxford School Matriculation needed passes in at least 6 subjects in one go. (2) Harold’s Chemist/Pharmacy exams.  (3) George Lallerman, Ida’s friend.

(4)  Pte Bertie’s father would have paid for his Mining Surveyor apprenticeship. His training as a Priest in the Church of England would also need parental support – as well as support from Mr. Darling, Vicar of Walsall.

(5) Hymn: Fight the Good Fight.  Last verse: Only believe and thou shalt see, that Christ is all in all to thee. Words (based on 1 Tim. 6.12) John S.B. Monsell. 1863. Music: ‘Pentecost’, William Boyd 1864.  (6) Illness blamed on Maconochies stew on train journey from the Front to Rouen  B.E.F. Base. 10th Aug.1915.

(7Mist Ferri. Perclilor: ‘perhaps the best & most used preparation of iron‘ <https://archive.org/stream&gt;. (8) Church of England’s Soldiers & Sailors Institute. (9)  Ps. 64. 4.  (10) Revelation 2.10 :  

(11)15th Sunday after TrinityGospel: Matthew  6.24. Collect: Book of Common Prayer. Thomas Cranmer 1662.  (12) Dr Sauler*. Education Committee, Walsall Borough Council?

(13) Hollebeke Chateau/possibly one of two: Hollebeke Schloss, 200 metres east of Ypres Canal & Railroad or White Chateau (Bayern Schloss) 1.5 km west of Ypres Canal. cf Great War Forum Old Sweats.

More Hibbett Jargon/ Slang: ‘rattler’good energetic person;  a ‘good sport‘- decent/ nice person;  a ‘brick’reliable person;  I dunnoI do not;  Yah – yes;  Hoo Hak/ Hoo Hic: (I never heard my Dad use these sounds): schoolboy nonsense sounds: goodness!/ gracious me!/ my word!’  Queer – strange coincidence.

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South Staffordshire BadgeeLance Corp. SYDNEY HIBBETT & 1/5th STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

SW SLOPE OF HILL 60.

11th Sept. Sat:  Rifle and machine gun fire directed on enemy’s *new work opposite 36. About 6.45 am enemy aeroplane driven off over our lines by our aeroplane2nd Derby Howitzer made direct hit on enemy embrasure.   Enemy retaliated with 4.1 Howitzers damaging 36 parapet in four places.  CASUALTIES WOUNDED: 9318 Pte J. Bladon.  75 Pte J. Waterfield (slightly wounded remain at duty).

SW SLOPE OF HILL 60, Trenches 33, 34, 35, 36. 

12th Sept. Sun:  Machine gun and artillery fire opened on enemy transport using roads near Hollebeke Chateau (12). Patrol reported water from mine coming from enemy front lines N. of Ravine Mining timber and metal pipes being carried to trench opposite 34.   Relieved by 6th North Staffs about 10. 15 pm.  CASUALTIES WOUNDED: 9671 Pte G. Forest.  8472 Pte J. Kenyon (slightly wounded remained at duty). 

NEXT POST: 13th Sept. 1915 – continuation of Letter 12th Sept.1915.

10TH SEPT 1915: HOSPITAL ROUEN: I’M A SCRIBE & NO SOLDIER’.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  No 9 GENERAL HOSPITAL to Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. 

Back again in Hospital: No 12 Ward.  No 9 Gen. Hosp.  Friday Sep. 10 / 15

I shall need some more envelopes I can see at this rate!  

My Very Dear Mother,

Good!  I said, as a letter was thrown into my lap – delivered to me out of due timeI was sitting this morning, as I am now, in a Camp chair in the sunshine, just outside the Ward door surrounded by flowers.  And I was bemoaning myself, not so much about the pain, but because of not getting anything in the post.  I saw Basil’s writing (it has improved by the by) & as I ripped it open I was thinking his promised long letter was enclosed, but when I saw your writing Mummy I was – NOT disappointed, you must not think that at all.

Now I have been in a tremendous dilemma since I read such a beautiful letter – – – Called! to go for my dose of horrible medicine  – – –  a dilemma as to whether to write to day or not!  I was thinking of all I that could tell you, with ‘chirpy’ little bits here & there between the news & after it all I was almost going to send you a FPC instead, because of this:-  –

Are you getting tired of hearing from me so often and not so much from Sydney Have you lost looking forward to my letters because they are so common? Why, only just this very second, a sister passed by me, from the opposite Ward into No 12, my Ward (not No 6 now) and she said, ‘What a scribe you are’.

And, now dear Mother, I’m beginning to think that you will be getting more anxious about the expense  & rapid consumption of your writing paper than of me, or Sydney put together. 

Perhaps Dodger is sick of seeing the postman hand him a letter from me, eager by all means to get to the door first,  but coming away slower than he went, very much disappointed at seeing a letter without a penny stamp on, and above all with my hand writing on.

I’m a scribe and no soldier, but I don’t care a toss, as long as the censor don’t say nowt, – so here goes and on to another sheet of your writing pad, for all that.

What a happy coincidence Mummy, to have had a letter from both boys on the same day, and did they come in the same post?

Page 3 & 4 missing. Page 5 . . .   I think I have enough (letters) to have kept me going eh Mum?  He hee Hoo Hic, how brimful I am.  Here’s another letter to spoil your breakfast.  Dad will be vexedI’m sure he thinks I was foolish to have said too much about my complaint You too Mum must rest happily & as I have said before, which really came from you & I have still gotSit still & leave all to Higher Hands’  on that little pamphlet (1).

Aren’t you grateful we are both still safe.  I’m sure you are & I hope you will hear from dear Sydney soon if not since you told me you hadn’t.

Hoorah Hip Hip for Harold, he has good intentions, but poor Mum (2).  I could not fancy him out here in rank & file; he ought to try & get a commission in the R.A.M.C.  & I feel sure he could try & probably succeed nine times out of 10.

Isn’t this letter getting  long!  How can I leave room to acknowledge Champion’s effort supreme.  I shall have to send her a  ‘superb effort supreme’ shan’t I?

I was proud to relate Sister Agnes Sawyer’s career in the War Zone (3).  Agnes is a pretty name eh Mum, just right for a nurse. The Irish sister would ‘love to go to the firing line she told me.  Ida would envy Woody* in such a Ward.  By the by, these Wards hold thirty four beds, not 32 as I told Ida.

 We had a Jock, Ida, in No 12 Ward, who made us all roar with laughter especially when he joked with the other Irish Nurse, but he could not match Woody’s Jock.

Yes Ida, there are, I guess,  a lot like Oriel*, the Oxford man, as privates (4) & it puts me in mind of the J. Bull cuttings I sent Mum & Capt Tim*, so you will not be ashamed to say you have a brother fighting for you. 220px-John_Bull_-_World_War_I_recruiting_poster I say fighting in a general way. I hope to soonI am succeeding little by little to stifle & master my lesser self.  It is just like your life in Leicester Royal & reminds me of you telling me of Woody’s letter when she said ‘Your disappointment is God’s appointment’(1).

Now I should like to know who reads this letter first.  I wonder if Dad will, as this effort is addressed to him.  I wonder who he will pass it on to.  As Dad generally contributes the address & wrapping I will address it to The Gov’nor & trust that Dodger, Champion & Mummy will see that he reads it if he wishes to sacrifice his usual perusal of the newspaper.

Father 'Reading the War News:' AHH Sketch. Aug. 1914.
Father ‘Reading the War News Abergele. AHH Sketch. Aug. 1914.

See how I fill up the corners!  

Best love to all.  Bertie .    

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Private Bertie Hibbett is still struggling to rise above  his emotions, his illness, his Blighty disappointment and his own status as a ‘Private‘.

(119th Cent. Christian sayings. Origin? The first is possibly inspired by Psalm 46.10: Be still and know that I am God.

(2) Harold Hibbett’s proposed enlistment would make all four Hibbett sons in  the Army. He eventually joined the Inns of Court & was invalided out with the TB that ended his life in 1940. 

(3) Sister Agnes Helen Sawyer: niece of former Matron Leicester Royal Infirmary, where she trained & became Sister of the Men’s Accident Ward.  Served as a nurse in France 1914 – 1918.  Obituary The Passing Bell. British Nursing Journal: Nov.18th 1922. (Known to Ida Hibbett). <http://rarchive.org.uk/data&gt;

(4) ref. to university educated middle-class responding to John Bull posters and serving as privates rather than taking or being offered commissions as officers in the Army.

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

SW SLOPE OF HILL 60.

8th Sept. Wed:  41st Trench Howitzer Battery fired 10 bombs from 34, four explodedEnemy retaliated with 10 on 34 and 4 on 35, blowing in No 1 Snipers Post and damaging the parapets in several places.  CASUALTIES KILLED: 9714 Pte T. Blount. WOUNDED: 8588 Pte J. Carroll.

9th Sept. Thur:  Enemy fired 40 trench mortar shells into 34 and 35, damage slight, our supporting battery replied.   Discoloured water apparently from a mine coming into ravine from enemy trenchesEnemy rifle fire heavy till midnight.  CASUALITIES WOUNDED: 7953 Pte J.Mayer; 65 Pte J. Siviter (slightly wounded remain at duty).

10th Sept. Fri:  Mine explosion felt but not heard about 1.5 am.  Enemy burst a trench howitzer shell in the air about 12.30 am.  Twenty trench mortars fired from 34 and 35 this morning. Two did not burst.  Enemy retaliated with many trench mortar bombs, damage slight. CASUALTIES KILLED 8406 Pte J. Astbury Brigade Mining Section killed in Sap in Trench 37 (Left Sector). WOUNDED: No 4. Pte A. Billingham; 9009 Pte B. Hendley.   8427 Pte A.E. Smith (slightly wounded remain at duty).  

NEXT POST: 12th Sept. 1915.

7TH SEPT 1915: IN RED WHITE & BLUE AGAIN WITH BOILS ‘LIKE TOOTHACHE IN THE NECK’.

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
BERTIE HIBBETT:

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, ROUEN: No 9 GENERAL HOSPITAL. No 12 Ward. LETTER to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

NB  –> In Red White & Blue. Tuesday Sep 7 / 15   

PS The lavender was given me while in 5 Ward. Take care of the Twiddly bits in this letter (1).

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.
IDA HIBBETT.

My Very Dear Sister,

Now I ain’t made no mistake loike (2) as one does at th’ beginnin of year & puts nineteen 14 ’stead of 15 and begins with D instead of J eh! 

This bit of touchy ‘chirpy’ (as you calls it) nonsense, is the effect of hearing a comic song at a concert – well I will tell you that later).  I have soon been sent back to Hospital again & am now in No 12 Ward at the same local Hospital  – ie No 9 General Hospital.  There is such a ‘nicenurse’ here, her hair reminds me of yours & making me wish I had you & Woody (3) to look after me. 

I hope Mummy & Daddy will take to Woody.  I fancy she is somewhat tall & dark – is that so?  Tell me about the time you are spending with her.  I discovered after all that the little scentiment of scent sent to me in the parcel was sent from you.  I mean the lovely Whitby Heather scent.  Do you remember Sydney sending you a bottle while you were in the Royal Infirmary? (4).

I have just had one of those round biscuits, Crawford’s Kings, they are a delicious assortment.

Crawfords City Assorted packaging: used when paper was scarce.
.BISCUIT WRAPPING PAPER, Request for eggs & biscuits – ‘send just as you please, you know. Forgive me,  Bertie.1915.. (For full transcript see Page: ‘PARCELS’).

Idait is simply  a glorious, lovely, bright afternoon -that sunny effect at teatimeI’ve just had teaEverything seems sunny & the spick an’ span cleanliness of the Ward makes a great effect of brightness doesn’t it?  You know, for I’m sure The Leicester Hospital was something like this, sunny & bright.

I am scribbling this seated in a comfy easy chair facing down the Ward.  I close my eyes & fancy you strutting along the centre between the neat cots; you are dressed in spotless white apron & the uniform of the Hospital.   

 * * * ‘Does Dodger depend  —‘  Oh! Jocks just been in  – with  the Chaplain of the Hospital;  Jock was the comedian who made us all roar with larfter at the entertainment this arfternoon.  ‘Does dear Dodger depend drastically— * * *

I came into the Ward this morning in time to go to this concert party of Miss Ashwells* held in the Dining Hall at 3.   Beautiful songsters, but I felt queersomelike when a man sang a patriotic song with appealing wordssort of practice what you preach sort of effect.  But I suppose he wanted to show his fine voice for the benefit of entertaining the sodjers eh! what? 

Jock could imitate a larf an’ no mistake, a fat little chap he was & he screwed up his nose & opened his mouth & wrinkles all over his fizog, but the effort did make him sweat.  I saw him mopping his brow with his handkerchief afterwards.—

* * * ‘Does dear Dodger drastically depend on his – –  (I can’t make a sentence of dees) pocket money – his weekly allowance –  for his contribution in parcels to his two bruvvers at the front eh! what!?

I enjoyed the chocolate while a listnin’ to the singin’.  There was a violinist, I mean the one who played a large violin – forgotten the name of it –  but although she was elderly she reminded me of  your picture ‘The Violin Player (5)you. 

Thye Violinist: mary neal Richardson (American) 1859 -1937.
THE VIOLINIST: Mary Neal Richardson (1859 -1937..

Have you, by the by, got a good collection of your favourite pictures – & framed?  

Tell Mummy I quite enjoyed the eggs & ate two this morning, without salt, with a few biscuits & they tasted so creamy like, beautiful –  and I’m sure they will do me good. 

Of course the sisters came to see the fun & oh! I saw the ‘ode sisters’ of No 6 Ward & guessed they’d be somewhat disgusted, if not surprised, on seeing me again.   I did make a mistake arter all aboot the ’eddin.  The trio [Red White & Blue] was not complete  – it is now for I have just had a clean red tie given me. 

When I was discharged from Hospital on Saturday I had to get all my togging on the Sunday kit & pack & ammunition & rifle etc.  All of it had to be handed in again this morning & my khaki clothing disinfected againSo particular they be here, although I had only been in Camp 2 days

Sergeant Wilkes (a teacher) (6) really thought I had gone to Blighty when I made my appearance in his tent on Saturday I will not buoy your hopes up falsely.  He said if I had stayed in Hospital & lingered over 4 weeks  I should have gone to Blighty automatically  – & a chap with the same sores on his legs (only) went to Blighty while I was in 6 WardI saw him go.  

Hush! Ida! scribble this out with the blackest dye of ink when you’ve read it:- I have endured toothache in the necknow don’t larf that is the best description of the pain of this boil on the back of me neck. For 4 nights running I have not had a whole night’s sleepJust like toothache & as bad too, for toothache does go away sometimes during the day, but this pain lasts all day & night as well. 

Dear Ida, I do believe in some sort of transformation (sic) of the minds of people, more especially of relatives (7). You understand my meanin’?  I mean that I have no doubt that you overlook my touch of chirpiness & can see in the depths of it all that my complaint is not all bluff .  

Vernon thought boils didn’t hurt, but I know now.  And there are so many cases among the men that one doesn’t get so much sympathyAnd dear Ida that is why I do not think for a moment now that I shall come Home through boils.   I hope to get up the line with Sydney & then there might be a chance of coming Home on Leave see, more than there is in here.  

Now methinks this letter is getting long for the  censor. It looks as if I shall have to enclose it in a green

Foden de-lousing 464Foden_WD_disinsector_3About my khaki suit being disinfected (8)  It is put in a steam chamber with some chemicals in the steam to kill the — never mind! 

Well I left a letter to Sydney in one of the pockets.  It was in answer to his I sent  you & in it was Mother’s lovely letter and yours.  I did want him to read them.  I did like to send you his to see how brother writes to brother.  It was indeed unique to get a letter sent to me with the triangular Field Postage stamp.  I knew t’was from Sydney when I saw it.  

Just another thing I should like to tell you & that is you would remember the good old days of the Pickwick Club (9) (when you read Miss Edith Evans’  letter I enclosed in Mother’s letter about the childrens’ party in the Cycle Shed, an annual affair? ) I mentioned the fact to Vernon about Sydney nicknamed Snodgrass

When you were in York did you see Mr Walker*?  By the by that reminds me, did you send him those Bible markers after all?  That is the question you will answer me in your long letter.  Oh!  but I suppose it is already on the journey now from the Little Grey Home in the West, from that little white table in the little white room of the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (10).

Ta Ta.   I remain, dear Pickwick, your affectionate brother at the front.   

Winkle’.  (11)

PSS  Have you managed to get through this puzzle of a letter?  I have had several goes at smothering my nose in the delicate khaki fabric saturated with Whitby Heather Scent. 

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1)’Twiddly bits: Many additional comments tucked in margins/ as well a lots of underlining. (2) ‘Chirpy bits’: mixture of Black Country dialect & childhood language with lots of rhyming words, deliberate misspelling & alliteration:- e.g. scentiment (sentiment) of scent sent;  loike-like; th’ beginnin – the beginning; nicenurse-nice nurse; spick ‘n span – tidy/clean/in order/as new; sodjers – soldiers; larf/larfter – laugh/laughter;  arfternoon– afternoon; fizog – face; bruvvers – brothers; listnin‘/ singin/ meanin‘- listening/singing/meaning; ode – old; ‘eddin-heading; togging– uniform & kit ; unique – unusual; Ta ta – Goodbye.

(3) Woody: Ida’s nursing friend. (4Leicester Royal Infirmary, Infirmary Square, where Ida appears to have done basic training, 1914-1915.

(5) The Violin Player: Ida’s copy could be one by Joseph de Camp 1858 -1923 – or The Violinist. 1912Mary Neal Richardson (American) 1859 -1937. Both paintings would match Ida’s white bedroom.

220px-Edwin_Foden_1841-1911
EDWIN FODEN. 1841 -1911.

(6Serjeant Wilkes: the kind Serjeant referred to in Letter: 5th Sept. 1915. (7) Foden Compound Steam Engine/ Lorry adapted for De-lousing  & Disinfecting in WW1.  Edwin Foden, Sons & Coy Ltd :  British Truck & Bus manufacturer, based Sandbach, Cheshire. 1856.  [No connection with Foden Road, named after E.A. Foden, Lord Hatherton’s land agent, responsible for creating Walsall Arboretum 1871]. <http://www.steamscenes.org.uk&gt; Wikipedia. <http://www.1914-1918.invision.com&gt; Great War Forum Old Sweats description.

8)’Transference’ is the word Bertie means (probably not in the full 19th cent theory sense of ‘transference of thought from one person to another without the sensory / physical channels’) but his belief that Ida would understand his ‘chirpiness’ masked a real pain & his bitter disappointment at not getting a Blighty.

(9) Hibbett Pickwick Club (childhood club based on Charles Dickens‘ Pickwick Papers): begun at 106, Rowley St. in 1903 (before moving opposite to 95, Foden Rd). Aim: to collect interesting observations and report adventures.

*****  Sam Pickwick President: – Ida Hibbett.  EditorSam Weller – May Overend*. MEMBERSAugustus Snodgrass – Sydney Hibbett (8 yrs);  Tracy Tupman – Bertie Hibbett (7 yrs);  Sam Wardle  I. Cozens* (?); Nath Winkle – D. Cozens* (?) *****

10) Ida’s bedroom at 95, Foden Rd. (11) Winkle: Bertie has changed his Pickwick Club membership name.

(12) Crumps: German 5.9 inch shell or loud thudding sound as it burst. ‘the last crump’ meant the end of the War.

South Staffordshire BadgeeLANCE CORP SYDNEY HIBBETT & 1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

S.W. SLOPE OF HILL 60

7th Sept. Tue:  Enemy repairing parapets damaged by rainstorm, fired on at intervals during the night.  Between 11 am and 12 noon enemy fired six crumps (11) behind 35 and 36 supports and at 2.30 pm shelled West end of wood.  CASULATY: WOUNDED: 9784 Pte D. Hunt.

NEXT POSTS: 10th SEPT. 1915. 

6TH SEPT. 1915. IN KHAKI AGAIN WITH COMPASSIONATE SERJEANTS.

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
BERTIE HIBBETT:
20  in 1915.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, No 6 GENERAL BASE ROUEN: LETTER to MOTHER & FATHER, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. 

Monday Sep. 6 / 15

My Very Dear Mother & Father,

Another repetition of having to include a Monday’s epistle with a Sunday’s.  If I had managed to get a green envelope yesterday the 1st part of this letter would have gone. 

Egg Week Chicken-poster-1-revisedIt seemed as though the letters I wrote yesterday must stay to acknowledge the ripping parcel I got this morning.   The eggs came in good condition, –  just the shells broken, but that’s all  – no mess whateverHard boiled eggs seem to be in ‘great demand’ (as Miss Bore* sais) among the SoldiersA chap had some sent him too this very morning that I got yours.Million Egg chicken-poster-2-revised 

 

I feel I ought to answer the parcel straight away, although I have not broken into all the lovely contents.  Oh Mummy I am in raptures again.  I guess you are smiling to know that your effort in sending such good ‘stuff has been another good successThere was some crossings out on Dad’s address – how dare they spoil such neat writing,  but I got it safely I shall have to write another letter shortly to say how I enjoyed the ‘assortment‘ – you have good taste for biscuits, they are fine.

I was amused at the Whitby Heather scent  – after sending the Whitby Heather soap.  I guess Dad twitched a smile when he got to know you were sending me scent, but I was sincerely delighted with such a sentiment.  Mummy & Champion’s doing I bet.  And I was doubly glad on getting a handkerchief & more so being khaki.  I intended getting one with my next pay if I get any.  I needed a hankie so.  

I was very happy indeed to see Dodger’s few words & promising me a letter I guess he was writing it for me when I was writing to him, this letter enclosed yesterday afternoon. 

I have already bought a few apples, I think fruit will do me goodPoor Sydney again.  I was rather or felt  glad now that he kept Mrs Hurst’s parcel & shared the contents with ‘Brewin*’.

I enclose Sydney’s very, very nice letter. It is isn’t it? eh what?  I want you & Ida to try and persuade Mrs Hurst* not to trouble about sending another parcel to this address.  You may think I’m mercenary, for being inclined to expect another as Sydney had the other.  As Sydney sent me her lovely letter I must write back, but if I were to tell her myself not to send me another she might take it as an insinuation – at least I do.  And you can tell Mrs Hurst it was very kind indeed of her to offer to send me The Graphic (1) . Of course now that I am out of Hospital where I got reading matter I could do with something to read, but I leave that to you.

Now when our Company Sergeant Major* went on Home Leave (sergeants 1st then privates) he saw you Mother & told me so on returning to trenchesHe said he was thinking of going up to you & telling you how I was, but he did not like the idea when he thought of the life out here.

Now, as you read in Sydney’s letter, he too has gone where Corporal A. Penning* is (2). But I think his death did not linger with pain, as I have no doubt Mrs Penning’s son did.  Gee* was his name, a relative of Queen Mary’s O.T.C. Drum & Fife Instructor. 

I am sitting on a box in a Sergeant’s tent. I was interrupted half way through this letter by the sergeant who handed me this box & told me to go & sit inside the tent as I was squatting in the grass just outside. It is sunny & fine but we have had some heavy rains lately. 

Now I must write to Sydney.  I am glad you got a letter from him.  I told him to write to you & me & got his letter with your parcel. What a happy coincidence eh!   When I read that you are kept happy in hopes of seeing Sydney & me I do pray that happiness will be fulfilled.  ‘Put your trust in the Lord & He will fulfil your heart’s desire’ (3) and the 34th Psalm, for today – The Lord delivereth the souls of His servants; and all they that put their trust in Him shall NOT BE DESTITUTE’. (4)

Best love to all,   Bertram.  

PS  Oh I am glad Sydney had opened Mrs Hurst’s parcel of chocolate (see the stains of chocolate from his finger prints) sardines (they would not make my boils any better) condensed milk (he needed that to make his tea taste nice) and yes, I am doubly glad because his rations were thin & nasty. I hope he gets a Com.  You see, I told you so didn’t I –  if not then I tell you now, that he wanted me to go to Blighty.  I know the reason & sympathise with him & it is that feeling of his that makes me want to be with him, a sort of reaction. 

We were sleeping in those beds last year at this time Mother although firing our course and in training.

*********************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Two pictures. Two Serjeantsone saving a Mother from further anxiety – and another fetching a box for a young Private to sit on and inviting him into his tent to write home. Such simple acts of thoughtful kindness fill me with gratitude to all those who helped my Dad cope with the disappointment of not getting Home to ‘Blighty‘ with Boils.

(1) The Graphic: Illustrated Weekly Newspaper. London. famous for centre-page illustration of the Sinking of the Luisitania, May 1915.

Sinking of Luisitania.

(2) 6515 Company Serj. Major H. Gee. Killed : 26th Aug. 1915. (‘Shot through the lungs’, Sydney’s letter 29th Aug.).  Arthur Penning: only son of Mrs A. Penning, Pte Bertie’s landlady, 29 Gold Street, Saffron Walden.

(3) Psalm 37.4-5.  (4) Psalm 34 interestingly is an acrostic poem with each verse beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

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

 

6th Sept. Mon:  In BRIGADE RESERVE  – detail as 1st. CASUALTIES: WOUNDED: 8909 Pte V.C. Hough, 9149 Pte L.J. Bayley; No 9585 Pte C.F. Girling.  Relieved the 6th North Staffs in the trenches at 10.15 pm. Slightly wounded 8067  Pte J. Bradley, remain at duty.  

NEXT POST: 7th SEPT. 1915.  In Red White & Blue – no mistake.

5th SEPT. 1915: ROUEN: ‘IN KHAKI AGAIN’. MARKED ‘SICK’ AND ‘ACTIVE’.

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
BERTIE HIBBETT:
.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, No 6  GENERAL BASE: LETTER to MOTHER & FATHER, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

Sunday Sep 5/ 15.  In Khaki Again

My Dear Mother & Father,

 I am now back again at No 6 General Base.  ‘Theythought I had been long enough in Hospital & could not keep me in any longer for the boil on my neck to get better.  So I am attendingSick& am markedActive’  – so I conclude I shall in all probability go up the line soon & then I shall be with Sydney.

I have spent a happy time on the whole in Hospital.  I had a letter & parcel from Harold & a parcel from Auntie.   When the NCOs saw me here at the Base they said “your name’s Hibbett is it? so you are the one who’s had so many letters”.  They were sent to Hospital all right enough.  I had a letter from – – –

broke off here to attend a Bible class in YMCA, will restart after tea.

Separate sheet (1).   Sunday  Sep. 5/ 15.  ‘In Khaki Again’

My Dear Mother & Father,

I am now back again at No 6 General Base.  ‘Theywould not keep me any longer in Hospital although I had have a boil in the back of my neck.  They said I had been in long enough & so I am onActive& will attend the Doctor.  The only advanta  Of course there is the benefit about itI shall soon be with Sydney, at least I hope to (2) –  & we shall then both, very likely, come on Home Leave together.

About Commissions Dadwell  I am content, but I want Sydney to go in for one; if he doesn’t then I shan’t be content until he does (3).  What does Sydney himself say?  I have not yet heard from him – perhaps he has forgotten my address.

Have you heard anything about Vernon’s Cousin, Bob Tucker*? – he is another case of MISSING ’.  (This I heard from Davie (Taffie) in Walsall Observer).  He went as you know to the Dardanelles.  I had a letter from the other sister of Vernon’sEdith this time. (Sorry Mummy, to keep mentioning all about Vernon & ‘nowt aboot me sen’ as you complained of in a past letter) (4).

Now what do you think of her writing?  It is more to my liking than t’other I sent you, that of Winnie’s.  I thought it was Mrs Evans*’s at first.  Now it struck me painfully, it did indeed.  On holding the letter some short distance away & noticing the style of writing, I could see quite prominently a considerable number of strokes, all practically horizontal, in fact all the paper seemed to be nothing but strokes.

For ‘Humours’ sake I struck a brilliant idea.  I sent you Winnie’s ‘Result’.  Now I have marked Edith’s.  Yes indeed & it looks prettier than Winnie’s with the blue & red doesn’t it? –  Never mind Edith, together with the white parchment it makes a patriotic symbol eh, what? and of course my writing I take as a dreadful example.

Dundrennan House, Walsall.
Dundrennan House, Walsall.

You remember dear Mum & Dad reading in the paper about the Million Egg Week. Well the UP Patients – (Ida will tell you what UP PATIENTS are without writing to ‘Dundrennan (5) to the ‘nurses’ there, they might tell you –  & you needn’t write again to No 5 Ward, No 9 General Hospital either again, for the sisters there might tell you that the UP PATIENTS are those ‘naughty laddies’ who arouse your patience – otherwise putting itgit your patty UP). Well I am going off my word – – 

I say all the UP Patients had, one teatime, a lot of eggs from St Agnes, Cornwall, each egg having an address of the contributor written in pencil on the shell (6).

Well I will close now. You will come to some decision shortly ’bout the Com. for Sydney   – & remember I’m back at 6 G. B.

Tat ta.   Best love to all & tell Dodger I’m writing to him next.

Bertie.

**************************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) Pte Bertie Hibbett restarts his letter, but still sends his first page Home; probably because he wants his parents to realise he is being  sent back to the Front even though he is not fully better.

(2) With Sydney? After a long stay in Hospital, or Leave, some soldiers were attached to different units, to replace casualties; some were given new numbers.

(3) Commissions: Pre-WW1 Army Officers were recruited from the upper-classes/ military families. Growing numbers of casualties (1914-915) led to recruitment of voluntary officers (‘Temporary Gentlemen’) from middle-classes/OTCs in public schools & universities and from lower classes, for the duration of the War. <http://worldwar1centenery.oucs.ox.ac.uk&gt;  Since 1871 commissions could not be bought but applicants would have needed good references. 

(4) Dialect: ‘Nothing about myself‘. (5Dundrennan’ House, Wednesbury Rd. Walsall: Vernon Evans’ Family HomeBoth sisters, Winifred & Edith Evans, were Red Cross Nurses.

(5) WW1 National Egg Collection launched in 1914 by Frederick Carl, editor of Poultry World, to provide protein for wounded soldiers in Hospital, first in Bologne. Grew from 20,000 eggs a week to Million Egg Week 16-23rd Aug. 1915.  Patron Queen Alexandra.  Collections often organised by Lady Mayors in local markets; even the smallest number of eggs welcomed and recorded. See N.Devon Journal Letters & War Reports in ‘Soldiers of the Great War‘ Heritage Lottery Millennium Project, Barnstaple Athenium & Record Office).

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

RAILWAY EMBANKMENT, ZILLEBEKE.

1st Sept. Wed: In Brigade Reserve. Two Companies (‘A’ & ‘B’) in the Railway Dugouts. One Company ‘C’ Rosenthal Chateau, one Company ‘D’ in Reserve to 6th North Staffords in Right Sector trenches, R7 found by ‘A’ Company, R8 found by ‘B’ Company, R9  found by ‘C’ Company.  Working and carrying parties found daily as ordered by the Brigade. CASUALTY WOUNDED: 8492 Drummer Wheeler.

2nd Sept. Thur: Ditto. CASUALTIES: WOUNDED: 8991 L/Cpl. Mann P.E. (since died of wounds).  WOUNDED: 8938 Pte Newbold A.; 8525 Pte Smith W.; 8931 Pte Bird J.A.; 8236 L/Cpl Jones A.   Slightly wounded remain at duty: 8811 Pte Dyke J.; 9141 Pte Wright G.; 8961 Pte Smith H.E.

3rd Sept Fri: In Brigade Reserve, detail as the 1st. CASUALTIES: KILLED: 8718 L/Cpl. Carpenter A. (Killed by shell).  4th Sept Sat: In Brigade Reserve, detail as the 1st. CASUALTY:  WOUNDED9128 Pte Pitcock E.   5th Sept. Sun: Ditto. 

NEXT POST: 6th Sept. 1915.

 

 

30TH AUGUST 1915: 17 YEAR OLD BLACK WATCH SERGEANT: ‘CHARGE FOR FUN’.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, ROUEN:  No 9 GENERAL HOSPITAL to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall, 

In Red, White and Blue, Monday Aug.30/ 15  

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.
IDA HIBBETT.

My Dear Sister,  

Queer coincidence, I’ve done or rather am doing just what Mum did – for two consecutive Sunday & Mondays that is.  I finished, or rather struggled to finish my letter sitting up in bed late.  ‘Late’ for hospital is 9 o’clockso did Mum last Sunday stay till after Basil had got into bed – & then she had to open the letter again & write a page or two more –  same as on the 15th & 16th of Aug.

Dear Ida the regulation is to wear grey socks in hospital & I was made to take off the khaki socks.  I did feel indignant about it.  To be quite honest I decided to put the paper cutting of Colonel Wade* & Jack* in an ordinary envelope.  You will let me know when you get these letters.

I had a good smell at some sweet peas growing in the bit of garden we have round the hut.  It did put me in mind of the usual walk round our garden at 106 (1) –  to see the wonderful growth & the unkempt state of the flowers & grass.

You will also let us both know of the exam result. (Basil’s).

The outdoor dress of the nurses here is navy blue long capes with scarlet lining and white straw hats with blue bands.  But I admired your brown.  Some of the nurses in the Indian Camp are all in complete white (2).

There’s a nice chap in the Ward, only 17 & he has been a (Front) Line Sergeant & is in the Black Watch (3), – got quite the brogue of the Jocks, regular daring Tommies they are.  Thought they would bolt the parapet & take a charge any minute for ‘fun’.

I can shave now so it proves not only that my poor pate is better, cheeks rather, but that I am getting proficient at shaving. 

Will close with best love.  I have not heard anything aboutBoobyA. Streatly* yetyour little pupil? (4)

Bertie.

*************************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) 106, Rowley Street, opposite 95, Foden Rd (renamed 95, Rowley Street, when Broadway was built):  Hibbett Home when they first came to live in Walsall from Nottingham. (2) Meerut Indian Camp & Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Rouen. cf Letter: 29th Aug. 1915. 

(3) This young man (astonishingly young for a ‘regular’ Black Watch Serjeant) must have lied about his age and relied on his physique & bravado when enlisting in the Regular Army (age limit between 18-38 in 1914, Regulars not sent overseas until 19 yrs).  He could have been a Territorial with lower age limit of 17 yrs, but they were not obliged to serve overseas and this 17yr old had been in the Front Line. 

(4) Ida Hibbett – Sunday School teacher?

Bedford House: former Chateau Rosendal with woodland moats and lakes. Destroyed by shelling 1914-1918.
Bedford House: former Chateau Rosendal with woodland moats and lakes.  Destroyed by shelling 1914-1918. Ypres to St Eloi road runs north to south on left.

(5) Bedford House, formerly Chateau Rosendal.

Bedfordshire Regt involved in Battle of Hill 60 (17th April – May 1915): suffered heavy losses.

Bedford House Cemetery: one of largest British & Commonwealth Cemeteries in Ypres Salient. Many blown up & killed on Hill 60 have no known grave. cf War Diary website by Steven Fuller. <http://bedfordregiment.org.uk> 

Bedford House British & Commonwealth Cemetery.
Bedford House British & Commonwealth Cemetery. http://www.greatwar.co.uk/ypres-salient/cemeterybedford-house

******************************

South Staffordshire BadgeeLance Corporal Sydney Hibbett & SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DAIRY.

S.W. SLOPE OF HILL 60.

30th Aug. MonExceptionally quiet day, nothing to report.  Relieved about 10.30 pm by 6th North Staffs.  CASUALTY: 4517 Pte H. Haddock (slightly wounded remained at duty).  

31st Aug. Tue:  BRIGADE RESERVE.  Two Companies in dug-outs Railway Embankment.  One Company in strong points R7 and R8 and local reserves to 6th North StaffsOne Company in Bedford House (5) and R9. CASUALTIES: KILLED: 2/Lt J.H. Wilkinson; 6378 Pte J. Barnett.   WOUNDED:  9760 Pte W.C. Lester .  

AUGUST CASUALTIES:  KILLED10;  D.O.W. 4; WOUNDED 25; Slightly wounded 7 (remained at duty). OFFICERS WOUNDED1.

Signed: R. RICHMOND RAYMER Lt Col Commanding 1/5th Bn South Staffordshire Regiment.

NEXT POST: 5th SEPT. 1915. In Khaki Again. (Letters now back on track /published 100 yrs from the day they were written). Updated Welcome Page for September.

29TH AUGUST 1915: ‘DOWN IN THE DUMPS & KNOCKED UP’

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
BERTIE HIBBETT:
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, No 9 GENERAL HOSPITAL ROUEN: LETTER to MOTHER & FATHER, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall.  Possibly the longest letter he wrote Home.

In Red White and BlueSunday Aug. 29/ 15

ARTHUR HIBBETT: 56 in 1914.
ARTHUR HIBBETT:

MARIE NEAL HIBBETT: 53 in 1914.
MARIE NEAL HIBBETT:

 

 

My Dear Mother & Father,

There is plenty of literature in the ward, but that doesn’t mean to say your contribution of magazines was not welcome, they were indeed very welcome, but of course they would have been more so in the trenches (I was sorry for Sydney not to see them).

But what my idea was at the start of this letter was this:on receiving a letter from anyone I picture that person in the act of writing the letter to me & the surroundings, & if there is a description of the surroundings I can manage a better picture.   I was once looking at some Art paintings of the War & came across two striking pictures.  One was of a Tommy in a trench writing on a mess tin to his Home – his wife & children likely.  The other picture was what he imagined. His wife receiving the letter & children gathered round.

My case is somewhat similar.  I like you to picture me where I am & not just to let you read some more pencil scribble on paper I try to get you to form up some picture of the life I am having.   Well Sunday is round again, your 1st  Sunday back from the holidays.  The weather is lovely & sunny again & I am seated on a camp chair in front of the hut.  The wooden huts are all in rows & their fronts are facing the main road, which runs between an avenue of trees.  A tram-way also runs along one side of the road & trams frequently go by.

In the distance is a very thick wood of tall fir trees & on the other side of the road is MEERUT, an Indian Camp (1).  In the front of each hut is a large tree root –  & in plant pots an elect lot of geraniums.  Its not long since a swanky French open carriage & pair went by.

Yesterday, Saturday, was our ‘Autumn Cleaning’ of No 6 Ward & so we removed to No 5.  AllUPPatients in the ward helped in the cleaning – to scrub the windows, shake the blankets, lockers etc.  There goes the ‘Cookus bugle’ so will finish either after tea or after Church.

Mummy,  I’ve had a cold, hard-boiled egg, would you believe it.  The chap, who helps me to ‘wash up’ & do orderly work, gave it to me with a slice of his, what he called, ‘Home made bread’.  I daresay you will have gained a little more light on the matter concerning my poor old pate.  I’m really sorry I did not put it to you more wisely.  I thought you would like to hear from me while on your holidays, for you remember how much nicer it seemed to be receiving letters while on our holidays.  Would you have been still more anxious if you had not received even a PC from me during your long stay at Whitby?  It seems a long time since the 1st  Saturday you were at Whitby.

Sandsend Beach from Whitby.
Sandsend Beach from Whitby.

I am now looking at Dad’s PC  AH!  Ask Ida if she can remember the walk we took from Sandsend to Whitby, by the shore, via Upgang boat house (2).

Let me tell you that the letters addressed straight to the Ward arrived on the date.  I got Mrs Evans*’ letter of 22nd on the Wednesday and yours of 22nd on Friday.  Yes Mummy I spent the bit of cash on good things, apples, biscuits, a few cakes & a bit of chocolate it came in just when I needed it;  we get no pay while in Hospital.

This leaf from the Territorial Gazette (3) will interest youWhat a pity I did not enclose it in my last letter eh! Mummy.  I had the paper lent to me & was curiously taken with it.   I did not know about THE article in it from a Lancashire Tommy, else I would certainly have sent it along before this.  Such a coincidence as this makes my heart really throb – to think of it.  I saw a photo of a lot of Turks; they did look a burly set too & I thought at the time such ‘gorilla-lookingindividuals as these would likely kill poor Jack (Wade), but I was proud to mention it to one or two of the patients. 

By the by the 1st few days of Hospital life were the happiest, but those patients have nearly all gone & fresh ones have come in their placesone is a Jew, one of the poor class I should expect.

It is pouring cats & dogs now.  The Church Tent is not far off.  I am in my doots as to whether to have a good scoot for it or not. I did not go to Church this morning.  We were expecting a General to come round & we had to stand to our beds.  No it is not like last Sunday.  Last Sunday seemed more like those at home.  I went three times.  I must not forget that I put on Mum’s khaki socks & relished the apples & pears from the picturesque market.

Now I can hear that man ringing that piece of iron with that wooden mallet calling me to go to Church so will FINIS when I come back & tell you all about the service. 

–  The Church was  part of a Railway Line.  The clergyman was amused too on looking at it & agreed with me that it was a splendid imitation.  We’ve had some very nice hymns (4) which reminded me of Home sweet  ’ome:

Hymn written by Henry Francis Lyte, (priest, poet & hymn writer, when he was dying of TB.
Abide with me:  Henry Francis Lyte, (priest, poet & hymn writer).

Abide with me’ and the one you had on the Bridge (5) at the Intercession Service –  ‘Neath thy care’ & ‘Lead kindly light & lastly, after another nice sermon on discipleship, we had ‘For all the saints’.  It went with a swing as the few that were present stood up & made their voices to be heard, the nurses and patients.  Quite a good number in blues, although it was still rainingOur Ward Sister tried hard to get some patients to go to Church.

Ain’t it funny, – larst year the excitement was on the East Coast (6), –  now you’ve gone for your holidays on the East Coast ’tis over in the West, what with escaped prisoners (7) – and bombardments of Cumberland (8).

Whitby Quay & Harbour.
Whitby Quay & Harbour. 2015.

I liked Dodger’s larst letter, –  a splendid holiday description besmeared in a motley of ink blotsI gazed at the photo of WhitbyI could see myself and Dodger racing each other home . . .  along the Quay.

Hibbett Family Whitby 1915. From Left: Basil, Hilda Bore, Mother & Father. Photo Harold.
Hibbett Family Whitby 1915.  From Left: Basil, Hilda Bore, Mother & Father. 

My word Basil you are getting up to our scratch for early rising!  Did you ever get up late for the nice frizzled bacon or fresh herrings?  Oh! you said you couldn’t get herrings, was the salmon dear?

View from Larpool Viaduct towards Ruswarp.
View from Larpool Viaduct towards Ruswarp.

I look at Larpool (9) & see the bank where we lay down on Sunny Sunday afternoons & down by the Railway where I painted a view of the old houses on the cliff.

Whitby. Watercolour. A.H. Hibbett. from PC The Linden Series.
Whitby. Watercolour. A.H. Hibbett. from PC The Linden Series.
Larpool Viadust. N. York Railway over River Esk. (195 ft long, 120 ft high with 13 arches).
Larpool Viaduct. N. York Railway over River Esk.

I shall have to stop now.  I also enclose Miss Winifred Evans*’ letter, rather jolly aint it, a jollily-put-like letter.

Shall I marry a Winifred I wonderW. Overend* or W. Evans*.

I sent Basil’s 1st long letter, with the one of Mother’s, in the papers.   Have written  to him several times but not yet heard from him.  Wrote also a page to Vernon.

Do not be anxious dear Mummy.  I’m an nawful ‘ipocrite’.  Did you take a walk right from the (Whitby) Heights & across the moor again?

O’er moor & fen, o’er crag & torrent till the night is gone And with the morn those Angel faces smile Which I have loved long since and lost awhile. (10)  

Yes, I remember you saying in a past letter that there’s an angel guarding each one of us by night and day.  I’ve not told anyone that I’m down in the dumps & knocked up, as we put it – except Auntie, Harold, you – & Miss Foster – who wanted to know if it was a sort of rest we all took in turn.  I did think of Ida again when the nurse sat down at the piano.

Goodnight Mum, I’m off to bed nowI often dream vividly of Dad & Basil & Sister & you.

Bestest love from Bertie.

PS  NB  I am enclosing the Gazette cutting in another envelope to IdaPutting it as the nurses do – ‘ What a silly laddie’ I am. Really I must not forget to say how delighted I am with the souvenir from Whitby you sent i.e. the Whitby Heather Soap from Masons (10).  Yes I remember Masons – the shop I went to one Sunday to get some ammonia for a sting.  Yes I had a lovely wash this morning, such a nice scent isn’t it?  I hope you took something home for Ida & tell her to be good.

Monday. Am sending the article about the Wades* to her for you.

PS NB MA (many apologies)  The hard boiled egg from my pal was a duck egg Mummy.  Tell me if you get this long letter & newspaper cutting.

Your affec. son,     Bertie.  

****************************** 

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Postcards & Memories of Family Holidays in Whitby,  along with well-loved comforting Hymns and kindly Nurses, keep up Pte Bertie Hibbett’s spirits in Hospital in Rouen.

(1) Meerut Indian Camp & British General Hospital for Infectious Diseases. Visited by Matron in Chief, B.E.F. Maud McCarthy who described it as ‘under canvas and ‘very good’.  The Hospitals she said were ‘very full’ ‘many seriously wounded’ with ‘many hopeless cases I’m afraid’.  No 9  Gen. Hospital in huts she found ‘on the whole very good’ but ‘Nurses quarters not so satisfactory’. The National Archive. Scarlet Finders. 

(2) Sandsend. N. Yorkshire village on coast, approx, 3 mile  beach walk from Whitby. Upgang Boathouse/ Whitby Lifeboat station; involved in rescue of Hospital Ship Rohilla from Whitby Rock.  (3)Territorial Service Gazette: estab. 1859. Principle source of information on Army’s Territorial Battalions in WW1. ‘The Lancashire Tommy’ refers to Jack Wade*, missing on the Eastern Front.

(4) Hymns of comfort & encouragement in times of trouble & distressAbide with Me. Words: Henry Francis Lyte, 1793-1847(dying from TB)I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless…Where is death’s sting? Where grave thy victory?  I triumph still if Thou abide with me. Based on Emmaus Resurrection story, Luke 24. 13-35  & I Cor 15.55.  Neath Thy Care. Words: Isabella S. Stevenson  1869, Keep  our loved ones now far distant, neath Thy care. (written when her brother was sent away to S. Africa for his health).

 For All the Saints: Words: William Walsham HowAnglican Bishop of Wakefield, 1864. For Feast of All Saints. Tune Sine Nomine (for those ‘with no name’): Ralph Vaughan Williams.  And when the strife is fierce the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph-song, And hearts are brave again and arms are strong. Alleluia! 

(5Bridge StreetWalsall: open air Intercession Service. 1915. (6) German Bombardment of Whitby: 19th Dec. 1914.   (7Gunther Pluschow,  (held in Donington Hall,  Leicestershire) is reputed to be the only prisoner to escape Britain in WW1. Aug. 1915.

(8) Cumberland Bombardment: 16th Aug. 1915. German U-Boat fired 55 shells at Chemical Factory in Lowca area between 4.30 am & 5.20 am. No damage or casualties. This Factory (installed by Germans in 1910 & labelled ‘top secret!) produced toluene (key ingredient for TNT from coal).  <http://www.pastpresent.info/cumbria/parton/uboathtm&gt;

(8) Larpool: village, N. York Moors. Larpool Viaduct  (195 ft long & 120ft high with 13 arches) carried Scarborough to Whitby single-track Railway over River Esk. 1885-1965. (Grade II Listed Building & Public Walk way. Used by steam trains on N Yorkshire Moors Railway).  <http://www.yorkshirefilmarchive.com/film/sentimental-journey-whitby-scarborough&gt;.

(9Hymn Lead Kindly Light (verse): John Henry Newman, 1801-1890 (Anglican Divine, later Catholic Cardinal Newman) wrote these words when ill in Italy & desperate to get home.  Music: Lux Benigna: John B. Dykes. 1823-1876. 

(10) Masons’ Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Shop still appears to be flourishing in Whitby: 11 Flower Gate, Whitby. YO 21 3BA: tel.  0197 820240.

NEXT POST: 5th SEPT. 1915:  In Khaki Again.