Pte BERTIE HIBBETT. No 6 GENERAL BASE CONVALESCENT CAMP: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.
Sunday Afternoon 4.20 pm 3/ 10/ 15
My Dear Mother & Father,
A Break in the usual Sunday Letters, & Home Thoughts Abroad eh.
When I go into the fray for tea, for it is a fray indeed standing in the crush of men outside the hut or canteen, I shall be thinking of Sydney waiting for his nice tea at home, laid on a nice white cloth & flowers & nice food. He is perhaps listening to Ida’s music or Dad’s opinion of the War, or joking with Dodger, or watching the cool fresh sparkling water running from the tap on to the slop stone, – yes & he sits there & finds infinite pleasure and amusement with turning the tap.
‘Come along’ shouts Mummy from the Dining Room & in Sydney goes arm in arm with Champion & Dodger, immediately the latter relieved by Mum’s arm, & he then sits down to enjoy a nice Sunday’s tea with you all.
I went on Church Parade this morning & we had 370 (1) again – the Sea Hymn, ‘Eternal Father’. Yes, by the time this letter reaches you, Mother & Dad, Sydney will be in the train very likely, & will have crossed again those seas which the Spanish Armada sailed on.
What is there for tea for me today? I must be going to get some Roley Poley sic (2), or Duff as the Tommies call it.
It would not do for any of you to write to the authorities. You may write to John Bull, good old JB. (3). I never take him serious, so it’s all very well.
We had Marconochies (sic) (4) for tea once & Mum’s hard boiled eggs came in pat. A Tommy sang a very comic song at an entertainment for Winter Sports entitled ‘I’d rather have an ’ard boiled egg’ (5) & so I did in place of that which I believe caused my boi— no I won’t say any more, ever about them!
I guess you will all be going again to St Paul’s tonight (6).
Best love, Bertie.
Pte Bertie Hibbett’s father appears to have considered writing to the Army about his son’s illness, in the hope of obtaining Home Leave for him.
(1) Hymn. Eternal Father. No 370 in Bertie’s version of Hymns Ancient & Modern. cf Letter 2nd Oct.
(2) Roly-Poly. Plum Duff. Traditional British suet puddings, one spread with jam and rolled up, the other with added raisins/ currants: early 19th Cent/ associated with school dinners. (3) John Bull Magazine. British Sunday Newspaper estab.1820. ‘ultra patriotic’. Wikipedia.
(4) Maconochies: tinned stew / for ingredients see letter 17th April. 1915. (5) Comic Song by Worton David and Julian Mack. published Sydney, Australia. 1912. (6) St Paul’s Church, Walsall (now St Paul’s at the Crossing. See Letter 26th Aug. 1914).
1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.
3rd Oct. Sun: In Billets.
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