1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY
PARADIS BILLETS. (Bn refitting).
6th – 7th Nov. 1915
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.
23rd Sunday after Trinity. Nov 7/ 15
Send a candle or two so that I can write to you at nights.
‘Hope thou still in the Lord & abide patiently upon Him.’ Psalm 37 .7
My Dearest Brave Mother & Father,
I will write Home first. Have heard from several people since I rejoined the Company (1) last night & they have all sent parcels, with the exception of the letter addressed by Ida, but the enclosure was written by one of my little scamps, much to my surprise.(2)
Vernon came back from Hospital last night & is now squatting beside me; we are both busy, very busy puzzling our brains on how to write interesting letters to all the people in dear old England who have so kindly remembered us. Vernon had quite a bundle of letters on his return. I got the comfy shirt & delicious toffee this Sunday morning & Mother’s nice letter of 29th Oct & Champion’s generous little gift of Turkish cigarettes, my word.
Poor Vernon, he has had a lonely time in Hospital, no cigarettes, no letters from Home, no anything of any sort. So, Ida, I offered him a few of your superb smokes. And now, dearest people – do forgive me for I opened Sydney’s parcel as well, because they could not send his parcel without great risk of getting it mislaid. So I am keeping the toffee & Chief Whip Cigarettes.
To have to break into his parcels is not at all pleasant & rather tends to make me unhappy, but I have to open them consequently, because I cannot very well carry so many parcels about with me.
Since I rejoined the Company things seemed to be making up for the time I have had with the Bombing Party. (I can tell the difference so much, between the man who has been in the trenches & the man who has not, the former are so much sober than the latter).
I have had no less than four parcels, but of course one was for Sydney. Auntie sent a parcel for us both, poor Sydney, never mind, I am saving him some of the thick Rowntrees chocolate Auntie sent, but could not very well save him some of the Parkin & apples. Auntie Pat also sent some soap & I only want a nice towel now.
If Harold sends us both a Sleeping Helmet, I shall be much obliged to him, but I should treasure a Home Knitted one & would like to feel the home knitted wool round my cheeks at night; I should conjure up jolly thoughts of Mummy & you all (3).
Mrs. Hurst* also sent me a parcel – inside were many different sorts of luxuries, Nestles chocolate (plain & nut), tin milk, stationery – this I am writing on ——-
Broke off here for a bath, then put on the comfy shirt you sent. Arthur Brown* showed me one exactly like it last night & made of the same lovely soft material; as you told me – very likely from Mrs Venables*’ Sale (4).
Don’t you think I’m greedy for parcels? What a time I’ve had with the Bombers (5) & it seems as though the parcels came Providentially. But I’m so sorry Sydney is not here to share, not only the luxuries, but the happy thoughts. And you will forgive my inquisitiveness in reading Mum’s letter to Sydney which was a beauty.
Oh how glad & happy I felt when Vernon quoted from a letter from Mrs Evans* saying you looked very well. Yes the inward thoughts and temperament are reflected in the outward manner & appearance – ‘By their fruits ye shall know them’. ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His’ (6).
Army life is a jolly, jolly life if one suddenly has a surprise of a few parcels. I was not thinking Sydney would be so long away. I suppose you will have heard from him. I have not heard yet since he went. I hope it has not upset affairs regarding his Commission.
Sorry the time has come for me to conclude – the rotten part of a letter, just the same as the rotten part of Home Leave – le Finis. Hoping you are spending a Happy Sunday again. I guess Okoo is with you. I wrote to him on the 5th.
Bestest love, Bertrum.
It is clear that Pte Bertie does not realise the severity of his brother’s illness.
(1) ‘A’ Company.
(2) ‘Little Scamps’: Bertie Hibbett’s Sunday School pupils, St Paul’s Church, Walsall.
(3) Sleeping Helmet: soldiers suffered particularly from cold & wet in Winter of 1915-1916. Pattern ‘Knitting for Tommy’ <https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk >
(4) Mrs Venables, (mother of Arthur Venables* who was to save Bertie’s life) held one of Walsall’s fund-raising Sales for Soldiers.
(5) Bombing Party: A Little Book of Words & Doings: ‘Bombing Course. Oct – Nov 1915: ‘Marvellous escape after 4 bombs, one dud, dropped by feet of Chester Robinson*, unhurt. Ida writes from Home she is making springs for bombs & complemented on by manager.‘ cf The West Spring Gun. A bomb-throwing catapult ‘designed to throw a hand grenade in a high trajectory into enemy trenches’. <https://www.en.wikipedia >
(6) Mtt.7.16 & 2 Tim 2.19.
NEXT POST: 10th Nov. 1915. The King’s Review: waiting inches deep in mud & water for hours.