SERJEANT SYDNEY HIBBETT:  LETTER  to Arthur & Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.

E 3 Ward  12 General Hospital, Rouen.  Wednes. Nov. 10 th.

My Very Dear Mother and Father,

Here we are again still in Hospital and being well looked after by these kind sisters & nurses.  I was allowed up for one hour only, yesterday, but when my temperature was taken I was ordered back into bed: it was only 100. 4.  220px-The_Railway_Magazine_October_1901_cover_688

Today I feel not so well but your letter and the Railway Magazine have bucked me up (1).

I don’t think I have rheumatism but I have had pain in my left thigh & knee joints and the doctor sounded me, especially my left side, several times.

My temperature lately has been very normal and I expect to be out of here in less than a week, perhaps by the time you get this I shall be in the Convalescent Camp, but it will be all right if you send me a few Turkish cigarettes and some milk chocolate to the above address.  I shall get them if you post them as soon as you can, after getting this  – the same day you must post them. Do you get me?

No, I don’t think I spoke in my sleep much: not more than the other patients at any rate. 

I thought I told you how I got my cold: well, that week, before I went to hospital was very wet indeeddriving winds, flying clouds, bitter cold and heavy rains nearly every day and we marched from Allouagne (2), the pretty village, where  we lay for 5 happy peaceful days, on Monday Oct 25th.

We were wet through before we started as we had to wait in the cold & rain for the rest of the Brigade and we were standing on an open moor roadin fact it might have been on the top of the wildest moors of Sutton Park (3).

King George Vth's Review. 1914.
King George Vth’s Review. 1914. Pathe news.

So when we started marching we were glad, as the wet was cold & we soon got warmed, but the mud & water on the roads was churned up by the feet & the water soon covered the boots.  The dubbin kept it out as yet, but when we arrived at our billets we were in a dry & comfy straw barn,  but no drying apparatus

Then you see I have to look after my platoon of 50 odd men & it meant a lot of walking to & fro & as the days went on & we had to march here and there to drill  & practice for the King’s Review on Thursday, the water & everlasting wet mud on one’s boots soon made one’s feet wet & there you are.

King George Vth Review. 1914.
King George Vth & Gen. Joffre:   Review. 1914.

After the Review it poured with rain –  & also before it  – & so you can guess how we all felt when he came:  standing inches deep in mud & water for hours and the cold wind driving the rain in our faces so that our faces were like that of the elderly tea-drinking spinster with the red nose! (4).

The next day we motored in buses to Beuvry (5) (only ‘A’ Coy) to relieve some Notts  & Derby’s at carrying things up to the trenches and I reported to the nearest doctor when I got there that I was ill & here I am.

I was very glad to get your letter today, dear Mother & also the magazinesWe get very plain food indeed here & no luxuriesI shall have to feed up when I get out! 

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

We have a gramophone in at times & it is very nice.  There are 12 patients here.  I have got the commission papers with me here and I went to see Capt. Moore*, the night before we moved (Thurs night) & he promised to see the Colonel (6) next morning, but we moved early next morning as I told you.  I shall see him again when I get back.  I must close now.

Have you seen Alan or Brown* at home yet?  Send me the Observer please.

With Best love to you both

from Sydney.

PS  I have sent a PC to Auntie Pat telling her where I am, also Mrs Jones *(a letter) & have written to Harold too.


South Staffordshire BadgeeA SHORT HISTORY OF SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE REGT.  ‘After refitting South Staffs had a tour in the line at Neuve Chapelle‘ (7).



8th Nov. Mon: in Paradis Billets.  9th Nov. Tue:  Marched at 10.0 am to REIZ  BAILLEUL (9) and went into billets.

10 the Nov. Wed: REIZ BAILLEUL. Marched at 3.0 pm to (Neuve Chapelle) trenches; relieved 1/1st GURKHA RIFLES (10).  Line held from BREWERY ROAD, S. 5. a.10. 6 to HILL STREET.  4th BATT.  LONDON Regt on left;  4th BATT.  KINGS LIVERPOOL  on right.



Serjeant Sydney Hibbett plays down his influenza in order to allay his parents’ fears. It is a ‘cold’ caught by ‘getting one’s feet wet’ and he expects to be back in Line in a week. Meanwhile Pte Bertie marches north to relieve the 1/1st Ghurka Rifles at Neuve Chapelle.

(1) Railway Magazine: founded 1835 by Effingham Wilson & John Herapath. (record for longest unbroken published series). Present publisher: Mortons of Horncastle, near Louth, Lincolnshire. <http://www.railwaymagazine.co.uk&gt;

Map Bethune to Neuve Chapelle.
Map Nord Pas de Calais:  showing Allouagne,  Fouquieres  & Beuvry near BETHUNE –  and Paradis, & Lastrem  of MERVILLE & ESTAIRES.

(2) Allouagne: 1 mile E of Bethune.

(3) Sutton Park,  6 miles N of Birmingham, now a National Nature Reserve & SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest): landscape of open heathland, woodlands, wetlands, marshes & lakes. 

(4) Character in ‘The Three Cutters’ ?  Capt. Marryatt, R. N. Officer 1792 -1848 (real life sea-stories).

(5) Beuvry: 3 miles SE of Bethune(6) Lt Colonel Sir Stuart Wortley*.

(7) Neuve Chapelle: 8 miles NE of Bethune.  Battle 12th March 1915. ‘first set-piece offensive’ in trench warfare.  <http://www.ww1battlefields.co.uk/othersneuve-chapelle>  Site of The Indian Memorial to the Missing at Port Arthur. 

Marching in France(8) Paradis (near Merville): An 8 mile march north from Bethune. [NB site of massacre of 97 British soldiers 27th May 1940].

(9) Rue Reiz Bailleul: a little road between the modern D 947 from Estaires to La Bassee  – & the D 945 to Bethune. A march of 4.5 miles from Paradis. Total March from Fouquieres, Bethune to Neuve Chapelle Trenches: 12 miles approx. 

NEXT POST: 11th Nov. 1915: QMS in Search of the Missing.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.