BRIGADE RESERVE : LORETTO ROAD
22nd Nov. Mon: V. Quiet day. Enemy shrapnelled Communication Trenches. Relieved by 4th Batt. KINGS LIVERPOOL Regt from LIVERPOOL STREET to CHURCH ROAD. 1/5th Bat NORTH STAFFORDSHIRE Regt took over trench NORTH of CHURCH ROAD. 1/6th Batt. SOUTH STAFFORDSHIRE Regt took over trench SOUTH of LIVERPOOL STREET.
23rd Nov. Tue: LORETTO ROAD. In Brigade Reserve in ‘C’ SUBSECTOR Rest Houses.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.
Tuesday Night. November 23/ 15
A Merry Party of Tommies.
My Dearest Mum, Dad & all,
What really ripping parcels you have sent lately, and the best of it – they have really come at a very happy & convenient time. The one & the only one which was brought into the trenches that day. Indeed the towel came also very timely to cleanse my very dirty black fuzzy wig & the toffee too came at an acceptable time, a rough time, a cold time, a time when my tummy felt cold & frozen, a nightly time.
And oh the handsome Zebra Polish tin, – so neatly packed with rich, delightful, delicious, appetising confectionery – came at a most welcome time & a jolly time.
We came out of the trenches yesterday & after a long tedious march through the long. . . (censored). . . with our packs & overcoats on as usual, we settled down for the night in this barn where I am writing – or trying to write a letter of thanks, expressing my heart’s love to you for such good, homely comforts.
Round the barn are seated Tommies & in the centre is a blazing warm coke fire. Such a comfy sight. A sight which has set our hearts aglow and which had made us feel like having a sing song of some sort. At length the Corporal proposed a little concert. After much persuasion I volunteered to give them one. I only wished ’’The Highwayman’ (1) had come timely too, at any rate the recitation I gave these men was fresh to them. Oh how they clapped & how their attention was drawn, they listened with keen interest & all was quiet.
Mum, the Pork pie came ‘at the right’ as Dad puts it. The Parcel came by the second post when we were all laid down to sleep, but with the help of the candles, thanks so much for them, I laid the parcel out. Vernon, I am glad to say, got with me for the night & we enjoyed a slice of pork pie each. Everything in the parcel came in nicely, something suitable for each meal of the day; the pork pie & a hot drink of coffee with the milk you sent for dinner, those tasty crisp flat cakes for a sweet after breakfast, the wholesome fancy bread loaf & butter for tea, the apples, one each eaten on waking up this morning.
I could only find Vernon’s nose to rub the cold little apple on, he had huddled himself in the blanket overcoat & had his sleeping helmet on, his head was buried in his clothing.
The thick lovely chocolate came nicely between meals & a lump helped to stay Vernon’s cough. Vernon, poor chap, has lost his voice again & has a cold the same one he had at Saffron Walden (2); don’t say anything to his people, he would be huffy with I – oh my!
Mum, it was a homely tea. I toasted the two slices of the lovely loaf & spread some of the lovely home butter on & then, Mum, I had that which you love, Damson Jam on TOP of the jolly lot. Then I had some of the simply superb Genoa nut cake. Vernon said it was very nice & the bread too. But, poor boy, he could not enjoy a second or rather as much pie as I offered him. It was fine & he did enjoy it all the more.
Don’t be, I hope you aren’t, anxious about your long & many letters – you have so laid your spare time, yes & even taken some of your time for attending to domestic affairs. How my heart leaps in gratitude to you when you talk of being busy in making things for Xmas time.
Just had a most jolly letter from Sydney, he told me not to send it Home it was so childish.
9.0 pm. The conclusion of this letter has been delayed through fatigue duties & V & I have been transferred from comfy billets to next door where there is no fire.
Well Ta Ta. Goodnight pip, pip. I pray you will have a good night’s sleep, although you might get this in a morning.
Best love to all, will write to Dodger soon & send a Boomerang to Champion in reply to her champion epistles.
What oh! Jolly old Flo.
PS Nil. Napou. Finis. Oosh Cha. (3)
I will gollop down the last piece of bread & butter with cake between – and Verney will share in & we are both settling down to sleep the night through.
Pte Bertie’s jolly rhymes & school-boy jargon reflects his happy mood at the success of his Concert party-piece, despite the move from ‘comfy billets‘ & ‘blazing coke fire‘ – on which he had no doubt made his toast.
(1) The Highwayman. Alfred Noyes: 1880-1958. cf Letter: 5th Nov. 1915. (2) Saffron Walden, Essex. Training. Letters: Dec. 1914 Jan 1915.
(3) Nil (Latin ‘nothing more‘); Finis (Latin ‘the end’); Napou: soldier French for ‘finis‘; Oosh cha: a tea-time cheer?/ from Hindi cha/tea? Ta Ta/ Pip Pip are cheery farewells; but what is ‘Jolly old Flo’?
NEXT POST: 27th Nov. 1915.