JANUARY 1916:1/5TH SOUTH STAFFORDS’ ACCIDENT ON EMBARKATION TO EGYPT.

South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

MARSEILLES.

1st Jan. Battalion Training.

2nd Jan.  Embarked on H.M.S. MAGNIFICENT. CASUALTIES: 7949 Pte W. Dandy accidentally injured. 9955 Pte J. Steen; 9122  L/ Cpl E. Pitcock; 8779 Pte S. Pitt; 6876 Sgt A. Stace; 8758 L/ Cpl G. Gibbs, accidentally injured, but able to embark.  See Appendix II.

APPENDIX II:  Details of ACCIDENT on EMBARKATION of 1/5th Bn South Staffordshire Regt. at Marseilles on 2nd January, 1916.

HMS Magnificent.300px-HMS_Magnificent_1899_IWM_Q_039473
HMS Magnificent. <www.en.wikipedia.org>

The Battalion embarked on H.M.S. ‘Magnificent’ at Marseilles, on the 2nd January 1916, being taken to the ship by tug and lighter.

While the lighter was taking her first load at the quay side, at about 9.0 am, a slight accident occurred.  Some 150 men and several machine guns and other stores were aboard, when the girder supporting the hatches gave way, with the result that about 50 men, the Machine Guns and the bulk of the baggage were precipitated to the bottom of the lighter, a fall of 10 feet.

The men were in full pack and carrying rifles, and were thus handicapped in saving themselves.

Many complained of Bruises, Slight Cuts and Shock, but the only serious Casualties were:– 1 man with broken leg. (Sent to Hospital). 5 men injured about the head. (Proceeded on the voyage and were medically treated on board and returned to duty at the port of disembarkation).  

SignedJ. LAMOND. Capt. & Adjt. 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt.

2nd / 8th Jan: Voyage to Egypt. ALEXANDRIA.

Alexandria 191513216868024_50e4965f43_b
Alexandria. 1915: RMS Troop Ship Alaunia B.7. (Pte Bertie Hibbett slept for one night on her sister ship RMS Andania at Marseilles, Jan 1916). <www.thekivellfamily.co.nz> 

9th Jan: Disembarked and entrained for SHALLUFA.

WH1-WellP006a10th Jan: detrained and took over No.5. POST No. 1. SECTION CANAL DISTRICT. 11/ 16th Jan: In Garrison at No. 5. POST.

17th Jan:  handed over No. 5. POST to 1st Batt. Monmouthshire Regiment and encamped at the POST. 18/ 29th Jan:  Battalion Training.

30th Jan:  Entrained for ALEXANDRIA. CASUALTY: Pte A. White accidentally knocked off the train while in  motion, by a piece of timber projecting from a passing goods train.  He proceeded with train and was sent to Hospital at ALEXANDRIA.

SIDI BISHR CAMP.

Sidi Bishr kolib0199-01-050
Sidi Bishr Camp, Alexandria, Egypt, 1916. <kingsownmuseum.plus.com>

31st Jan: Encamped at SIDI BISHR CAMP. Battalion Training. TOTAL CASUALTIES JAN. 1916.  2 accidentally injured sent to Hospital; 5 accidentally injured remained at duty.

Signed: Major Cmdg 1/5th Battalion South Staffordshire Regt.

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Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings. 16th Jan – 31st Jan 1916.                                    ‘At Isberque on coming out of Hospital. Joined Transport, from thence we entrained to Marseilles, Borelli Camp, where we had easy time. I went and had photo taken & passes to town. Embarked on ship Andania (one night only). Good grub in dining rooms & hammocks to sleep in. Did not budge an inch. Came off ship the next day. Up the Line again after a fortnight.’

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

The British Army had decided to concentrate its efforts on the Western Front after the disastrous Campaign in Galipolli. That the 1/5th South Staffords were ordered to leave Egypt after only one month indicates that the Suez Canal was considered to be under less threat from the German Ottoman Army than it had been at the Battle of Suez Canal: 26th Jan – 4th Feb.1915.

Photo Link: Suez Canal  District <www.nzetc.victoria.ac.nz>.

NEW PAGE:  My Memories of First World War & Battle of the Somme. The Revd A.H. Hibbett. 1967.

NEXT POST: 7th FEB. 1916. 

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10TH JAN. 1916: DERBY’S WOUNDED FLYING COLUMN: HOBBLERS, STAGGERERS, DOT & CARRY-ONERS’

Centre: Sgt S. HIBBETT when training as a Sergeant.
SYDNEY HIBBETT. 21 yrs 1916.

Serjeant SYDNEY HIBBETT, 8830 (A Coy) B.E.F. 5th S. Staffords London Rd Congreg. Sch. Derby (1): LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

Sunday (most likely 10th Jan. 1916)

My Very Dear Mother & Father,

I received Dodger’s card and Mrs Penning’s* letter on Friday.  I shall not write to her yet.  There is not much news this time, except that I visited our native town of Nottingham yesterday (Sat).  I made up my mind at the last minute so to speak.  We were finished parade at 11.30 yesterday morning so I went down the town & had a look at the trainsThen I thought that as I should have nothing to do till bed time I would try NottinghamI came back & polished up & by that time it was late so I jumped for the tram outside to the Station, just got into the 12.45 in time.

We went via Trent Junction & it was a fast train so I got out at Midland Sta. at 1.20 pm.  I had a bit of lunch & a shave & then started out to find Miss Foster’s* houseAnother tram ride & I found it (2).  She was at home & delighted to see me.  After I had told her about Bertie & you all at home, we got on another tram which runs from Radford & Lenton to Nott. Rd.  We had a good view of the town & the Forest & went up Sherwood Rise & got out at Lantry Grove! (sic)

Langtry Pub Nottingham.
Langtry Pub, Nottingham.
gritstone setts paving expert.comgauging_durham
Gritstone setts.

Well I didn’t recognise any of it, but we saw 95 (3) and walked round the back, but saw no big apple tree either.  Lantry Grove is paved with setts now.  Do the Giffords live any-where about there? 

Market Square Nottingham. 1914.
Market Square, Nottingham. 1914.

We walked back down the Rise and up Mapperley Rd & got on the car in Woodborough Rd.  We came down that big hill & saw our other house & also Miss Foster’s*.  Then we had a look round the Market & then went in the car to Trent Bridge.

Trent Bridge.
Trent Bridge. 1871.

We had tea at Miss Foster’s house or rather rooms.  After a good tea she took me to the Empire where there was a very good pantomime ‘King Cole’.  It was very pretty & also very funny.  Then we walked round the foot of the Castle to the Station

Nottingham Castle in 16th Cent. T.C.Hine 1813-1891.
Nottingham Castle in 16th Cent. T.C. Hine 1813-1891.  <www.flickr.com>

& I went back on the 9.25Altogether it was a very enjoyable day and I was delighted with Nottingham.  It was very crowded too.

Holy Trinity Church, Lenton Nottingham. 1842.
Holy Trinity Church, Lenton Nottingham. 1842.

We also saw Holy Trinity Church (4) where Dad used to play the organ. The fare to Nott. is only 2/- return from here.

Derby Midland Railway Station. 1915
Derby Midland Railway Station. 1915.

Other evenings we are free after 5 pm, so I sometimes go to the Station & watch the locomotives on the Works near the station. 

Normanton Picture House.
Normanton Picture House. 1913 -1959.

I have been to two diff. picture houses this week, one at Normanton about 2 miles away. There is one called ‘The Cosy Picture House’ in London Rd & its name suits it.  I felt rather awful the first night I was here.

There are no Parks here but a very small Arboretum, and most of the people appear to work at the M.R. loco & carriage works (5). There are thousands of men there.  There are a lot of very good shops indeed and a church or chapel at every corner.  The tram service is also very good & frequent, but they do not run on Sundays.  Usually we go on them to anywhere.

There are 180 wounded soldiers here from 1/5th & we are billeted & kept apart from the 3/5th – which is a very motley crowd kids & old soldiers mostly. They are very jealous of us. We have no band but we can march much better than they.

The Fast Party are those who can walk at the ordinary rate & carry a pack but no rifle.  They go & do drills in the ordinary way.  The 2nd party, nicknamed the Irish Guards can walk all right but not fast or far.  I am with those.  We go a march about 6 or 7 miles round Alvaston, Allerton & Normanton.  It is a very nice walk.  We just wear the usual uniform & overcoats.

The 3rd party are the hobblers, the limpers, staggerers, dot & carry oners, as the people know them.  They go hobbling along on sticks at 1/2 mile an hour & do about 2 miles.  They are known as the Flying Column!  In the afternoon the 3 parties go out again 2-4 pm.

St Mary's Church, Chaddesdon, Derby
St Mary’s Church, Chaddesdon, Derby. 14th Cent.

We went to St Mary’s Church this morning and tonight I shall go to Elvaston ChurchI & another Sergeant walked round to Nott. Rd Sta., which I remember we used to pass going to Whitby.

St Bartholomew's Church Elvaston Derby.
St Bartholomew’s Church, Elvaston,  Derby. 13th Cent.

Miss Foster* asked how you all are at Home: I expect she will write to you.  Weather has been excellent so far.  I got Mother’s letter this morning.  I wish for some reasons I was with the 1/5th.  I expect Bertie will write when he gets to Alexandria (6).

I will close now thanking you for you letter, dear Mother, & with best love to you at home

from Sydney.

PS Hope you have sent the Confession Books (7) back to Evans*. 

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Serjeant Sydney Hibbett re-visits his birth place and makes his way by tram & on foot down roads familiar to me as a student at Nottingham in the 1960s. The old tram-lines (hazzardous when crossing Nottingham by bike) now support a fine modern tram service.

Nottingham Express Transit.
Nottingham Express Transit.
Midland general Omnibus. Upper Parliament Street.
Midland General Omnibus. Upper Parliament Street.

(1)London Rd Congregational School (closed before WW1) in 1916 a Soldiers’ Convalescent home/ billet?

(2Lenton SandsMiss Foster’s 1916 home.  (3) Bertie Hibbett’s birthplace was 95, Nottingham Rd on corner of Langtry Grove (B682). Sydney Hibbett was born a year earlier at ‘our other house’ 168, Robin Hood Chase, a long road running between Woodborough Rd & St Ann’s Well Rd

(4Lenton Parish Church of the Holy Trinity, Nottingham. 1840: Arthur Hibbett also played the organ at St Mary’s High Pavement.

St Mary's Church, Nottingham.
St Mary’s Church, Nottingham. 14th Cent.

(5) Midland Railway Loco & Carriage Works. 19th Cent.

(6) 1/5th Staffords arrived in Alexandria 9th Jan. 1916. (7) Confessions? Could be religious but more likely WW1 soldiers’ diaries?

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South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY 

2nd Jan 2  Embarked on H.M.S. MAGNIFICENT. CASUALTIES: 7949 Pte W. Dandy accidentally injured. 9955 Pte J. Steen; 9122 L/ Cpl E. Pitcock; 8779 Pte S. Pitt; 6876 Sgt A. Stace; 8758 L/ Cpl G. Gibbs, accidentally injured, but able to embark.

2nd – 8th Jan. Voyage to ALEXANDRIA, Egypt. 9th Jan Disembarked and entrained for SHALLUFA.

Alexandria 191513216868024_50e4965f43_b
British Troops & horses arrive in Alexandria, Egypt. 1915.  ‘ B.7’  indicates the troop ship is RMS Alaunia, 1913 (sister troop ship to RMS, Andania 1913 Pte Bertie Hibbett slept in one night).

NEXT POST: January 31st 19161/5th South Staffords War Diary: Embarkation Accident, Voyage to Alexandria for Suez Canal.

Pte Bertie Hibbett’s January 1916 Letters are missing. NEXT POST: 7th Feb. 1916.

New Page:My Memories of the First World War’ (with account of first day of Battle of Somme 1st July, 1916). The Revd A. H. Hibbett. 1967.

 

1st JAN.1916: NEW YEAR’S DAY: ‘ & SORROW & SIGHING SHALL FLEE AWAY’.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, Merville Casualty Clearing Station: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie, Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. (1)

‘They shall obtain joy & gladness & sorrow & sighing shall flee away’. Isaiah Chap 35. (2).

New Year’s Day 1916.  The Circumcision. (3)

I wonder if Sydney let the New Year In for you?  If what he told me in his letter of Dec 23 was true he ought to be with you now, & I hope you are all as happy as ’ole (sic). I think such a time would be a convenient opportunity for Harold & Miss Bore & Harold’s ‘Best Man’ to have thespree’ (4).

I can’t squeeze anymore to tell you, but I will conclude :– ‘Mrs Hibbett, do you take any pre-cau-shuns’ (said by someone in St George’s Parish). (5).

‘Patients are directed NOT to have their parcels & letters addressed to this Hospital’.  I am anxious about any more parcels getting lost & letters tooSo dear Mum I have been trying to keep you very busy reading my letters until I get somewhere, when you will be able to write to me.  

I am better now & expect to be moved to my Battalion in a day or so.  I can’t say whether the Batt. has moved yet (6).

Best love to all.

Bertie.

PS  I have read for today the 35 Chap. of Isaiah (2).  I wonder if by chance you have heard or read those comforting words lately or even today.  And I wonder who keeps up theBreakfast time Readings’.

I am just going to send a short letter with my Greetings to Mrs Jones*.  M. A. is she?

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South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

MARSEILLES (Santi Camp)

1st Jan: 1916. Battalion Training.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) This Letter was in the same envelope as that of New Year’s Eve.

Dead Sea Scoll 300px-Great_Isaiah_Scroll
Dead Sea Scroll: oldest copy of Book of Isaiah in existence. Discovered 1947. Of great interest to Biblical scholarship.

(2) Isaiah 35.10. 8th Cent B.C. Prophet Isaiah (740 -700 BC) considered in academic scholarship to be author of Isaiah 1-39.  Part of saying also found in Isaiah 51.11 (work of Deutero-Isaiah 6th Cent B.C. Prophet in captivity in Babylon author of Isaiah 40-55.

Circumcision. 280px-Menologion_of_Basil_047
Circumcision of Christ: Byzantine miniature in Menologian of Emperor Basil II. (c. AD 979-984).

(3) The Circumcision of Christ. Luke 2. 21. Celebrates the Naming of Jesus and Circumcision – ‘ after eight days’,  according to Jewish tradition .

(4) Harold’s wedding to Hilda Bore (delayed until 1917).  (5) Family joke? re fussy parishioner in St George’s Parish, Walsall.

(5) 1/5th South Staffords Battalion’s expected move to Eastern Front.

NEXT POST:  Sunday 10th Jan: Letter to Pte Bertie from Sydney Hibbett. 

NB. None of Pte Bertie Hibbett’s Letters Home from 2nd Jan 1916 – 6th February have survived. See current Welcome Page: December – January 1916 Letters & Monthly Summaries Page.

 

31ST DEC. 1915: NEW YEAR’S EVE. ‘WHEN COMES THE PROMISED TIME WHEN WAR SHALL BE NO MORE?’

Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT, Merville Casualty Clearing Station: Letter to Mother, Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd, Walsall. 

(in same envelope as Letter of New Year’s Day)

Dec 31st 1915

‘Thy Kingdom come O God Thy rule, O Christ begin, Break with thine iron rod The tyrannies of sin. When comes the promised time that War shall be no more’. (1)

My Very Dear Mother,

Merville monasteryIMG_2808
Merville Monastery Chapel roof? cf http://www.lizclutterbuck.com

In the little Chapel we held another evening service, the last in the old year, & thus were the hymns we sung, including the one 217 A & M (2) which have very appropriate verses & brought happy memories of Fern Leigh Bible Class (3), when Ida and I happened once to arrive LATE & had to wait outside ‘thatdoor to hear all the verses through.

Yes. ‘Where is thy reign of peace and purity and love? When shall all hatred cease, As in the realms above’. (1).

‘Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven’, many people & I think especially soldiers & soldier’s mothers, will pray slower with more meaning & deeper sense, Our Lord’s Prayer this New Year’s Eve.  ‘Thy Kingdom come’. 

Our Chaplain has preached , or rather given us little band of men who go to service each evening, some very simple yet inspiring addresses.  Last night he spoke some beautiful words about heaven being on earth.  ‘A new Heaven & a new Earth – and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes’. (4)

I send you a card which is one of many promised for us at Christmas (5) but they have arrived as late as this, yet I think them good enough & appropriate enough to send away now.  I send too, one for Ida & one for your ‘bed chamber’. We all followed the prayers said by the Chaplain for our dear ones at Home & said Amen.  Yes there is a great deal in an ‘Amen’.  So let it be O Lord (6).

NB Letter was continued & signed on New Year’s Day, 1st Jan. 1916.

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South Staffordshire Badgee

1/5th SOUTH STAFORDS WAR DIARY. 

Dec 31st.  Company & Battalion Training (for Eastern Front).

December 1915 CASUALTIES:- Killed 1. Wounded nil.   Signed:  R.R. RAYMER Lt Col. Cmdg 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) Thy Kingdom Come: Hymn. 1867. Words: Lewis Hensley. 1824-1905. Anglican priest & hymn writer. Tune: St Cecilia. Leighton G. Hayne 1836-1883. Anglican priest & organ builder. 

Monk search
William Henry Monk

(2) A & M. Hymns Ancient & Modern. Product of Victorian Oxford Movement. Approved by Church of England in 1861. Several editions. Editor William Henry Monk, 1823 -1889. (Organist & choirmaster, composer of hymns & anthems).

(3) Fern Leigh Bible Class, held by Kathleen M. Brookes, Sunday School Superintendent, St Paul’s Walsall. (4) Revelation 21.1.

(5) Christmas cards provided by Army charity for troops to send Home? (6Amen: a strong affirmation/ agreement: ‘Truly’ ‘So be it’: Aramaic/ Semitic dialect/ 1st cent. language spoken by Jesusleft untranslated in Greek, Latin & English translations of the Bible. 

NEXT POST: 1st Jan. 1916: New Year’s Day.

30TH DEC.1915: ‘TELL SYDNEY NOT TO SAY ANYTHING THAT WOULD CAUSE MUM TO BE WORRIED, ANXIOUS, PERTURBED, SICK AT HEART OR THE LIKE’.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, Merville Casualty Clearing Station: LETTER to BASIL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. (Censor J.E.  Fitzgerald* )

Dec 30/ 15

Basil Hibbett Age 18. 1916.
Basil Hibbett Age 18. 1916.

My Dear Basil,

So you will be having jolly old Sydney seeing you all again shortly – so I gathered from a ‘big surprise’ letter from the old boy the other night.  How jolly if he lets the New Year in eh? 

Letter censored by Army Chaplain J.E. Fitzgerald
Letter censored & signed by Army Chaplain, J.E. Fitzgerald*.

You see I can’t wait till New Year’s Eve. I must write now & fancy it will be none too early to let you have this important epistle, for very likely the ‘yeller boy(1) is with you now. 

Ha ha! I can see him cracking a joke with you & Ida in the firelight, much to Mum’s especial joy. I was extremely delighted on hearing he would be Home before the end of the month & I am only too anxious that his leave will not be cancelled or postponed.

Now Dodger this, what I am going to tell you, must not reach the eye (drawing of eye) see, compris & must not reach the ear (drawing of ear), do you hear? of Mum, or any other, but SydneyEye & Ear 30th Dec. 1915

Well then, don’t forget to re-member, to tell Sydney not to forget, but remember, not to say, by word of mouth or in any form whatsoever, that will cause Mum to be worried, anxious, perturbed, sick at heart or the like, of any before here mentioned, & tell Sydney not to say anything, with reference to my self that would cause Mum to be worried, anxious, perturbed, sick at heart, or the like of any before here mentioned.  Compris.  

Although I’ve joked somewhat about the matter, you will I trust see the imp-portance of it. Yes, ‘twould be rather impish of dear old Sydney if he did say anything not to my liking.  But of course I trust Sydney, but just put it to you, for he, being only human, might in his much conversation with you all round the dining table or fireside, relating perhaps the Charge of 13th October (2) & other incidents, get ‘War fever’ and trot out a word or two which would work wonders, & leave a lasting impression upon Mum & Dad & you all perhaps. 

Sydney might be much put out by this letter, as if I could not trust him, but just console him that it is only a double security in case of an exciting moment  of forgetfulness.

‘Just break the news to Mother’ (3) that  I look upon the present family affairs as Providential & I shall see you all in good time.  Also tell Ida (I wrote her on the night I got Sydney’s letter, Ida’s Birthday), that I dreamt of you all again last night.  I dreamt that instead of going on parade on foot we went on horseback & you, Basil, rode behind me.  I felt I could ride capitally & could feel the sores on my legs as I trotted on the hoss. Then the scene changed  & I was walking with Mother along a street, partly country & partly town. Mother kept changing into Mrs Evans* & then into Molly Evans*.  I also dreamt of Harold & Father & Sydney too.

Another himportant matter, which you can let the others know by all means, is that Patients are directed NOT to have their parcels & letters addressed to this place. I have been somewhat anxious that Mum in her motherly way would be sending me not only letters but parcels, which would again get mislaid. 

I shall, at least I do hope I shall, be out of Hospital before the New Year.  When I get settled I will let you know my address whether it is the Batt. or no.

Now don’t forget please.

I am your jolly old bhoy,

Bertie.

PS  Sydney ran a great risk but his letter was a pleasant & delightful surprise, as it seems such a long time since I heard from Home.  When you do write to me just refer to the dates & nature of letters so that I can tell if they have all reached Home.

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South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

Dec 27th  Arrived Marseilles (Santi Camp)

29th -30th  Company & Battalion Training (for Eastern Front).

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Pte Bertie was waiting to hear whether he must re-join his Battalion in Marseille, on its way to the Eastern Front or not.  His main wish was to protect his Mother from the horrors of War her sons were experiencing.

(1) ‘Yeller boyref. to Sydney’s jaundice. (2) Charge of 13th Oct. Battle of Loos-Hohenzollern Redoubt. (3) ‘Just break the news to Mother’ ref. to gramophone song. Letter: 24th Dec. 1915.

NEXT POST: 31st Dec. 1915. New Year’s Eve.

28TH DEC.1915: CHRISTMAS TRUCE: ‘I MUST HAVE NO HATRED OR BITTERNESS’.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, Merville Casualty Clearing Station: LETTER to IDA HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd, Walsall. (Censor 934  J.C. Fitzgerald) (1).

Cavell imgres (2)
EDITH CAVELL.

The Innocents’ Day (2) Dec 28/ 15

I must have no hatred or bitterness                                        towards anyone’. Miss E. Cavell. (3)

.Champion Ida Hibbett VAD Nurse.
IDA HIBBETT.

My Dear Sister Ida,

Dreams. Yes I’m on dreams again.  I hope you don’t think it is a sentimental, sloppy beginning to my letter to you on your birthday, but do dreams come true to a certain extent?  I think so.

I have had such a happy surprise tonight, which not only caused me to write to you after all today (I was thinking of waiting till New Year’s Eve for my vocabulary was exhausted) but itbroke my dreamof one night last week.  I was washing up in the kitchen of the Ward – ‘Hibbett’ – I scooted to the caller, thinking he wanted either to dress my foot or order me for something – ’What Regiment are you in?’  I told  him,  forthwith a chap by him handed me a letter – from England – from Sydney. I have never expected a letter or anything while I have been here & I was indeed bemoaning my disadvantage in this way only this afternoon, thinking when I should hear from Mum again & if Mum had been writing in vain to me while I am here. Of course I read the letter with deep interest & looked out to see if he had seen you all yet.

Now to explain matters on the subject of dreams, (I must ‘perforce’ enclose Sydney’s letter, otherwise I should not send you all of it, if not at all, for there is something in – which is personal) I can remember that ‘particular’ part of the dream quite plainly now.  You, Ida, were very cross with me for some reason & I ran away & after some time the dream changed & a nurse came to me & said something to the effect that Sydney was much better, or such news that I was overjoyed & all of you (Mum I could see) were also delightedThe scene in the dream then became faint & I cannot tell you anymore for fear I encroach upon untruths or a ‘make-up story’.

Now just compare my dream with Sydney’s letter. I did not tumble across it, that my dream was ‘broken’ until after, when my thoughts were about his letter & Sydney himself.  1st he said – ‘A few of us went for another walk – round the country lanes’. In my dream I was in the country & I ran up to a pump when a nurse & some other people (came), I believe Mother & Basil were among them, but the nurse with glasses & smiling face was most prominent for she was the bearer of the good news.  Before I go any further I must say that the weather in my dream was sunny & bright green fields fresh

Notice next that Sydney saisI am almost entirely recovered’. Perhaps the nurse in my dream said those very words, they were certainly to that effect, for Mum & Ida & all of you were so glad & I was in ecstasy.  ‘A nurse always goes with us & any sergeant with the party’  –  I saw a party in my dream & a nurse, but I did not see Sydney.  Sydney seemed to be somewhere else in my dream.  I felt, just as I feel now, with regard to where Sydney was in my dream – out of it.

The climax or the points that broke my dream was Sydney mentioning I am almost entirely recovered’ & ‘a nurse goes with us and a party’.

Have you ever read that striking article in the London Magazine about the Transmission of the Mind (4)?  Am I superstitious, I hope you don’t think I am, but I believe, to a certain extent, through thinking about other people, especially those dear to you (we speak of one dear & near to another) one’s thoughts carry themselves into their dreams.  It is all to do with the mind.  And then again I say I don’t believe in superstition and I often ignore all such tomfoolery & go slap bang into a supposed superstition – say if it is walking under a ladder or crossing knives – I absolutely ignore it, & when I do that, I find nothing whatever happens afterwards, as would be foretold by a superstitious believer. 

I say, if I don’t believe in superstition, the case must be one in which Providence was with me.

I believe in Angels, & I much admired what Mum has said in her letters to me referring to angels. I believe that an angel was with me whenever I dreamt of you all at Home.  Now believing in angels is not superstitious.  ‘I believe in the Communion of Saints’ (5) we say, well then, those relatives & friends we loved while on earth, are they not communicating with us?  – & trying to keep us happy & acting as God’s Messengers?

Although Sydney ran a great risk of having his letter mislaid, it has wrought a happy result & broke my spell of melancholia , which I had slightly this afternoon, owing to the reaction  –  it is so quiet here sometimes & strangers about I  looked at your photo of you sitting on a camp chair with a book on your lap outside the Study window & tried to think of all your good advice.

I trust you have had a Happy Birthday. I went to Holy Communion this morning & a lot of RAMC patients were there consideringWe went to pray for the wounded that came in on Monday evening.  I asked one of the casualties what sort of time he had on Christmas day in the trenches & he said ‘we had nothing, but we went over the top to shake hands with the enemy’a fact confirmed by the Chaplain when he came round with the cigs that night.  The British were the first to go over & the 1st to resume fighting.  The enemy also came over to play their band. Do you blame our side?  I don’t,  so far as shaking hands goes, for what does the Collect for St Stephen’s Day say? (6).

Well I dare say you will get this letter early enough to wish you all again a Very Happy New Year.  I shall see you all in God’s good time. 

I sincerely hope Sydney will have his 7 -10 days sick leave.  Hurrah & I hope he will have another good time, and let every day, as it comes & goes, be blessed, & then Hurrah he might be in England for such length of time as to have leave & see you again & again.

Am I superstitious? Really, you don’t say so, – never mind.

I am always your loving brother,

Bertie.

PS  Patients are directed NOT to have their parcels & letters addressed to them at this Hospital, so I advise you not to take the risk Sydney did. Wait till I get back to the Batt.

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South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

MARSEILLES (SANTI CAMP).

28th Dec. Company & Battalion Training continued (in preparation for Eastern Front).

TOTAL CASUALTIES for DECEMBER 1915: KILLED: 1; WOUNDED: nil.

Signed: R.R. RAYMER Lt  Col. Cmdg 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB.

This Letter is interesting in the evidence it gives of a Christmas Truce in 1915 (as well as Christmas 1914) when the enemy came over to ‘shake hands’ and ‘to play their band’. 

In the loneliness of Christmas 1915, Pte Bertie Hibbett’s belief in Providence, the presence of angels, protection of saints and answers to prayers, and the comfort he receives from dreams and coincidences, is clearly becoming stronger. It was a search for meaning in the face of death that he appears to have shared with many soldiers in WW1. 

(1) CensorJ.C.Fitzgerald*. Army Chaplain. Pte Bertie met him again when training for the Anglican Ministry at Lichfield Theological College, 1918+. (2) The Innocents’ Day: commemoration of Massacre of Male Infants by Herod the Great. Mtt. 2.16. cf Letter 24th Dec. 1915.

£2 Coinimages
WW1 Centenary £2 Coin.

(3) Edith Cavell : British nurse during First World War/ saved lives of soldiers from both sides/ arrested for helping 200 allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium/ court-martialled, found guilty of treason and sentenced to death/shot by firing squad, 12th Oct. 1915. Worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage. Notes from Edith Cavell Trust website. See also Page: Christmas Truce 1915.

E Cavell bbcimages
Edith Cavell: Raymond Lind. Norwich Castle Museum.

Full Quotation reads: I have no fear nor shrinking. I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me. This I would say, standing as I do in view of God and eternity I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

Cavell Monument. Brussels.
Cavell Monument with angel. Brussels.

(4) ‘Transmission of the Mind’. Not easy (without sight of article) to understand what my father meant. In Zen Buddhism the term refers to a ‘flash of insight’/intuitive rather than rational. Here however he seems to be talking more about telepathy and transference of thought from one person to another through dreams. cf Note on The London Magazine. Letter 26th Aug. 1915.

Nurse Cavell with multinational student nurses in Brussels. WW1.
Nurse Cavell centre, with multinational student nurses in Brussels. WW1.

(5) ‘Communion of Saints: Apostles’ Creed. Evening Prayer. Book of Common Prayer. 1662. 

 (6) Collect St Stephen’s Day: ‘to love and bless our persecutorsBook of Common Prayer 1662. Letter 26th Dec 1915.

NEXT POST:  30th Dec. 1915.

 

26TH DEC.1915: CHRISTMAS CONCERT ‘KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING’.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, Merville Casualty Clearing Station: LETTER  to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

.Champion Ida Hibbett VAD Nurse.
.

 ‘Yesterday with exultation Joined the world in celebration Of her promised Saviour’s birth’. (1)

Having no calendar I conclude from the above words that today is – – – – –  –  

St Stephen’s Day, Sunday 26/ 15.

St Stephen: Carlo Crivelli.
St Stephen: Carlo Crivelli. Italian 1435-1495.

‘Being filled with the Holy Ghost, may learn to love & bless our persecutors by the example of Thy first Martyr, Saint Stephen, who prayed for his murderers.’  (2).

My Very Dear Sister,

How grateful I ought to be that I have had such an enjoyable & happy Christmas Day, to think of those who are worse off than I was,  I am speaking of those in the trenches Yes, I believe, at least some of them were quite as happy as we were, and we were as happy as those at Home, for inspite of all the delicacies of the Christmas Menu at Home, you know ye olde proverb goes, as Mum often told me when I was greedy or sullen:- What the eye never sees the Heart never grieves. ComprisAnd so we were Happy & for many reasons too, one being:-

Oceano divisi Eclesiastia conjuncti (sic) (3).  Compris?  No – well ask me pater and you will be happy on hearing his interpretation thereofResults of the above solution of the aforesaid to be sent to me when I am in that station of life to be writable to by persons.

The PICKWICK CLUB of 1905.
The PICKWICK CLUB of 1905.

Well the concert was fine and its Homely handmade get up reminded me of you & The Ghost, – that Pickwick Club affair (4).   You know how men shape when there’s such a thing as decorations to be done, – why, me dear, they who decorated the Concert Hall made as good an effort as any feminine worker.

– – – We all stood up as the orficers (sic) came in & sat themselves down in the front seats, basket chairs, and the orficers all stood up as the nurses came in at the stage entrance. They looked so Christmassy in their red & grey uniforms. Then the concert began.  The stage was admired by the audience & ‘oo oo’ said we as we saw the successful scene – a room with a table on one side with a red cloth & shaded lamp, two basket chairs, a piano & modern water colour prints of the American style of girl  hanging on the wall.  The Programme was topping & nearly every item encored, & nearly every class of person in the Hospital, except patients gave a turn.  A nurse was greatly clapped as she appeared on the stage to sing us a song, a good song too it was, & well sung too.  She sang the epilogue and then all of us men joined in the chorus:-

Keep the Home fires burning While our Hearts are yearning. Though the lads are far away They dream of Home. There’s a silver lining Through the dark cloud shining.Turn the dark cloud inside out& show the lining (5).

And then we all clapped & clapped & clapped & stampedshouted ‘Encore, Encore, Hurray’.

Alas alack I am undone, this is my last sheet of paper.  Verily, indeed, whateffer, I have indeed devoured all those sheets of paper that have been sent me.  And I hope they have found & warmed up the hearts of those I’ve sent them to

Well the Programme was varied, just as we liked, comic songs there were, & there were sentimental ones, & there were sketches, original too. The Last one ending in a Tableau was absolutely ripping, topping. Hurrah.  It was a grand homely affair.  Some show not ’arf – ‘and so the poor man died and she – married the barber!’

You like the pictures do you?  I know you do.  But the disadvantage of them is there is no frame for them.  A present of a picture alone invites the recipient to buy a frame, rather insinuating ain’t it?  Well if you like the picture, Mum & I give you the one I sent Mum.  I did not know who to send it to.  I thought of Mrs Penning, but I must confess, at the time of sending it off I forgot you.  The Chaplain of the C. of E. gave me a Souvenir as he called it,  a little cross .  I cannot find any other gift I can send you.  I make it my resolution that if I can possibly send anything in the way of a gift I will do so. 

Chi Rho Sign.
Chi Rho /1st two letters of ‘Christ’ in Greek.

The cross will serve as a bookmark for your Bible. The Latin inscribed on it means ‘By this sign you will gain the Victory’.(6)

Constantine. AD 272-337
Emperor Constantine. AD 272-337.

Hoping you have all had a very Blessed & Joyous Christmas Day & you have felt the reward of your good & preserving effort in munitions.

Wishing you a Bright & Prosperous & Peaceful New Year.

Your loving brother,  Bertie.

PS NB  Tell me if Mum & Dad visited Sydney. Yes they dream  of Home & we do more than that – if I am not encroaching upon self- commendation I have dreamt of you all  – how queer ain’t it?

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South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

25th/26th Dec. Entrained for Marseilles and arrived on 27th (en route for the Eastern Front).

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Thomas_Cranmer_by_Gerlach_Flicke
Thomas Cranmer. Gerlach Flicke: 1545-1558. German.
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) ‘Yesterday in exultation’ (Heri mundus exultavit)Hymn to St Stephen, first Christian Martyr (stoned c. AD 34). One of The Seven/ Deacons appointed to supervise fair distribution of welfare to the poor/ widows in the Church. cf. Acts 6.  TextAdam of S. Victor (d. AD 1192). Translation, John Mason Neale 1818-1866. (Hymns of the Eastern Church). Music: Walter Cecil Macfarren 1826 -1905.

(2) Collect for St Stephen’s Day. Thomas Cranmer. Book of Common Prayer. 1662.  (3) ‘Oceano divisi … ‘. ‘Though the ocean divides us the Church unites us’ cf. Christmas Day 1915 Letter: Though the oceans & lands divide us we think of each other at the Holy Eucharist‘. 

 (4)The Pickwick Club. Childhood Club for adventures/ literary observations. Formed 1905. Ida Hibbett editor. cf Hibbett Letters: 23rd April 1915; 7th Sept. 1915; 13th Sept. 1915.

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Ivor Novello.

(5)’Keep the Home Fires Burning‘/‘Till the Boys come Home’. 1914.  Music: Ivor Novello. 1893-1951. Welsh Composer. Text Lena Ford.

220px-Eusebius_of_Caesarea
Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, Syria.

(6) By this sign you will gain the victory. Latin  ‘In hoc signo vinces’. Constantine the Great  AD 272-337 (first Christian Emperor) saw the Chi Rho sign in the sky before the Battle of Maxentius, AD 312 and heard these words. In Edict of Nantes AD 313  Constantine proclaimed religious freedom throughout the Roman Empire: ‘With free minds all are to worship their Gods’ . (Source: Eusebius c. AD 260 -340 (Bishop of Caesarea/ Early Christian Father & Historian).

NEXT POST:  28th Dec: 1915. ‘The Innocents’ Day’.