Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, Merville Casualty Clearing Station: LETTER to BASIL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. (Censor J.E. Fitzgerald* )
Dec 30/ 15
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?
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 Sydney.
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,
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.
1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.
Dec 27th Arrived Marseilles (Santi Camp)
29th -30th Company & Battalion Training (for Eastern Front).
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 boy‘ ref. 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.