1/5TH SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY
29th April. DIVISIONAL TRAINING.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, No 3 FIELD AMBULANCE NORTH MIDLAND DIVISION: LETTER TO IDA NEAL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.
Friday April 29/ 16
Liza: ‘It’s Marster Bayzil’s Burthday on the furst of next month, what shall us give ‘im?’ Mary: ‘I can’t think of nothink. I know! let’s tell Marster Bertie Esquire to send ‘im a zeppelin an’ a n’elmit full o’ chocluts’. (1)
My Dear Sis-Ida,
Pronounce ‘it’ as Sis eee-eedah, but mind that, after emphasising the ‘I’ like the French do be aysy how you venture the ‘da(h)’. I should not like Mum to write & tell me, in her next long letter, that you are now suffering from a sprained jaw. You had enough I guess with that sprained ankle.
Honi soit qui mal y pense. (2)
Eliza: ‘Ow these women as dress hup loike Tommies, an soi ‘Sair’ win thoi parss each tother in th’stroit loike. ha! ha! ahem! hee! Mary Ann quietly: ‘An’ Liza, ’av ya seed ’em sal(yoo)te t(y)oa?’ (3)
Also, before you make any attempt at looking at my ridiculous sketches, just inform you intention of doing so (that is if you wish to laugh) to the Dominant Dodger of May Day – on whom I count considerable confidence for approval. I trust you will make him a nice cake, like the one you sent me for Simnel Sunday (3), as a means of enticing him to use a little more discretion about attesting.
We are having another lovely sunny day, this making the sixth since Easter Sunday and I go back from the ‘abode of love’- I mean ‘perfumes of medicine’ – to the Batt. where I hope to again be within the brotherly atmosphere of Sydney.
I have had Cliff Hackett* with me since Easter Monday who has made the would-be quiet time into one of jollytude. He also knows the Overends*. – Who says those comic figures (on the back of this page) are like the Overends? My word if I catch him bending! Cliff used to tease Vernon enough to make them have frequent ‘scraps’. Oh yes I have kept up correspondence with Vernon, – & Cliff wrote too on the other page of my last letter.
Now do you want to know more aboot me sen? Well if ya ’av eyes to see can’t ya perceive I’ve tried to keep happy & so I am and I’m ‘tres bien mercie’.
Love to you all, your very affec. Bertie.
PS. My next letter is to Mother. I wrote to Basil yesterday.
Pte Bertie Hibbett was happy and very grateful for his quiet time with No 3 Field Ambulance, his ‘abode of love’, but was now on his way back to the Battalion. He salutes the idea of women soldiers & once again he warns Basil about attesting on his 18th Birthday (i.e. before he was conscripted).
(1) Cartoon: ‘Liza, It’s Master Basil’s Birthday on the first of next month, what shall we get him?’ Mary: ‘I can’t think of anything. I know! Let’s tell Master Bertie Esquire to send him a zeppelin and a helmet full of chocolates.‘
(2) Honi soit qui mal y pense: literal translation of Old French: ‘Shame be to him who thinks evil of it‘- in this case of Women Soldiers. Origin: Edward III Battle of Crecy 1346 (Order of his Garter).
(3) Simnel Cake: fruit & marzipan cake taken by daughters home to their Mothers on Mothering Sunday (middle of Lent) & kept until Easter. Pre-17th cent. tradition for ‘daughter Churches’ to worship at the ‘Mother Church’. (From Latin ‘simila‘, ‘fine wheaten flour’).
(4) Eliza – ‘How these women dress up like Tommies, and say ‘Sir‘ when they pass each other in the street. ha! ha! ahem hee! Mary Ann quietly – ‘And Liza, Have you seen them salute you?
NEXT POST: 1st May 1916.