Bertie in UniformAUTOGRAPH ALBUM of Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle Red, Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

.Champion Ida Hibbett VAD Nurse.

VISIT of his sister Ida Neal Hibbett on 30th July 1916 & his Godmother Mary Foster on 15th & 30th -1st Aug. 1916.

Autograph Album To My Sister: ‘She Loved me for the dangers I had passed’. Othello. Shakespeare. Ida’s Visit to the Cenacle Hospital. Thurs. July 30th 1916.

To My Godmother: ‘I would flood your path with sunshine, I would fence you from all ill, I would crown you with all blessings if I could but  have my will. Aye but human love may err, dear, and a power all-wise is near, I only pray God bless you  and God keep you through the year’ (1). July 15th & 30th – Aug.1st 1916.

1916 The Cenacle Front
The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire: Main Entrance sketched from grounds. Pte A.H.Hibbett. 1916 -1917.


The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, new Brigton. Birkenhead.
The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton. Cheshire. Pte Bertie Hibbett standing  3rd from right, with arm in sling.
Pte Bertie Hibbett; Beck; C. Bostock Byrd; Cpl. H.Turnbull;   ?
Coldstream Guards:
Coldstream Guards: C.Bostock Byrd, 2nd Bn Coldstream Guards.( Muratti’s Au Bon Fumeur); H. Turnbull Cpl RE. (Gold Flake. W.D.& H.O.Wills).
SCOTTISH REGIMENTS. J. Beck 1/10th Liverpool Scottish.  (Capstan Medium W.D. & H.O.Wills). ‘J. Beck underwent about 10 operations’. A.H. Hibbett Autograph Album. 1916.


The Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett.

My Memories: A friend gave me an autograph book in which I collected autos of the patients, written on cigarettes, which I cut in half and pasted on the pages.  I spent my time doing drawings and sketches with my left hand. The Revd Arthur H. Hibbett 1967.



The Cenacle belonged to a Roman Catholic Presbytery and was the Home of Nuns before it was lent to the Red Cross as a Hospital for wounded soldiers. My father kept up with several of his fellow patients & especially the Matron for some years after the War.

(1) Poem:I would flood your path with sunshine, I would fence you from all ill; I would crown you with all blessings if I could but have my will. Aye! but human love may err, dear, & a power all wise is near. I will pray God bless you, and God keep you through the year.’ (Unable to trace poet but poem known before 1909).

‘I would flood your path with sunshine’. Post Card. <http://www.delcamp.net&gt;

NEXT POST: 4th Aug. 1916. The Cenacle Red  Cross Hospital Nurses & Patients.


Market High Street, Walsall
The Parish Church of St Matthew & Market High Street, Walsall. PC1914.

The Revd E. MORE DARLING, former Vicar of St Matthew’s Parish Church, Walsall: LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

Streetly. Saturday.

My Dear Old  Chap,

Mr Cozens (1)* was in last evening and from him I heard, what you had not told me, that you were wounded in the hand. I know how painful and awkward that can be – Major Caddick* had a somewhat similar wound – but I hope that by now you are beginning to go on in the right way.  It’s a slow job old Chap so don’t be dis-heartened – not that I think you will, but it’s not easy not to be. 

Sutton Park: Keeper's Pool.
Sutton Park: Keeper’s Pool.

Let me know as soon as you are likely to be over as I should like to have you here for a long day to show you all the beauties of the Park (2). 

You will be very interested in my baby, who is getting on splendidly. The Allied Flag you sent him is being preserved for him until he is bigger. His one idea now is to tear things and bang them about.

KRRC badgeimgres
Kings Royal Rifles..

Did you know Joe Dyall* was wounded? He’s in a hospital in Manchester – I’ve just written to him.  He was in the K.R.R.’s you know (3). The son of one of my very best Churchmen is an officer in the same regimenthe’s just been severely wounded, how severely we don’t know yet, but I’m afraid it’s rather bad.

Did I tell you we’ve been having open-air services here?  We’ve had five and they’ve been very helpful. Everyone has been awfully good in turning out with us. Now hurry up and get better and remember I’ve booked you for a full day here. I’d like it to be a Sunday, but mustn’t ask your Mother and Father to spare you for that as Sunday is the day to be at Home.

My wife wishes to be remembered to you and the baby sends a kiss.

Always your friend,

E. More Darling.



The Revd E. More Darling remained a friend to Bertie Hibbett for the rest of his life. He had left Walsall in March 1916 for a living 5 miles away at Streetly (named after the Roman RoadIcknield Street’, traces of which may be seen in Sutton Park close by). It was to be quite some time before my father was allowed to go Home.

All Saints Streetly Staffordshire.
All Saints Streetly, Staffordshire.

Open Air Church Services became popular during WW1; Christians of all denominations were able to join together on an equal footing.

(1) Mr Cozens*: Henry Cozens, leading churchman at St Paul’s Walsall, father of Capt.Tim Cozens Killed in Action Battle of Loos 1915?  Hibbett Letters: 13th Sept, 1915; 15th Oct .1915; 24th Oct. 1915.

(2) Sutton Park: 7th largest Urban Park in Europe, 6 miles north of Birmingham – now a National Nature Reserve & Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Landscape of open heathland, woodland, wetlands, marshes & lakes. Mentioned several times in Hibbett Letters: e.g.10th Nov. 1915; 16th July 1915; 21st May 1916. WW1 Convalescent Camps erected in the Park. See <http://www.scnhsc.org.lakes&gt;

(3) K.R.R.: Kings Royal Rifles Corps formed 1755-56 in North America from 62nd & 60th American Regt. Sir Edward James Montague Stuart- Wortley, 1857 -1934, belonged K.R.R.C before Commanding 46th Midland Division in WW1 (Battle of Loos & Battle of Somme).

NEXT POST: 30th July. Autograph Album: ‘She loved me for the dangers I had passed’.


54 on 13th July, 1916.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, at the Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, in July 1916, received an Autograph Album with the message:

‘Wishing you very many Happy Returns of your Birthday from your Chums’.  Mother. (My father has added ‘Enoch, Vernon Evans‘) (1) .

Disease – G.S.W. (Gun Shot Wound) Right forearm. Fractured Radius.   Able to eat? Yes, (and plenty of English food). Able to Walk? Yes, I should think so & dance for joy too.

On 13th July his Mother visited Bertie at the Cenacle and with his left hand he drew  her a special page with the Stafford Knot, Union Jacks, a Lily of the Valley and a Rose, her favourite flowers.

‘At the time I drew this Mother was sitting by the side of my bed’.

To Mother

To my Mother on her Birthday. July 13th 1916: ‘May every morning seem to say: “There’s something happy on the way, And God sends love to you” H.V.D. from her ever affectionate Son, Bertie, who celebrated his 21st Birthday yesterday.’  The box left reads: ‘This Quotation and the Following are written by Me leaving Spaces for each Corresponding Autograph. Arthur Hubert Hibbett. 



Pte Bertie Hibbett’s best pal Vernon Evans, still serving in the Army, had obviously asked Bertie’s Mother to  take him a present. It was an inspired present for three weeks after he was wounded my father had taught his left hand to write & draw well again. The Album was a present that he took pleasure in for the rest of his life.

During the time he was in Hospital my father began to collect signatures of his fellow patients, written on their carefully pressed & pasted cigarette papers. 

Cigarettes papers & signatures.
Troops Autos and their Cigs. The Queen’s Westminsters. Wounded soldiers’ Cigarette Papers & Signatures. The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire. July 1916.

The signatures above belong to soldiers of the Queen’s Westminster Regiment, Ward 6, The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, July 1916. The Badge records the Regiment’s service in South Africa,1906 -1909. County of London. Queen’s Westminsters. Clockwise from top right: Rifleman A.F. Bays (Wills & Co Ltd New Bond Street. Turkish Fine); Rifleman G. Hughes (De Reszke as supplied) & Rifleman W.S. Markwell N.S.


I can imagine that first visit of Pte Bertie’s parents and the stories he told them of his journey home. These memories were still strong in 1967, no doubt re-enforced by frequent reference over the years to his 21st Birthday Autograph Album.

Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett 1965My Memories of the First World War. 1967. 

As ‘sorrowful yet alway rejoicing!’(2)how we rejoiced to see Southamptonand from the railway carriages, what a sight it was to see all the men, women and children – all waving Union Jacks from their back gardens for miles along the line to Birmingham.

When we neared our home town of Walsall we Staffordshire boys thought we would be detrained at Birmingham station, but no, we remained in locked carriages and a rope, stretching all along the platform, kept people awayNevertheless people threw packets of fags and boxes of chocolates, and other articles of food, towards those soldiers who could get to the windows.

We eventually arrived at Birkenhead, where lots of private cars were waiting to take us to the different hospitals I was taken in a car with another soldier who was also wounded in his right wrist. I heard later that the poor man died. And so I was left. 

It made me think, and ask why my brother was left on the field of Battle, reported wounded and missing, and why my companion in the car, with similar wound as me, had died while I lived on. 

Pte Bertie Hibbett centre. The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital. New Brighton Cheshire. 1916-1917.

I spent seven months in The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital in New Brighton.  During that time I asked for my Latin and Greek Grammar books, but found it difficult to study (3).

A friend gave me an autograph book in which I collected autos of the patients, written on cigarettes, which I cut in half and pasted on the pages. I spent my time doing drawings and sketches with my left hand.


(1) Enoch Evans was Vernon Evans’ father, not his brother as it appears here.

(2‘As sorrowful yet alway rejoicing’. St Paul. 2 Corinthians, 6.10.  AD 55 approx. [K.J.V. King James 1st Version, 3rd English translation of Bible, 1604-1611. NB. No major revision of K.J.V. until the RSV (Revised Standard Version)  & a whole range of English translations mid 20th Cent. following development of rigorous academic methods of historical biblical criticism; something I was able to share with my Dad in 1960s as he tackled the introduction of new liturgies in the Anglican Church & I studied for my degree.

(3) Latin & Greek were pre-requisites for training in the Anglican Ministry in my father’s day. The philosophy behind such study is basically the same as it should be today – that anyone seeking to understand and teach biblical literature (as it was first intended by the Gospel writers) must have a working knowledge of 1st cent colloquial (‘koine’) Greek as found in the New Testament, before they offer an interpretation and attempt to apply it as relevant for the present. A basic qualification in Hebrew is also useful – in understanding the essentially poetic language of the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible – and as an antidote to misleading literalism. Sadly, too often, one hears interpretations that give a message almost the opposite of a text’s intention in its historical context! 

NEXT POST: 29th July 1916.


Sunday School, St Paul’s at the Crossing, Walsall. 2006. A re-designed 19th cent Gothic Church meeting the needs of a modern industrial town.

The Revd J. J. KEY:  LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

St Paul’s Vicarage, Walsall.  

20th July 1916.

My Dear Bertie,

A partially written reply to your last letter had been on my desk for a long time and you must think me a bad correspondent.  Still never a day passes when you and the other men we know and love are not in my thoughts and mentioned in my prayers.

We have all thought you should have had some leave long, long ago – I suppose real or imaginary difficulties have arisen.  Now you are back in the homeland, bearing marks of the unthinkable experiences you have passed through.  We hope your wound is slight and that you have not much pain.

No words can describe the pride we have in you all and the gratitude we feel for all you have so splendidly achieved.  Your father goes on bravely & cheerily with his heavy work (1) and your mother has been simply wonderful in the midst of her anxieties.

Things go on happily at the Churches in spite of the absence of so many men. Tonight we have a meeting of a few still here to put into shape our parochial branch of the C.E.M.S.(2) and develop our plans for the National Mission (3).  It is a great opportunity and I pray God will guide us to use it aright for His Glory.  Sunday Schools go on well and the Open Air Meetings are very encouraging this year. (4)

Mrs Key and I look forward to hearing news of you and Sydney soon and the pleasure of welcoming you home.

With our kind remembrances & good wishes for a speedy recovery.

Ever yours, very sincerely,

J.  J.  Key.



News that Serjeant Sydney Hibbett was Missing on 1st July, presumed Killed in Action, was obviously not yet widely known. The family was waiting for official confirmation from the War Office. See Menu Page: ‘In Search of the Missing’.

(1) Arthur Hibbett was Chief Education Officer for the Borough of Walsall. See Menu Page: ‘Walsall Education Office 1900-1921. Arthur Hibbett Press Cuttings’.

(2) C.E.M.S. Church of England’s Men’s Society. Formed 1899 by Archbishop Frederick Temple.

(3) A National Mission of Repentance & Hope, Oct.1916: launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Davidson & the Archbishop of York, Cosmo Lang.  

We are to repent not because we believe we are guilty of provoking this war but because we, together with other nations that profess to be Christian, have failed to learn how to live together as a Christian family, how to set forth Christ to the peoples who do not know Him.  Because it is clear that the Spirit of love does not rule our relations with one another at home, anymore than it rules the relations between nations’.

‘We look forward  to a new England & a new world’. As well as repentance ‘the Mission projected a much needed message of hope during the grave time of war’. The nation was invited ‘to reflect their attitudes, weaknesses & passions & repent in hope of a better world’. The Archbishops recognised that many (like my father & his brother) conscripted in hope to fight to save not only their country but also the world.  A Monument of Fame: The Lambeth Palace Library blog: 13th March, 2016. 

The Bishop of London, Arthur Winnington Ingram: The Mission is to be like the coming of Spring – a drawing out of sweet influences & powers inherent but dormant in the Church & Nation.’ ‘Its effect was not to be produced primarily by big drums or the oratory of mission preachers’  -‘each diocese is to revive itself in its own way, believing that under the breath of the Spirit “a desert may rejoice & blossom as the rose”Church Times, March, 1916.

S. School Cert. 1914(4) St Paul’s Sunday Schoolmy father had passed his Sunday School Teacher’s Examination, ‘First Class’ in April, 1914.

NEXT POST: 30th July 1916.


South Staffordshire BadgeeH.E. BIRD, C. QMS 1/5th South Staffords Bn Head Quarters, Berles au Bois (1): LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

                                                         19/ 7/ 16

Dear Bert,

I was pleased to hear you have got to Blighty and hope your wound will soon be healed (2). 

SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
20 in 1914.

With regard to your brother Sid, I am extremely sorry to say I fear the worst has happened.  The last thing I can get to know of him was that he was severely wounded, lying in No Man’s Land.   He was unable to speak but wrote on a piece of paper that he required a drink of water, which one of our chaps gave him, but could not stay with him. That is the last we have heard of him.

I hope we may hear of him again, for he was a brave man and one who did his duty without fear or favour.  If, as I fear, the worst has happened, I hope you will try and soften the blow to your parents as much as possible. 

All papers, letters etc I found in a pack belonging to you or your brother I have handed over to L.Cpl. Jones A.O*, as Sid told him if anything happened he was to forward them.

Arthur Venables. Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. Visit 2006.

Your chum Venables* is also missing, we can get no news of him at all (3).

Kind regards,  Yours sincerely,

H.E.Bird  C. Q.M.S.  Censor J. N. Wilkinson.


Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett 1965‘MY MEMORIES of the FIRST WORLD WAR’. 

It took us one and a half days to reach Le Treport where I was put on a bed in a tentThe next morning I awoke to see, in my bed, a basin of blood from my wounded wrist.  I was transferred from the tent to a Hotel-turned-Hospital on the cliffs of Le Treport.

Treport-Coteaux et Trianon-Hotel, aux Terrasses. A nurse has written Pte Bertie’s address ‘Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton’ twice on the front. Posted 7.7.1916.

I was in the bed next to another wounded soldier being treated by a doctor; he was trying to get a bullet out of his patient with forceps, but the forceps kept slipping.  The sound of it got on my nerves.  I went out of the room, but it was likegoing from frying pan into the fire’, for on the landing four orderlies were trying to keep a  soldier down on his bed; he was raving with pain (4). I was glad to get back into my room again.

It was not long before I was labelled ‘Serious’, for I was wounded not only in my right wrist but had an extra ‘Blighty’: wounds to my neck and my left wrist as well.  The wound in my neck came when I was running out of the trench at Foncquevillers.  I was ordered home.

The voyage across the Channel was memorable indeed for, while I was eating a late dinner on board, I heard that my brother, Sydney, had been seen dead in No Man’s Land.  On his breast there had been a small piece of paper on which he had written,Pour a drop of water between my lips, thank you.  Now every Good Friday I am reminded of how the dying do thirst, when we sing His are the thousand sparkling rills … and yet he saith ‘ I thirst’ (5).

On hearing the news of my brother I could eat no more, but went straight to my cabin bunk. Two shall be in the field of Battle, one shall be taken and the other left’ (6).



The details of my uncle’s death, given by Chaplain H.E Bird’s in his Letter of 19th July, 1916, tie up closely with my father’s ‘Memories’ 1967. These in turn no doubt rely on a note in my father’s 21st Birthday Album, 12th July, 1916, but probably added some years later which reads: ‘Soldier Jones gave a piece of paper to my Mother on which was written by my brother Sydney, as he lay dying on the battlefield: Pour a drop of water between my lips. Thank you’. 

 (1) The Revd H.E. BIRD C QMS: Chaplain to the Forces, serving with the 1/5th Staffordshire Regt. (As Chaplain to Queen Mary’s School, Walsall, he probably went straight to the Front without any specific training). 1/5th S Staffords were now at Berles au Bois, a commune, 5 miles (8Km) approx. from Foncquevillers. His letter is presumably in answer to one from Pte Bertie Hibbett enquiring about his brother. 

(2) A ‘Blighty’: a serious wound that sent a soldier back Home. My father’s Blighty was a gun-shot wound to his right wrist & a wound to his neck (both of which we were aware of as children); he also had a minor wound to his left wrist. The German heavy 77mm guns had fired from 3 miles away behind Essarts. [See 1st July Operations. Appendix 1.]

(3) Arthur Venables* dressed Pte Bertie’s wound on the battlefield. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. His family lived near 95, Foden Rd. See previous Hibbett Posts.

(4) Anaesthetic in WW1: chloroform, ether, ethyl chloride and nitrous oxide (oxygen mixture).  The RAMC had pitifully few resources to cope with the grossly under-estimated number of casualties for the first day of the Somme. Pte Bertie’s fellow patients at Le Treport either did not have any anaesthetic or were re-acting badly to it’s effects. See <https://www.asaabstracts.com&gt;: no development in anaesthesia since mid-19th Cent. /no new anaesthetics until 1940, but experience of WW1 put Britain at forefront of 20th Cent. development in anaesthetics. It is amost  unfortunate irony how modern medicine owes some of its existence to the existence of war‘. Anthony L. Kovac MD. University Kansas. 2006.

(5Hymn based on Christ’s words from the Cross, ‘I thirst’, John 19.29. Mrs Cecil Alexander, 1875. (6One shall be taken the other left’Matthew 24. 40-44. Apocalyptic/ poetic language to describe the Last Days, a future End Time (Eschaton). 

NEXT POST: 20th July 1916: ‘Back in the Homeland bearing the Marks of Unthinkable Experiences’.


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, British Red Cross Hospital, The Cenacle, New Brighton, Cheshire: LETTER to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. [Written with the left hand. Pages very faint, barely decipherable in places]  

The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge, It is Thou that savest us from our enemies. We make our boast of God all day long and will praise Thy Name for ever’ (1).

‘O God the Protector of all them that trust in Thee’. Collect & Psalms:- Fourth Sunday after Trinity (2).

Mother at Tea.
Mother at Tea.

July 9th/ 16.

My Dearest Brave Mother,

A burst of sunshine and the ‘Dark Cloud’ vanished – the ‘Buoy’ has at last come Home (3).  Although I am so far from you as Birkenhead  you will no doubt feel me warmly nearer to you, won’t you Mumsie?  Turn right over for page 2.

Ha ha har!  You see me Dearies at Home, no one, not even Apollo or Jupiter or Penelope, Hermes, Mars, Saturn, Adonis, Orpheus, nor strong & mighty Thor, nor boisterous rude Boreas, yea and cunning Medusa or any other of those ancient gods can prevent me, by their all magical powers from writing my usual Sunday letter to my Home sweet Home (4). 

As  afore-mentioned in the PC to Dad yesterday I am training my left hand to do something for its living.

This Sunday morning is beautiful.  I have had my ‘Bon Breakfast’, of bread & butter with a new laid egg & refreshing tea.  I am now sitting up in the cot to write something for you to pass away a happy moment in our sunny garden, where very nearly two years ago you, my darling Mummy, lavished a nice garden tea for those little Sunday School Boys of mine (5).

The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton with wounded soldier & tea-party on lawn. Pen & Ink. Arthur H. Hibbett. 1916-1917. Copyright.

When you come Mummy  you will see that this place is not a Military Hospital. The sisters are very kind & tender & there are two elderly nurses who are almost angels when they come to dress my woundBut dearest Mumsie don’t  – Halt! one of those two, who has come to dress the other patients, has just told me to ‘give them my love’  –

The Happy Warrior. George Frederick Watts.

Now dear Mummy don’t be afraid of me just saying that the wound is painful because I wish you to know that when I am trying hard to bear the pain.  I like to picture you as that angel in the famous painting ‘The Happy Warrior’ (6)kissing my brow. Yes a Mother’s kiss will do lots to heal a wound & a Father’s all wise & quiet sympathy, like my Dad, will act with the same wonder.

A pause for a rest – and now once more to the breach –  my left – across paper – Quick march! Left – right – left.

My word the Lancashire lassies can’t arf cheer, talk about the most excitable & most embarrassing moment I have ever had. When we passed through Southampton on the Thursday we arrived, I found that both rich & poor had not grown the least tired in cheering & waving their hands & smiling; from every window, door, or corner along the side of the Railway, people gave us their appreciation. As for Birmingham, where we passed through at 7 pm, they had the police to keep the crowds back – with ropes too, but even that preventative could not stop some eager ‘bird’ to flutter under the rope & throw a gift into the carriage. 

Nurses of the St John’s Ambulance came with big flat trays on which were piled oranges & other fruit; on other trays there were meat sandwiches, while others had pipes & smokes & other sweets. Then, as the train passed out, the nurses could be seen to stand to attention.

The Finale came when we arrived at BirkenheadLined all along the platform were private cars in which the owners drove us to New Brighton (where I am now)As soon as the train stopped a voice was heard to shoutDoubleand  like a streak of lightningthere rushed down dozens of civvies to the carriage doors (which were of course locked) (7). Then each civvy took a ‘Woundy’ Tommy & helped him into a car. As each car left the station the occupants received stunning cheers from the dense crowd which stretched through the entrance of the station & all up both sides of the first street.

I leave it to you to imagine how I looked & felt.

Now it is all peaceful in this sunny room where I can have my ‘bit’ of Sunday easier than those previous.  I read the Collect & Psalms for today, as you will see by the special texts I have picked out & put at the head of this letter.


Never before have I felt the Psalms to be  more appropriate for these fighting days. After the experience of trench warfare and artillery bombardment I still believe in that principle that is signified in verse 7 of Psalm 44 But it is not my sword that shall help me, but it is Thou that savest us . . . ‘.

Then the Collect too is most suitable for those concerned in the Great Allied Offensive. What too can be more encouraging and comforting than the first verse in the Epistle. ‘I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be  compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us’ which applies to those at Home as well at to those at the Front. 

We are getting excellent food here, fresh fish & good milk puddings & stewed fruit.  What a delight to taste them after so long without.  Yes I have a great, great deal to be thankful for.

Staffordshire Regt. Brooch.This afternoon is also sunnyI am trusting you too are having fine weather & an ideal Sunday.  I hope you & Ida got the brooches which, (as I told Harold in a letter I sent, a day or so before The Saturday) were handmade by a Soldier’s crippled friend in England. 

Ida’s parcel & your letter following that tin parcel came just happily timely, as did a nice parcel from Miss Brookes*. I did think I was lucky in receiving them so timely & you must know how happy I felt when I got  your parcel with the current bread in, for although it came on the Wednesday of that week we all thought we were going up from those Huts where we were spending a rest that Wednesday night (8).

We eventually went to the trenches on the Friday night, and arrived early on the Saturday morning, only having five or ten minutes to fetch & drink some soup At which time I saw Sydney pass me with his Platoon. ‘‘So long Sydney!” I greeted him & since then I did not see him again.  

I am hoping for the best, & it will not believe anything until there comes something definite & official (9). ‘Let us prove all things’, sais St Paul. I believe or rather trust in Those Heavenly Higher Hands that dear Brother Sydney will too finally not lose the things eternal (10).

Basil Hibbett, 18 yrs,

Now dears, Mother & Father I will close my usual S. letter with the same Sunday Wish that I hope you are enjoying the Day with Peace reigning in your Hearts by Faith & spending a Happy time all together with Basil (11) – (The Dodger that comforts Mother) – Harold & Hilda, to whom I send my love as well as to my affect. parents.

God bless you all. 

Your affec.  Bertie .

Last Page of Long Letter all in Left Hand:-

Drawing with Left Hand in first Letter Home from Hospital. 9th July 1916. A.H.Hibbett. Copyright.
‘FONCQUEVILLERS CHURCH BEFORE GOMMECOURT’. Drawing with Left Hand  & from Memory. The last thing Bertie saw of Foncquevillers, 1st July 1916. A.H.Hibbett. Copyright.

Pte Bertie Hibbett may have shown this drawing of the ruined Church of Our Lady, Foncquevillers, to one of his nurses; she then gave him a Postcard sent her by her boyfriend, M. Nelson, R.E. in Oct 1916. My father then worked on a pen & ink sketch of his own, which I remember always hung in his study.

Compare illustrations.

Up Traffic Only Fonqu Fonquevillers Up traffic.sc0002ebfbMy Dad has kept one soldier sitting on the wall, reflected in the water & added the famous sign ‘To BERLIN. Up Traffic Only’ – and soldiers carrying ladders. In his last Letter of 27th June before the Battle, he said he had at last managed to find his Mothera few June roses – hence the note ‘wild roses‘ in his Letter’s drawing above.

Strangely enough, when my sister & I arrived at Foncquevillers by bike a hundred years later, the Church clock said five to three, exactly the time the clock had stopped during bombardment – & as Dad remembered it.

(1) ‘The Lord of Hosts is with us’. Psalm 46.7. (2) ‘The God & Protector of all that put their trust in Thee.’ Collect. Bk of Common Prayer, 1662. 

(3) Keep the Home Fires Burning:’There’s a silver lining through the Dark Cloud shining’. Ivor Novello.

Boreas: God of the North Wind.
Boreas: God of the North Wind.

(4) Greek & Roman mythology & art was all part of a classical education in the early 20th Cent. From 1907-1921, George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd published the series Myths & Legends (of the world) which my father collected after the War.

(5) Bertie Hibbett’s 19th Birthday tea for his Walsall Sunday School pupils, at No 95 Foden Rd. See Hibbett Letter 12th July 1915.

George Frederick Watts.
George Frederick Watts.

(6) The Happy Warrior: George Frederick Watts, English painter/ Symbolist Movement. 1817-1904.  After the poem The Character of the Happy Warrior William Wordsworth 1806 : “Who is the Happy Warrior, who is he that every man in arms should wish to be . . . ? It is the  generous spirit . . . an inward light . . . that makes the path before him always bright . . . more able to endure, as more exposed to suffering & distress . . . Keeps faithful with a singleness of aim . . . This is the Happy Warrior, this is he, that every man in arms should wish to be.”

(7) Ambulance train doors locked: to prevent scale of Somme casualties affecting national morale?

Humbercamps. Howitzer elevated ready for firing. 1st July 1916..

(8) Humbercamps Huts: 3 miles from Front Bertie expected to march at 2.00 am. 29th July. Battle delayed 2 days.

SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
Just 20 in 1914.

(9) The South Staffords Roll Book, held in 1/5th S Staffordshire Regiment Museum, Whittington Barracks, Lichfield reads, simply :- ‘Sydney Hibbett: Missing. Expectation of Death. 1.7.1916’.  Bertie Hibbett had probably not yet told his parents the detailed news he had heard of Sydney. cf ‘My Memories’. 1967. It was several years before they had confirmation of death.

(10) I Thessalonians 5.21& Collect for 4th Sunday after Trinity.

NEXT POST: 19th July 1916. ‘With regard to your brother Syd, I fear the worst has happened’.


Bertie Hibbett
Pte Bertie Hibbett. Just 21 years. 1916.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, 1/5th South Staffords. British Red Cross Hospital, The Cenacle, New Brighton, Birkenhead: PICTURE POSTCARD to ALL at 95, Foden Rd Walsall. 

Written with the left hand in tiny writing with his new address given by a nurses’ hand. Posted in plain envelope.                                                            


Dear All,

They wouldn’t let me come Home till I was wounded. But never mind Dearies. I feel proud to have been in the ‘Big Push’. I stayed at this Hotel (see picture) (what oh!) 2 days before crossing. 

TREPORT-COTEAUX et TRIANON HOTEL aux Terrasses. Published L’Hirondelle, Paris. [Hibbett Collection].
You will be pleased to know I had a calm crossing & wasn’t ‘mal de mère’. Arrived Southampton 1 am. Thursday.

‘Grande Reception’ at B’ham Stn. 7 pm.  Reception De Luxe on arrival at Birkenhead about 9.0 pm.

1916 The Cenacle Front
The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton. Pen & Ink.  Pte Arthur Hubert Hibbett. 1916+

Private cars drove us to this H(e)aven of Rest.

Best Love to all.   Bertie.



On leaving Gommecourt Battlefield on 1st July, it took 2 days for Pte Bertie Hibbett to travel by Motor Ambulance & Train to a Hospital set up in the expensive-looking Trianon Hotel, on the cliffs at Le Treport.  There he spent another two days before crossing the Channel from Le Havre to Southampton arriving on Thursday 6th July.

By 7th July he was in The Cenacle, New Brighton, Birkenhead  – owned by nuns – now a Red Cross Hospital.

NEXT POST: 9th July, 1916.  NB. Back on  track now after return from remarkable visit to Fonquevillers & Gommecourt.  Almost over-looked 7th July Postcard !