Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

Aug. 28th/ 16.

‘Be thou faithful unto the end, and I will give thee a crown of life’. (1)

Roman Soldier Ponpei
‘Faithful unto Death’. Roman Soldier at Pompeii. Eruption of Mount Vesuvius. 1865. Edward John Poynter. 1836 -1919. 

If I am not far wrong it is the eventful day of Basil being called up for Service. The picture and the words I got  from the Calendar (2) for Sat. 26th are most appropriate.


May Our Heavenly Father bless, protect and prosper him, and strengthen the patience combined with love in my dear brave Mother; as for Daddie, Proverbs teaches us a beautiful saying, that the glory of children are their father sic, ‘how venerable is a father in the sight of his son who has returned from the wars’ (3).

Well Miss Foster*, Mary, gets over me, I had another nice letter from her today, she takes away my sorrow. . .

(end missing).



Basil Hibbett with grey arm band. 1916.

The National Registration Act of July 1915 was intended to boost voluntary enlistment. It failed. The census (in which Ida Hibbett played her part in Walsall Town Hall) revealed that 5 million males of military age were not in the forces and 1.6 million were ‘starred’ (i.e. protected by high or scarce skilled jobs). See Hibbett Letter: 21st Oct.1915.

Since the South Staffords embarked for France in 1915, Basil Hibbett had been keen to join his brothers at the Front but they had done their best to dissuade him from attesting until he was compelled to do so. See Hibbett Letter: 28 April 1916.

Courtesy Mike peters, military historian. East Anglian Daily Times 18th Jan 2016.
Courtesy Mike Peters, military historian. East Anglian Daily Times 18th Jan 2016.

The Military Service Act, 27th Jan 1916, of necessity, introduced conscription for men aged between 19 -41 years  – so Basil had no choice but to attest after his 18th Birthday (1st May 1916). According to The Long Long Trail website these ‘Class A’ men were given a day’s pay, transferred to Section B Army Reserve & sent back home until they received their ‘call up’ papers. 

Bertie states that Basil was to be ‘called-up’ on 28th Aug., but he must have meant ‘attest’ for in September Basil wrote to him about bringing in a ‘late harvest’ at East Soham, Suffolk.

Lord Derby Scheme Arm Band with Red Crown.

Basil Hibbett was given  a grey armband with a red crown as a sign that he had volunteered. The biblical significance of the crown on the arm band was not lost on Bertie.

(1) Revelation 2.10. Exact wording KJV Bible: ‘Be thou faithful unto death & I will give thee a crown of life’.

Painting Edward john Pointer. Pre-raphaelite.
Faithful unto Death’. Edward John Poynter. Pre-Raphaelite Painter.

(2) Painting‘Faithful unto Death’. Roman Sentry at Pompeii. Eruption of Vesuvius, AD 79. Edward John Poynter, Pre-Raphaelite Painter. 1836-1919. Copy cut from Walsall Parish Church Calendar?). See ‘Pompeii Live from the British Museum’.<http://www.britishmuseum.org> 

Edward John Poynter.
Portrait of Edward John Poynter.  Edward Burne Jones.1833-1898.
Homer. 850 BC.

(3) Proverbs 17.6: Children’s children are the crown of old men; & the glory of children is their fathers’. Second half of quotation ‘how venerable is a father’ not found in Proverbs (possibly paraphrase of saying in Homer’s Iliad?  Homer: 8th Cent BC. considered first & greatest of Greek epic poets, foundation of European Literature.

NEXT POST: 30th Aug.1916. Le Journal Cartoon.

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