31ST JULY 1917: BERTIE HIBBETT’S ARMY CHARACTER: ‘SOBER, RELIABLE & INTELLIGENT’.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, 8823, 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt. now 200425 Army Reservist with Character Reference:

Sober, Reliable & Intelligent.

 

 

 

                                                            ARMY FORM B. 2067 Serial No A90.

Front Page Transcript:  CHARACTER CERTIFICATE of 200425.

PrivateA. H. Hibbert (1), 5th South Staffordshire Regiment. Born in the Parish of St Augustus (2) near the Town of Nottingham in the County of Notts. on the 12/7/95. Trade as stated by him on enlistment: Mining Engineer (pupil to).

* DESCRIPTION ON LEAVING THE COLOURS (3)

Height 5 ft 7¼ in.  Identification Marks:- Complexion Fresh. Eyes Brown. Hair Brown.

Signature of Soldier: A. Hubert Hibbett.

* To prevent impersonation. In the event of any doubt arising as to the bona fides of the bearer, the above description and signature should be carefully compared with present appearance and handwriting.

Back Page Transcript:  PARTICULARS OF SERVICE.

Date of Enlistment 2.9.14. Due for final Discharge 31.7.1917.              Cause of Transfer or Discharge: Being no longer Physically Fit for further War Service.

Campaigns, Medals and Decorations:                                                                    Home: 2.9.14 to 4.3.15.  France: 5.3.15 to 5.7.16 (5).                                      Home: 6.7.16 to 31.7.17.

Centre Page Transcript:

The Character here given is based on continuous records of the holder’s conduct and employment throughout his military career.

This is to certify that 200425 Pte A.H.Hibbert (sichas served with the Colours in the 5th South Staffs Regt for Two years 332 days during which period he was very sober, reliable and intelligent. Previous to enlistment he was a student of mining engineering and served three years of his apprenticeship with C.F. Nightingale, Mining Engineer, Walsall. He now desires clerical work at Lichfield, and his services can be recommended.

Signature. H. Harper 2/Lt for LIEUT COLONEL COMMANDING OFFICER 1/0 TERRITORIAL FORCE RECORDS-LICHFIELD.

Date 31st July. If further particulars as to his character and record of service are required within three years of above date, apply to *   . . .  where he is registered for civil employment, afterwards to the Officer in Charge of 77 (4) Records, Lichfield.

*This space is intended to be filled in by any organisation which has registered the man’s name and is prepared to supply further information.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) In spite of the Certificate’s warning re- prevention of impersonation, 2nd Lieut. H. Harper once again mis-spells my father’s name & fails to check it with his signature. cf. Discharge Certificate previous Post: 12.07.1917.

(2) ‘St Augustus’. Second error. My father was born in the Parish of St Augustine, BasfordNottingham & was most likely christened in St Augustine’s Church, built 1895 – demolished 1989. In WW1 a curate, the Rev. Theodore Bayley Hardy (schoolmaster Nottingham High School) volunteered as a padre at 51 yrs. He never fired a shot but won the VC, DSO & MC for outstanding gallantry, helping wounded & dying soldiers at the Front. He died of wounds 3 weeks before the Armistice. Website: Southwell & Nottingham Church History Project.

(3) Colours are the symbol of a Regiment. History goes back 5000 yrs to Egypt. Formalised in Mediaeval times, colours were ‘the identifying battle-flags carried by regiments to show where their respective armies should rally in time of battle’. 

Staffordshire Regt. Colours are Green (Red &) Gold. Size 6’6″ x 6′ now reduced to 3′ 9″ x 3′. wikipedia.

(4) ‘77′ or ‘YY’ Records ? (Difficult to decipher).

(5) Date  5.7.16: evidence that 5 days after being wounded 1st July 1916 my father was transferred Home from Hospital at Le Treport, France. See Hibbett Letter 19th July 1916.

Post Card: Treport-Coteaux et Trianon Hotel turned WW1 Hospital. A nurse had written the Cenacle address at top.

NEXT POST: 11th NOV 1918. ARMISTICE Day in LICHFIELD. 11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month – Bells, Flags & Cathedral Thanksgiving.

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13TH JULY 1917: Pte BERTIE HIBBETT IS DISCHARGED THE ARMY ‘BEING NO LONGER FIT FOR WAR’.

Pte Bertie Hibbett & Bike. The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital. April 1917.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, 200245 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt. – a Soldier of the Territorial Force – was Discharged from  the Army on 12th July 1917,   his 22nd Birthday.

‘Being no longer Physically fit for further War Service.’       

He had served Two Years 322 days, and survived One Year & 123 days in France & Flanders. 

 

ARMY FORM E. 511: If this certificate is lost or mislaid no duplicate of it can be obtained.

TRANSCRIPT                                                                                                                 This is to certify that 200425 Private  Arthur Hubert Hibbert 5th South Staffordshire Regt. who was enlisted to serve in the Territorial Force of the County of Staffordshire on the 2nd day of September 1914 is discharged in consequence of * Being no longer Physically Fit for further War Service and that his claims have been properly settled.

His total service in the Territorial Force is Two years 332 days, including Two years 332 days embodied service.

Service abroad, viz., France. One year 123 days.

(Signature of Officer  Commanding UnitH. Harper* 2/Lt for LIEUT COLONEL: OFFICE 1/0 TERRITORIAL FORCE RECORDS. LICHFIELD.

13th July 1917.

* Here state cause of discharge as detailed a) for peace conditions in the Regulations for the Territorial Force, or b) during a period of embodiment in para 392 King’s Regns.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

The Officer in charge of Territorial Records in Lichfield, 2/Lt H. Harper, made two errors in Pte Bertie Hibbett’s  Discharge Certificate, which would have disappointed my father. Firstly the mis-spelling of his surname.  His great grandfather William Hibbett born c 1792 was the first ‘Hibbett’ in our Family Line. Up until then ‘Ibbot’, ‘Hibbot’, ‘Hibbitt’ & ‘Hibbert’ spellings appear in 17th & 18th Century family records.

Secondly, Pte Bertie served in Flanders as well as in France.  As a child, I thought he fought in just one place. Readers of the Hibbett Letters however will know that Pte Bertie Hibbett 1/5th South Staffs was marched back & forth to fight all along the Western Front, between Ypres in Flanders and Arras in France. He first entered the trenches at Armentiers, in April 1915. By May  1916, he was South East  of Arras at Fonquevilers opposite Gommecourt, preparing for the Battle of Somme, 1st July, 1916. 

In the Certificate Pte Bertie’s number is 200245, whereas on enlistment in 1914 it was 8823.  This change  in number often occurred when a soldier had been away from his Unit for some time i.e. in Hospital, transferred to a different Unit or back Home to the UK.

The Army was desperately short of men in 1917 hence the Notice on the reverse of the Discharge Certificate calling all discharged soldiers who are physically fit to consider returning  to the Colours.

TRANSCRIPT :-  NOTICE. The attention of soldiers who have taken their discharge on termination of engagement, but who are physically fit for service, is drawn to the great need for trained men with largely expanded armies which have been called into being since the Outbreak of War.

It is hoped that such men will decide to return to the Colours with as little delay as possible and so add to the service they have already rendered to their King and country.

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Pte Bertie Hibbett’s Discharge Document Case.

AN ARMY DOCUMENT CASE was given to all discharged soldiers with notice on the front cover :-

‘Any Person finding this book, unless it can at once be returned to the owner, should place it in a Post Office Letter Box for return to the Secretary, War Office London S W.’

My father’s Discharge Case is very worn & damaged with Indian ink. The Inside of the Case has various Instructions, strangely upside down to each other.

TRANSCRIPT: 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR MEN OF THE ARMY RESERVE

1. – When Mobilisation is ordered posters announcing it will be put up on all Barrack Gates, Churches, Town Halls, Police Stations, and Post Offices.These posters will make it clear whether a GENERAL MOBILIZATION or a PARTIAL MOBILIZATION has been ordered.

2. – When GENERAL MOBILIZATION is ordered you will proceed at once to the place of joining as directed in your Identity Certificate, making use of the railway warrant and cash order attached to it. You must not wait for a notice to join to be sent to you.

3. – When a PARTIAL MOBILIZATION is ordered a notice to join will be sent to you at the last address furnished by you if you are required to join, telling you when & where to join. This notice will have attached to it a free pass for the journey and a cash order for three shillings advance of pay. The railway warrant and money order attached to your Identity Certificate will in that case be of no use at all.

4. – Whilst you are in the reserve your Commanding Officer is the Officer in Charge of Records, whom you must keep informed of any change of address, or any alteration in your circumstances, such as marriage, birth of children &, forwarding the necessary certificates, which will be returned to you. All communications should bear your Name, Address, Rank, Corps, and Regimental & Identity numbers.

 WARNING.If you lose the enclosed certificate a duplicate cannot be sent. You should therefore on no account part with it or forward it by post when applying for a situation, but should use a copy, attested by a responsible person, for the purpose.

CIVIL EMPLOYMENT.

The National Association for the Employment of Ex-Soldiers exist for helping men of good character to obtain employment. The Head Office is at 119, Victoria Street, London, S.W., and it has numerous branches throughout the Kingdom. The addresses are given in the Guide to Civil Employment, a copy of which is handed to every man of good character on leaving the Colours.

Men who are not already registered for employment should apply to the branch nearest their homes.

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NEXT POST: 31st July, 1917. Pte Bertie Hibbett’s Army Character Certificate: ‘Very Sober, Reliable & Intelligent’. 

 

 

 

20TH JUNE 1917: ONLY FOUR EMPTY BEDS HERE NOW – I HAVEN’T FOUND ANOTHER ARTIST YET.

Quarter Master, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital.

NURSE G. LEATHAM*. B.R.C.H. Atherton Street, New Brighton (1): LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

20th June 1917.

My Dear Hibbett,

Very many thanks for your photograph & the card you sent with it – it was just like you to do something out of the common.

Corporal J. Beck. 

Beck (2) told me that you had a job close your home now (3). I’m so glad that you were so lucky & I hope you’ll keep it till the end of the War – that is, of course if the work is congenial.

We have only four empty beds here now – some  (new patients) are Canadians (4) – but I don’t think there is anybody from your part of the world.

I haven’t found another artist yet, so I have to print my own labels etc. but I’m glad to say I have not run short of the Engagement Lists (5) yet – I should not like to come down to written ones again!

Fazakerley Hospital entrance, Liverpool.

I remember you asked in your letter for all the news of the King’s visit (6)– I cannot tell you very much as none of the staff went over to Fazakerley (7)– only the patients.

They started very early in the morning & went over in motors & ambulances & then had to stand for about two hours until the Queen came. The King was not with her  – she passed by all the men & spoke to one or two who were in front of our patients – then they came home.

Matron Gertrude Bellow

All the people here are well. Sister (8) is away for a week & Matron* has a bad cold.  I have been off with a bad septic throat – but fortunately it has made up its mind to leave me in peace.

The Sands, New Brighton.

Will you be coming up here for your summer holidays?(9).

I hope you and Mrs Hibbett are keeping well. 

 

What pictures are you painting now if you have any spare time?  The Dining Hall still looks O.K. (10).

Kindest regards.                                                                                                        Yours sincerely,

 

 

G. Leatham*

 

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

‘Only four empty beds’. With the beginning of the 3rd Battle of Ypres the pressure on Hospitals back Home was mounting.

Nurse Leatham seems to have had an administrative post; maybe she is the Nurse in the photo above labelled ‘Quarter Master’ – probably in charge of Patient appointments & Nurses’ rotas, as well as stocks. She is obviously missing my father’s  artistic & calligraphy skills; he had made himself very useful in the nine months he had spent at The Cenacle. 

(1) Address ‘B.R.C.H. Atherton  Street’ – not found as separate Red Cross Hospital – most likely a Cenacle extension, to accommodate increasing numbers of wounded in the battles of 1917. 

(2) Corporal J. Beck: 1/10th Liverpool Scottish Regt., one of the 5 friends who shared Ward 10 at the Cenacle from July, 1916. Note in Pte Bertie’s Autograph Album:  ‘J. Beck underwent 10 operations‘ on his arm, presumably at Fazakerley Hospital, Liverpool).

(3) ‘A job close your home’: My father may have continued his mining surveyor apprenticeship with Mr C.F. Nightingale, Lichfield Street, Walsall, the year before entering Lichfield Theological College, in1918.

Vimy Ridge Memorial from the air.

(4Canadian Expeditionary Force. C.E.F.  Canadians arriving at The Cenacle by 20th June 1917, may have been wounded in Battle of Messines 7-14th June, one of opening battles of 3rd Battle of Ypres. 

Canadian Victory, Vimy Ridge. 9th-12th April 1917.

NB Many UK emigrants to Canada (including perhaps men of my mother’s family) returned immediately War broke out, to serve in their local regiments. Others joined the C.E.F.  In the Battle of Arras they captured the notorious Vimy Ridge 9th-12th April, 1917. (10,000 killed and wounded). My father fought there with the South Staffords in 1916. Hibbett Letters: 13th; 26th March; 2nd;14th;16th April 1916.

Vimy Ridge Memorial to Canadian Missing.

The Vimy Ridge Memorial  commemorates 11,285 Canadians killed in WW1 who have no known grave.

 

 

Walter Seymour Allward. 1876 -1955.

An awesome sight, set high on the lofty hill to draw eye & foot from miles around, the Memorial was designed by Walter Seymour Allward (Canadian sculptor) & erected on land ceded to Canada by France in 1922.

5) Engagement List: Red Cross volunteers’ names with dates of engagement. [Ida Neal Hibbett’s Red Cross Record gives her date as 1/09/1918]

Queen Mary of Teck. 1867 -1953.

(6) King George Vth & Queen Mary of Teck visited Red Cross Hospitals in France & UK during WW1.

(7) Fazakerley Hospital, Liverpool: see Hibbett Letters: 25th Nov. 1916 -10th Dec. 1916 (apologies for mis-spelling name).

(8) Sister Dorothy Clive?

(9) Summer Holidays: Hibbett Family holidays, before & during the War, alternated between Abergele in Wales and Whitby.  

(10) Dining Hall: ref. to a mural? – or perhaps a frieze of flowers – like those my father painted at Tathwell Vicarage, Lincs in 1940-50s.

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NEXT POST: 12th July 1917.  Pte Bertie Hibbett Discharged the Army – ‘no longer physically fit for further War Service’.

12th &13th APRIL: RED CROSS NURSES – WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Pte Bertie Hibbett. The Cenacle. April 1917. Photo Harold Hibbett.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT never forgot the Red Cross Nurses at the Cenacle. 

WHERE ONCE THE NUNS PACED TO & FRO NOW WOUNDED SOLDIERS COME AND GO.

Pte A.H.Hibbett: Poem & Pen & Ink sketch of the Garden at The Cenacle. 1917.

The Cenacle, New Brighton was a Convent given to the Red Cross by the Catholic Church – for wounded soldiers from  the Somme. 

Pte Bertie drew little sketches with his left hand of this peaceful place, as slowly but surely the kind & dedicated Nurses helped save his right arm. He had been there since 9th July 1916.  Now it was time for him to go.  

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM 

RED CROSS NURSES:  G. Cockeram; B. Kinsman; M. Puddicombe; L. Langdon; G. Wilkinson; G. Leatham; W. Hay;  F Cook; A. Mackenzie; Doris Langdon; B. M.      Eastwood; K Hay. 

We will remember them with their little Autographed Pigs – drawn blindfold in his Autograph Album.

Red Cross Nurses: G. Cockeram; B Kinsman; D. Puddicombe.
Red Cross Nurses: S. Langdon; G.Wilkinson; G. Leatham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Nurses: W. Hay; F.Cook; A. Mackenzie.
Red Cross Nurses: Doris Langdon;         B. M. Eastwood; K. Hay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

As a small child, I remember my Dad bringing out  his Autograph Album on important anniversaries such as 1st July, Battle of the Somme and  Armistice Day. I remember looking at these funny little pigs. Later I too had some fun drawing one blindfold in my Dad’s precious book. I can hear him chuckling at my  poor effort. His pigs were drawn so well one can hardly see where he began & finished –

whereas mine . . . 

E.F. Hibbett. 19. 8.1956. Waiting for ‘A’ Level Results.

 

The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital with the artist in the doorway – arm in a sling. Pen & Ink Sketch. A.H.Hibbett. 1917.

 

NEXT POST: 20th June 1917. We only have four empty beds now – some are Canadians. 

5TH APRIL 1917: ‘MY POOR BOY NEVER TO HAVE SEEN HIS HOME ALL THIS TIME.’

Marie Neal Hibbett.

MARIE NEAL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd, Walsall: POSTCARD of Park Street Walsall to Pte A.H. HIBBETT, The Cenacle Hospital, St George’s Mount, New Brighton, Cheshire.

Thursday. 5th April.

Well done. (1) I  shall come Tuesday (2). Will let you know the time. Wish you could have your uniform. Do you think you will  or shall I bring you some clothes. Just tell me.

We are overjoyed. My poor boy never to have seen his home all this time.

Best love. Mother. (3)

Postcard: Park Street, Walsall. 1917. John Price & Son’s Real Photo Series.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

At last my Grandmother’s long vigil was to be rewarded – at last one of her sons was coming Home from War. 

The poem To Women by Robert Laurence Binyon (3) honours the courage and sacrifice of all women whose sons have gone to War. My Grandmother would have understood all too well:-

‘ For you, you too to battle go, Not with the marching drums and cheers But in the watch of solitude And through the boundless night of fears.’

‘You are gone before them, you are there!’

‘And not a shot comes blind with death And not a stab of steel is pressed Home but invisibly it tore And entered first a woman’s breast.’

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(1) After 9  months at the Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, Pte Bertie  Hibbett received notice of his discharge – and sent his Mother the long-awaited news that  he was coming Home at last. 

A.H.Hibbett Letter, 6th June 1916, a month before the Battle of the Somme 1st July 1916.

He had not been Home on Leave since February 1915, a few days before he left for War on 28th Feb.1915. He  had spent long stretches in Hospital in France but was always returned to the Front.  Time and again his promised Home Leave was cancelled. Reading his letters of May & June 1916 it is perhaps just as well for my father that it was so. His brother Sydney, as a Serjeant, had been granted Home Leave twice, but it must have been a bitter-sweet visit, knowing that he must return to the Front and might never see his Home again.

(2) i.e.Tuesday 10th April. It seems Bertie’s Mother was planning to go alone by train and stay a few days in New Brighton. Like most mothers at the time, she wanted to bring her son Home in his uniform. 

(3) Robert Laurence Binyon, poet, dramatist & art historian, became one of 16 Great War Poets honoured in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey). To The Fallen’ was written in September 1914, after news of tremendous British losses in the opening battles of the War. His famous line ‘They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old is repeated every Remembrance Day at War Memorials throughout the country.  Binyon himself was too old to enlist but nevertheless he volunteered as a nursing orderly in a British Hospital in France and experienced  the sacrifice of War at first hand.

Robert Laurence Binyon 1869 -1943

NB: This Armistice Centenary Year I shall be singing  Elgar’s setting of Binyon’s poem in The Spirit of England (1915) at a North Devon Choral Society Concert with full orchestra at St Peter’s Church, Great Torrington, Devon. 8th Dec. 2018. 7.00 pm.

We are also singing Andrew Campling’s moving new work, Dona Nobis Pacem, which includes excerpts from the WW1 diary of his grandfather, The Revd Canon William Charles Campling 1887 – 1973, Army Chaplain,15th Bn Essex Regt. It was meeting Chaplains like him that made my father decide he would train for the Christian ministry if he survived the War.

Andrew Campling will be attending the Concert – a  measure of the reputation the choir commands under our Director, John Hobbs. <https//:www.northdevonchoralsociety.org.uk>

NEXT POST: 12th & 13th April 1917.  Pte Bertie bids Farewell to The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital.

6th March 1917: ‘VERY PLEASED YOU ARE STILL IN HOSPITAL.’

HERBERT TURNBULL, 498 Sunderland Rd, Gateshead on Tyne, to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, the Cenacle, New Brighton, Cheshire.

Five Fellow Patients in Ward 10, the Cenacle. Left: Pte Bertie Hibbett; Cpl J. Beck; Cpl C. Bostock Byrd; Cpl H. Turnbull and ?

 18.2.17  6-3-17.

Dear Hibbett,

Many thanks for your letter. I am very pleased to know you are still in Hospital, and carrying on the good work in No 10 Ward.

Corp. Bostock Byrd.

I am sorry to hear Byrd* has left (1). What have they done with him?  When did Moore* go (2) ?

Thanks for your kind enquiry regarding my wife and children. They are in fairly good health now, but I have been ill for the past 3 weeks (in bed) and still feel very shaky, but I am ever so much more contented now. I am getting settled down again, in my own little Home.

Matron Gertrude Bellow.

Kind Remembrances to Matron, Sisters Wilson & Clive (3).

Believe me to be yours very Sincerely,

Herbert Turnbull*.

PS. Note changed address.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

Corporal Herbert Turnbull , Royal Engineer, was one of five close  friends in Ward 10 from the beginning of Pte Bertie’s stay at The Cenacle. He appears in a number of photographs most probably taken by one of Bertie’s brothers, Harold or Basil.  This letter is a grim reminder that all the wounded at The Cenacle were under threat of being sent back to the Front as soon as they were well  again. Hence Corp Turnbull’s hope that ‘Hibbett’ is still in hospital, his sorrow  that ‘Byrd’ has left, and his wonder about what ‘they’ have ‘done with him’, 

Cpl Turnbull seems to have been suffering from influenza. That he is ‘so much more contented now’ may indicate he had confided in my father about anxiety & shell shock; that he was in his ‘own little Home’ with his wife & children indicates he has been discharged from the Army ‘no longer fit for service’. NB Use of Surnames rather than Christian names.

Cigarette Papers & Signatures of Patients in The Cenacle 1916: C. Bostock Byrd and H. Turnbull.

(1) Corporal C. Bostock Byrd*. 2nd Bn Coldstream Guards. One of the five friends in Ward 10.  Appears in several photographs, performs with Pte Bertie, Corp. J. Beck, and their favourite nurses in two Cenacle Concerts.  See also his signature across a cigarette paper in Pt Bertie’s Autograph Album – Hibbett Letters  4th Oct &amp; 11th Nov. 1916.

(2) Moore: JC ? Moore* 238th (A.T.) Coy R.E.

(3) Sisters Wilson and Clive. No Sister Wilson is found in my father’s letters; but she could be one of the Senior nurses photographed next to Matron Gertrude Bellow (see below)  – or maybe Turnbull meant Cicely G. Wilcox* one of two Wilcox sisters: See Hibbett Letters 10th Nov; 20th Nov & 25th Dec. 1916.

Centre Matron Gertrude  Bellow (dark uniform);  Sister Dorothy Clive ( dark belt ) and possibly Sister Wilson next to Matron  – with nurses & patients at The Cenacle, Winter 1916. Pte Bertie Hibbett seated right.

Sister Dorothy Clive: Hibbett Letters 30th Aug & 25th Dec 1916. Both Wilcox and Clive sang a song in the Patients’ Concert, 10th Nov. 1916 and signed Bertie’s Programme.

NEXT POST: 5th APRIL 1917: ‘My poor boy never to have seen his home all this time.’

FEB.1917: Pte BERTIE HIBBETT’S ‘BEAUTIFUL PAINTING’.

KATHLEEN E. BROOKES, Fern Leigh, Walsall: LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton.

Pte Bertie Hibbett: Watercolour. 4 x 5″. (extract). 21st Birthday Album (a gift from Vernon Evans later solicitor in Walsall. 12th July 1916).

Sunday night.  (1)

My Dear Bertie,

How can I thank you enough for the beautiful painting you have given to me & the long hours you must have spent in doing it – I do admire it immensely & for your very kind thought – I am looking forward to having it framed.  It is so kind of you, & thank you for your kind words – I am so glad to think that any words of mine may have helped you (2) – you know I shall always love to hear from my old pupils especially from one who was always so loyal.

I am so sorry that, when in great excitement, I opened your parcel I never noticed that you had written ‘Private’ & I did not keep it private, I put it on the piano in the Breakfast Room & it was tremendously admired – please forgive me  –  of course your letter  was quite private.

I hope if any time you would like to come & have a chat with me you will do so – I shall always be glad to see you.

With love & again very many thanks, & I think the picture is far too good for me. 

Yours affectionately,

Kathleen E. Brookes*.

PS Basil is a splendid fellow & a great help to me by his example. etc. (3)

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

As soon as the wound to his hand had healed well enough, my shell-shocked father appears to have spent a great deal of time drawing & painting. His ‘beautiful painting ‘ was quite likely a copy of one in his 21st Birthday Album – perhaps the one of poppies blooming in the trenches.

Kathleen Brookes: Sunday School Superintendent, St. Paul’s Walsall and long-time Hibbett Family friend. Greatly respected by Pte Bertie, she kept in touch with him & her ‘old boys’ throughout the War. Besides her Church work she became a land-girl, hay-making, milking  etc. (cf her letter to Bertie 23rd June 1916, before Battle of Somme).

(1) Date: No envelope/postmark but internal evidence indicates a date in Jan or Feb 1917 after receiving this  present from Bertie, perhaps before Basil left for France.

(2) ‘Words of mine’: Pte Bertie must have been referring to the spiritual and moral comfort she gave him as he struggled with his physical pain and his grief for Sydney.

(3) Basil had had time to help Miss Brookes with her Church & Community work whilst waiting for his call-up papers. 

NEXT POST: 6th MAR 1917: ‘Very pleased you are still in Hospital’. Letter from an old Hospital Pal.