Tag Archives: Archbishop of Canterbury R. Davidson 1916.

20TH NOV.1916: THE SOMME. A DREAM & THE NATIONAL MISSION OF REPENTANCE & HOPE.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Wallesley, New Brighton, Cheshire: LETTER to ARTHUR & MARIE NEAL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.

Monday Morning. 20.11 16.

National Mission (1):God is decreeing to begin some new and great period in His Church, even to the reforming of the Reformation itself; what does he then but reveal Himself to His servants, and as His manner is, first to His Englishmen.’ Milton’s Areopagitica (2).

My Dear Mother, Father, & hmm . . . Isn’t it awkward to begin for you are all dear to me.

Cuirassier with sword.

I dreamt such a dream last night. I dreamt I saw a host of cavalry, the men wearing glittering gold helmets like the French Cuirassiers (3). 

I thought they were Germans at first, then French, as I saw them in the distance on the road, then as I turned in the opposite direction who should I see but Sydney mounted on a charger with a banner in his hand & what appeared to be a helmet covered with leaves (4), he came galloping along & gave me the impression he was a messenger to tell us the enemy was near.  The dream went on, he & I were on the top of an old barn, then we were with father.

I had not dreamt of Sydney much since you left New Brighton & I wished I would & so I did last night. I should so much like him to keep me company today & give me advice on matters.

Yesterday I spent a very quiet Sunday, although it rained.  I read Milton’s works in the afternoon & Mother’s book The Prince of the House of David (5), in the evening.  I have got to the letters where Adina loses all hope in Our Lord & where she resolves not to believe in the righteousness of men.  How she sorrows to think that so good a ‘Man’ was ‘dead’ & she was still alive. I think of Sydney now & compare: it is comforting to know he is not really dead, but if we allow ourselves to disregard Christianity he will then appear dead to us, just like Adina, who was either ignorant or doubtful as to Our Lord’s coming Resurrection.

Christmas is drawing very near now; my arm is growing gradually stronger, but still has not yet healed upkeeps breaking out in little holesall I have is a hot fomentation & some lotion to stop it from going septicSo Doctor Utting* could easily do that (6): now what I am aiming at iscould Dad write to Schlater* (7), 3 Earlston Rd. Liscard N.B. for just 3 or 4 days at Home or even 2 if I should happen to be here by Christmas. The other day he said :- ‘I know you would like to be here for Christmas (or something to that effect)’.  Perhaps it is rather early as yet.  We will consider the matter eh!’

I had a very nice letter from Okoo* (Basil) yesterday.  He’s a decent sport to do me some photos.  Nurse Wilcox* wishes to have one. 

Not being able to think of more to say excepting we too are having dull & cold weather. Oh! just had a letter from Mary* ( Godmother Foster), they had snow in Nott:(ingham).

Best love,  Your ever affec.  Bertie.

*************************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

‘The War will soon be over now’ wrote Sgt Sydney Hibbett in his last letter home  before the ‘Big Push’ of 1st July 1916. Both Pte Bertie Hibbett and his brother had volunteered in the hope to fight and save their country & the world. With the Battle of the Somme failing to make any real headway from the very first day, after so much expectation of success and with such horrendous loss of life, there was a growing awareness in a grieving nation that the War could not be over soon.

This letter shows how close Pte Bertie Hibbett was to his brother, Sydney (only 13 months between them) and how he endeavoured to make sense of what had happened to them both.  Characteristically he takes comfort from his vivid dream of his brother as a knight in shining armour – and creates links between John Milton’s 17th Century call for ‘a reforming of the Reformation’ and the Church’s present call for National Repentance & Hope. 

(1) The National Mission of Repentance & Hope launched by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Randall Davidson & the Archbishop of York, Cosmo Lang. Oct. 1916. See A Monument of Fame: The Lambeth Palace Library blog: 13th March, 2016. 

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’. . . ‘The nation was invited ‘to reflect their attitudes, weaknesses & passions & repent in hope of a better world’.  . . ‘ . The Bishop of London, Arthur Winnington Ingram said: ‘The Mission is to be like the coming of Spring  . . . that under the breath of the Spirit “a desert may rejoice & blossom as the rose”. Church Times, March, 1916. [See also Hibbett Letter 20th July 1916, from the Vicar of Walsall, the Revd J.J.Key] .

1st page of Areopagitica 16
Milton’s Areopagitica. 1644.

(2) John Milton, 1608 -1674. English poet, man of letters, civil servant to Oliver Cromwell

Milton
John Milton

Milton’s Areopagitica: For the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing‘ was a passionate philosophical defence of the right of freedom of speech / an appeal to Parliament to rescind the Licensing Act of 16th June,1643, on state control of printing, speech & thought. See <http://www.stlawrenceinstitute.org&gt;

Cuirassier with sword.
Cuirassier with helmet plume & sword.<http://www.pinterest.com&gt;

(3) French Cuirassiers: Cavalry Armour Bearers similar to Medieval Men at Arms, last fielded in WW1 (‘from ‘cuirass’ breast-plate armour).

Green Man Roodscreen Combe Martin 1500-1550
Green Man: Roodscreen, St Peter Ad Vincula, Combe Martin.1500-1550.

(4) Sydney’s Helmet covered with leaves (laurel wreath of victory) reflects symbolism of Green Man with leaves pouring from his mouth/archetypal image of Renewal & New Life. cf Sir Gawain & the Green Knight/ 14th Cent. Arthurian Poem.

Revd Joseph Holt Ingraham 1809 -1860.
The Revd Joseph Holt Ingraham. 1809 -1860.

(5) ‘The Prince of the House of David, or Three Years in the Holy City’. The Revd Professor Joseph Holt Ingraham (F. Clinton Barrington)1809 -1860. 

Title reads: ‘being a Series of Letters of Adina, a Jewess of Alexandria, sojourning in Jerusalem in the days of Herod, addressed to her father, a wealthy Jew of Egypt (Manasseh Benjamin) and relating, as if by an eye-witness, all the scenes & wonderful incidents of the Life of Jesus from his Baptism in Jordan to his Crucifixion on Calvary.

(6) Dr Utting *: Hibbett Family Doctor in Walsall. Cared for Ida during her last illness,1921 (cancer from working in ammunitions factory). Their graves both lie in the Churchyard of  St Michael & All Angels, Rushall, Walsall, a Sunday evening’s walk from 95, Foden Rd.

(7) Dr N.C. Schlater*: Pte Bertie’s Doctor at the Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, about to arrange an operation on his arm & wrist before Christmas 1916.

NEXT POST: 21st. NOV. 1916. The Times Report: The Battle of Ancre, the end of the Battle of the Somme.

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20th July 1916: ‘BACK IN THE HOMELAND BEARING MARKS OF UNTHINKABLE EXPERIENCES.’

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.

************************

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

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.