Tag Archives: Army Uniform


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.



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.’


(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.


SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
20 in 1915.

Pte SYDNEY HIBBETT: POSTCARD to Pte ARTHUR HUBERT HIBBETT on Home Leave at 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

Saffron Walden.  13/ Jan. 1915

Dear Bert,

Mrs Penning thought you would like a view of the street and Dorothy (1) wants to know if you know where it is?  The house with the X over it seems familiar somehow to me: if you know who lives there you had better tell me. Show the other ‘bodies’ this & do not bring it away with you.

29 GOLD ST. SAFFRON WALDEN, marked with cross.

Our new uniforms are a bad fitGuard last night at Orderly Room.  Hope they are looking after you well!  Had a Transport horse to lead for exercise this morning.




29, Gold St. Saffron. Walden 2001. Pink house with steps.

This PC is typical of Sydney’s often teasing style. (1William & Alice Penning* had two children: Arthur serving in France and Dorothy (who died young according to Kathleen Penning *writing in 2001).

29, Gold Street is now on the market, obviously much modernised and extended since 1914. See <Rightmove.co.uk>.(Land Registry).  Bertie Hibbett would still have recognised the front and the view of the garden from the back, but gone are the cobbles.

 Grandmother Penning. Seated in Cart: (dark dress) Elizabeth Penning, sister of John Francis, Bertie's Landlord., George and William.
Outside the Old English Gentleman Inn, Gold St. Saffron Walden in 1914.  Far right: Grandmother Penning. Seated in Cart: (dark dress) Elizabeth Penning, sister of William Penning, Bertie’s Landlord. Is the soldier Arthur Penning, the landlord’s son? Killed in Action 20.08.1915.

* Names: see Menu Page.

NEXT TWO POSTS: 24th Jan 1915: Luton Firing Course.