Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, ROUEN: No 9 GENERAL HOSPITAL to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall,
In Red, White and Blue, Monday Aug.30/ 15
My Dear Sister,
Queer coincidence, I’ve done or rather am doing just what Mum did – for two consecutive Sunday & Mondays that is. I finished, or rather struggled to finish my letter sitting up in bed late. ‘Late’ for hospital is 9 o’clock – so did Mum last Sunday stay till after Basil had got into bed – & then she had to open the letter again & write a page or two more – same as on the 15th & 16th of Aug.
Dear Ida – the regulation is to wear grey socks in hospital & I was made to take off the khaki socks. I did feel indignant about it. To be quite honest I decided to put the paper cutting of Colonel Wade* & Jack* in an ordinary envelope. You will let me know when you get these letters.
I had a good smell at some sweet peas growing in the bit of garden we have round the hut. It did put me in mind of the usual walk round our garden at 106 (1) – to see the wonderful growth & the unkempt state of the flowers & grass.
You will also let us both know of the exam result. (Basil’s).
The outdoor dress of the nurses here is navy blue long capes with scarlet lining and white straw hats with blue bands. But I admired your brown. Some of the nurses in the Indian Camp are all in complete white (2).
There’s a nice chap in the Ward, only 17 & he has been a (Front) Line Sergeant & is in the Black Watch (3), – got quite the brogue of the Jocks, regular daring Tommies they are. Thought they would bolt the parapet & take a charge any minute for ‘fun’.
I can shave now so it proves not only that my poor pate is better, cheeks rather, but that I am getting proficient at shaving.
Will close with best love. I have not heard anything about ‘Booby’ A. Streatly* yet – your little pupil? (4)
(1) 106, Rowley Street, opposite 95, Foden Rd (renamed 95, Rowley Street, when Broadway was built): Hibbett Home when they first came to live in Walsall from Nottingham. (2) Meerut Indian Camp & Hospital for Infectious Diseases, Rouen. cf Letter: 29th Aug. 1915.
(3) This young man (astonishingly young for a ‘regular’ Black Watch Serjeant) must have lied about his age and relied on his physique & bravado when enlisting in the Regular Army (age limit between 18-38 in 1914, Regulars not sent overseas until 19 yrs). He could have been a Territorial with lower age limit of 17 yrs, but they were not obliged to serve overseas and this 17yr old had been in the Front Line.
(4) Ida Hibbett – Sunday School teacher?
(5) Bedford House, formerly Chateau Rosendal.
Bedfordshire Regt involved in Battle of Hill 60 (17th April – May 1915): suffered heavy losses.
Bedford House Cemetery: one of largest British & Commonwealth Cemeteries in Ypres Salient. Many blown up & killed on Hill 60 have no known grave. cf War Diary website by Steven Fuller. <http://bedfordregiment.org.uk>
Lance Corporal Sydney Hibbett & SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DAIRY.
S.W. SLOPE OF HILL 60.
30th Aug. Mon: Exceptionally quiet day, nothing to report. Relieved about 10.30 pm by 6th North Staffs. CASUALTY: 4517 Pte H. Haddock (slightly wounded remained at duty).
31st Aug. Tue: BRIGADE RESERVE. Two Companies in dug-outs Railway Embankment. One Company in strong points R7 and R8 and local reserves to 6th North Staffs. One Company in Bedford House (5) and R9. CASUALTIES: KILLED: 2/Lt J.H. Wilkinson; 6378 Pte J. Barnett. WOUNDED: 9760 Pte W.C. Lester .
AUGUST CASUALTIES: KILLED: 10; D.O.W. 4; WOUNDED 25; Slightly wounded 7 (remained at duty). OFFICERS WOUNDED: 1.
Signed: R. RICHMOND RAYMER Lt Col Commanding 1/5th Bn South Staffordshire Regiment.
NEXT POST: 5th SEPT. 1915. In Khaki Again. (Letters now back on track /published 100 yrs from the day they were written). Updated Welcome Page for September.