Tag Archives: Cadbury’s chocolate


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th  SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


19th Nov. Fri: Relieved 1/6th Batt North Staffordshire Regt in the ‘B’ SECTOR trenches at 6.45 pm.  20th Nov. Sat: Enemy working parties heard knocking in stakes and revetting sic (1).  Enemy shrapnelled right of SECTOR 55. CASUALTY: Pte S.W. Clarke wounded.

21st Nov. Sun:  Quiet day. Enemy shrapnelled Fire and Support Trenches, slight damage. Officers Patrol commanded by 2nd Lieutenant S.P. Smith penetrated enemy’s work opposite the NEB and found it unoccupied.  It had evidently not been occupied recently as it was waterlogged and in bad repair.  The G.O.C. commended the officer in charge for the good work of his patrol. CASUALTIES: 8827  Sgt S .J. Hattin slightly wounded; 8741 Cpl S. Gee slightly wounded.


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to  Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.

Stir Up Sunday (2).  Nov 21st/ 15.

My Dear People,

I guess you have thought my letters a long time in reaching you.  It is because we are in the trenches & I have been ‘on the go’ all day long.  You will have heard by now how I got that large parcel with the towel & hankies in. (The hankies I scented with the White Heather Scent).

Vernon has been most generous with his parcels & to think he has been without for such a long time. Vernon said that A. O. Jones* went to see his people& Father went when he was there.

Could you send me another indelible lead and also some more notepaper & envelopes.  You see I do not mean to stop writing my Sunday letters.  I know Mum is thinking of us especially today & wishing that this War would  STIR UP & get finished, instead of sticking in old Mother Earth & wasting valuable time.

Players Navy Cut Tobacco.






I have sent Sydney some of Miss Foster’s* Player’s Cigs & the rest I filled the tin with the Chief Whip.  Miss Foster sent a small tin of bivouac cocoa (3), three packets of biscuits, Cadbury’s Choc, toffee & apples.

I am enquiring after more definite news of Serg. Tim Fenton – so far I am very sorry I have heard nothing of him (4).

 I am just puzzling my brains on what to send Dad for his birthday which I believe is the 29th.

Guess what I had for second course today? Tapioca Pudding made with the milk from a little of Vernon’s cookery His people seemed to have, by some mysterious means, got to know all I have previously told you.  Another thing which would come in beautifully for breakfast this winter is a packet of Quaker Oats (5). 

Oxo Tower London.
Oxo Tower, Riverside Wharf, London. 1930.

That reminds me, on sentry last night & this morning we had brought round to each sentry, some Oxo (6) at 12 & some Rum & coffee at 5  – & we needed it too (7).  

Well I will close.

Sorry Sydney ’s letter got muddy like this one is getting, there’s mud everywhere.  Hoping & trusting you are enjoying a Happy Sunday.  I guess you have Harold & Miss Bore* with you.

Ta Ta,  Bertie.

PS Monday Breakfast:  Toasted cheese, bacon, & cafe au lait (Vernon’s).

I was on sentry last night again.  I only wished I had had a lump of your home-made toffee in my mouth.  I can’t say where Sydney is now.  I was only wondering whether he was on his way to England the other night. 

Many thanks for the Parish Magazine. I read that article which you marked in ink, very good advice, but dearies, such references to ailments such as LUMBAGO, RHEUMATISM, BRONCHITIS, INFLUENZA, ELEPHANTITIS  – & coughs in heads, coughs in ya toes & coughs everywhere tend us to dread them.

We have lately had our feet greased & fresh socks issued (8). I am afraid I shall be asking you to do too much (in the way of knitting) if I ask for another pair of socks.  Perhaps Auntie or Mrs Barrans* could send a pair.  At any rate I am looking forward to the parcel you told me to look out for in your letter of the 12th & also am picturing you knitting busily away at the Helmet.

Horlicks Bottle c .1915.
Horlicks Bottle c. 1915.

I think Harold could send the Horlick’s Malted Milk Powder & the St Ivel Cheese,  if you send the Quaker Oats, sugar etc.

Quaker Rolled Oats.
Quaker Rolled Oats. 1915.

Vernon & I, in fact all of us, are so indebted to those who send us good things that we find it pretty difficult to express ourselves.  Vernon cannot find anything else to say but ‘Many Thanks’, he is always saying that.  Now don’t go & tell his people because I happened to have a chance glance at his letters. Ho Ho!

Well ’tis cold for writing so will stop now. This is another Sun: Monday letter.

Best love to all, Bertram.

PS  I have received all your letters since Oct 31st – so many there are that I missed reading the one on the 3rd & found it after I had written my rig-ma-role of a letter of Nov 14th Sunday. I will be more direct & to the point in future dearies.   B.



(1) Rivetting: fixing a metal pin to hold two pieces together i.e. when building /repairing a trench or fixing wire stakes (the kind of noise my father would be listening for on Listening Post duty – and no doubt trying to differentiate it from sounds of underground mine-laying). 

(2Stir Up Sunday: Sunday before Advent, (the beginning of the Christian Calendar)  – Collect for 25th Sunday after Trinity, Book of Common Prayer, 1662 :- Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people: that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Traditional time to stir Christmas puddings & fruit cakes and make a wish). 

(3) Bivouac Cocoa: compressed cocoa.  

(4) Serj. Thomas Fenton.  At 19 yrs of age he was one of the Army’s youngest NCOs.  Killed in action Battle of Loos-Hohenzollern, 13th Oct 1915.  Andrew Thornton <https://hellfirecorner.com&gt;. No record on Commonwealth War Grave website.

(5) Quaker Oats: registered  as ‘Figure of a man in Quaker garb’ at US Patent Office, 1877. (‘Symbol of good quality & honest value’ /at a time of adulteration of cereals). First trademark for a breakfast cereal.<https://www.quakeroats.com >

(6) OXO:  Meat extract (liquid) created by Justin von Liebig, 1840, /a solid cube in 1910.  Original 1915 OXO Tower at Riverside Wharf, London; now design studios. <https://www.oxotower.co.uk&gt;  

(7)  Army Rum Ration: Tot of rum issued from gallon stoneware jars to troops in trenches each morning at ‘Stand To‘/time when enemy most likely to attack. First mention of rum in Hibbett Letters/ issued to sentries. Evidence differs: cf The Role of Rum. Great Forum The Long Long Trail ‘Old Sweats’: General 23rd Jan. 2009. <https://www.worldwar1postcards.com&gt; and <https://pointsadhblog.wordpress.com&gt;.

daily mail mud in trenches.images

(8) Trench Foot/ feet greased: 20,000  British soldiers (including my father & his pal Vernon Evans) were treated for trench foot between 1914 -1915.  Cause: ‘cold, wet & insanitary conditions’, ‘standing in water-logged trenches for hours on end’, ill-fitting bootsdistinct risk of gangrene & amputation.  Army ordered each soldier to have 3 pairs of socks a dayboots dried every 4 days in Rest Camp and to grease their feet with whale-oil.  Each Battalion used an average of ten gallons of whale-oil a day. Situation improved with better drainage of trenches.  <https://www.spaticus-education.com&gt;.

The Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett.
The Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett. 1960s.
Unsuccessful attempt to straighten his feet.
An attempt to straighten toes with steel pins.  A.H.H. drawing.

NB. Forty years on, my father had an operation in Boston Hospital to try to undo WW1 damage to his feet.  It was painful & unsuccessful but true to character he made a joke of his ‘pins’.

NEXT POST: 23rd Nov. 1915.




1st APRIL 1915. NEUVE EGLISE: Life & Death & Parcels.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH  STAFFORDS  WAR  DIARY


29th  March, Mon.  Entrenching exercise. 2 Coys moving. 2 Coys afternoon trenches opposite one another 40 X apart (yards?).  30th March, Tue.  Entrenching practice and Bomb Throwing practice.
31st March, Wed.  Constructing  Barbed wire Entanglements, construction of hurdles &  improvement of trenches, morning.  At 1.15pm orders received to march to Bailleul . Moved off at 3.30 pm. Arrived Bailleul at 5.0 pm. Billeted there for the nightCertain proportion of Officers went to Neuve Eglise to inspect trenches & take over huts for Battn.
March Diary Signed by R.R.Raymer*, Lt.Col. Comdg. 1/5th Bn. South Staffordshire Regt.
BULFORD CAMP: NEUVE  EGLISE   1st April, Thur. Morning in  Billets. Bn paraded at 2.30 pm & marched to  ‘Bulford Camp’ one mile SW of Neuve Eglisevacated by 2nd Bn Kings Own (R. Lancaster Regt).  Arrived Camp  5.0 pm.  (1)

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to FATHER, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall, (H.W.W.Parr censor)1st April 1915

April 1st Thursday Morning.

My Dear Sir,

We are on the move again.  I believe we are going into the trenches again & will probably be in on Good Friday and Saturday.  I expect to see Sid today.  He is still away (1).  We were digging trenches yesterday morning & had to hurry back to the barn & go without dinner & dress in full pack & be off.

So what became of your handsome parcel?   I carried it along the march for some distance & then it dropped.  A. D. Jones then gave a hand (2).  I managed to get it here safe & thought best to open it just to see if anything important was inside.  What a fine handsome neatly made up parcel it is, some of Dad’s handling I bet; nothing whatever smashed. I just had  one cake & opened a neatly rolled handkerchief & read Ida’s letter.

– Yes it would be better to send separate parcels to my opinion, but what say you ?

Dear Dadit is encouraging just to see the way you address our parcels, for it reminds me of your deep consideration for us & pleasant cheerful face, as though as to express the idea that after all there is no reason to pine over this war.  Of course the sooner its over the better, but we must not come to terms of peace on any ground  – and then again what is the fighting?

Let’s hope for Eternal Life & we shall see one another again in happiness.  In past wars there have been men return home safe and sound.  Let’s hope that Sid & I will.  But what I cannot get cool about is the thought of seeing chums wounded when I myself am not & to return home after seeing fallen chums.  

Vernon, Sid and I – wasn’t it lucky we all got together weeks last Tuesday night when we went to the trenches last time.

I was kindly remembered by Mr A.E. Hurst last Sunday.  He sent me an interesting letter & a parcel full of good things, stationery, text books and some Cadbury’s Chocolate.  I’m glad you got the newspaper.  I will begin to conclude my letter now.  I still find it difficult to write short letters.

Afternoon.  Another long march just finished.  Am in a most comfortable wooden hut.  A cannon has just gone off, shook the place my word!  the loudest I’ve heard.  With the old QMS boys again.

Tell Mr Venables* Arthur B. looks very wellWe’ve all got parcels.  I’ve had to carry Sid’s parcel again, this time I tied it on my pack.

I wish you and Mother & all at home, as well as Harold & Miss Bore, a very pleasant Easter, hoping you will spend it all together round the tea table & remember Sid and me at Church

The weather is simply lovely and bright;  rather warm on the march.  We had had very cold weather & I have had chapped hands early part of the week.  Basil would like to be with us, but there are more than myself who think it best & fortunate that he is under age & not with us.  I still think of his exam and hope it will come off lucky.

I wrote a letter to Miss Foster before this, & just after the post came I got parcel of Cadbury Chocolate for Sid and me.  Sid is still away. After opening the parcel I put the handkerchief back again & paper on top & wrapped it up again.  I think I shall open it now for I don’t know what we shall do next.  Oh how nice it would have been to have had Sid with me & to spread the lovely napkin & divide the luxuries for tea.

I have carried V. Evans’ parcel & Sanger’s.  Vernon is with Sid & Corp. Sanger*.  I shall have to close now with the very best of wishes & happiness.  I am keeping jolly well.  There goes another Jack Robinson –  I don’t think!  (4)


PS Have written to Miss Foster & will write to Mother later.



(1) Neuve Eglise Fr. /Nieuwkerke Flemish. (2Sydney Hibbett (with Vernon Evans & Sanger) was no doubt involved in preparations for move to Bulford Camp, & Wulverghem Trenches, opposite Messines.

(3Bertie was trying to carry a parcel about 8 miles to Bailleul on top of his full pack. By the time he finished this letter he had carried it another 9 miles to Bulford Camp. (4) A ‘Jack Robinson’: 1st WW  nickname for a shell or bomb . (Identity 18th C. real person lost: term assoc. with immediate/ sudden change ‘as quick as you can say Jack Robinson’).

NEXT POST:  2nd APRIL, 1915. Also Update of Welcome Page.

28th Dec.1914: Audley End: A Christmas Walk & Ghost Story.

Bertie in Uniform
BERTIE HIBBETT 19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE  HIBBETT: Letter to Ida  on her Birthday, Mon. 28th Dec. 1914 (on back of letter to Mother Dec 27th.)

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.
27 in 1914.

My Dear Sister,

Your Christmas Card too was very appropriate and neat as well.  

I can’t help feeling sorry that I did not send you a real Birthday Letter, but I will try now.

I went a walk yesterday, Sunday afternoon, and it was just like a Christmas Walk, in spite of the mud and dullness of the weather for I felt peculiarly at Home.  I think it was because my thoughts were at that dear old place.  Yes the walk will just provide plenty of data for a ‘Better Late than Never’ letter.

I wanted to get my appetite up for tea, so I braced my belt round me and trotted out to see this Park that the landlady wished me to see.

I passed the Alms Houses & espied the misty tower of  St Mary the Virgin peeping over the old buildings making the scene very much like York City (1).  I walked through the Park, which was not like Walsall Arboretum but more like a deer forest – as a matter of fact great numbers of deer did once inhabit this beautiful place.

On coming out of the Park I came onto a lovely road & could see most superb scenery, tall stately trees rising up in blackness in the distance & the sinking sun.  A farm with a few haystacks could clearly be discerned shading off among the misty background. I turned to the right and went down the middle of the even sandy road, a footpath rising above it on the right & a high wall surrounding the park with ivy growing over it.

I walked up to a white limestone bridge, beautifully carved & going up to it I passed the gate of the stately Country Mansion at Audley End.

Just before coming to the gate I heard the Mansion clock bells strike four, giving an introductory chimeThe effect was  –  I can only say that much used word – ‘lovely’.  Everything – the scenery, was most Christmassy. 

Audley End.
Audley End Saffron Walden.1915.

On looking through the gate I saw the old Country House, which was once a palace fit for Kings and Queens, so history tells us.  It just reminded me of Irving’sOld Christmas’ (2) to see the stately windows and porches with the spacious lawn in front.  The sight looked far better than the postcards depict.  I strongly wished that some of the caretakers would favour me by taking me into the place, for I read that there is a grand stately hall, 90ft in length ,with beautifully woven tapestry and pictures of Rembrandt & Holbein & large carved fireplaces.

A. H. Hibbett’s Pen & Ink Copies (6 x 9cm) of ‘Old Christmas’ Illustrations.

Oh! I must not miss The Thing which puts the final touch!  Certainly this old Christmassy Mansion has a mysterious tale of tradition.

Over the large entrance gateway, shadowed by tall poplars & weeping willows & the Lodge, but with the moon shining through & casting a ghostly glimmer upon the jutting carved stone work, especially upon a Lion  – which is the object of the legend  – supposed to be true  –  there stands, erect, a most exquisite, carved figure of the King of Beasts, with its tail straight out & its eyes peering earnestly towards the river which flows and winds in front of the lawn.

Lion Lodge Audley End, Saffron Walden.
Lion Lodge Audley End, Saffron Walden. 1915.

I remembered the old story in connection with this Lion as I looked up at it.

The story goes that when the Mansion bells chime 12 on New Year’s Eve the Lion, in dignified mien, crawls down the carved gate & ambles over the spacious lawn, making a most striking, ghostly appearance;  it keeps at the run as though it were ravenously hungry and thirsty after being on watch over the gate during the Old Year.

As soon as the kingly beast reaches the water’s brink it drinks the waters of the river & then peers in the darkness of the middle of the night for any tender deer that may be seeking to quench its thirst. But –  as if magic –  the lion seems to be persuaded by unseen forces to turn about & return to its watch upon the top of the old stone gate.

There the proud animal must needs stand and watch for another year, no matter how it so longed for a dainty  meal.

I could very well imagine the story as the clock struck four.

Perhaps sometimes the unseen forces would allow its august majesty to visit the Mansion  –  to see if any intruder had cunningly got over the high walls surrounding the grounds & made an attempt to steal the precious treasures in the spacious hall  –  or perhaps the Lion was allowed to guard the porches when the Lord of the Manor had as guest His Majesty the King and Queen.  Well now it has been turned to stone for refusing to return after five minutes’  drink on New Year’s Eve, when it once could not resist the temptation of killing a beautiful white doe that the Lord of the Manor hunted during that same season  – – –

After having a good look at the old edifice & the river, on which swam wild ducks and swans, & glancing at the stables belonging to the Manor, I walked back to billets through the pretty village of Audley End & through the farm I mentioned at first.  When I opened the door of the billet I saw Syd & the rest all round the fire & cozily seated. 

A  very becoming end to my afternoon walk  – – – 

Syd and I will have to write as many letters of thanks as parcels receivedMiss May* (3) sent us a box of chocolate caramels and Miss Foster* (4) kindly sent Syd & me a parcel containing a letter for each   – & 3 packets of Cadbury’s Mexican Choc. reached us on Sunday morning in time for me to eat a bit on my walk.

Syd and I liked the cake so much that Syd had 3 slices today at teatime & I had two.  We cut into it for the first time this teatime, as we saved it to eat on your Birthday today (Mon) – & also because we had shared in with V. Evansluxuries the day before.  We had some of his bird for dinner today.  He had a brace of pheasants sent him.

You can let Mother choose one of the enclosed photos.  You may think that I have been attending too much to home & personal matters  – but Ida, it only cost me a farthing a photo & the paper came to less than a ¼d for the mounts.  A poor present for you I’m sorry, but I will remember you later.  Rumours are about that  we might come Home soon.

NB    A strong rumour has been about & even on the lips of the officers, that we are going to Dunstable or Luton to fire a second course.  I do hope we shall not go to the old place No 52 Tavistock St. Luton!

A Happy New Year to all & I hope you have Syd and me with you next Birthday (5).

You affectionate brother,    


ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB 2009Bertie’s  describes the Audley End landscape as if he intends to make a sketch or painting of it . 

The Revd. A.H.Hibbett, Louth 1960s.
The Revd. A.H.Hibbett, Louth 1960s.

(1) Grandparents’ Family Home: Henry & Anne Hibbett. (2) Washington Irving.19th Cent. description of Christmas traditions in Derbyshire & Yorkshire (Illustrated by Chas Penry). (3Mary Overend*, Walsall nurse who trained with Ida. (4Bertie’s Godmother, Mary Foster*, lived in Nottingham, his birthplace. (5) See NEXT POST: Christmas Truce 1915.