Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, No 6 GENERAL BASE: LETTER to MOTHER & FATHER, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.
Sunday Sep 5/ 15. ‘In Khaki Again’
My Dear Mother & Father,
I am now back again at No 6 General Base. ‘They’ thought I had been long enough in Hospital & could not keep me in any longer for the boil on my neck to get better. So I am attending ‘Sick’ & am marked ‘Active’ – so I conclude I shall in all probability go up the line soon & then I shall be with Sydney.
I have spent a happy time on the whole in Hospital. I had a letter & parcel from Harold & a parcel from Auntie. When the NCOs saw me here at the Base they said “your name’s Hibbett is it? so you are the one who’s had so many letters”. They were sent to Hospital all right enough. I had a letter from – – –
broke off here to attend a Bible class in YMCA, will restart after tea.
Separate sheet (1). Sunday Sep. 5/ 15. ‘In Khaki Again’
My Dear Mother & Father,
I am now back again at No 6 General Base. ‘They’ would not keep me any longer in Hospital although I
had have a boil in the back of my neck. They said I had been in long enough & so I am on ‘Active’ & will attend the Doctor. The only advanta Of course there is the benefit about it, I shall soon be with Sydney, at least I hope to (2) – & we shall then both, very likely, come on Home Leave together.
About Commissions Dad – well I am content, but I want Sydney to go in for one; if he doesn’t then I shan’t be content until he does (3). What does Sydney himself say? I have not yet heard from him – perhaps he has forgotten my address.
Have you heard anything about Vernon’s Cousin, Bob Tucker*? – he is another case of ‘MISSING ’. (This I heard from Davie (Taffie) in Walsall Observer). He went as you know to the Dardanelles. I had a letter from the other sister of Vernon’s – Edith this time. (Sorry Mummy, to keep mentioning all about Vernon & ‘nowt aboot me sen’ as you complained of in a past letter) (4).
Now what do you think of her writing? It is more to my liking than t’other I sent you, that of Winnie’s. I thought it was Mrs Evans*’s at first. Now it struck me painfully, it did indeed. On holding the letter some short distance away & noticing the style of writing, I could see quite prominently a considerable number of strokes, all practically horizontal, in fact all the paper seemed to be nothing but strokes.
For ‘Humours’ sake I struck a brilliant idea. I sent you Winnie’s ‘Result’. Now I have marked Edith’s. Yes indeed & it looks prettier than Winnie’s with the blue & red doesn’t it? – Never mind Edith, together with the white parchment it makes a patriotic symbol eh, what? and of course my writing I take as a dreadful example.
You remember dear Mum & Dad reading in the paper about the Million Egg Week. Well the UP Patients – (Ida will tell you what UP PATIENTS are without writing to ‘Dundrennan’ (5) to the ‘nurses’ there, they might tell you – & you needn’t write again to No 5 Ward, No 9 General Hospital either again, for the sisters there might tell you that the UP PATIENTS are those ‘naughty laddies’ who arouse your patience – otherwise putting it ‘git your patty UP). Well I am going off my word – –
I say all the UP Patients had, one teatime, a lot of eggs from St Agnes, Cornwall, each egg having an address of the contributor written in pencil on the shell (6).
Well I will close now. You will come to some decision shortly ’bout the Com. for Sydney – & remember I’m back at 6 G. B.
Tat ta. Best love to all & tell Dodger I’m writing to him next.
(1) Pte Bertie Hibbett restarts his letter, but still sends his first page Home; probably because he wants his parents to realise he is being sent back to the Front even though he is not fully better.
(2) With Sydney? After a long stay in Hospital, or Leave, some soldiers were attached to different units, to replace casualties; some were given new numbers.
(3) Commissions: Pre-WW1 Army Officers were recruited from the upper-classes/ military families. Growing numbers of casualties (1914-915) led to recruitment of voluntary officers (‘Temporary Gentlemen’) from middle-classes/OTCs in public schools & universities and from lower classes, for the duration of the War. <http://worldwar1centenery.oucs.ox.ac.uk> Since 1871 commissions could not be bought but applicants would have needed good references.
(4) Dialect: ‘Nothing about myself‘. (5) Dundrennan’ House, Wednesbury Rd. Walsall: Vernon Evans’ Family Home. Both sisters, Winifred & Edith Evans, were Red Cross Nurses.
(5) WW1 National Egg Collection launched in 1914 by Frederick Carl, editor of Poultry World, to provide protein for wounded soldiers in Hospital, first in Bologne. Grew from 20,000 eggs a week to Million Egg Week 16-23rd Aug. 1915. Patron Queen Alexandra. Collections often organised by Lady Mayors in local markets; even the smallest number of eggs welcomed and recorded. See N.Devon Journal Letters & War Reports in ‘Soldiers of the Great War‘ Heritage Lottery Millennium Project, Barnstaple Athenium & Record Office).
Lance Corporal SYDNEY HIBBETT & 1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY
RAILWAY EMBANKMENT, ZILLEBEKE.
1st Sept. Wed: In Brigade Reserve. Two Companies (‘A’ & ‘B’) in the Railway Dugouts. One Company ‘C’ Rosenthal Chateau, one Company ‘D’ in Reserve to 6th North Staffords in Right Sector trenches, R7 found by ‘A’ Company, R8 found by ‘B’ Company, R9 found by ‘C’ Company. Working and carrying parties found daily as ordered by the Brigade. CASUALTY WOUNDED: 8492 Drummer Wheeler.
2nd Sept. Thur: Ditto. CASUALTIES: WOUNDED: 8991 L/Cpl. Mann P.E. (since died of wounds). WOUNDED: 8938 Pte Newbold A.; 8525 Pte Smith W.; 8931 Pte Bird J.A.; 8236 L/Cpl Jones A. Slightly wounded remain at duty: 8811 Pte Dyke J.; 9141 Pte Wright G.; 8961 Pte Smith H.E.
3rd Sept Fri: In Brigade Reserve, detail as the 1st. CASUALTIES: KILLED: 8718 L/Cpl. Carpenter A. (Killed by shell). 4th Sept Sat: In Brigade Reserve, detail as the 1st. CASUALTY: WOUNDED: 9128 Pte Pitcock E. 5th Sept. Sun: Ditto.
NEXT POST: 6th Sept. 1915.