Tag Archives: Dreams & Interpretations.

28TH DEC.1915: CHRISTMAS TRUCE: ‘I MUST HAVE NO HATRED OR BITTERNESS’.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, Merville Casualty Clearing Station: LETTER to IDA HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd, Walsall. (Censor 934  J.C. Fitzgerald) (1).

Cavell imgres (2)
EDITH CAVELL.

The Innocents’ Day (2) Dec 28/ 15

I must have no hatred or bitterness                                        towards anyone’. Miss E. Cavell. (3)

.Champion Ida Hibbett VAD Nurse.
IDA HIBBETT.

My Dear Sister Ida,

Dreams. Yes I’m on dreams again.  I hope you don’t think it is a sentimental, sloppy beginning to my letter to you on your birthday, but do dreams come true to a certain extent?  I think so.

I have had such a happy surprise tonight, which not only caused me to write to you after all today (I was thinking of waiting till New Year’s Eve for my vocabulary was exhausted) but itbroke my dreamof one night last week.  I was washing up in the kitchen of the Ward – ‘Hibbett’ – I scooted to the caller, thinking he wanted either to dress my foot or order me for something – ’What Regiment are you in?’  I told  him,  forthwith a chap by him handed me a letter – from England – from Sydney. I have never expected a letter or anything while I have been here & I was indeed bemoaning my disadvantage in this way only this afternoon, thinking when I should hear from Mum again & if Mum had been writing in vain to me while I am here. Of course I read the letter with deep interest & looked out to see if he had seen you all yet.

Now to explain matters on the subject of dreams, (I must ‘perforce’ enclose Sydney’s letter, otherwise I should not send you all of it, if not at all, for there is something in – which is personal) I can remember that ‘particular’ part of the dream quite plainly now.  You, Ida, were very cross with me for some reason & I ran away & after some time the dream changed & a nurse came to me & said something to the effect that Sydney was much better, or such news that I was overjoyed & all of you (Mum I could see) were also delightedThe scene in the dream then became faint & I cannot tell you anymore for fear I encroach upon untruths or a ‘make-up story’.

Now just compare my dream with Sydney’s letter. I did not tumble across it, that my dream was ‘broken’ until after, when my thoughts were about his letter & Sydney himself.  1st he said – ‘A few of us went for another walk – round the country lanes’. In my dream I was in the country & I ran up to a pump when a nurse & some other people (came), I believe Mother & Basil were among them, but the nurse with glasses & smiling face was most prominent for she was the bearer of the good news.  Before I go any further I must say that the weather in my dream was sunny & bright green fields fresh

Notice next that Sydney saisI am almost entirely recovered’. Perhaps the nurse in my dream said those very words, they were certainly to that effect, for Mum & Ida & all of you were so glad & I was in ecstasy.  ‘A nurse always goes with us & any sergeant with the party’  –  I saw a party in my dream & a nurse, but I did not see Sydney.  Sydney seemed to be somewhere else in my dream.  I felt, just as I feel now, with regard to where Sydney was in my dream – out of it.

The climax or the points that broke my dream was Sydney mentioning I am almost entirely recovered’ & ‘a nurse goes with us and a party’.

Have you ever read that striking article in the London Magazine about the Transmission of the Mind (4)?  Am I superstitious, I hope you don’t think I am, but I believe, to a certain extent, through thinking about other people, especially those dear to you (we speak of one dear & near to another) one’s thoughts carry themselves into their dreams.  It is all to do with the mind.  And then again I say I don’t believe in superstition and I often ignore all such tomfoolery & go slap bang into a supposed superstition – say if it is walking under a ladder or crossing knives – I absolutely ignore it, & when I do that, I find nothing whatever happens afterwards, as would be foretold by a superstitious believer. 

I say, if I don’t believe in superstition, the case must be one in which Providence was with me.

I believe in Angels, & I much admired what Mum has said in her letters to me referring to angels. I believe that an angel was with me whenever I dreamt of you all at Home.  Now believing in angels is not superstitious.  ‘I believe in the Communion of Saints’ (5) we say, well then, those relatives & friends we loved while on earth, are they not communicating with us?  – & trying to keep us happy & acting as God’s Messengers?

Although Sydney ran a great risk of having his letter mislaid, it has wrought a happy result & broke my spell of melancholia , which I had slightly this afternoon, owing to the reaction  –  it is so quiet here sometimes & strangers about I  looked at your photo of you sitting on a camp chair with a book on your lap outside the Study window & tried to think of all your good advice.

I trust you have had a Happy Birthday. I went to Holy Communion this morning & a lot of RAMC patients were there consideringWe went to pray for the wounded that came in on Monday evening.  I asked one of the casualties what sort of time he had on Christmas day in the trenches & he said ‘we had nothing, but we went over the top to shake hands with the enemy’a fact confirmed by the Chaplain when he came round with the cigs that night.  The British were the first to go over & the 1st to resume fighting.  The enemy also came over to play their band. Do you blame our side?  I don’t,  so far as shaking hands goes, for what does the Collect for St Stephen’s Day say? (6).

Well I dare say you will get this letter early enough to wish you all again a Very Happy New Year.  I shall see you all in God’s good time. 

I sincerely hope Sydney will have his 7 -10 days sick leave.  Hurrah & I hope he will have another good time, and let every day, as it comes & goes, be blessed, & then Hurrah he might be in England for such length of time as to have leave & see you again & again.

Am I superstitious? Really, you don’t say so, – never mind.

I am always your loving brother,

Bertie.

PS  Patients are directed NOT to have their parcels & letters addressed to them at this Hospital, so I advise you not to take the risk Sydney did. Wait till I get back to the Batt.

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South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

MARSEILLES (SANTI CAMP).

28th Dec. Company & Battalion Training continued (in preparation for Eastern Front).

TOTAL CASUALTIES for DECEMBER 1915: KILLED: 1; WOUNDED: nil.

Signed: R.R. RAYMER Lt  Col. Cmdg 1/5th South Staffordshire Regt.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB.

This Letter is interesting in the evidence it gives of a Christmas Truce in 1915 (as well as Christmas 1914) when the enemy came over to ‘shake hands’ and ‘to play their band’. 

In the loneliness of Christmas 1915, Pte Bertie Hibbett’s belief in Providence, the presence of angels, protection of saints and answers to prayers, and the comfort he receives from dreams and coincidences, is clearly becoming stronger. It was a search for meaning in the face of death that he appears to have shared with many soldiers in WW1. 

(1) CensorJ.C.Fitzgerald*. Army Chaplain. Pte Bertie met him again when training for the Anglican Ministry at Lichfield Theological College, 1918+. (2) The Innocents’ Day: commemoration of Massacre of Male Infants by Herod the Great. Mtt. 2.16. cf Letter 24th Dec. 1915.

£2 Coinimages
WW1 Centenary £2 Coin.

(3) Edith Cavell : British nurse during First World War/ saved lives of soldiers from both sides/ arrested for helping 200 allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium/ court-martialled, found guilty of treason and sentenced to death/shot by firing squad, 12th Oct. 1915. Worldwide condemnation and extensive press coverage. Notes from Edith Cavell Trust website. See also Page: Christmas Truce 1915.

E Cavell bbcimages
Edith Cavell: Raymond Lind. Norwich Castle Museum.

Full Quotation reads: I have no fear nor shrinking. I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me. This I would say, standing as I do in view of God and eternity I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.”

Cavell Monument. Brussels.
Cavell Monument with angel. Brussels.

(4) ‘Transmission of the Mind’. Not easy (without sight of article) to understand what my father meant. In Zen Buddhism the term refers to a ‘flash of insight’/intuitive rather than rational. Here however he seems to be talking more about telepathy and transference of thought from one person to another through dreams. cf Note on The London Magazine. Letter 26th Aug. 1915.

Nurse Cavell with multinational student nurses in Brussels. WW1.
Nurse Cavell centre, with multinational student nurses in Brussels. WW1.

(5) ‘Communion of Saints: Apostles’ Creed. Evening Prayer. Book of Common Prayer. 1662. 

 (6) Collect St Stephen’s Day: ‘to love and bless our persecutorsBook of Common Prayer 1662. Letter 26th Dec 1915.

NEXT POST:  30th Dec. 1915.

 

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25TH DEC.1915: CHRISTMAS DAY: ‘A GOODLY FEAST FORSOOTH’

Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT, Merville Casualty Clearing Station: LETTER  HOME following straight on from Christmas Eve Letter. Enclosed in envelope addressed To Mum, My very Dear Mother. All Good Wishes for a HAPPY CHRISTMAS from her very affec. son Bertie.

                                            Christmas Day.  7-30 am approx.

Christians awake! Salute the Happy Morn, Whereon the Saviour of the World was born. Rise to adore the Mystery of Love Which Hosts of Angels chanted from above. (1)

Merville monasteryIMG_2808
Monastery Chapel, Merville ?  Courtesy www.Liz  Clutterbuck.com> 

Although we did not have a hymn at Holy Communion, (which I always like on Christmas Morning) the Chapel was prettily decorated with holly & evergreen & was made the best out of it.  Candles burning in between the evergreens looked Christmassy.  We had a few nurses with us this morning,  yes, to see men, men, men, everywhere it was especially reminding of Home to see the other sex & it felt more what it should be at Christmas.

‘A Merry Christmas’ we all greeted one another on waking,And the same to you’ came the reply to everyone I greeted on the way to wash, & to the ChapelAt the door I met a sister & the Chaplain –  ‘the same to you’.  And why shouldn’t it be Merry?  ‘Rejoice again I say Rejoice’ (2) Those who have lost their lives for their country are numbered among the Hosts of Angels  which chant above.

I dreamt (dreams  are so hard to remember) but I do believe I dreamt of you all, certainly I dreamt of Mother & Ida & Dad & now I come to think on’t Basil too.  I could see Ida as plain as a pike staff.  And I dreamt of Sydney too & we met a nurse, I believe, who told us he was much better, at which we were all so glad.  I have dreamt of you all at one time or another these nights this week how queer – will it be a coincidence?  Well I will leave off  till after the dinner now. We get cold ham for breakfast.

From breakfast till Church time I read a Christmassy story I came across accidentally & only began to find out as I read along.  You must know that this Hospital, so I’ve been told, was once a monastery & it looks like one too –  all the more happy to imagine Ye olde Christmasse TYMES with the monks & so I read a Monk’s tale about Kings & Dukes & Princesses. The story also introduced York – ‘then as Winter came on quickly, withdrawing himself to his good old town of York to keep his Christmas, rest his men, etc.’  Then again, ‘he’, referring to the King of England, now the King of Scots.  ‘So at last about Xmas time the snow being very deep, the King of Scots sat down behind the wattles of his trenches, saying ‘if we cannot burn them out or cut them out, we will starve them out’ –   and so with the G——ns eh!

While I was reading several orcifers (sic) with their orderlies & a whole retinue of NCOs came to decide if our decorations deserved Ist Prize. Then the orderly made us all go to Church.

The service, which I have just come from & set to write you about, was as Christmassy as possible & again I guess we all thought of our Homes, & others, their sweethearts & wives.  The sermon was the old story of the Inn & the Shepherds and the Saviour. Though the ocean & lands divide us we think of each other at Holy Eucharist, so the old Latin text goes interpreted.

O Come all ye Faithful I can hear you singing, the very words we have too (3).  And we had the Hymn for absent friendsKeep them ’neath Thy care (4). I used that little Red Prayer Book in which you put my name & the text,Be thou faithful unto death(5). It is much dilapidated now but for all that it brought back memories of Xmasses gone by when I used it. (6)

I will leave off now till after dinner else I shall not have paper to finish.

Christmas Dinner.  ‘A goodly feast forsooth’.  A sight which reminds me of the words in the story I read this morning:-  ‘All was done in noble order, with abundance to eat (& drink), with minstrels in the gallery, dogs under the tables, a fool in a corner and silver trumpets at the buttery door to cry the courses’.

Yes, the officers waited on the men & the Chaplain served us too; as for the courses, the first was beef, haricot beans & spuds,  the second was plum pudding with white sauce (I put in some almonds from a dish of fruit just by). Then jellies of all kinds & chocolate blancmange Ida, yes.  The room, which was downstairs, held all the patients, numbering 200 in all.  We were greeted by the Chaplain who wished us all a Merry Christmas & told us that those who ate too much would be sent to the Base immediately,  Yes, get C.B. – not Confined to Barracks but Condemned for the Base.

Let’s see Mum, when was it I had that big BURD for dinner nine – teen – fif – er- no – nine-teen -THUR-TEEEN.  Oh my poor napper.  Let’s crack a bon bonthere were those on the table & those paper serviettes in pretty patterns. Also raisins & almonds, walnuts, chocolates, toffee & the Chaplain came round with cigarettes again.  So we have had a bit of Christmas & Santa Claus is coming at 4 o’clock.

Oh I’m full, full inside, & the officers have stuffed our pockets with nuts, chocolates & all those things I’ve said.  Eight volunteers for washing up.  I was one.

Ta Ta till after tea.  I am at peace with all the World, so said Dad once, & I hope you have all had a good dinner too.  I’m at peace with Ye K——r!

The afternoon passed in a happy, lazy way. I read the story of the little Child leading the King of Beasts, the tiger & all the other animals in Isaiah, Chapter 11, verse 6 . ‘The Wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, & the leopard shall lie down with the kid & the calf & the young lion & the fatling together, & a little Child shall lead them’.  How typical of the Hun & the Peacemakers. The K——r, so apparently hated by some people, will find blessing from God.  All the nations at war with one another shall live in peace & love one another in God’s good time.  And a little Child shall lead the nations. Reminds me of the Victor on a White Horse, leading his Hosts in white, in Revelation (7).

For tea we had jam & bread, but we did not open the tins, some iced cake & gingerbread came in & the  iced cake vanished first.

Poor old Bertie will not have any of our Christmas gifts!’

Best love, Bertie.   X X X X X

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South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

 25th Dec. 1915:  Entrained at BERQUETTE STATION for MARSEILLES, and arrived there on the 27th. (en route for  Dardanelles Campaign begun 25th April 1915).

ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

My 20 year old father, Pte Bertie Hibbett, is determined to be happy, and to convince his Mother that he is happy, spending Christmas in Hospital, sleeping on a stretcher, denied letters and parcels of Christmas Cheer from Home, separated from his brother & his best pal Vernon Evans, all three now in Hospital.

From Merville he would have heard the sound of guns at the Front. He knows the rest of his pals in 1/5th South Staffords are preparing for the Dardanelles /Gallipoli Campaign and he must soon be joining them. All he has to hold on to is his heightened awareness  of the true meaning of Christmas, the fulfillment of  Hebrew prophecy  – and the Army’s ‘Goodly Feast!’Byrom_J

(1) Christians Awake: Hymn. Text John Byrom 1691-1763. Tune: John Wainwright 1723-1768

(2) Rejoice again: Philippians 4.4. written by S. Paul in time of persecution, AD 49-51.

(3O Come all ye faithful/ Adeste Fidelis: John Francis Wade, 1711-1786. Translated from Latin by Frederick Oateley, 1841. (4) Neath thy Care: Isabella S. Stevenson, 1869. ‘Keep  our loved ones now far distant, neath Thy care‘; (written when her brother was sent away to S. Africa for his health).

(5) Be thou faithful unto death & I will give thee the crown of life’. Revelation 2.10. (6) Confirmation Prayer Book, a gift from his Mother. Confirmed Sunday 12th March, 1911 (16 yrs old).

(7) Book of Revelation: the only apocalyptic /prophetic document in the New Testament canon (dealing with Christian eschatology i.e. interpretation of the End Time). Written AD 81-96, in the form of a letter to all the churches during Emperor Domitian’s persecution of Christians/ a poetic allegory of the ongoing struggle between good & evil.

NEXT POST: 26th Dec. 1915.