Tag Archives: Fazakerly Hospital Liverpool 1916.


Pte Bertie Hibbett. 1916

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton: LETTER to FATHER, MOTHER, IDA, HAROLD & BASIL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall, Staffs.

Christmas Day /16

My Dear Father, Mother, Ida, Harold & Basil, 

The Programme of the Day started with trying to undo my pair of stockings and extricate their contents (6.15 am).  The contents I found out were first – a handsome little cigarette case, nickel silver – then a small parcel containing Gold Flake cigs, Cad. (bury) Milk chocolates, some other chocolates & a bag of toffee. There was also this writing pad and the letter which was going to be sent to Fazakerly (1) from the Matron, having on the top a pretty Christmas design.

St James with Emmanuel, Victoria Rd New Brighton, Merseyside.1875.

Having got ready for Church, I thought of singing ‘Christians Awake’ (2) to Nurse Wilcox* . It was rather jolly going there in the dark & singing by candlelight. I have rarely sung here & I wondered if they heard me.  You will learn later in my letter. The Holy Communion Service was plain  (the Choral was later) & the organist not being there, the Hymn While Shepherds watched’  (3) was played by the Vicar on the harmonium, which I had noticed some long time ago near the vestry.

It was very pleasant for all the soldiers to go up to the altar with a sister (Sister Clive* wears glasses).  On coming out of Church I saw the two Wilcox sisters who wished their compliments & remarked upon me getting up early.  Later they came round the Wards with their father who wished to know for certain who sang, they all thought it very nice. (They are a little like the Brookes* (4) ).

I intended going to the morning service but did not know it started at 10.30 am. 

I went a walk on the sands, the weather was foggy but just before dinner – & for the rest of the day –    the weather has been lovely & bright & a bite of cold.

The Dinner was very good, turkey, stuffing, sausages & bread sauce etc. & plum pudding, deserts, fruit & nuts, including a few Brazils & almonds in shells.

After dinner I got a box of chocolates from Molly Evans* (5) & I lay down in my old bed & tried to sleep, at any rate I rested. Then about 4 o’clock I  went to see Sister Jones* ( but I had to visit the other branch Hospital at Penkell Rd. (6).  Well Mother, when Sister Jones saw me she smiled all over & half ran to me & then embraced me.  What do you think of that.  She persisted in me staying there & so I entered a room to find the nurses & patients having a Sing Song  – & a Santa Claus was giving presents to the audience, conveyed by someone dressed as a Teddy Bear.  How they laughed.

So far so goodbut I forgot to mention that I got a fit of tidyness this morning & I tidied the Ward & made it look so nice that when the Medical Officer in Charge of the Cenacle (7) came round with the Commandant, he remarked upon it, saying of all the wards this was the best.  I put Miss K. Brookes* black dog Calendar in the centre of the mantelpiece which attracted everyone’s admiration.

I also forgot to tell you I have had four eggs given to me. Two for breakfast (I was about to have three (one a bantams)).

Serjeant Sydney Hibbett 22 yrs.

I showed many nurses the Q.M.S. Magazine (8) with Our Dear Sydney’s photo in, which I consider the best, although we must reverently consider the others. I thought more than ever of Sydney when I was resting after dinner.

I showed the poem (9) I sent you to a clergyman who thought it would be very nice for Mother, but I have an idea that Sydney is too good (or the loss of our dear Sydney is such a delicate matter) for me to write poetry about, not being able to compose so correctly as genii – but the clergyman thought it well, excepting some of the metre here & there.  I  leave it entirely to your candid opinion Mother & all of you, for I only thought of the idea to try and make amends for the loss of the poem on the paper cutting. 

On Christmas Eve by the Matron’s request I embossed a letter of Good Wishes to the M.O. I/C (Dr Barry) (7). I was chosen to write the letter because I was one of the two oldest patients at the Cenacle.  Dr Barry* thanked me so kindly this morning, he is a very pleasant gentleman & the Commandant was also rather pleasant.

I also did (copied) the King’s Message to the sailors & soldier saying how the ‘Queen & I at this time think especially of the sick & wounded’ (10).

Well dears, I thought of the Xmas three years ago (11 ) when we were altogether & I hope & pray I may be with you at Home next.  I liked Harold’s Christmas Card very much, especially the words:-

‘A little fun to Match the sorrow Of each day’s growing, And so Good Morrow’ (12). 

I liked Basil’s letter & thank him for the one I got when at Fazakerly. I described his account of York Minster to several nurses  – & to the Bach. of Music, who was talking at breakfast how the Holy Communion Service was taken at Peterborough. (They have services at 6, 7,  8 & 11.30 –all Choral.  The Dean takes the first & the Canon the next & the Bishop at 8  – & the Canon in Residence at 11.30).  How I wished I had been with Basil in the Minster.

The Cenacle British Red Cross Hospital: Nurse Cockeram & Nurse Higson. Far right: Pte Bertie. Hibbett . August 1916.

Well, I remembered Basil to the nurses & those who knew him well. Nurse Danger, Nurses Hay*, Cockeram* & Wilcox* (Helen) send you all the Compliments of the Season.

I remain, Yours affectionately ever,


PS  I was going to write to Mary Overend & Mr & Mrs * (13 ) but can you convey my wishes please.  The bottom Ward, consisting of two front rooms in one, has been cleared of the beds & they are all dancing to the violin & some music on the piano by the B Musc.  I am in the Ward busy writing this letter. I can feel that Sydney is present. 

Sister Jones* sends her best wishes to Mother.



My father always made Christmas a special time for us all. His love of the Festival is clear in this WW1 letter as he remembers his lost brother & the Hibbett Family’s last Christmas all together in 1913. Cf his Christmas Letters of 1914 & 1915.

(1) Fazakerly Military Hospital, Liverpool, where Pte Bertie had recently returned after an operation to save his right arm. No doubt his bandages made it difficult to open his Christmas stockings one-handed. 

(2) Hymn: Christians Awake salute the happy morn, whereon the Saviour of the world was born. Text John Byrom 1691-1763; Tune John Wainwright 1723 -1768. [See Hibbett Letters 25th Dec. 1915]

(3) Hymn: While Shepherds watched. Text based on Luke 2.8-14 by Nahum Tate 1652-1715 (Irish Hymnist/Poet Laureate to Queen Anne.).Published by Tate & Nicholas Brady in ‘Supplement of New Version of Psalms of David.1696’ . Music: Old Winchester. (The only Christian hymn authorised to be sung in Anglican Churches. Before 1700 only Psalms could be sung). [See Hibbett Letters 27th Dec 1914; 24th Dec. 1915]

(4Kathleen Brookes*: Deacon/ Sunday School Teacher/ Superintendent. St Paul’s Church, Walsall.  Supported the Prisoner of War Relief Fund, Walsall Ladies’ Health Society and Walsall Poor Children’s Holiday Society.  Lived at Fern Leigh, Mellish Road, Walsall (with her father, William Henry Brookes, (JP, 1906) a former Superintendant & Pte Bertie’s friend & life-long mentor).

(5) Molly Evans*: young sister of Pte Bertie’s best pal, Vernon Evans, who joined his father’s Solicitor Firm in Walsall estab. 1884. Enoch Evans became Lord Mayor of Walsall in 1921. (See Enoch Evans LLP <www.enochevans.co.uk>)

(6) Penkell Rd, New Brighton: neither road nor hospital found on list of WW1 Auxiliary Hospitals <www.redcross.org.uk> so perhaps spelling is incorrect or the name refers to a house taken over for increasing numbers of Battle of Somme wounded.

(7) M.O I/C: Medical Officer in Charge. Dr Barry.

(8) QMS Magazine 1916. In Memoriam. 2016/17. A plaque dedicated to Serjeant Sydney Hibbett and one to Lieut Allen, both QMS Old Boys, KIA, has been erected at Lochnagar Crater by the present QMS Head Boy & senior pupils. (See photographs PRH191418@QMS191418/ Twitter). The crater was created by an enormous explosion underground, ten minutes before the official time of 7.30 am that marked the opening of the Battle of the Somme.  It would have been heard at Fonquevillers as the 1/5th S. Staffords waited to go over the top to take Gommecourt Park & Wood, 1st July 1916.

(9) Poem: temporarily mislaid.

(10) King’s Message Christmas 1916 (he did not broadcast his Christmas message until 1932).

(11) See Hibbett Letters Dec 1914.

(12) Poem: A Little Work. George Louis Palmella Du Maurier 1834-1896.  A little work, a little play To keep us going – and so Good Day! A little fun to match the sorrow  of each day’s growing and so Good Morrow.

(13) May/ Mary Overend (Red Cross Nurse /friend of Ida Hibbett), long-standing family friends in Walsall.

NEXT POST: 2nd Jan. 1917: Pal’s Postcard on Active Service, Egypt.


1-earlston-rd-earlston-seabank-medical-centre-earlston_practice_photoDr. N.C. SCLATER * (1) Consultant Physician, The Cenacle, New Brighton: LETTER to ARTHUR HIBBETT Esq. 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

AT HOME: 9 to 10 a.m. 6 to 7 p.m.          DARNA,                                         Telephone: 245 Liscard.                                 1. EARLSTON ROAD,                                                                                                            LISCARD, Cheshire. (2)

ARTHUR HIBBETT: 56 in 1914.

                                                                             25th Nov. 1916.    A. Hibbett Esq.                

Dear Sir,

I have today made a special & careful examination of your son’s injury. 

I am pleased to say that I find the condition very much more successful than I could at one time have hoped to obtain. The long period of patient waiting has been justified by the success. 

Pronation & supination.

At first on arrival here, it looked as though the hand would be certainly saved but a hand that would be useless save for the simplest work owing to loss of important movements (pronation & supination) (3) through destruction of the bone. 

Fortunately all movements have been retained, and a really useful hand is the result.  Healing is not quite complete, and a portion of dead bone may still have to be removed (4).










I have ordered an X.ray plate (5) to be made at an early date so that we may see how things are. 

When your son returns home in some weeks time he will I trust be well able to resume active life & earn his own living.

Yours faithfully,




Total Detonation Fragmentation 18 pound  Mark iii Shell.

Pte Bertie Hibbett’s gunshot wound on 1st July 1916 was potentially very serious. Many soldiers died even from seemingly minor injuries, when they did not receive immediate medical attention & septicemia set it.  My father in My Memories. 1967 wondered why a fellow soldier, with a similar wound, died while he lived on. It is no wonder that he felt so grateful to his pal Arthur Venables (commemorated Thiepval Memorial to the Missing) who gave him that vital first-aid in No Man’s Land, Gommecourt.

My grandfather, Arthur Hibbett, Walsall Borough Education Officer, would have been interested in the doctor who was treating his son and the use of X-rays & he would have known of the 1905 petition by the Royal College of Surgeons regarding Hygiene Education in schools to which Dr Sclater was a signatory. 

Royal College of Surgeons.
Royal College of Surgeons.

(1) Dr Nelson Cameron Sclater: born 1875? Dingle, Lancashire. Married Violet Salmon. Listed British Army Service Records, 1914 -1920. Died 1965. One of 14,718 Signatories to Elizabeth Garrett Anderson’s Petition to Central Education Authorities of England, Wales, Scotland & Ireland distributed to Medical Professions of the United Kingdom. Royal College of Surgeons. Published 1905 by Morland, Birmingham. (Detail continued below).

(2) No 1. Earlston Rd: good to see Dr Sclater’s old home ‘Darna‘ is still thriving as ‘Earlston and Seabanks N.H.S Medical Centre (Wirral) with a musculoskeletal specialist. No doubt with very different hours! 

(3) Pronation & Supination: anatomical terms for ‘pair of unique movements’ re rotation of forearm or foot. Pronation:– hand & upper arm turned inwards. Supination:- forearm & hand turned outwards.

(4) ‘Removal of dead bone’: Pte Bertie Hibbett underwent an ‘operation to the right wrist’ ,13th Dec.1916 at Fazakerly Hospital, Liverpool.

(5) X-rays: discovered by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. 1845-1923, Professor at Würzburg University. X-ray: ‘invisible ray able to pass through solid matter & in conjunction with photographic plate provide a picture of bones & interior body parts’. By 1896 X-rays were being ‘used by battle field physicians to locate bullets in wounded soldiers’. NDT Resource Centre website.

[ (1) Continued: THE UNDERSIGNED MEMBERS OF THE MEDICAL PROFESSION, having constantly before us the serious physical and moral conditions of degeneracy and disease resulting from the neglect and infraction of the elementary laws of Hygiene, venture to urge the CENTRAL EDUCATIONAL AUTHORITIES OF THE UNITED KINGDOM TO CONSIDER WHETHER  it would not be possible to include in the curricula of the Public Elementary Schools, and to encourage in the Secondary Schools, such teaching as may, without developing any tendency to dwell on what is unwholesome, lead all the children to appreciate at their true value healthful bodily conditions as regards Cleanliness, Pure Air, Food, Drink, etc.

In making this request we are well aware that at the present time pupils may receive teaching on the laws of Health, by means of subjects almost invariably placed upon the Optional Code. By this method effective instruction is given to a small proportion of the pupils only. This does not appear to us to be adequate. We believe that it should be compulsory and be given at a much earlier age than at present. It may, perhaps, be useful to call attention to what is being achieved in this direction by English speaking nations. In reviewing the steps taken it will be noted that one of the most prominent subjects with which the various countries have found it necessary to deal, is the question of the nature and effects of Alcohol.

In the ARMY SCHOOLS of this country and of all our foreign stations west of Aden, teaching in Elementary Hygiene is compulsory; such teaching including Temperance, Health and Sanitation, special attention being drawn to the deleterious effects of Alcohol.]

NEXT POST: 10th DEC. 1916.