Tag Archives: Field Ambulance.



Easter Sunday. Ap 23rd 1916

‘Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the  Feast’. (2)

‘Now the Queen of Seasons bright With the Day of Splendour, With the Royal Feast of Feasts Comes the Joy to render’. (3)

My Very Dear People,

Bright, sunny weather greeted us all as we got up this Easter morning.  I do so hope you too are having the same. But, queer enough, between the two great days it has rained somewhat heavily.

What a capital, ideal Easter parcel you sent dears – Mum, Dad & all.  I went down to Sydney & we opened it, with another parcel from Miss Foster* to us both in front of us .  How striking the beautiful Easter picture looked, the first thing that proclaimed itself as we took off the lid.  The parcels came just in time for Easter & before I left the Coy. for this place, No 3 Field Ambulance, North Midland Division, B.E.F.

This Easter morning, the parcels arriving yesterday, Saturday, I took them down myself to Sydney.  What a delightful brotherly feeling pervaded the air while I was with him, but now it has come my turn once again to leave him, for how long I can’t say. My case is not bad, it is prevalent among the majority of the men, my usual skin disease (4).

So eventually Easter Sunday finds me here, unable to ‘keep the Feast’ (2) as I should have liked, attending Parade Service, & Holy Communion which generally follows But I have reaped a little consolation from Miss Foster’s little book ‘Wayside Memories’ (5 which I will send as soon as I get a green envelope. There is a quotation which says: ‘a little lifting of the Heart suffices –  – – one act of inward worship, though upon a march & sword in hand, are nevertheless acceptable to God.’ (6).

Easter Dawn. Postcard sent to soldiers from St peter's Church Paddington. 'At our Easter Communion we are Praying for You.
Easter Dawn. ‘Lo I am with you alway’. 

I was so sorry on reading that you thought of not going to St Paul’s today, if I was not with you. But, dear Mum, what does the title for the Easter picture for the soldiers say; ‘Lo, I am with you alway’ (7). Does Ida remember the Happy Easter morning when we all went to Communion (Choral) & sang ‘Jesus Christ is risen today, Allelluia’ (8) and does dear Mum remember scooting off to Sunday School on the cycle?

Many thanks for the Hot Cross buns, cake, cigarettes & the Easter Egg.  I left the sardines for Sydney, also the cocoa, milk & sugar.  I have enjoyed a lovely day & ate the chocolate egg when Basil & his two brothers used to eat them –  ie after Easter dinnerI enjoyed a ‘nice’ tea with the cake today & pictured you all with Harold &  Miss Bore at tea.

I let Sydney have the pencil as it is of more use to him, being one who has to make notes etc.  After reading & digesting in little time to enjoy it as well, the Q.M.S. Magazine, those articles that Dodger earmarked, I left the magazine for Sydney while I brought the Parish (Church) Mag. with me.  While squatting by his side I heard him give acclamations of sad surprise on seeing the photos of the OTC casualties, but the smiling face of Sergeant Fenton* reminds me of Sydney’s quick answer to Mother’s question which was his favourite hymnRejoice again I say Rejoice’ (9) – ‘being sorrowful yet alway rejoicing’ (10). I shall put in for sick leave when possible, so be not anxious dearies.

I see that you are having the Hallelujah Chorus tonight, which I loved Dad to play.  I hope Dad will have a good rest this holiday & Mum will get well soon.  Perhaps you will think this letter not such a nice one as my usual, but I have such a great thoughts of you I can’t express or know what – or how much to say.

Silk Cigarette Cards: belgium & Serbia.
Silk Cigarette Cards: Belgium & Serbia.

I enclose some more silk cards (11), tell me if you get them, which I send for you Mum  – & Ida if she would like one, & Basil, with my heart’s love to you all.  I am writing to Harold, Ida & Basil soon. 

With our combined love & wishes from

Your loving Bertie.

PS Am sending little book later – tell me if you get it, it will be in a Stationary Envelope (6).



Pte Bertie Hibbett may have felt that he could not ‘keep the Feast’ in the traditional sense of attending Church services and family gatherings but to me these Letters Home show how deeply my father understood the true meaning of Good Friday & Easter. Like Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, he practised the Presence of God in the midst of suffering & sacrifice,   ‘As sorrowful yet alway rejoicing’.  

The Hibbett family sent a picture in their Easter Parcel with the message ‘Lo, I am with you alway’.  The sight of it gave great comfort and strength to him & his brother, and I am almost certain it was the same picture sent to Bandsman Thomas William Stubley, Killed in Action, 16th May 1916 – see Derby Church House website <http://www.derby.anglican.org&gt;Grateful thanks to Wendy Pockson & Dave Feltham.

(1) Field Ambulance: a Mobile Front Line Medical Unit (not to be mistaken for a vehicle), organised by the RAMC. Each Infantry Division had 3 F.As, each divided into 3 sections, each with 10 officers, a stretcher bearer & tented subsections. See The Long Long Trail <http://www.1914-1918.net/fieldambulances> 

John of Damascus.
John of Damascus.

(2) ‘Christ our Passover . . .’: 2 Corinthians 5.7. St Paul Approx AD 57. cf Exodus 12/ Angel of Death passes over the houses marked with the Blood of the Lamb. (3) ‘Now the Queen of Seasons bright. . .’ verse in Easter Hymn: ‘Come ye faithful raise the strain of triumphant gladness ‘John of Damascus c 675 -749. Syrian Monk & Christian Priest/lived in Jerusalem Orthodox Monastery. English Transl. 1853. John Mason Neale 1818- 1866. Anglican Priest & hymn writer/ Oxford Movement.

(4) ‘Skin Disease’: blood disorder/ boils that put Pte Bertie in Hospital, Aug -Oct 1915 & Dec. 1915-Jan 1916. cf Hibbett Letter 2nd Nov. 1915. (5) Godmother’s Little Book Wayside Memories/ which Bertie sent on to his Mother in a green envelope.

(6) ‘A little lifting of the heart: Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection. Practised the Presence of God’ cf Hibbett Letter 16th April 1916.

(7)  ‘Lo I am with you alway even to the end of the world’: Matt. 28 20. c AD 85. (8) ‘Jesus Christ is risen today’: 14th Cent Latin Hymn ‘Surrexit Christus hodie’/ author unknown. English Transl. John Baptist Walsh. Charles Wesley added a 4th verse. Music: ‘Easter Hymn'(Lyra Davidica).

9) ‘Rejoice I say . . ‘:  Philippians 4.14. St Paul approx. AD 49 -51.(10)  ‘Sorrowful yet alway rejoicing’. 2 Corinthians 6.10. KJV. St Paul AD 57 approx. 

(11) Silk Cigarette Cards: See Hibbett Letters 14th April 1916; 18th June 1915.


NEXT POST: 25th April 1916.  (Letter, posted in Derby not received by Bertie Hibbett until April 1918). 


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


11th -14th Dec. Platoon & Company Training. 

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

Tuesday Dec. 14/ 15  –  am


My Very Dear Mother  –  5 pm

I wrote the date this morning & was about to continue when I thought I should in all probability receive a letter from you tonight.  I went to the post myself this afternoon on my way back from the bootmakers (1).

WW1 British Boots B 5.
WW1 British Boots B 5. 

Yes, poor Sydney, you will get my letter of Sunday (2) saying I had his long letter telling me how he got to dear old England. Sydney told me I need not send it Home but I am, as Mum wants me to.

I daresay I shall get your parcels tomorrow night (Wed)I also got another parcel for Vernon, which makes the fourth since he left us on Saturday 11th for the Field Ambulance (3).

gpembertononline.coukLegionww1Wounded.html FieldAmbulancePoor old Verny, how very unfortunate he has been for parcelsLast night (Monday) he had his Xmas parcels from Home oh dear  – & I was away when they came to our billet & when I came back the Platoon Serg. had opened them & was about to distribute them among the Platoon. The contents would not keep until Vernon came back as they were, so I put a sample of everything in one of the tins & am keeping them in high hopes that Vernon will return very soon & enjoy some of the Xmas fare.  There was his Christmas cake above all too! 

I wrote a letter to Mrs Evans & from the beginning to nearly the end it was a very unpleasant undertaking. I said nearly because I had to FINIS happily to wish Vernon’s people a Merry Xmas.

I hope you have enclosed some candles; excuse me saying so, this candle is nearly ‘na pou’ finis, so I shall have to close soon (4). This morning I took the opportunity of acknowledging a handsome Christmas gift from Miss K. Brookes* , a Cigarette Case.  I suppose she thought I shall receive enough eatables to satisfy my appetite, well quite right too.

Hackett orderly.
Captain W. Hackett.

I heard from Hackett* (5) . . . (censored but ‘Capt. Lister’s orderly’ can be discerned) . . .  that no person can obtain a Commission without having been an N.C.O. for two months.  I shall put my case forward tomorrow or in a day or two.

Forgive me, dear Mum, but I shall relish the mince pies  – if there are any coming & I am wondering if Champion has made an attempt at a cake.

Lights out – I mean the candle – ’tis not 6 yet Let’s see. I shall want about four dozen Xmas cards from Boots Park St – I shall leave the billet & go my shopping down Walsall Town.

I was puzzled on reading what Vernon’s brother told Basil about him not hearing for 3 weeks.  I felt it my duty as a friend to be faithful to Vernon & take care of his parcels, but I do not at all like it.  He said he thought he would be back in three days.  I will wait either till tomorrow night (Wed) or keep patient till we move.  I might try to carry some of his parcel from Home in my valise. I should like you to converse with his people about it.

I said my next letter would be to Basil & Ida, but dear Mummy has had to have first attention lately.  I shall write my Christmas letter to you all either next Sunday or Monday the 20th, or I might write it when I get the parcels

Dost thee remember my Christmas letter last year at Saffron Walden?  Drawing to the end of November we shook hands with our old Colonel, who came to give us a surprise visit (7): when at Saffron Walden he hoped we would spend next  i.e. this Xmas at Home, which I am hoping to see about.

Ta Ta.

Best love to all hoping & trusting you will all keep in the best of health & good spirits to enjoy a Happy & real Christmas.

Your very affec. son




Pte Bertie Hibbett’s feet & those of his pal Vernon Evans suffer the consequences of the waterlogged march from Neuve Chapelle trenches to Rue des Vaches Billets, 5th Dec.1915. Bertie appears to be about to visit a local French bootmaker to repair or replace his boots and Vernon has gone to The Field Ambulance to be passed up the Casualty Evacuation Chain see (3) below.

hobnails images
Hobnails <https://www.1914-1918invisionzone.com&gt;

(1)Bootmakers: British B5 Boots. Soldiers of WW1 & WW2 marched in Northampton boots as did Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army (Roundheads) in the Civil War, 1642-1651.  70 million pairs of boots & shoes were made in WW1 (50 million in Northampton).  Crocket & Jones Factory made 3,493956 pairs for officers in WW1.  https://www.crocketand jones.com>. Interesting blog photos re history of bootmaking at Stony Middleton. <https://www.loomstate.blogspot.com/…/william-lennon-factory- >

(2Not extant.

(3) The Field Ambulance (not a transport vehicle as today but) a RAMC organised Casualty Evacuation Chain attached to each Division: consisting of Bearer Relay Posts immediately behind Regimental Aid Posts in the Front Line, further back the Brigade’s Advanced Dressing Stations (ADS) & further back still the Divisions Main Dressing Station (MDS). WW1 postcards.comimagesThere were also Walking Wounded Collection Stations, Rest Areas and  Sick Rooms. (Regimental Aid Posts could be in a dugout, communication trench, ruined house or deep shell hole).

See The RAMC in the Great War.  https://www.ramc-ww1> Also The Long Long Trail. <https://www.1914-1918.net/fieldambulances&gt;.  Each Field Ambulance had 10 Officers & 224 men (no weapons or ammunition). Each Division had 23 wagons & 3 water carts and 10 ambulance wagons for transport/ mostly pulled by horses but some motorised ambulances.

(4) ‘na pou’/slang for ‘finished’, ‘no good’. 

(5) William? Hackett’s* application for Commission was successful, he eventually became a Captain. (Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall, 1900-1905). Interestingly his training as Captain Lister’s* Orderly involved attendance at Army Servant School. (He died in 1918 in Scotland, reason as yet unknown ).

(6) N.C.O: A private must have had some experience as a Non-Commissioned officer (Lance Corporal/Corporal/Serjeant) before acceptance for Officer training & Commission. 

(7) Colonel Crawley*. See A Little Book of Words & Doings. Letter: 5th Dec. 1915.

NEXT POSTS: 19th Dec. 1915. Letters to all Four Hibbetts: Basil. Ida, Mother & Father, to arrive for Christmas.