Tag Archives: Home Leave


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


7th -11th June Sun: Divisional Reserve. Furnishing working parties. 


Bertie Hibbett


‘Evermore to rejoice in His Holy Comfort’. (1)

‘I will come to you’. ‘My Peace I give unto you’ (2)   Collect & Gospel for :-  

                                        Whit Sunday. June 11/ 16.

White Carnation.
White Carnation ‘picked from some growing by the trench’. June 11th 1916.

My Very Dear Mother,

I cannot just lay my hand on your last letter with that most appropriate text you wrote at the top. Yes I am learning a lesson from that text today. It is not for us to know the times or the seasons. It is not for us to plan out the future but to take each day as it comes (3).

I am so sorry for not controlling myself that day.  One of my comrades said I should follow him for Leave. I committed again a great folly, but as Sydney said I may go any day now

Since that day he went on leave Leave has been reduced to one man a Battalion a day, excepting Sun & Mon when two go.

Queen Cakes.<http://greatbritishchefs
Queen Cakes.

We went digging today & I thought of you all at Church & at dinner time. I understand it is the Sunday School Festival today (4). I wonder if you all went?  I am writing on a pad Mrs Hurst* sent me in a parcel with some fruit, coffee, sardines & some homemade Queen cakes (5). She sent the bananas green, thinking they would ripen on the way – good idea?

Centre: Sgt S. HIBBETT when training as a Sergeant.
Serjeant Sydney Hibbett. 1916.

Sydney heard from Miss Foster* today. He is keeping quite well & smart & always finds a cheery word for me, like Basil does for Mummy.

I hope you are not making elaborate preparations & putting yourself unnecessarily out of the way. Remember that I am coming Home just for a quiet time with Dad & Mum & brothers & sister. I shall not care for the bell to be kept ringing & Mum’s rooms & floors to be spoiled

The Hibbett Family at Tea: Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida.
The Hibbett Family at tea on Holiday at Abergele, North Wales:  Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida. August 1914.

I just feel, after this fatigue, that I could have a real rest at Home with Home people; to have friends would cause me to exert mental efforts in the way of manners & habits.

As for meals –  just those good wholesome puddings & plain teas will please me as well as anything.

I will close, hoping Our Lord, of whom we learn today is the Comforter, will give you strength & comfort to wait in hope. I trust He will send me Home in safety. Let us thank Him for all His mercies that He has bestowed upon us all these many months.

Vernon sends me the Observer (6) each week now apparently. I have had little time for writing.

Best love to all.  Bertie.

ekphotoartgallery.wordpress.comimgresPS  This white carnation I picked from some growing by the trench. White for Whitsuntide.



Mentally & physically exhausted, Pte Bertie Hibbett longs for rest – & the quiet of Home. The news that Leave was restricted to one soldier a battalion must have been devastating. His digging ‘fatigue’ could well have been repairing  the long & dangerous communication trenches, over the ridge from the Divisional Reserve at Souastre to the Front at Fonquevillers. Under close German observation these fatigues were conducted mainly at night.

Deprived of Church services, my father took strength from the Book of Common Prayer Readings & Prayers for the day – Whit Sunday, always a favourite festival for him. He took comfort from a white carnation picked by the trench and from the cheery word of his brother. His Mother’s advice ‘to take each day as it comes’, my Dad often passed on to me.

(1) Collect for Whit/ White Sunday/ Pentecost (50 days after Easter). Book of Common Prayer. 1662. God who as at this time didst teach to hearts of thy faithful people, by the sending to them of the light of thy Holy Spirit: Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things: and ever more rejoice in his  holy comfort. . .’

(2) Gospel for Whit Sunday/ Pentecost: John 14.15f. Jesus’ Discourse on ResurrectionEternal Life

(3) ‘It is not for us to know the times and seasons’: Acts 1.7. Jesus’ spiritual answer to his disciples’ political question ‘Will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel’. i.e. Are you going to lead a rebellion against the Romans?

S. School Cert. 1914(4) St Paul’s Sunday School, Walsall. Bertie Hibbett had passed his Sunday School Teacher’s Examination in April 1914. Some of his class kept in touch with him during the War & sent him little gifts.

circa 1890

(5) Queen Cakes Patty Tins  c.1890; recipe older than reign of Queen Victoria? cf Historic Food Website. 

(6) The Walsall Observer.

NEXT POST: 18th June 1916.


 Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: Ward 6. No 9. General Hospital: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall, forwarded on by Ida to 7, Victoria Square, Whitby. (1).                                                                                                                                             In Red White & Blue.                                                                     Sunday Aug 22/15  

My Very Dear Mother,

54 in 1915.

Today is Sunday & I have just come back from a beautiful little service inside a tent.  Neat little chairs, & neat little forms, scrubbed white, a beautiful little altar covered with a nice plain green clothOn the altar was laid a beautiful brass cross, & vases in which were some lovely white flowers.

A soldier in khaki rang ‘The Bell’, which was in the form of a bar of iron & to make it ring the soldier smote it with a wooden hammer  – quite a good imitation.  Then in came some patients in Royal Blue suit, white shirts & wearing scarlet ties, just like me.  Yes, in Red, White & Blue, the Hospital Dress.  Then soon after, a few nurses (Sisters we call ’em) came & sat down in the chairs, they looked so ‘spick an’ span’ in their caps & aprons so perfectly white.  Then in came the organist or rather a nurse who sat down to a fine pianoThen the clergyman, a very gentlemanly M.A., no bombast at all about him.  He walked up the aisle to his little stained wooden desk & prepared the service.

Then a whole party of R.A.M.C. Soldiers in khaki came in & we had a good few,a handsome little muster of souls’ altogether.  A nice motley of colour – to see the scarlet copes of the Sisters, the hood of the priest, the green & white of the altar, the blue of the patients’ uniform & the khaki of the R.A.M.C.

SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
21 in 1915.

The service started with that glorious old Hymnal March ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ (2). I think of Sydney when I think of this hymn now, praying that he may goOnward’, while he is the indirect cause of me resting here. 

Sabine baring Gould, devon, UK.
Sabine baring Gould, devon, UK.

The sermon was good & just right for the congregation, about prayer, why some are not answered.  Then the climax of the service came, after the sermon we had that hymn reminding me so much of your dear daughter & my affectionate sister.

John Arbuthnot.
John Arbuthnot.

The Sister at the piano played exquisitely & we all joined in the anthem tune of  ‘As pants the hart for cooling streams’ (3) & a sweet voice from one of the Sisters sent me back to the memories of Ida as a nurse.

I spoke of resting here.  Well as a matter of fact we have work to do.  Just a bit of light duty in the way of house wifery I was orderly one day, but owing to vaccination & the irritation of sores round the ankle Sister put me on ‘The Bright Things’, as she calls the dinner tins & trays & milk cans.

Well isn’t it funny Mummy, you said I was fond of brightening, when I mentioned Sydney’s bayonetWell I of my own accord cleaned a dozen or more rusty knives (included in the bright things) which looked as if they had never been cleaned for half a century.  Yes Mummy your painstaking & care will  – & always will leave a trace in the family.

I was told to pick up all the rockeries around the front of the hut & put them beautifully straight again.  Well here again, you can tell the reflection of your nature upon mineI scrubbed all the stones, they looked so dirty & the result gained great commendation from the Senior Sister.

I will close now.  Hoping again that you are enjoying a sunny Sunday like it is here, all together & another nice evening’s walkI can picture the calm sea & sunset of a Sunday’s evening.

Mum, you know I like bread butter pudding, well I had a second serving for Sunday’s dinner & it was so nice, with currants & large sultanas in & custard on TOP, poor SydneyI hope to rejoin him soon & be proud to live the campaign through, yet above all how nice it would be if Home Leave would buck up in coming eh Mum.

Best love,    Bertie.

PS  It takes a week for a letter to come from England.  So if you wrote last Sunday afternoon I should not get the letter till tomorrow Monday.  I went to the 6.30 Holy Communion this morning too in the tent.  You can let Ida read this letter if you like.  I addressed this Home, as I guess you will be home in a week’s time, the length of time this letter will take. (1)



(1) This Letter only took  3 days instead of Bertie’s expected week so Ida forwarded it on to Whitby

Arthur Sullivan.

(2) 19th Cent. HymnOnward Christian Soldiers. Sabine Baring Gould. 1865. Music: Arthur Sullivan. 1871.

(3) Anthem:  As Pants the Hart for Cooling Streams.  George Frederick Handel (5 versions 1713 -1738, for use in Chapel Royal). Words (based on Psalm 42) attributed to John Arbuthnot, 1667 -1735. Scottish physician, mathematician and political satirist, (John Bull series). 


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY shows Lance Corporal Sydney Hibbett still in Reserve Camp.

20th – 22nd Ouderdom ‘F’ Hutments, Divisional Reserve.

NEXT POSTS:  Apologies for late posting of Letters dated 22nd, 25th, 26th, 29th  & 30th AUGUST 1915. (I needed a walking break in the Lake District and will be back to original post dates by end of August).


South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


4th July, Sun. Furnished working parties to the 1st and 2nd Coys. N. Midlands and 57th Coy R.E. CASUALTIES: 4 men wounded : No 8697 Pte A. Anson, 8396 Pte G. Davies, 8877 Pte C. Evans, and 8749 Pte J. Cater.  


BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

Sunday July 4/ 15.

Mother at Tea.
Mother at Tea.

My Very Dear Mother,

Sydney & I have received this dinner time a parcel from Auntie (1).  There are some very delicious things in it, so I must write & acknowledge it as a soon as possible.  By the by, I do not very often write to Yorkbut I really must write to dear Mother on SundaySunday always makes me think more of you & Dad.

Hush! – there’s signs of us coming Home.  Our Captain (2) has asked the Serj. Major for privates recommended for Home Leave.  But to prevent any anxiety or disappointment we cannot make certain of coming home.  But still you, dear Mother would, I thought, like a little more light on the matter.

Now Mother I know you love our children of St Paul’s Sunday School & give them a smile from me now & then,  so I thought you would be interested in this dear letter from a jolly little chap in my old class.

England's Glory Matches.
England’s Glory Matches.

He sent me a little parcel in which was  –  I wondered whatever it would be  –  there were 2 boxes of England’s Glory matches (3), a box of cigarettes & some hum bugs.  But what a generous thought of the little boy eh?

Ivory Floating Soap.
Ivory Floating Soap.

We are still in bivouacs & go to the trenches in a day or so.  Auntie sent us both a tablet of floating soap  (4) again, some cake & parkin.  The best in the parcel was a box of large chocolates including Cream Walnuts & marshmallows.  She sent fourwhat do you think?  ba-na-nas, allyou know hm – hm.  But very luckily the other contents were not spoiled. 

Forgive me referring to you sending more luxuries for my b – day, but I should like what Mother likes instead of pineapple chunksYou like apricots – well send us a tin of apricots. See PS.

PS Top of Letter. Hoping you are spending a very happy Sunday all together having tea in the sunshine. 

Best love to Dad  –  & all of you.   Bertie.



(1Auntie (Pattie?) Hibbett of York. (2Captain Charles Lister*. (3) England’s Glory matches. Made in Gloucester by S. J. Moreland & Sons (subsidiary Bryant & May, 1913). Image is of H.M.S. Devastation; turret ship built to Admiralty design,1869; first ocean-going ship without sails, described as ‘one of the most powerful warships in the world’.

(4) Floating Soap: James Norris Gamble (son of founder Proctor & Gamble establ. 1878). Origin: Proud Paper: vintage art & ads (Ebay). The World’s Biggest Advertiser all began with One Product. ‘White Soap’ produced by accident when mixing machine was left on & excess of air mixed in – buyer asked for ‘that floating soap again’.1879.  Harley T. Proctor (son of founder Proctor & Gamble) changed name  to ‘Ivory Soap‘ 1882; inspired by Psalm 45.8 All thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.   cf  ‘Ivory Soap’: Wikipedia and <www.todayifoundout.com>

NEXT POST: 5th JULY, 1915. 


15TH FEB.1915: ‘Crack Sougers’ & ‘A Sharp Shooter’.

South Staffordshire Badgee SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY *

14th  Entraining Practice of Transport fully loaded & all horses & mules.

15th Shortgrove Park (1) Attack Practice by Coys.  I Coy Night Trench Digging: instructions received to send indents for Equipment & Stores by 9.0 pm & to be prepared to move at short notice.

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

Mon. aft(ernoon) Feb  15 / 15

My Dear Sister,

I really must tell youYou know you wanted to know what would become of  Syd getting such high scores at the RangeNo he is not going to be a sergeant –  he doesn’t like stripes.  I  heard the result this morning at Dismiss.  I heard that three men out of 2 Platoon were needed for the Machine Gun Section (2).  Sid volunteered but was soon ‘put down’ by Lieut Wright, our Commander.

What Hibbett is it?  S?  Yes, well we can’t spare youYou are going to be trained as a  Sharp Shooter’ & up came our friend Lieut Parr & said with a good smile:You’re picked for a sniper, you’re the best shot!’ – the latter remark I hardly remember but still.  My word the Germans will not half shout. “For goodness sake halt a Stafford is comin’!

Tell Dodger that bit in Mother’s letter was superb We are crack sougers (sic) now.  Sid, my word isn’t half smart & tell Mother he does look after his rifle.  Cleaned it after that night out (3).  Sunday 7th Feb. was one of the few exceptions & it was unfortunate that the Brigade Major did not pick out Sid’s rifle & then he would not have blowed us up about it.  We have had to parade 3/4 hr earlier in consequence for rifle inspection.

Mrs Pennings’s son (4), who has been at the Front since mobilisation, is coming home tonightMrs Penning is in raptures and nearly fainted.

Ta Ta!    Bert.

Postscripts on side of letter:  Mrs Penning got a tele(gram). We’ll show him when he comes that we are not playing at soldiers.  Many thanks for letters Mother. Don’t waist (sic) your note on me, it is for you to send to your  friends etc’.

Postscripts on top of letter. I guess Sid is too modest to tell youBut he did want to join the Machine Gun Section.  No he must be a sniper.    Parade 6 for a lecture on trench digging – so that PC is more true than ever.



(1) Home of Carl & Adele Meyer*. (2) Sydney Hibbett was an Engineer Apprentice.  (39th Feb. Night Trench Digging. (4) Corporal Arthur Penning*, (Regular Soldier. Royal Garrison Artillery later Killed in Action).

NB S.Staffords War Diary: photocopied by Major Beedle, Staffordshire Regt. Museum, in 2002, to whom grateful thanks.

NEXT POST: 19th Feb. 1915. King George Vth Review & Farewell For France


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT on Home Leave in Walsall: POSTCARD to Sig. (1) SYDNEY HIBBETT,  8830, ‘A’ Coy, 5th South Staff Reg. 29 Gold Street, Saffron Walden. 

                                12 Jan / 15

Audley End Village 1915.

Got to Walsall 2pm  –  Birmingham 1pm.  Arrived safe and sound after a delightful journey straight from S.W. to  Birmingham via Ely, Peterborough and Rugby; changed at Birmingham for WORSLE train (2).   Was in carriage with Walsall Tommies when I caught sight of Basil passing.  At once got out and Basil and I travelled to Walsall (3). Met Boothroyd in Foden Road, with Davies and Frith spoke to me (4).

Don’t forget the Imp. Service Badge (5).

All at home very wellAll’s well – about go on ‘fatigue’.  Mother sends her love.  Bring this PC home when you come see.



* Namessee Menu Page.

(1) Sig./ Signaller. (2Worsle /Walsall. (3)No corridor train. (4)J? Boothroyd (Borough Surveyor’s Department, Walsall), lived at 93, New Rowley Street (i.e. next house to Hibbett Home at 95 Foden Rd cum Rowley St after the War); 2nd Lieut.J. Davies, old boy QMS, brother to Taff Davies; A.G.Frith, MA, Classics Master at QMS, Walsall, (late Exhibitioner, Sydney Sussex College, Cambridge).

(5)Imperial Service Brooch. Bertie wants his parents to see this before he leaves for the Front. Imp.Service BroochThe Long, Long Trail website <www.1914-1918.net>  has image and the following description:-

 When TF (Territorial Force/ Terrier) troops agreed to overseas service, they signed the “Imperial Service Obligation“. They were then issued with a special badge, known as the “Imperial Service Brooch“, to be worn on their right breast. . .

 On 15 August 1914 orders were issued to separate the “home service” men from those who had undertaken to serve overseas, with the intention of forming reserves made up of those who had not so volunteered.  Those men that did not agree were separated out into “Home Service” or “Second Line” units. The original units now became known as the “Foreign Service or “First Line.

 In 1915 the “First Line” and “Second Line” units were given a new title; for example the 1/5th and 2/5th South Staffordshires were what had been the first and second line formed by the original 5th Battalion. ‘

NEXT POST: 13th Jan. 1915. Saffron Walden. War Horse & Uniforms.