Tag Archives: Hot Fomentations.


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, ROUEN:  Ward 6,  No 9. GENERAL HOSPITAL .  LETTER to  MOTHERMarie Neal HIBBETT, c/o Mrs Hardcastle, 7, The Square, Whitby.

In Red White & Blue.  Friday Aug. 20/ 15.

Marie Neal Hibbett 53 in 1915
Marie Neal Hibbett. 53 in 1915

My Dear Mother,

Don’t you feel sorry for Sydney?  I do – don’t feel sorry for me.  (Just gone to put another record on the Pathephone)  (1) – ’Cos I am quite happy you know.

Pathephone Record Player.1916.
Pathephone Record Player.1916.

I am in No 6. Ward of No 9. General Hospital.  Oh! the difference after coming from the trenchesall spick & span neat beds, neat everything and meals served out to us.  Porridge for brekker, vegetables with our dinner & cocoa & milk at night.

Pathephone Advertisement 1915.
Pathephone Advertisement. 1915.

All this I owe to Sydney, who I found out consequently, had recommended me for a rest.  Twenty of us came down a week last Monday & all had to go up the line again 4 days afterwards.

Thought I was going, but there happened to be a Medical Inspection & I was marked unfit & sent here.  All wots up we me is that I’m run down, & blood out of order.  So I was vaccinated larst night (2).

If you want to send me anythink it must be in the way of biscuits & chocolate if you like.  I ’ope as you are still Enjoying yourselves.  I guess Harold has by this time gone to Bedale (3).

Tell me when you go home.  I am expecting a letter from you today. So will leave the last page blank until the post comes.

There goes the bugle for lettersWe have all the bugle calls (4), in fact everything is done Regimental Style, from Parade Calls to folding the dish cloth neatly into four

I hope Ida will keep the letters I’ve sent you so that you can read them too.

After Tea.  No letters forthcoming today, rather disappointing, hope for the best tomorrowa letter so enlivens me up.  We look uncommonly like Germans with our hair cut short (5).  I wonder if you could manage to send me some more hard boiled eggs like Bailey* used to get.

Best love dear Mummy,   Bertie.



Pte Bertie waited 10 days in Hospital before writing directly to his Mother, still on holiday to inform her that he wasrun-down‘, with ‘blood out of order’.  Ailments: ‘facial paralysis‘ from boils on face, neck & head;  boils & sores on legs. Treatment: ‘hot fomentations’  ‘vaccination’ & shaved head to get rid of lice.

(1) Pathephone: record player. (2) Harold was new manager of  pharmacy/chemist at Bedale, Yorkshire.

(3) ‘Vaccinated’:  for what  is unclear; could be against trench fever.  (4) Bugle Calls: short tune/ military signal to announce scheduled order/ event of the day. List of Bugle Calls with music notation <http://www.wikipedia.org/wikiBugle_call&gt;

(5) Lice & Fleas: an ever-present misery in trench life.


Meanwhile Lance Corporal SYDNEY HIBBETT was in Reserve Camp.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFS WAR DIARY.  1 8th – 20th Aug. 1915. 


NEXT POST:  22nd AUGUST, 1915. Tent Service in Colour & Sister’s ‘Bright Things’.





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

‘All in Bandage’. Rest Camp.  Aug. 16/ 15.

My Dear Sister,

IDA HIBBETT. 27 in 1914.

I did envy your capital heading –  ‘The Little Grey Home in The West’ (1) and don’t you think you were the only one who thought it was their own original idea.  16th August.1915. All in Bandage.


Got such a long epistle from Dodger to us both on his doings during the first week at Whitby.  Sorry Sydney cannot read it.  Got it the same day yours arrived here so they are forwarded on to me.

Anyone would think I was wounded by the way my head is bandaged up all over with hot fomentations (2) – & on my legs.  I might say I have another pair of puttees (3) ’cos of the bandaging.

Pink Pills for Pale People.
Pink Pills for Pale People.

‘Unable to sleep at nights through heartburn’ sounds like reading from one of those cases in Dr Williams ‘Pink Pills for Pale People’ which are popped under the front door eh! (4)

Glad to hear from you at last & more still to hear that you are having a good time  – & with the jolly gal who dreams & walks in her sleep to greet those ‘B’hoys who are not’, as so beautifully pictured, at Home Sweet Home with their only sister eatin & relishin & patronising her dainty dishes & fine cookery.  My advice is –  tell her to go on dreaming such dreams, but don’t get hurt again.

But let’s keep up to the highest matters & do & die eh what! –  Yes indeed, whateffer & we shall, afore England’s under –  but that will never be & we shan’t die.  Q.E.D. see. (5)

Ta Ta.     Bertie.

PS  (In pencil) Have written to 3 Hibbetts – one in Whitby, one in Yorkshire, one in Staffordshire. (6) 



(1) ‘Little Grey Home in the West‘: WW1 popular sentimental song.  D. Eardley Wilmot. 1911. Sung by Australian baritone Peter Dawsonrecorded 1912. Youtube.

(2) Hot fomentation /poultice: ‘hot moist substances applied to body to draw abscesses’ treat inflamation & reduce pain.  VAD nurses taught to use these in WW1. (I remember my  Mother using hot saline solution & bandaging for sceptic fingers & whitlows).

(3) Puttee/ from Hindu ‘patti ‘(bandage): canvas/ cloth binding, wound in cross-over pattern round leg from ankle to knee, for support & protection. (4) ‘Pink Pills’. Cure-all medication/energiser/tonic (iron oxide & magnesium sulphate) for blood & nerves; produced, 1890 by G.T. Fulford & Co. under trade name ‘Dr Williams’.  (Often suggested by my Dad as a joke when we were off-colour as children). 

(5) Q.E.D. Quad erat demonstrandum: Latin from the Greek ‘which had to be proven‘; traditionally placed at end of mathematic/scientific proof or philosophical argument.

(6) Basil in Whitby; Auntie Pattie (Miss M. Hibbett) in York & Ida in Walsall.

NEXT POST: 18th AUGUST.  1915. ‘In Red White & Blue