Tag Archives: Jemima Wilkinson.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


14th-16th Tue & Wed. Mar.  Battalion to Divisional Reserves.  3 Lewis Teams and Guns relieved 3 Lewis Guns and teams of 5th North Staffordshire Regiment in the trenches.

17th Mar. Fri. Battalion in Divisional Reserve.


Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to IDA NEAL HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.

St Patrick’s Day.  Friday Mar. 17/ 16

Psalm 131 verse 4 & 5   ‘. . . Let the righteous rather smite me friendly and reprove me.’ &  v. 7  ‘But let not their precious balms break my head. . .’  

‘Though he fall he shall not utterly be cast down.’ (Psalm 37.24) (1)

‘Forgive and Forget.’  ‘The reproof of a good man resembles fuller’s earth’, it not only removes the spots from our character, but it rubs off when dry.(2). 

‘It is sorrow which makes our experience, it is sorrow which teaches us to feel rightly for ourselves & others.  We must feel deeply, before we can think rightly.’ Wilkinson’s Wayside Ministries. (3)

My Dear Sister,

.Champion Ida Hibbett VAD Nurse.
Champion Ida Hibbett VAD Nurse.

You have written me some most advisable letters which have, as Miss Foster* once termed it, ‘dressed me down’.  But I felt a wee bit hurt about this last one of yours; now deary, don’t be alarmed for it was much for my own good.

You raked up past memories of the petty quarrels Vernon* & I had. Those were in England before we came to face the seriousness of life more –  in the fighting line. 

Forgive and Forget, I say.  Yes, dear Ida, there is a great deal under that exterior, so quiet, of his. I will not say anything in criticism of that, I will practice to be broader minded.  I may rightly say ‘the waters have come over my soul’ (4)  –  and they are like a cataract or torrent,  for I had a letter from Vernon yesterday & although he said something ending up with between ourselves I will let a little of the secret out to youI told him I should have to pray hard for humility & now, after reading your letter which I got at ‘Tattoo’, I feel more uneasy,  –but, as the old saying goes, ‘peace will follow storm’ (5).

St Francis de Sales.
St Francis de Sales.

So I hope that the morning will bring freshness & a good resolution to rise, for I had nearly fallen to the lowest when in England with Vernon.  But WAR has proved a blessing to me in more ways than one.

Now I must say something about each delightful item in your jolly letter.

Poor Sydney’s departure made me feel sympathetic for him, & you all, yet I could not help thinking of Miss Foster’s* comic postcard –  ‘Which shall it be ‘Onward Christian soldiers’ or ‘Abide with me’?’  I enclose her PC.

I wrote Vernon a long letter last night in reply.  I had not written to him since I left the Batt. because I thought my writing to him would be an insinuation & he would ‘Break Out’ in his generosity to send me something, he being in England.

Harold puzzles me.  Mum, in one of her past letters, told me how he was cross with Sydney for not acknowledging his parcels etc.  Well, I wrote to Harold, about the time I wrote to you, Mar 3rd, in reply to his letter of Feb 16th, addressed to Notts & Derbys.  In that letter of his he said he had some things waiting for me & he would send them as soon as he knew I was settled & heard from me. This, your letter of Tue. Mar 14th, has come in 3 days.  I don’t know whether to inform Harold or not.  Should he have sent me his promised parcel, & it had gone astray, he will think I, too, do not appreciate his parcels & am lacking in consideration, for if I find time to write to you & other people I have time to answer his parcels.  –  But – How Tantalising he is.  I have been looking out for his parcel as day comes & goes, just as Mum told me to do with regard to hers, & have been disappointed, in a sense, each time. 

I have not yet written again to Harold. I don’t like to, but I am waiting, –  waiting for a resultI guess I shall hear of something TOMORROW.

I knew you would go to St Paul’s and how did you & Mum like Mr Darling’s* sermon (6)? By the by, that reminds me, he told me not to write a long letter but ‘just send me a line with your address’.  I wrote the ‘line’, but forgot my address; could you give it him at your earliest opportunity please?

Although I shall be pleased to see Sydney, I was hoping and still hope his ‘little business’ (7) will soon come to settlement.  I dreamt last night I saw him, & Basil came as well. 

Your letter, with reference to the photo (8), also did me good after all, for I can’t be TOO CHEERFUL with the right sort of CHEER, but I do not think I shall send Miss Foster* a duplicate of the one I sent you.  I shall wait until I can send her a Cheerful Face.

Best love to all,  Bertie.

Remember me kindly to the Overends* & Evans.*



This Letter is an example of family relations under strain – and how hard it was for Pte Bertie Hibbett to explain – and for those at Home to imagine, let alone understand, exactly what it was like for their loved ones fighting at the Front.  Ida Hibbett had obviously taken Pte Bertie to task for being annoyed with his pal Vernon (for telling the family more about himself than he wanted told cf Letter of 5th Mar.). This upset him but true to character he accepted the ‘dressing down‘. He also realised that the War had made him understand how he must ‘forgive & forget’.

(1) Psalms of Penitence for Lent most likely quoted in Walsall Church Magazine.  (2) ‘The reproof of a good man’. The Biblical Illustrator. Commentary on Titus: Joseph S Exell MA 1819 -1887: Methodist Minister/ onetime served in Walsall. 

(3) Wilkinson’s Wayside Ministries. American Missionary. (See previous Letter).(4) The waters have come over my soul ‘. Psalm 69.1.  Lamentations 3.54.(5) St Francis de Sales. 1567 -1622. Introduction to the Devout Life. Ch XIII. 

(6) The Revd E. More Darling, Vicar of Walsall’s retirement sermon.

A Little Book of Words & Doings. Treasured Sayings in Letters from Home: Mother re Rev. Darling’s Farewell Sermons.  ‘When Mum got up to go to Holy Communion with Basil & Ida. Raining. I enjoy walking in the rain. We got up in good time & had a good breakfast & then we all went off to Church again & locked up the house.  Mr Darling has taken all the services today. I am sure he must feel very tired tonight & with the strain of saying goodbye, but I hope we shall often see him.”

(7) ‘Little business’: Sydney’s Commission application, if successful it would mean training in England.

(8) Photo of Pte Bertie Hibbett with his Hindustani Sikh friend Buckshee Ichbye Sing Waltu, Marseilles.

NEXT POST: 26th MAR. 1916.



South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

OCCOCHES. 6th Mar. Mon. Battalion marched to new Billets at WAMIN (1).

7th Mar. Tue. Battalion Training. 8th Mar. Wed. Battalion marched to new Billets at MAGNICOURT (2). 9th Mar. Thur. – 10th Mar. Fri. In Billets. Battalion Training.

11th Mar. Sat. Battalion marched to new Billets at AUBIGNY (3). 12th – 13th Mar. In Billets. Battalion Training. Battalion marched to new Billets at ECOIVRES (4).

1/5th South Staffords march to the Front Mar.1916.
1/5th South Staffords’ March to the Front from Occoches (off map bottom left). Mar. 1916. 


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  

‘A Little Book of Words & Doings’.

March 10th 1916.Mum got a letter from me, rare occasion. Sydney left Derby after being in England on sick leave.’ 

Treasured Sayings in Letters from Home: ‘My head seems so full of things I hardly know what to say. Mother.’

LETTER TO BASIL HIBBETT, 95  Foden Rd.  Walsall.

In the Field.  Monday Mar 13/ 16

‘Next to the Sunlight of Heaven is the cheerful face’.  Wayside Ministries (5).

Basil Hibbett Age 18. 1916.
Basil Hibbett aged 18. 1916.

My Dearest brother Basil,

Three puffs of an Embassy and I will start ‘mon ecrire encore’. 

Half-a-Mo-Kaiser! Copy of Bairnsfather's cartoon by A.H. Hibbett. 1916.
‘alf-a-Mo-Kaiser! Copy of Bairnsfather’s cartoon by A.H. Hibbett. 1916.

You will think I have caught Writing Fever no doubt, but I have just inwardly digested the QMS Mag you kindly enclosed in Mum’s parcel and consequently I feel magnetised to the ‘Wire of Correspondence’ fixed between ‘Home Sweet Home’ and Warworn France.

Queen mary's Sch
Queen Mary’s School Magazine. Dec. 1914.

What do you think of the articles in the Mag this time?  Do you remember how the ‘Knowalls’ once called it a bore to read them & the Editors had no ‘savvy’ whatever as to ‘Editorial’?

After reading Lieut Thomas’ & Lawley’s account of their experiences (7) & then commencing to read the School Notes, the effect wasvice versa’ as to the time I was at QMS.  Do you compris my meaning?  You, for instance, are sometimes naturally bored a little at reading Editorial letters about School, but the letters from the Front to the QMS Editor are to you ‘tres bien interestant’.  But the vice versa effect was not to the extreme, in fact I was deeply interested in Lawley’s vivid account of the Charge last Sept. (8).

The Debating Society’s Summary  was also jolly to read & I was so struck by it that I wished I could, at the very moment, send something in the way of a contribution, & then I decided to wait until I have Home Leave, at which time I will see if I can give them an Autograph Album after the example of the Spencer Club (9) – for the purpose of the members writing their names in after each Debate, & an illumination on each page.

The Poets in Queen Mary’s School seem to keep up the fine record of blossoming original verse (10).  I should like to send a contribution to the Editor’s Letter Box but I count myself as no great writer & also come to the conclusion my sending a letter to appear in the ‘swanky’ pages of the Mag would have an embarrassing effect.  I noticed your noble name in the list of new scholars under the noble title of School House; which House should be the prouder after the reception of your noble self, what what!

You have some ‘knutty’ ideas & phrases in your letters to me of latethey are worthy of being mentioned in the Magazine.

I will close now.  Although I have written this today I doubt if I shall send it along to you for a time, because I have two letters to send Home.  One to Dad, in reply to his ‘elongated’ envelope & one to Mum, in answer to the parcel of Mar 5, which, as I say again, was an ideal pancake (11).

Ah! dear Dodger, I trust you will use your gifted energy at comforting Mummy & use your tact if you are called up on you coming of 18 years of age.  My best wishes for your success in the exams at School for your sake & Mum’s & Dad’s. (12).

Tell Ida she must send me a written formal apology for saying I am a WEE bit SAD. But of course you quite know it is all a mere joke on my part. Ha Ha!

        Ta ra.  Bertie.

PS  This evening I received a sweet little letter from Molly (13) with her usual beaucoup kisses. She followed my idea of sticking a stamp on the back of the envelope – one of a pussy cat.  I think I have been the cause of renewing that craze, what think you?

TUES. “STOP PRESS”  Got Mum’s letter of Friday about Sydney coming.  Hope he will have a safe journey.



Pte Bertie Hibbett is now within 25 miles of the Western Front and the trenches of Neuville St Vaast and Vimy Ridge.  

(1) Estree-Wamin: farming village/commune in Pas de Calais (Roman site – ‘estree’ is from ‘strata/street’). 10 miles north from Occoches. (2) Magnicourt-en-Comte: commune in Pas de Calais13.05 miles north from EstreeWamin. (3) Aubigny: commune in centre of Mont St Eloi area. 11 miles south-east from Magnicourt. (4) Ecoivres: hamlet in commune of Mont Saint Eloi. 6 miles east from Aubigny. Total March of 40 miles approx.

(5) Wayside Ministries. Called Wilkinson’s in Letter 17th 1916. Christian Mission literature/under influence of 18th Cent. American Jemima Wilkinson? Quoted in Walsall Church Mag.? (6Lieut ( W.G.?)Thomson & (H.H.?) Lawley. QMS scholars /Info. pending.

(7) Battle of Loos-Hohenzollern Redoubt, 13th Oct. 1915. (8) The Spencer Club. QMS Club?  Bertie Hibbett was fond of creating ‘illuminations’ and after the War he kept an Autogaph Album of drawings, contributions and signatures of friends, some collected during the War.

(9) QMS Magazine December 1914.  SONNET

             Oh hear the wailing cry of agony Which swells above the cannon’s                    sullen roar, Above the piercing sounds of bloody war, And fills the                      hearts with deepest melancholy; Which drowns our feeble cries of                      victory, Whereby, poor thoughtless fools we set such store, Yea,                        opens to our eyes Death’s gaping door, Dark with the growing clouds              of misery.

              It is the sorrowing people’s pained cry, Who mourn the loss of all their               bravest youth, Snatched by untimely death that knows no ruth, E’en               while they fought for Home & Liberty. But better far they should thus               honoured fall Than deaf remain to their dear country’s call. Anon.

(10) ‘an ideal pancake’: ref. to his Mother’s parcel of good things for Shrove Tuesday ‘Pancake Day’. 4th Mar.1916. (11) Senior Oxford Examination Matriculation. (12) Molly Evans. Bertie’s pal Vernon Evans‘ little sister.

NEXT POST: 17th Mar. 1916.