18th June Sun: Marched to new billets at LE SOUICH, arrived 10.pm.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT & ARTHUR HIBBETT. Censor: T.R. Sanger.
Trinity Sunday. June 18/ 16
‘Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, which was and is and is to come’. (2)
‘Whosoever believeth on Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.’ (3)
My Very Dear Mother & Father,
No doubt you have been expecting me to turn up every day this last week.What can I say to make matters straight?Our Platoon Commander (L.S. (4)) said he would see the Serg. Major about Leave, he did so & told me Leave was about to commence and I was next on the list.I trust you are taking things coolly, as long as I know you are not put out I can rest my conscience.
I remember last Trinity I was in a field of rye doing picket duty& I found a fine nose of a shell (5). I kept that a very long time, but eventually lost it about August, just before I went to Hospital.
I have not much to tell you so I will close now.
I may add that I dreamt a dream three times over about Home & Ida & Basil.
I do hope I shall see Basil before he joins a unit. I guess he looks handsome-like in his O.T.C. tunic.More khaki. (6).
I will write to Ida today & Vernon Evans.
Best love to all. Hoping you will spend a Happy Trinity Sunday together & that the long Episcopal Season will bring Peace.
Yours affec. Bertie.
PS. After concluding this letter I went to Holy Communion in one of the Huts to pray for you.
Pte Bertie Hibbett would have found his Three Dreams of Home a highly significant ‘Trinity’. He goes to Holy Communion to pray for his Mother & Father who now had three of their family in khaki.
(1) Le Souich, Pas de Calais: small commune near border of Somme Department. Churchyard contains 2 Commonwealth War Graves.
(2)Holy Holy: Hymn.Reginald Heber 1783 -1826. Written for Trinity Sunday/based on Revelation 4.1-11. Tune: ‘Nicaea’ [after Council of Nicaea AD 325 which formulated the Doctrine of the Trinity (Christian experience of God as Father, as Son and as Holy Spirit)]. John Bacchus Dykes.1823-1876.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: No 6 GENERAL BASE CONVALESCENT CAMP ROUEN: LETTER to Marie Neal Hibbett & Ida Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.
Saturday Oct 2/ 15
My Very Dear Mother and Sister Ida,
It is getting dark. I am squatting in the tent_________ I feel I ought to write at once to you___________ I was going todinnerwhen a chap out of my tent told me to turn back, there was an urgent letter waiting for me in a pile of rifles in the tent.When I saw it I suddenly thought of dear Sydney.I thought the letter was to say he had either been k_____d or wounded. I had heard that ourBatt. must have been in the General Advance&I thought he had been in the Charge (1).
But I have been praying for him,remembering him in my prayers& have alsothought more often of him likely being on the journey Home to see Mummy & Dad & all of you.I prayed that he may have a Happy & Safe Journey.
Do you know Mummy here’s another queer coincidence,I’m sorry I left it out in my last letter. When I went to Church in the S.C.A. Hut (2) in the Con. Camp we sang ‘Eternal Father strong to save’ (3) & my didn’t I let my voice go thinking ofSydney, & in mind of him going across the Channel, either that night or someday in the coming week & ain’t it funny, it was so (4).
I did laugh, I couldn’t help myself laughing after I read Ida’s lovely letter – especially as I read ofSydney & pictured him sitting with Mummy by the cheery fireside, in the sound of the guns no, no, but in the sound of Sister’slovely touch on the pianoforte. Ha Ha! I am as blythe & gay as can be & only hope that Sydney, deary me, is making the best of his Leave. And too I am sorry for him for it will be another wrench for him to leave Home.
So you got those lovely apples from Gaunt’s Farm (5) & the eggs were so creamy and nice again.
Oh Ida you did hurt my feelings – I mean to say I am really ashamed of the complaints in my past letters which put you all so anxious,why I was even bemoaning myself on coming away on the march from the drilling field this morning. All the T.B. men (6) went to a large field for training & as we came back we passed No 9 General Hospital where I had been for such a long time. I saw the men in blue & thought of the long letters I wrote home from there & those horrible complaints which made you so upset.Yes there’s no denyingI have grumbled, butdearest Mummy, it will teach &has taught me a lesson.I shall be able to bear greater pain should it come in the future.
I have had some pay today & there are several Canteens here. I hope to be able to take something for Sydneywhen I go up the line again for I am sure he will feel the reaction greatly & will want something in the way of luxuriesto help to graduate the sudden fall from Home comforts.I’m glad Mum will find a spare minute to scratch a line to Miss Foster*; it will help to make things clearer as I don’t care much to explain things myself.
It is too dark to write now & besides the post goes soon & I want to get this off. Perhaps it is likely that this letter will be in time to wish dear Sydney the Best of Luck & a Hearty Send Off,hoping he will cross in safety Motherdear.
Ought not we to be indeed grateful & thankful to those Higher Hands. I’m sure you are & do not worry an iota about me coming Home. I am grateful to say I am taking things as Dad wished me to take them – ‘as a matter of course’. ‘I will sing of the Lord because he has dealt so lovingly with me’ applies to both, eh Mum. (Psalm for this evening 2/10/15(7).
Best love to all, Bertie Arfer.
(1) Major Offensive: 25th Sept. 1915. (2) Soldiers’ Christian Association Hut.
(3) Hymn: ‘Eternal Father‘. Words: William Whiting.1825-1878 (Anglican, Head of Winchester College Choristers’ School).
The Navy Hymn/ Seafarer’s Hymn: 1st edition Hymn Ancient & Modern. 1861.Based on Ps 107 the hymn expresses a three-fold experience of the divine as Father, Son & Holy Spirit. References toGenesis 1.2: The Spirit of God (Hebrew: Rûach רוּחַ Elohim אֱלֹהִים/ wind/breath/spirit (feminine/ plural) hovered/ brooded over the waters of chaos like a Mother bird; Mark 4.35f: Christ Stilling the Storm & Walking on Water; also Acts 27-28: Luke’s eyewitnessaccount of Paul’s shipwreck off the island of Malta. Tune: Melita (Malta). John Bacchus Dykes, 1823-1876. Precentor Durham Cathedral 1849-1862.
(4) WW1 Home Leave varied in length (travel time included).Corp. Sydney Hibbett is logged as ‘Rtd‘ (Returned) on5th Oct., so a ‘10 Day’s Leave’ (if Bertie is correct & his brother sailed Home on Sun. 26th Sept.)
(5) Gaunt’s Farm. Sutton? (connection John O’ Gaunt,1340-1399 1st Duke of Lancaster?).
6) T.B.Tuberculosis. Pte Bertie includes himself here. The family did not know of this until 1960s when my father went into Boston Hospital for operations on his war-worn feet and was found to have T.B.scars on his lungs. His brother Harold was invalided out of the Army and died of T.B. in 1940.
(7) Psalm 13.6. (8) Ouderdom5 mile march. (9) Abeele, Poperingue, West Flanders: (Site of WW1 Military Airfield).
(10) Fouquereuil, village one mile SW of Bethune, Nord Pas de Calais: 40 mile train journey. (11) L’Ecleme near Lillers, 15 miles SW of Bethune. (12) Brigade Operation Orders (Staffordshire Regiment Museum, Whittington Barracks, Lichfield).
1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY
RAILWAY EMBANKMENT DUG-OUTS NEAR ZILLEBEKE
1st Oct. Fri:In Brigade Reserve. Brigaderelieved by17th Division.The Battalion vacated the dug-outs about 8.30pmand bivouaced atTransport LinesnearOUDERDOM (8).
2nd Oct. Sat: At about11 am Battalion paradedand marched to ABEELE (9).
Entrained forFOUQUEREUIL (10)4.30 pm arrived6.15 pm.Marchedto billets at L’CLEMEnearLILLERS(11)arrived at 12.30 am3rd inst. Ouderdom. (See B.O.O’s d/1.10.15 attached) (12)
NEXT POST: 3rd OCT. 1915.
The WW1 Letters and Drawings of Private Bertie Hibbett, 1/5th South Staffordshire Regiment, to his family in Walsall, will be posted again, one hundred years on, from August 1914 to November 1918, by his daughter Elizabeth Hibbett Webb. The first posting will be the Recruitment Postcard sent by Queen Mary's Grammar School Headmaster to the Hibbett family on holiday in Abergele, Wales.