Tag Archives: John Bull Magazine.


BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT. No 6 GENERAL BASE CONVALESCENT CAMP: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd  Walsall.

Sunday Afternoon 4.20 pm  3/ 10/ 15

My Dear Mother & Father,

A Break in the usual Sunday Letters, & Home Thoughts Abroad eh. 

When I go into the fray for tea, for it is a fray indeed standing in the crush of men outside the hut or canteen,  shall be thinking of Sydney waiting for his nice tea at home, laid on a nice white cloth & flowers & nice food.  He is perhaps listening to Ida’s music or Dad’s opinion of the War, or joking with Dodger, or watching the cool fresh sparkling water running from the tap on to the slop stone,  – yes & he sits there & finds infinite pleasure and amusement with turning the tap. 

The Hibbett Family at Tea: Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida.
The Hibbett Family at Tea:  Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida.  Possibly Abergele Holiday, August 1914.  Photo: Harold Hibbett.

Come alongshouts Mummy from the Dining Room & in Sydney goes arm in arm with Champion & Dodger, immediately the latter relieved by Mum’s arm, & he then sits down to enjoy a nice Sunday’s tea with you all.

I went on Church Parade this morning & we had 370  (1) again – the Sea Hymn, ‘Eternal Father’. Yes, by the time this letter reaches you, Mother & Dad, Sydney will be in the train very likely, & will have crossed again those seas which the Spanish Armada sailed on.

What is there for tea for me today?  I must be going to get some Roley Poley sic (2), or Duff as the Tommies call it.

It would not do for any of you to write to the authorities.  You may write to John Bull, good old JB. (3).  I never take him serious, so it’s all very well. 

Macinichies imagesWe had Marconochies (sic) (4) for tea once & Mum’s hard boiled eggs came in pat.  A Tommy sang a very comic song at an entertainment for Winter Sports entitled ‘I’d rather have an ’ard boiled egg’ (5) & so I did in place of that which I believe caused my boi— no I won’t say any more, ever about them!

I guess you will all be going again to St Paul’s tonight (6).

Best love, Bertie.



Pte Bertie Hibbett’s father appears to have considered writing to the Army about his son’s illness, in the hope of obtaining Home Leave for him.

(1) Hymn. Eternal Father. No 370 in Bertie’s version of Hymns Ancient & Modern. cf Letter 2nd Oct.

(2) Roly-Poly. Plum DuffTraditional British suet puddings, one spread with jam and rolled up, the other with added raisins/ currants: early 19th Cent/ associated with school dinners.  (3John Bull Magazine. British Sunday Newspaper estab.1820. ‘ultra patriotic’. Wikipedia.

(4) Maconochies: tinned stew / for ingredients see letter 17th April. 1915.  (5) Comic Song by Worton David and Julian Mack. published Sydney, Australia. 1912.  (6) St Paul’s Church, Walsall (now St Paul’s at the Crossing. See Letter 26th Aug. 1914).


South Staffordshire Badgee



3rd Oct. Sun:  In Billets.

NEXT POST: 10th Oct. 1915.





Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT ROUEN: LETTER continued to Mother, Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall

6.30 am about.

Another Sunday Monday letter. 

I am indeed making the most of my time in HospitalI have written no less than eight letters, including Ida, & Harold & there’s Sydney’s too, besides Miss Molly Evans, Mrs Hurst* & Her Ladyship Mrs Jones* & to make the list complete I must write to Mum, that’s one reason why I wrote last Friday.

Whatever the others say  Mum, I say it is a Rest to write to Mummy and I think Mum will sympathise with me & be happy at the thought of her very affectionate son,    Bertie.

PS  Of course I must have a Post Script else the letter ain’t complete. 

Now I don’t expect a long letter from Mum, although I have had comparatively long epistles which have surprised me as well as pleased me .  So I enclose the size of the letter you need to send me next if you wish. It is from the Writing Pad in the Lucky Bag I chose from the bundle sent from Ireland (1).

I enclose too some cuttings from John Bull, my word ain’t it tolerantIt does use strong views.  But I quite see in the article about ‘Blood will out’I remember Capt Tim Cozens*, so popular with the Tommies getting quite a crowd around him & he said he loved a charge.  It was when he told us about the knut leading the charge dressed practically in mufti (2).  The article also puts me in mind of the Lancashire lads you know Mum (3). Ta ta.

PS  Sorry I am not in a hurry about a letter –  its only the tie of family love I want really.  So (if) you are busy, forgive me for insinuating.  I expect I shall get your long letter tomorrow, but I will send this off tonight at any rate. 

Kind regards to Woody – safe journey back to Hospital I hope (4).

NB  Pickwick Club (5) reminds meSnodgrass (6) had a letter from May (7).  I hope Capt Flo* is a good help to Sydney getting a Commission.

 Something for you to fathom about in your spare time –  I like letters which last a long time for  you to read.  Isn’t Mrs. Hurst jolly good, I enclose her letter.  Thank you Mother for the magazine. It goes without saying that I enjoyed the perusal so to speak eh what!  Sorry Mrs Hurst’s letter must be in the incinerator with Sydney’s letter I told you about (8).


PS  NB 13/ 9/ 15  

Oh! I shall fall through the earth next. I have just received Basil’s long epistle  – & nearly banged my head through the back of the deck chair when I unrolled Champion’s mile long letter of such black writing but so neat.  I had another letter too, it was from Cousin Muriel*.

Have I to write in turn to such a windfall, such a gasping slap.  I think you will think I am taking things to extreme but I shall have to write a letter to you all soon & will let it be just plain & serious, so you will forgive me for this my long letter.

Oh! Basil dear Dodger. Oh! Mummy (Hush I saw your writing in Ida’s & read yours before her’s, – don’t tell her though) & Oh! Ida’s was a record for a Champion.  Yes I will tell her of a Jock we call the ‘Scotch’32 beds in my Ward.  Did you get my letter to you & Father in a green envelope dated Sunday 6th?  

Now you won’t lose any of the sheets as this last letter marked PS NB is important. 




This Letter clearly shows how important writing & receiving letters was to Pte Bertie Hibbett.  In his heightened emotional state, in an agony not to break this ‘tie with Home‘, he adds Postcript after Postscript.   

 (1) The Hospital Bag Fund (one of WW1’s many ‘morale boosting & practical schemes for soldiers’) was set up by Lady Smith-Dorrien 1881-1951 for the benefit of the sick and wounded in Hospitals and Casualty Clearing Stations. In <http://easttextile.co.uk/onewebmedia> Janette Bright 2015 writes that Volunteers produced an estimated 5,000,000 ‘Treasure Bags‘ to provide a store for a soldier’s personal treasures: papers, pay-sheets, photos & letters.  Around 12″ x 14″ in size, made of strong material (flowered cretonne preferred) each had a drawstring and could be hung where a patient could easily reach it.  Volunteers often added little gifts such as sachets of lavender and lucky charms.  In Pte Bertie Hibbett’s case his ‘Lucky Bag‘ arrived with a little writing pad & envelopes and amongst his treasures would have been his Prayer Book – & the Bible given to each soldier by the Army. Sadly it did not prevent some of his letters being lost in the Steamer De-louser when, for a day or two, he was put back into khaki.  

General Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien.
General Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien.

NB Lady Smith-Dorrien was the wife of General Horace Lockwood Smith-Dorrien who was relieved of command of 2nd Army in 1915 ‘by Lord French for requesting permission to retreat from the Ypres Salient to a more defensible position‘. Wikipedia.

(2) Lord Cardigan. Letter 10th Aug. 1915. (3) Marie Neal Hibbett’s relatives/ close friends in Ashton?

(4) Leicester Hospital.(5)  Childhood Pickwick Club. Letter 23rd April & 7th Sept. 1915.(6) Sydney’s Club nickname. (7Mary Overend.

(8) Steam Disinfectant De-louser. Letter 7th Sept 1915. (9) Dickebusch: in parish of Ypres (Ieper). Divisional Rest Camp; notorious history of soldiers ‘Shot at Dawn’.


South Staffordshire BadgeeLance Corp. SYDNEY HIBBETT & 1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


13th Sept Mon:   In Divisional Reserve

 NEXT POST: 14th Sept. 1915.