Tag Archives: Lichfield Cathedral Sketch 1918.


Pte Bertie Hibbett  21. 

BERTIE HIBBETT, Student Rooms, Theological College, Lichfield, Staffordshire (1): LETTER to ARTHUR & MARIE NEAL HIBBETT, 95, Foden Road, Walsall.

Monday. Nov.11 /1918.

A Thanksgiving Day.

MY HEART IS FIXED, O GOD, I will sing & give praise unto thee, O Lord, among the people & I will sing unto thee among the nations (2)

Lichfield Theological College, Cathedral Close.

My Very Dear People,

How I wish you could have been to the huge gathering at the Thanksgiving Service at the Cathedral this afternoon at 3.00 pm. Indeed everyone is in such ecstasy that our hearts are indeed fixed.

Lichfield Cathedral with Minster Pool. A. H. Hibbett. Pen & Ink Sketch. c. 1918-1920.

Keep cool & I will tell you how I first heard the news.

With breathless excitement I woke this morning thinking & wondering if we shall hear the bells ring.  I went to visit Mr. Howard* (3), a very kind clergyman who was Chaplain just before the Charge of the Staffs. He was over the S. Staffs. He  was very pleased to see me & showed me photographs of Fonquevillers (4).

Gommecourt Wood from Fonquevillers. Photo: Basil Hibbett c.1919 when searching for his brother Sydney’s grave.

When we came out the Headmaster of his Church Schools brought us news of the Armistice, & in marvellously quick time, flags were flourishing from every window in the city & it was not long before the Cathedral bells began (they are ringing now as I write this) (5).

Flag USA. Stars & Stripes added to indicate growth of the nation.1912.

The Principal (6) had just come home from a weekend away & he got us some flags. I had one stars & stripes flying from my window. (7).

If you had been in the Close this afternoon you would have seen all the soldiers go in to the Cathedral & us students in our cassocks & surplices. The Cathedral was full to packing                                                      point.

We started with the Te Deum (8) sung by everyone with a beautiful simple rendering. Then a few versicles of praise. Then the old 100th (9). Then the Dean (10) read a service of  Thanksgiving, people responding ‘We thank thee O God’. Then hymn O God our help in ages past (11). The organ music filled the Church.

SERJEANT SYDNEY HIBBETT  22. Killed in Action, 1st July 1916.

Then the service for those who have fallen., which impressed me greatly. I thought of our dear Sydney. He will be rejoicing too for did he not say ‘Rejoice, again I say Rejoice’ (12). Also I remembered Alfred* (13) & Mrs Penning’s son* (14).

HAROLD HIBBETT. 34 in 1918. Chemist.

Then we had the hymn for the sailors, Eternal Father,(15) & to protect those coming Home at the cessation of hostilities. (Harold & Basil).

The students sat in the North Transept & I was greatly impressed by the unique coincidence when I saw the soldiers who were sitting in the front seat of the Nave. What an historical event, just at the start of my life in training. Everyone has the smile of Victory. I hear B’ham people are going mad.

At one time I wished I was with you at Home, but I would rather have you over here. Won’t the Vicar (Mr Hey*)(16) be glad. Of course we know that everything is not yet settled.

How strange too, to have had an interview with my late Chaplain (3). I thought I recognised his face when I went to Church last night.  I asked one of the students who he was & I was delighted to hear he was at one time the S. Staffs Chaplain.  I had not seen him since those Gommecourt days.

Chief Education Officer, Walsall. c 1903 -1926. 60 yrs in 1918.

I rang up Dad this am & was going to shout Hurrah down the phone. Wish I had wired for you to come over.

That Dream I had a long time ago has come true. I dreamt that I was among a great company of soldiers which had formed up for a Thanksgiving Service of Victory. Ida will remember me telling her. But I was not in uniform & I felt quite out of it.  But today I did not. I was so thankful that I was among the largest congregation of people to give thanks to God for the good news.


There is going to be a big bonfire in the city tonight & we are having a Concert. What  does Dodger think of it?  I specially thought of him today. I feel the happiest man alive today. But we shall have to be careful & always bear in mind that all this is through God’s mercy & it is he that has  given us the victory.


I noticed how appropriate the Psalms are for today (2).  I should think you are all overjoyed & Ida is skipping with joy in spite of her wound (17).

Do come over (if you wish). I mean to say you will be extremely welcome if you can.

God bless you all.

Your affec. Bertie  xxxx


The Revd A. H. Hibbett. Sponsored walk  to  Skegness. 1967.  72yrs.

My Memories of the First World War.  The Revd A. H. Hibbett. Essay Competition. Lindsey Association for the Elderly. 1967

The Armistice.

In 1918, I entered Lichfield Theological College to train for the Sacred Ministry and I was there when news came of the Armistice, signed at 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month. I shall never forget the excitement on the streets of LichfieldFlags appeared at every window. I made a flag of St George to hang out of my bed-study. (6).

We went into the Cathedral and sang the Psalms of the Day. I remember that one was Ps. 57, ‘My heart is fixed. O God, My heart is fixed. I will  sing and give praise.’

Queen Mary's Grammar School, Walsall.
Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Lichfield St. Walsall.

Later I was to visit my old school, Queen Mary’s Walsall, to see my brother’s name on the School Memorial:


These in the glorious morning of their days for England’s sake lost  all but England’s praise’.



Time Past, Present & Future.

One hundred years on this Armistice Sunday, at the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month, I hope to be amongst the good people of Walsall around their War Memorial. I shall be remembering my Uncle Sydney, killed Battle of Somme 1st July 1916, his brothers, Harold & Basil, his sister Ida and of course                                    my Dad Bertie, all wounded in the Great War. 

Like my father, I too will be caught up in the deepest longings of the human spirit for Peace, singing words which bring the long distant past into the present, to strengthen & comfort suffering humanity, to fulfill dreams & inspire a joyful hope for the future. 

(1) Lichfield Theological College, 1872-1970s: acquired John Mott’s house (1833) in Cathedral Close in1872 & added a library & student rooms. Chapel built 1885 (now called the Refectory, a community centre). Grateful thanks to Patrick Comerford for detailed Blogs & photographs: Walking Tours of Lichfield Cathedral Close. 2012 -2014.  https://www.patrickcomerford.com 

Lichfield Theological College Chapel, now St John’s Hospital Almshouse & Refectory. Photo: Patrick Comerford.

(2) My Heart is fixed: Psalm 57. 7-9. Book of Common Prayer (BCP) Psalm for 11th morning of month. 



      R. A. ChD Badge

(3The Revd Howard FC (Forces Chaplain) to S. Staffords during Battle of Somme. One of 4,400 chaplains in WW1, known as ‘padres’. 179 killed. An all Officer Corps – no arms. Badge inscription ‘In this Sign Conquer’ (in hoc signo vinces) ref. to cross of light seen in sky by Emperor Constantine before conversion to Christian Faith. AD 312. (Eusebius historian). Website: Royal Army Chaplains Depart. 

(4) Fonquevillers: where S. Staffords faced German Front Line at Gommecourt. Battle of Somme,1st July 1916. 

(5) Cathedral Bells: for the most part Church bells had remained silent for the duration of the War.

(6) Principal, Lichfield Theological College in 1918. Name not found.

(7) Flags: Stars & Stripes (USA entered War 1917) – also flag of St George my father made himself.

(8) Te Deum Laudamus: Latin.‘Thee, O God we praise’: Early Christian Hymn of Praise, used by all Christian denominations today. Anglican BCP Morning Prayer. Origin: St Ambrose & St Augustine for baptism of latter. AD 387. Follows outline of Apostle’s Creed, which follows credal statements of St Peter, Acts of Apostles AD 90-100. Set to Music by many composers. Text ends O Lord, in  thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded. 

Bourgeois’ metrical paraphrase of Psalm 100. 1560.

(9) ‘Old 100th’: ‘All people that on earth do dwell, sing to the Lord with cheerful voice’. Because the Lord our God is good – his truth at all times firmly stood and shall from age to age endure.’   Protestant Reformation Hymn by John Calvin,1509-1564, to encourage singing in the vernacular. A metrical paraphrase of Psalm 100, ‘a Psalm of Thanksgiving’. Translated by William Kethe (Scottish reformer). Tune: in long metre, Genevan Psalter 1551, attributed to Louis Bourgeois (1510-1560).

(10) Dean of Lichfield: The Revd Henry Irwin Savage,1909 -1939Library named after him,1924.

(11) ‘O God Our Help in Ages Past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from  the stormy blast and our eternal home. A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone, short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun. Hymn: Isaac Watts, 1674 -1748. Based on Hebrew Psalm 90, in language of New Testament. Tune: William Croft ‘St Anne’, 1708. (Used in works by many composers e.g. J. S. Bach, Handel, Buxtehude & Vaughan Williams).

(12) ‘Rejoice again, I say Rejoice’: Philippians 4.4. KJV. St Paul AD 62. Letter praising persecuted Christians in Philippi for their generous response to Jerusalem Christians in need. 

(13) Alfred: Possibly Alfred Yoxall, Cousin from Ashton i.e. Marie Neal Hibbett’s nephew. Killed in Action.

(14) Arthur Penning*: son of  Mrs Penning, Landlady, 29 Gold St. Saffron Walden. (Army digs for Walsall pals: Bertie Hibbett, Vernon Evans, Norman Cope. 1914-1915). Hibbett Letters: Oct. 1914 – Feb. 1915.

(15) ‘Eternal Father, strong to save’. Hymn. William Whiting. 1860. Based on Psalm 107. Inspired by personal experience of storm at sea, Genesis 1.2. & Mark 4.35: Most Holy Spirit, who didst brood upon the chaos dark & rude and bid their angry tumult cease and give, for wild confusion, peace, O hear us as we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea’. Tune ‘Melita’ (Malta) St Paul ship-wrecked there (Acts 15) arguably the most detailed description of a storm at sea in classic literature. Adopted by Royal Navy late 19th Cent. 

(16) The Revd Hey, Vicar of Walsall. (Details pending).

(17Psalms for 11th Day of Month. Anglican Book of Common Prayer. (BCP). Morning Prayer: Psalms 56-58 . Evening Prayer: Psalms 59-61. Cranmer. Origin Hebrew Bible, Book of Psalms (tehillim) praises/ Greek (psalmoi) instrumental songs of praise for God’s Creation & Acts of Deliverance. Long oral transmission, associated with Temple worship; written down from 1000 BC – 400 BC. 

(18) Ida Hibbett died from cancer of the womb in 1921, (attributed to working in a Bomb Factory, with exposure to phosphorous & other chemicals). Her ‘wound‘ – ref. to an operation to remove it?. 


EFW: This weekend I hope to visit my father’s old haunts in Walsall, St Paul’s Church and the Arboretum & walk up Foden Road to No 95, the old Family Home, where his Mother waited so patiently for his Letters. I hope to visit Ida’s grave in St Michael’s Rushall which is also a War Memorial to Sydney. I fear I shall find it in sad need of repair. 

NEXT POST: 11th Nov. 1918: Letter from Ida ‘This is a Day of All Days & No Mistake – the WAR is over‘.

NB After this there will be one more 1918 Letter & then it will be back to posting those of 1917.



Pages 1-4 missing.  Sunday 12 Sept. / 15

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I have eaten the last of your Lady chum’s chocolates, Nestles as usual,  but I love them.  Isn’t she (Mrs Jones*) a brick eh! –  to send us both something again, but Hoo Hic! if only her Ladyship knew what I’m calling her.  She, by the by, calls Mr Jones ‘His Lordship’. And ain’t she a rattler to enclose a letter every time.  She’s a genuine old sport because you see it is not only the gift but the thoughts behind the gift & so she tries to express hers by sending a short letter with it & a little news in with it as well.

Yes this War is rotten for hampering careers.  Now Mummy is it that Dodger passed in 3 subjects or that he passed all subjects but 3 eh? (1).  I conclude, after thinking, that it is as you say,  but I am disappointedPoor Basil –  after all his sweated labour, after all his confinement in the study, alone, to swat with his head in his hands as Harold did – and he will have to go through it all again, but I hope he will pass this next time.  But of course there’s this in it, it will come to him easier with regard to the 3 subjects he passed,  what were they? – anything to do with the Doctor’s profession?  To be a Doctor he will have some stiff exams, as hard, in fact harder than Harold had to pass (2).  He isn’t going in for agriculture following George’s* work is he! (3)

If I had have known I was going to stay such a long time in Hospital I would have sent for some Greek & Latin I was almost going to write to Mr Darling* on Saturday, but I had an idea I shall be soon out again for good.   I should like a line from Dad about my career (4).

Today’s Gospel tells us not to be over anxious, but as it says in the Parish Magazine, for which I thank you, it says we must be prudent & take prudent provision for the future.  Doesn’t it seem that I was destined to live through the Campaign after all?  Well its only right & very much so that we should HOPE.  ‘Hope still & thou shall see, he is all & all in thee’ (5).

I went to the YMCA Popular Evening Service while I was at the Base last Sunday & the hut was full of soldiers & my word didn’t I singFight the Good fight’ – just tried like I did when I had my voice in childhood & sang with you in Church.  Do you remember?

Do I want any shirts?no not yet MumI have two, one is new.  When I go back into khaki I shall be all in khaki  ’cause of your socksNo Mum I won’t touch tinned stuff, like crab. Macinichies images I put it (6) down to the tinned meat & vegetables called Marconochies (sic) I ate one in the train but not all the meat.  I left a great deal of that & ate more of the vegetable.  They are part of the Rations & of course I could not go all day on the journey  without something to eat.

Lichfield Cathedral AHH cropped1918
Lichfield Cathedral.  A.H.Hibbett. 1918.  Pen & ink.

I expect I shall hear from Ida tomorrow.  I am so pleased Woodie* came after all, they would indeed enjoy themselves in the ride to Lichfield Cathedral. I hope to get a pass into Rouen to see the famous cathedral there.

Rouen. 1915. PC to Ida Oct . 1915. from Bertie Hibbett.
Rouen:  Cathedral in centre.  PC. 1915.

I will conclude after I have come from Kirk.

There are a great many Jocks at this Base & some do afford amusement in the Ward, one especially was taken to by one of the Irish Sisters.

I will just refer to Sydney’s would-be Commission before putting my boots on to go to the Dining Hall for tea.

Bedtime — instead of coming to finish this letter after tea it is after supper now.

I had to go to sweep the floor & go for my medicine, my horrid medicineno wonder when it has such a dreadful jaw-breaking name as Mist: Ferri Perclilor, and you can tell Mrs Jones that her chocs came in pretty handy to take away the nasty taste (7).

We had a nice little service this evening,  but it was held in the Soldier’s Institute Tent, electric light installment (8).  There was nothing but patients there & most of them from my Ward I was grateful to see – all but the organist, I mean the pianist On the way back the Chaplain told me there were 40 men from the Base to be confirmed tonight at another tent, just after the service.  I did not go, but we had a prayer for them.  I thought of my confirmation & Basil’s & you being with us.   I was confirmed too on the 12th day: Blessed is the man whom thou choosest was the Bishop’s text (9).

I was interested in the 1st article in the Parish Magazine about Life wasted.  Did you read it Mum?  I guess you read it all through & the thrilling story of the nurse who rode  on horseback to deliver an urgent message.  Chiefly I was interested in the Vicar’s letter about Mr Henning* (J.P. is he now?)

I wondered whether I shall see anything  about Dad being promotedCharlie Harrison’s* opinion is that Dad ought to take Dr Sauler’s  position & have a combined Head.  By the by Charlie must have been sent to Blighty, I have not seen him here.

What can I say to fill the page Mum?  I am too late to wish Allen many Happy Returns of his birthday at Home.   I remember Dad’s wit in his letter to me on mine.  Let’s see tis 3 months today –  Hoo hak, my word the time does fly, Tempus Fugit it does  – and the 13th, well let us hope it doesn’t bring ill luck but Yah!  I dunno believe in superstition a lot.  It seems instead ’tis bringing good luck, so there.

The 12th, yes I took my prayer book, mended with the gum you sent me. ‘Be thou faithful unto death & I will give you a crown of life’ (10) & the Bishop of Stafford’s address ‘Blessed is the man whom thou choosest & receivest unto thee’ & the Collect because the frailty of man cannot but falllead us to all things profitable for our salvation.  Look up & trust that we shall never fall (11).  Queer ain’t it Mum?

Now you’ll press the matter in & push it along if Sydney wants a Com(mission).  But it was nasty of Capt. Flo* to talk about carelessnessShould anything happen to Sydney or me you would perhaps think we were careless dear Mum.  He was naughty, to say that, of course you know he ain’t been in the trenches.  The Life of the Tommy there is different. Tommy gets careful there  – even if he is apt to be careless in Camp where discipline is.

Lights out  – 8. o’clock in Wards.  Finish Tomorrow.



(1) Oxford School Matriculation needed passes in at least 6 subjects in one go. (2) Harold’s Chemist/Pharmacy exams.  (3) George Lallerman, Ida’s friend.

(4)  Pte Bertie’s father would have paid for his Mining Surveyor apprenticeship. His training as a Priest in the Church of England would also need parental support – as well as support from Mr. Darling, Vicar of Walsall.

(5) Hymn: Fight the Good Fight.  Last verse: Only believe and thou shalt see, that Christ is all in all to thee. Words (based on 1 Tim. 6.12) John S.B. Monsell. 1863. Music: ‘Pentecost’, William Boyd 1864.  (6) Illness blamed on Maconochies stew on train journey from the Front to Rouen  B.E.F. Base. 10th Aug.1915.

(7Mist Ferri. Perclilor: ‘perhaps the best & most used preparation of iron‘ <https://archive.org/stream&gt;. (8) Church of England’s Soldiers & Sailors Institute. (9)  Ps. 64. 4.  (10) Revelation 2.10 :  

(11)15th Sunday after TrinityGospel: Matthew  6.24. Collect: Book of Common Prayer. Thomas Cranmer 1662.  (12) Dr Sauler*. Education Committee, Walsall Borough Council?

(13) Hollebeke Chateau/possibly one of two: Hollebeke Schloss, 200 metres east of Ypres Canal & Railroad or White Chateau (Bayern Schloss) 1.5 km west of Ypres Canal. cf Great War Forum Old Sweats.

More Hibbett Jargon/ Slang: ‘rattler’good energetic person;  a ‘good sport‘- decent/ nice person;  a ‘brick’reliable person;  I dunnoI do not;  Yah – yes;  Hoo Hak/ Hoo Hic: (I never heard my Dad use these sounds): schoolboy nonsense sounds: goodness!/ gracious me!/ my word!’  Queer – strange coincidence.


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


11th Sept. Sat:  Rifle and machine gun fire directed on enemy’s *new work opposite 36. About 6.45 am enemy aeroplane driven off over our lines by our aeroplane2nd Derby Howitzer made direct hit on enemy embrasure.   Enemy retaliated with 4.1 Howitzers damaging 36 parapet in four places.  CASUALTIES WOUNDED: 9318 Pte J. Bladon.  75 Pte J. Waterfield (slightly wounded remain at duty).

SW SLOPE OF HILL 60, Trenches 33, 34, 35, 36. 

12th Sept. Sun:  Machine gun and artillery fire opened on enemy transport using roads near Hollebeke Chateau (12). Patrol reported water from mine coming from enemy front lines N. of Ravine Mining timber and metal pipes being carried to trench opposite 34.   Relieved by 6th North Staffs about 10. 15 pm.  CASUALTIES WOUNDED: 9671 Pte G. Forest.  8472 Pte J. Kenyon (slightly wounded remained at duty). 

NEXT POST: 13th Sept. 1915 – continuation of Letter 12th Sept.1915.