IDA NEAL HIBBETT, 95, Foden Road, Walsall: LETTER to BERTIE HIBBETT, Student Rooms, Theological College, Lichfield, Staffordshire.
the 11th Nov. 1918.
This is a day of days & no mistake.
Foden Road(1) has been already decorated like magic – for the WAR is over me boy & I offer you my heartiest congratulations Bertie & best love.
Many thanks for your note. I wish you were here, we all feel so topsy inside. Basil is coming from London tonight (2). I am longing to see him & you.
Glad you are so comfy & among such nice people (3). Mind & not forget my advice & always be polite & stand in the presence of superiors.
Hope to come & see you very soon. Can walk to the bottom & back now (4).
Heaps of love from Ida.
PS Just going to see about decorations.
On Armistice Day 1918, my Grandfather & Grandmother were mourning the loss of one son Killed in Action and the Wounding of their three other sons & their daughter.
Ida Neal Hibbett, was 25 when War broke out. I wish I had known my aunt. Her wise & comforting letters to my father during and after the war show her to have been a most loving sister & dutiful daughter. Her family nick-name was ‘Champion’ & her War Work lived up to it: secretarial work at the Town Hall, Red Cross nursing, farming and making bombs. She died in 1921 of cancer of the womb, attributed to ‘dangerous chemicals’ exposure. My father’s letter of 11th Nov. refers to Ida’s ‘wound’ and her boast of walking down Foden Road ‘to the bottom & back now’ may well refer to her recovery from an operation to remove the cancer. I am sure my father’s unfailing courtesy & consideration for others was under the influence of his sister Ida.
(1) Foden Road: now called Broadway, part of the Walsall ring road. No 95 is on the corner of Rowley St, just left of the word ‘Foden’ in the Plan above. Next Street down is Persehouse Street, where on Armistice Day 1918 the Venables Family mourned their Arthur*. He had saved Bertie’s life at Gommecourt 1st July 1916 & his body was never found. His name is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. See Top Menu ‘My Memories’ & Left Menu ‘South Staffordshire Officers & Men’.
(2) Lieut Basil Hibbett was wounded in the shoulder sometime during 1917-18, a wound that contributed to his death from cancer in 1965. On 11th Nov. he may have been discharged from the Army already or on his way home on leave.
(3) ‘Comfy’ at Lichfield Theological College. My father’s student rooms in the quiet Cathedral Close must have been in stark contrast to his experience in the trenches. He was soon making himself useful with art work.
(4) ‘To the bottom & back’ i.e. from 95, Foden Road, corner of Rowley Street down the hill to the Arboretum Lodge Gate and back. The Hibbett Family arrived in Walsall around 1902, when Basil Hibbett was 6, Bertie 8 and Sydney 9 yrs old. No doubt Ida 15 & Harold 17 would have been put in charge of the younger ones when visiting the Arboretum, the Hibbett Family’s favourite playground with its lakes, leafy walkways and sports fields. See Hibbett Letters.
NEXT POSTS: 11th Nov. 2018. Armistice Day in Walsall: Pte Bertie Hibbett 1/5th S. Staffords comes back Home a Hundred Years On.
And 19th Nov. 1918. Letter from Bertie Hibbett’s best pal, Vernon Evans son of Mayor Enoch Evans, Solicitor, Walsall.
After which I will return to posting the Hibbett Letters of 1917. EFW.