Tag Archives: Lord Nelson.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


20th – 21st Oct.  In Rest Billets. 

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.


Anniversary of Trafalgar Day. 1805. Oct 21/ 15

Battle of Trafalgar.
Battle of Trafalgar. wikipedia.

I mean to debar myself of many comforts to serve my country & I expect great consolation every time I cut a slice of salt beef instead of mutton.  Lord Nelson. (1).

My Very Dear Mother,

I feel so happy with Sydney now & I have felt so grateful for his safety in the past & am indeed proud of his further promotion.  Sergeant Sanger*, (who went on Home Leave to Isle of White yesterday) put in a good word for him & so he was made full Sergeant from Corporal (2).

How nice the potted meat tasted, I did enjoy it & Sydney did too.

Monkey Soap.
Monkey Soap.

Thank you for the Monkey soap (3) which will come in so useful & the cloth & emery paper.  I enjoyed the thick broken chocolate on the journey (4).  The little rosy apples were good to eat & helped to get Vernon up one morning, they were so cold.

Vernon, I am sorry to say, is going to join the Signallers (5) but he will be able to see us now & again.  I read such a jolly letter from his little sister Molly* who copied my last letter to her so exactly How the many crosses for kisses form a Union Jack at the end of them all.

Signallers Worcester Regiment.
SIGNALLERS: Worcester Regiment 1914 -1918.

Well I shall have to be closing.  I must get ready to parade.  I will write again soon.

Best love to Ida, hoping she is doing well at Pink Forms (6) & comfort at home.

Best love to Dad & Basil & Bestest love to you.


PS  We are, I guess, always thinking of each other eh! Mum?

PS NB  I got & read with deep interest your letter of Sunday Oct 10th.  I shouldn’t be surprised if you were writing when I was.  Send me another shirt if you have one as comfortable as the first you sent me at HospitalIt was so nice & soft.



(1) Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson. 1771 -1805.  QuotationNelson’s letter from Bath to Thomas Lloyd, Esq. No 15, May’s Buildings, St Martin’s Lane, London.  Dated Jan 29th 1898.  Pte Bertie’s use of it may well be because his parents had told him of food shortages at Homeimgres

England expects that everyman will do his duty” : Nelson’s famous message to his men at the beginning of the victorious Battle of Trafalgar (in which he lost his life) must have been on everyone’s mind at this time, along with Earl Douglas Haig’s recruiting poster ‘Your Country Needs You!’

Earl Douglas Haig.
Earl Douglas Haig.

(2) That Sydney Hibbett was promoted to Sergeant, so soon after being made Corporal, is indicative of the large numbers of casualties in the Battle of Loos-Hohenzollern, 13th -15th Oct. 1915.

(3) Monkey Soap. A scouring soap produced in 1899 by Sydney & Henry Gross, Philadelphia, USA (later called Port Sunlight Soap).

(4Bertie’s Journey from Rouen Hospital to Bethune and back to the Front. This could have been in uncovered wagons.

SMLE short magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle.
SMLE short magazine Lee-Enfield Rifle.

(5A Field or Signallers Company of Royal Engineers (total 162 men – with Company HQ and Four Sections) was attached  to each  Division. (No 1 Section communicated with Division HQ. Nos 2 – 4 communicated with its Brigade).  As armed infantrymen Signallers carried a SMLE (short-magazine Lee-Enfield: the British Army’s standard rifle from 1895 -1957.  They had use of 37 riding horses, 47 draft horses, 4 pack-horses, 32 bicycles and 9 motorbikes. 

(6Pink FormsType in ‘Pink Forms’ and discover ‘The Derby Scheme’.  The National Registration Act was initiated by Lord Derby, and passed on 15th July 1915.  It  required all men, between the age of 18 and 65 years, to register their residential location on 15th Aug.1915.  29 million forms were issued: Granite Blue forms for Men and White forms for Women

In order to create a Card Index of Men Available for Military Service, a  Pink Form was completed for each Granite Blue Form, if that man was between the age of 18 and 41 years.  This was then passed to local Recruiting Officers so that canvassing could begin.  Again this is indicative of the huge numbers of casualties resulting from trench warfare in 1915.

Pte Bertie’s sister Ida must have heard from her father (Chief Education Officer) that help was needed at the local government office. My aunt’s War Service also included VAD Red Cross nursing and bomb making.

NEXT POST: 24th Oct. 1915  ‘Making Bombs while her Brother is throwing them’ will be posted as soon as possible.




 South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH  STAFFORDS  WAR  DIARY


5 th June, Sat. In Hutments, Bulford Camp. Proceeded to Trenches in relief 6th Souths.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall.

IDA HIBBETT VAD Nurse. 27yrs.

Saturday May June 5th / 15.

My Dear Sister Ida,

I have addressed this to you for a reason, I should not like Mother to know, but I know you will take it in a stronger light.

Somehow I don’t feel quite happy; what causes it puzzles me.  Whether it was the bananas that spoiled all the lovely contents of the parcel; whether it was because I’ve had to borrow got no paper of my own to acknowledge the topping comforts & had to borrow this from Vernon who is lying with me on the grass listening to the army band playing waltzes – whether it’s because the latter is somewhat sentimental music or what. Could it be homesickness?

How its come about I don’t know, but there it is.  Perhaps it is very likely with regard to acknowledging this ripping parcel with topping comforts.  So I will set my pencil to work – not my pencil there it goes again, its a borrowed pencil –  Ah perhaps its because I keep writing to you to send so many articles.  Syd(ney), I at any rate, was looking forward to this parcel & was anxious about its coming when we shall be in the trenches.

Good – how delighted I felt when I saw Dad’s writing on the familiar & usual shape of the hamper.  So we shall be able to enjoy the pineapple apricots and cream in the Listeners’ Lounge. Not just because the things are good in themselves, but they will remind us & fill our thoughts of home as well as fill our tummies.

Now in my last letter to Mum on King George’s Day I said when I would write the next & would enclose it in green envelope, so no references to the army.

Mrs Evans, as Vernon has told me, in every letter she writes to him,  wishes to be remembered to Sydney & me.  Vernon said he got quite tired of repeating her wishes,in fact he admitted he had missed more than once to convey them to us.  What had we both better do, putting it frankly and squarely?  I was in puddle (sic) & made myself foolish, I could not find words in response to Mrs Evans kind wishes.  The question arises – shall we write?  Sydney, I guess you trust, has acknowledged her fine box of King Edward Chocolates.

Tea now.  We must arise & then I will put to you another puzzling personal what do you call it.  See how adjusted I am, I can’t write properly today.  There’s another ten minutes yet so I can go on for that length of time.

The Curate* I told you sent me a very nice letter.  Where the puzzle comes in is that he mentioned about his son and described an instance very nicely.  Now its about his having a son that I’m puzzled about, or rather more strictly how it concerns me.  Shall I write & congratulate him, express my pleasure of hearing of the birth or shall I let it slip by?

It’s tea time for sure now, so I’m off. 

Just finished tea. The next puzzle is a practical one.  How shall I cram all the rest I want to tell you on this page? 

I must tell you how I enjoyed the cherry wood pipe with the Lobby’s bacca (?) while with Vernon listening to the band this afternoon.  The weather has been hot again & being evening now it is the best part of the day, excepting the time before breakfast.

You’ll be amused, like Vernon was, when I now say that I struck more than half a dozen matches to keep the old chimney,  no – the new chimney going.  Everyone looked at me and made some ‘rude’ remark jokingly.  Surely its jolly good of you to send a parcel to VernonAlas he’ll have to wait till we come back from the trenches.  Harold sent another good box yesterday & you needn’t send a cigarette holder, but I should have liked a white one.  Yet the yellow and gold of Harold’s looks ‘pretty’ when the smoke curls in front of my face.  

We read the letters generally first, before looking into the parcels, because it is the spirit in which they are sent which primarly ? (sic) matters.  So it goes without saying I could write twice the length of this letter – to thank Mother & Ida for their lovely homely epistles.

Best  love Bertie  (note the ‘ie’  – see PS)

PS  Another reason why I was not up to the mark today is perhaps I was sorry on hearing about the ‘Syd’ & ‘Bert’.  Forgive me but I’m a maddun on cutting words short – ‘he’ll’ in fact means ‘he will’.  I will emphasise the ‘ie’ and ‘ney’.  I do so hope you will fathom out my writing & forgive my bad expressions.  



Somehow I don’t feel quite happy’ –  Bertie Hibbett is not being ironic.  He is genuinely puzzled about his feelings and writes for advice to his Sister, rather than to his Mother.  The Letter is written on scruffy paper and his writing is rushed, with lots of crossings out and additions. Postscripts are tucked in at top & bottom of pages and up the sides. In short the letter’s appearance, as well as its content, reflects Bertie’s low spirits.

Dictionary of Etiquette.
Dictionary of Etiquette.

In his copy of A Dictionary of Etiquette by Marjory Luxmore (Cassell’s Pocket Reference Library 1914) Bertie has written the following maxims on the fly cover:Manners maketh MAN’; ‘Follow the example of General Gordon, Earl Roberts, Wellington & Nelson’ and most revealing of all  ‘None so great as a Gentleman Soldier‘.

[General Charles George Gordon, 1833 -1835. Gordon of Khartoum;  Earl Roberts, 1832 -1914. Frederick Sleigh Roberts of Kandahar, Afghanistan ; Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wesley cum Wellesley, 1769 -1852. Anglo-Irish General, defeated Napoleon at Battle of Waterloo, June 1815;  Admiral Horatio. Lord Nelson, 1758 -1805. (6th son of a clergyman). Killed at Battle of Trafalgar, 21 Oct. 1805. Famous signal to his fleet: ‘England expects everyman to do his duty‘]

One hundred years on we can see Pte Bertie Hibbett is trying to do the impossible under horrendous conditions. He is trying to be a dutiful son. a soldier and a gentleman  but he is exhausted in mind and body.  In this Letter I see signs of the Shell Shock he suffered from for the rest of his life.

NEXT LETTER:  10th JUNE 1915. Dreams of Enemy Advance.