Tag Archives: Nestle’s chocolate 1915.



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.

1st MAY 1915: Friendly Fire & Forget-me-nots.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


26th April, Mon: Two working parties of 200 men each on G.H.Q. lines.  Bn paraded for Trenches at 8.50 pm & relieved 1/6th S Staffs Regt.   27th April, Tue: Wulverghem Trenches.  Heavy artillery fire all day, mainly on our right. Aeroplane duel about 6.0 pm over Wulverghem. Casualties: 085 Sgt W. Stevens, 9491 Pte J. Parkes both of ‘A’ Coy, wounded by rifle fire.  Gap between 10a & 10b completely closed.

28th April, Wed :  10a support trench shelled. Sniping from Messines. Casualties: Wounded:4468 Sgt W.J. Yardley, ‘A’ Coy 9012 Pte G. Wyley, ‘D’ Coy wounded. 29th April, Thur:  Shell from supporting battery struck 10b Trench seriously wounding Capt. Mc Craith, (North Midland R.E.)  Killing Pte W. Martin, (M.G. section). Other Casualtieswounding 8436 Dr. H. Mills ‘A’ Coy., 8526 Pte J. Lewis. ‘A’ Coy.

30th April, Fri:  Quiet day. Six shells fell in Wulverghem village about 4.0pm.  Casualties – Wounded:9332 Pte N.C. Hilton, M.G. section wounded.  1/6 S Staffs Rgt. relieved us 11.45 pm Bn to Bulford Camp. Casualties: L.Cpl. H. Meyrick, ‘B’ Coy & 8908 Pte V.C. Hough ‘C’ Coy wounded during relief.

CASUALTIES during month : KILLED: 7 OtherRanks  (includes 8990 Sgt J. Sanders (attd R.W.) killed at Dickebusch, 27.4.15);  DIED OF WOUNDS: 2  O. R. ; DIED IN HOSPITAL: 1 O.R. ; WOUNDED: 2 Officers, 25 Other Ranks.   

Signed Raymer Lt Col Comdg. 1/5 S. Staff Regt. 



Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall. (Pages 5 – 8 only)                                                                                                         May Ist/ 15  (Basil’s Birthday)

Page 5 . . . . . .  Our little place under the ground (1) was nice & cool while Sid and I broke into a parcel from Mrs Jones*How generous of her to have sent again & she must have kind thoughts of us to pop a long letter in each time and to say “There is something very pleasant in sending comforts to our ‘dear lads at the front.

Two tins of Embassy cigs for Syd and some Nestles ChocNow this war is on I do not think Nestles Milk choc is such good quality, but I enjoyed it very much because it was from a friend of Mother’s.  She told us you had gone to tea that Monday afternoon.

I am proud of Sydney & admire him for his modesty (2).  He has done some sniping & I shouldn’t be surprised if the result was – well I’ve suddenly taken a serious turn – rather sad to say.

Ask Ida what afiller-inis. I managed to get hold of a Daily Mail.  One of the days I read a jolly article, yet a pretty one, entitled Poor Georgia – she was a ‘filler-inall through life & it ends up something like this  ‘And heaven was full but there happened to be just a little spot that no one would take & so Georgia ‘filled it in’!

Wouldn’t you all like Sid & me to come on Home Leave now?  I have had a new tunic and puttees & bootsYou would admire the little bit of scarlet at the back of our hat badges (red & khaki go well together) and Sid with his a new tunic and stripe

In camp I frequently come across our friend Ball* with his rosy cheeks & kindly smile.  Last time I saw him at the washing place in the field.  He said he had got another boil; the one on his neck has quite gone.  I remembered Mrs Jones* to Cyril Hind* & he went on to say that Miss K. Brookes* had read part of my letter, and his, to her Class. (3)

I’m glad Dodger had a good time at Easter, he will miss the rides with Mr Cox (4) as well now Mr Cox is going to Devonshire.  I received a very interesting letter from Miss Foster* telling of her time in Scotland.  She says she is also anxious about us both.  I got her letter with Basil’s mile long one today.

Sid, I think, would like for his 21st birthday a few crumbs of comfort – cigs, some chocolate 3d and 6d Cadbury’s Mexican & a cigarette case You can pop a few cakes in & perhaps a tin of Nestle’s Milk to make tea taste nice.  A tin of pineapple chunks would not be amiss for we crave sometimes for something cool to eat or drink.

If Miss Bore* wants to send us anything tell her to send some acid drops & bulls eyes again, for its time for those now.  Well I’ll finish up my May Day letter referring to the Boy of the Day (5).  How goes he on the piano now?  I should think he ought to give you real pleasure with some nice tunes.

Vernon’s older brother* has his birthday today the first of May too.  I hope sincerely that Basil will get through & not be excited about the exam after all the long time of preparation.

Remember us both to Tom Ser* [& Bes] (6) – if they are ‘nice’ yet- ha!  ha!

Dear Mother I hope this letter will give you some comfort.  I have tried & I hope my little effort will have good effectalso the lovely little forget-you-nots;  but the pressing has taken the pretty light blue out of them.

They remind me of Rudyard Kipling’s hymn:–  Lord God of Hosts be with us yet, Lest we forget – lest we forget! Lord bless my Home – guide there my affections-  my thoughts – my pen. Tho’ sundered far – by faith we meet   Around one common mercy seat. (7)

Fondest love from your affect. son,   Bertie.


(1) Listening Post ‘like a Walsall pit’. (2Sydney Hibbett had just been promoted to Lance Corporal. (3) Sunday School Class at St Paul’s, Walsall. (4)  Mr Cox, probably the farmer Basil Hibbett (future agriculturalist) helped out during school holidays. (5May Day 1915 was Basil’s 17th Birthday. His exam was probably Junior Oxford. (6)Tom Ser & wife Bess ( Uffington friends? information pending).

(7) Rudyard Kipling: b. Bombay, India.1865 -1936. The People’s Laureate’. Short story writer, poet & novelist/ children’s classics. Won Nobel Prize for Literature. Lost son at Battle of Loos, Oct 1915. Critical of British Army. Involved in Imperial War Graves Commission.

Poem: ‘Recessional’ (composed for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, 1897) repeats the refrain ‘Lest we forget‘ (i.e. the sacrifice of Christ/ representative of all Humanity). Adapted by the Anglican Church as a hymn/ used especially at Armistice Day/ Remembrance Services. Frequently found on War Memorials.

NEXT POST: 3rd May 1915.



South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


April 9th Fri. Inspection of ‘B’ & ‘C’ Coys by Brigadier. Working Parties. April 10th. Sat         Bn paraded at 6.30 pm for trenches to relieve 1/6th S Stafford Regt. Relief completed 11.0 pm. Casuality: 9414 Pte D. Jones ‘C’ Coy wounded during relief. Trench Parade 6.30.

April 11th. Sun.  Wulverghem Trenches. Quiet day. Captive balloon up from MessinesEnglish aeroplane over hostile trenches received  from trench garrisons.  Officers’ patrols examined cross sap Trench 8 (Bertie’s) (1)  to Trench 10a  & worked up to German wire. Casualities: Killed: 8346 Pte W. Durrant (M.G. Section) 114 Pte H.J. Rock both ‘C’  Coy. shot thro’ head. Wounded 9466 Pte A. Tortoishell ‘D’ Coy.

April 12th Mon.  Working Party in Trench 8 (Bertie’s) under heavy fire about 2.00 am. 10a & 10b Support & Wulverghem village shelled between 4 – 6 pm.  No damage. heavy transport heard moving at back of German lines about 9.30 pm. Officers’ patrols again examined cross sap & reconnoitred German Listening Post.  Casualities: Killed 6943  Cpl G. Howard ‘D’ Coy Wounded: 9068 Pte W. Smith ‘A’ Coy.

April 13th. Tue.  Five H.E shells dropped into Trench 9c. about 12.15 pm. Casualties: Wounded: 9088 Pte G.H. Benton seriously wounded (died same night). 8070 Pte R. Bradley ‘A’ Coy wounded. Two men buried in collapse of  dugout, not hurt. Trench 10b shelled between 3-4 pm. No damage. Burst of rapid fire from German lines between 8 &11 pm.  

April 14th.Wed.  A few shells fell N of Wulverghem about 1.0 pm. Casuality: 8906 Pte W. Hough ‘C’ Coy wounded. Relieved by 1/6th S Staffs. Relief complete 11.0 pm. Marched to ‘Bulford Camp’.

April 15th. Thur, & 16th Fri. Neuve Eglise. Drill. Kit Inspection. Working Parties. Musketry on 30x range for indifferent shots.  April 17 Sat. Baths all day.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT to Mother, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall, Staffordshire, England. (last page missing. Envelope post marked 22nd April 1915).

Saturday April 17/ 15

My Very Dear Mother,

I can see Sid is settling down, like I am, to thank you as much as ever we can for such a handsome ripping parcel again.  We are both glad you sent us some fruit for we never get any green vegetables,  Maconochiesexcepting now and again, in the way of Marconoci (sic) tinned pontoon, consisting of carrots, haricot beans, potatoes, meat & soup. (2)

We have not long had dinner; we shall enjoy the currant bread & butter for tea & will write later saying how we appreciated the cafe-au-lait.  I guess we shall be in the trenches again before we finish off the contents.

WW1 brazier
Evangeline Holland: Ghosts of WW1 website. Tin Drum Brazier.

I believe we go in for the last time at this place, but for six days not 4 as usual.  We shall be able to make hot water on the little braziers (3).  I can say Mother that I have enjoyed the best breakfast I have had since we’ve been . . . (censored). . . here in the trenches.  I can get the bacon nice & hot, & fresh tea all hot, whereas in camp with waiting in the queue the tea is generally cold or lukewarm.

Sid and I received a PC each from Garvock Hill (4) where Miss Foster* spent her Easter.  You have had bad weather in Walsall, so had she, snow & rain.  We also had two lovely postcards of Ashton (5) from Dodger.  I guess you remember well the Dingle (6).  It looks very pretty from the PC.   Basil misses us, I read, yet he says he may as well enjoy himself as much as possible while he is about it.  Quite so.

Please don’t be too anxious, dear Mother.  We shall treasure and appreciate the glorious home-coming still more if we take things patiently.  What did you think of my letters ? – not morbid are they?  Ida’s letters were read with homely pleasure (if there’s such a phrase).  I got such a ‘nice’ letter too from Miss Brookes* at Southport.  Mr Brookes* seems rather interested in my letters too.  I shall have to take great care over my grammar & let Sid write oftener.

We went to another bath this morning I must apologise for not letting you know we do get paid.  We were paid 5 francs yesterday (7).  Sid had 10 francs because of his being away about the time when you sent your last but one parcel.  So you must not send anymore.  We do not know how to express our gratefulness. 

You were very good in remembering the Emery cloth which is of good quality too.  I have your photos yet.  Could Harold send us some more? – one of us taken from the inside of the tent at Abergele?

Sorry to hear you had an unpleasant Easter Day & hope you will soon be betterDo you get a letter or PC from us each week?  What do you think of this envelope? (8).11st Green Envelope

I sent a letter to Tom Ser (9) thanking them for some chocolate  got while we were on sentry in the trenches.  This Nestles of yours is lovely.  Sid can’t go without a bit.

PS  Could you send some thicker & white note as this lead (pencil) does not show so plainly.

Unsigned.    ********************

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to FATHER, Educational Offices Lichfield  St, Walsall.

Saturday April 17/ 15


Sidney and I have written this afternoon to Mother thanking you all for another parcel of good thingsSorry we did not inform you that we do receive pay, –  about once a fortnight. So Mother must not send any more, although the cash will come in useful in the way of getting vegetables if there is any knocking about.

We could do with more note paper & of a thicker wove for indelible lead does not show very well on the type paper. A few indelible leads would be very acceptable if you would be kind enough to send us some.  So Henning (10) packs up the parcels does he?  How goes the Institute & have you finished feeding the poor? (11)

Best wishes,  

Your affectionate son,   Bertie.

PS:  I could do with a Seidlitz Powder (12 ) in your next parcel.



(1) Cross sap trench: communication trench dug below ground/ underground gallery out of sight of enemy. A ‘sap head‘ was usually around 30 yards forward of the Front Line and used as Listening Post for enemy activities e.g Laying bombs. [My father told me that he & his fellow ‘Listeners/ Hearkeners’ listened for the sound of digging and when it stopped they got out as quickly as possible and British sappers tried to set off their mine and occupy the crater before the Germans did]. John Simpkins has useful Trench System website: Sparticus Educational <http://www.sparticus-educational.com&gt;

(2) Maconochie: meat & vegetable ration/best eaten hot but required heating in boiling water for 30 mins so often eaten cold in trenchesPeter Sauer has a great website: The Joy of Field Rations with WW1 Army recipes to try out. (3Braziers:

(4) Garvock Hill, Dumfermline, Fife. (5) Ashton-under-lyne, Tameside, Greater Manchester (Family Home of Marie Neal (Yoxall) Hibbett.  Bertie Hibbett’s cousins the ‘Ashton Boys’ volunteered in 1914, see Aug.1914 letters). (6)The Dingle: area in Ashton, possibly Yoxall family home. 

(7) French/ Belgium Franc: 25 to pound sterling in 1915. So Pte Bertie received less than £5 a fortnight. (When France left gold standard in WW1 the  franc lost 70% in value. See website Old Sweats).

(8) Green Envelope: Pte Bertie’s first use of new official envelope/Army’s attempt to speed up censorship of 1,000s of letters sent home in 1915. Soldier signed on back: I certify on my honour that the contents of this envelope refer to nothing but private and family matters.

(9) Tom Ser: Hibbett family, possibly Bertie Hibbett’s uncle; lived at Uffington, Rutland. (10) Henning/Hemming: Arthur Hibbett’s Secretary at Education Office, Walsall. (11) Walsall Municipal Science & Art Institute.  (12) Seidlitz Powder: effervescent salts (bicarbonate of soda, Rochelle salt & tartaric acid) to aid digestion or as a laxative.

NEXT POST: 23rd April, 1915.