Tag Archives: Palm Sunday 1916.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


17th Apr. Mon: In Brigade Reserve. Very quiet day. 18th Apr. Tue: Ditto. Enemy artillery active at 4.20 pm and 5.30 pm.  Otherwise quiet19th Apr. Wed: Ditto. Very quiet day.

20th Apr. Thur: Ditto. Battalion relieved by 11th CHESHIRES, relief complete 11.40 pm.

21st Apr. Fri: ECOIVRES  Battalion in Huts by  2.0. am.  Marched to new billets at CHELERS (1) starting 10.0 am arriving 2.15 pm.


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

Good Friday. Ap 21st 1916.

‘Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves’. (2)

‘Forgive them for they know not what they do’. (3)

My Very Dear Mother,

St Paul's at Crossing
The Crossing at St Paul’s Walsall. East Window, 2001.
St Paul's Interior Walsall
St Paul’s Walsall as the Hibbett Family knew it.

I do hope you too are having sunny Spring weather like we are having today: 

I think the time must be about 11 o’clock so I am picturing you all attending St. Paul’s – the light of the sun is beaming through the windows & giving the interior a bright appearance. It lights up the pew that Mum & Dad, Basil & Ida are in. 

Heleborus Niger (Christmas or lenten Rose).
Heleborus Niger:(Christmas or Lenten Rose).

As I listen to a thrush singing its lovely song in these budding trees it reminds me of you all singing together with the choirboys’ treble voices There is a green hill far away’ (4) and ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ (5). All the bushes & trees are showing new life & the fields look beautiful in their fresh green coat.  I send you some white flowers with a tinge of purple on the back of the petals; they remind me of the Passion Flower (6).

I received your welcome letter of Friday 14th & Palm Sunday,  yesterday (Thursday 20th). How funny that I too wrote to you on the Friday following Harold’s Birthday & again on Palm Sunday & you, like me & Mr W.H. Cozens*, headed our Sunday letters by that familiar name. The Batt. came back to huts last night; I saw Sydney & gave him your letters to read as well as Harold’s, Basil’s & Miss Foster’s; he handed to me the shirt & the handsome three bladed sharp knife, for which I thank you very much dear Mum.

Sydney was inclined to be cross with me (and rightly too, I think too now) for telling you that I should be Home soon. Well I did hear I was included in the next six, but where ‘the STING’ of it all was I forgot at the moment Leave has the ‘knack’ of stopping anytime.

gpembertononline.coukLegionww1Wounded.html FieldAmbulance
Motor Ambulance: gpembertononline.co.uk

You will be thinking of Our Lord’s Heavy burden of the Cross and his long walk with it to Calvary (7).

The Batt: too are most likely on their long march in full pack of about 15 kilometres this morning.  Grateful to say I came by Motor Ambulance – lucky beggar eh?  So I am waiting here for them.

Stourport on Severn. Cast Irton Bridge 1870.
Stourport on Severn. Cast Iron Bridge. Built 1870.

I will wait till Easter Sunday and enclose this in with that.  Harold told me he, Miss Bore & a few friends were going to Stourport today (8); well I hope they will enjoy themselves, but it seems a pity Harold does not have more holiday to enable them to go on another day than Good Friday, eh Mum?

Having been behind them and away from the Batt. I have had some difficulty in getting off letters to Harold, Miss Foster etc.

I have heard that Leave starts again soon, lets hope so.  Oh! I shall see you –  so ‘bide a wee an’ dinna fret’ (9). I think of Our Lord’s saying on His Way to the Cross ‘Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves’ (2).

They said the enemy shook hands with us at Xmas (10); I think they should do so today & more so being Good Friday don’t you?‘Let us forgive one another’ for man doesn’t know what he is doing when he is at War.

* * * * * * *   Continued on Easter Day.


My father’s Good Friday Letter is full of the language & imagery of the Passion of Christ – seen as an ever-present reality in his experience of War & the pity of War – with Nature the only sign of Life and hope of Easter. 

(1) Chelers: village near Tincques, approx.10 miles (15 km) from Neuville St Vaast & 13 miles (22 km) from Arras. That Pte Bertie went by Motor Ambulance shows he was not fit enough to carry a full pack – 50-58 Ibs in 1914 increased to 70-90 Ibs by 1916 (included steel helmets, wire cutters, respirators & extra ammo).

(2)Weep not for me. . .’ Luke 23.28. Jesuswords to women of Jerusalem on road to Calvary. (3) Forgive them . . . ‘  Word of Jesus from the Cross/ central to the Gospel message. Luke 23.34. Both sayings (in Luke only) proclaim a universal Gospel of Good News/ show Jesus’ unprecedented concern for women, poor, sick & all outcasts of society.

(4‘There is a green hill’. HymnMrs. Cecil F. Alexander. 1818-1895. Inspired by grassy hill outside Derry, Ireland & serious illness of her daughter. Published in Hymns for Little Children, 1848.

(5) ‘When I survey . . . ‘  Hymn. Isaac Watts 1674 -1748. TuneRockingham. Edward Miller. 1790. (Charles Wesley said he would give up all his other hymns to have written this one).

Passion Flower. A vine.
Passion Flower. 

(6) Passion Flower: I think he sent home a helebore, as illustrated above.

(7) Calvary. Hill outside Jerusalem city wallsAlso called Golgotha ‘Place of a Skull’. (Greek transcription of Aramaic, Gol Goatha ‘Place of execution’. King James Bible translates Latin ‘Calvariae’ in Vulgate Bible as ‘Calvary‘).

(8) Stourport on Severn. Rapid industrial rise when Staffordshire & Worcester to Birmingham Canal built in 1768. Plenty of history & industrial architecture to interest Harold Hibbett & his friends.

(9) ‘Bide a wee an’ dinna fret. . .’  Leisure Hours. 1878. cf Hibbett Letter 27th March 1916.

(10) Christmas Truce 1914 & 15. See Menu Page.

NB I took a copy of  this letter to Embrace the Base at Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp/ Cruise Missile Base. October 13th 1983. Hung at the Violet Gate celebrating world-wide religious/spiritual messages of peace. e.f.w.

NEXT POST: 23rd Apr. 1916. Easter Day.



South Staffordshire Badgee1/5TH SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


15th Apr. Sat:  Relieved by 11.15pm

16th Apr. Sun:  NEUVILLE ST VAAST.  In Brigade Reserve.  Enemy artillery active at 7.15pm.

Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT on Guard Duty, Mont St Eloi Neuville St Vaast.

A Little Book of Words & Doings’April‘At Mont S Eloi.  ‘Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani’ (1).


en-wiki towers of Mt St Eloi 350px-Steloi1
Towers of Mont St Eloi, Neuville St Vaast, over-looking Vimy Ridge. < http://www.en-wiki.com&gt;

LETTER  to MARIE NEAL HIBBETT and BASIL HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.  Censor H. Chorlant.   

 Palm Sunday (2). April 16/ 16

Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Pietro Lorenzetti. 1280-1348.
Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Italian. Pietro Lorenzetti. 1280-1348.

‘Ride on Ride on in Majesty – With palms and scattered garments strowed‘. (3)

‘A little lifting of the heart suffices; a little remembrance of God, one act of inward worship, though upon a march, and sword in hand, are prayers which, however short, are nevertheless acceptable to God.  Brother Lawrence. (4)

‘Look one step onwards and secure that step’.  Wayside Ministries (5)

My Very Dear Mother,

I wrote you last Sunday & Friday. Thursday was Harold’s Birthday & I trust he had a happy one & that the next 13th April we shall spend the day together in peace.  Being Thursday I wonder if he spent sometime with you?  Although I have worried several people to do with the Post I have not yet received a letter or anything. I heard this morning that we are on this duty until Thursday 20th. 

* * * * * * * * * * * ← You know what these things are eh!  Well it means that a sudden round about turn has to be made. I began this my usual ‘Sunday Letter’ before dinner & on finishing mydish’  – beef steak of my own cooking – the rations came in & they brought a shoal, a neat little pile of letters for me.  So that is the cause of me round about turning.

Just read Dodger’s most delightfully homely & brotherly Epistle after reading those from Vernon*, Harold, Miss Foster*, Mrs Hurst* and a Sunday School Scholar respectively.  I thought I would read Dodger’s last in more comfort & also it would help me to make my letter fullerI gave dear old Sydney your letter, Basil, as I met him going to the trenches last Sunday night; most likely he has written to you since.

The photograph of the Raid (6) which I think was genuine, interested me & it was your idea of sending it I thank you for.  How queer! –  only the other day I was sketching to illustrate the incident Miss Kathy Brookes* (7) put in her letter to me of the lady who wrote to her officer ‘bhoy’ saying how dreadfully the ruins of the Raid looked –  ‘you can’t imagine it!’ & the officer was doing all he could to shelter himself from the shells amid fragments of stones!

Dodger! Dodger! Dodger! –  so have I!  an all conquering desire (my word what a swanky phrase) to be on the write – to you all at Home & the question is, now I have had the fruits of my worrying the Transport Orderlies about The Post, I wonder if you will get my letters I have written to you since I was on this quiet Post Duty. 

Ha! ha! ha! Poor jolly old Basil wants to be in touch with us every day.  I love you for such a thought, but do please think more than twice over your joining, – to serve can’t you go out to a Munition Factory?  Most probably you would never see us if you came out; you know that Vernon & Sydney said they did not like their associates in the 3/ 5th S Staffs (8); & then look at your education –  all in vain practically eh?  You needn’t think that I shall be happy for you to come out, I shall be inclined to poke my head a bit too high above the parapet!

Yes! Sydney showed me the F.P.C. (Field Post Card) he sent to Mum, saying –  ‘I have not received a letter from you latelyfor a long time’.  I said to Sydney, in surprise, –  ‘are you going to send that!  – – –  I have never missed (crossing out) those two lines have I Basil?  I don’t care about informing you at Home that I have not heard from you for so long.  I think those two lines are slightly inclined to give an indignant impression, let alone make one sadas you were naturally when Sydney sent it.  Of course he knew the circumstances, he had been moving about from place to place since he arrived.

Vernon wrote & said he was sorry he did not visit you when he had his 48 hrs Leave (9) I suppose you will have been introduced to Leenah*Basil, by now? as this is, I guess, the Sunday they were to come.

The Hibbett Family at Tea: Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida.
The Hibbett Family at Tea: Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida. 1914.

The weather is lovely out here, sunny and bright, it is getting on for four o’clock & I shall be picturing you all at tea.

Oh! that reminds me –  I was doubly glad on reading Harold’s letter.  He said he & Hilda were going Home on Thursday (13th) so I hope they had a good time with you.  That half answers my wish in my letter on Friday & 1st part of this.

Queen mary's Sch
Queen Mary’s School Magazine.

Yes it is rotten to have the Houses changed (10).  I should second the resolution that not only should School House retain its old name but Thomas’s and Davies’ & all those whose Bosses have joined to serve their King & Country. Just  put that in the Mag for one from the Front who has not lost interest in the QMS

I think those lilies, Dodger, have been growing the other way & have come out up here in the guise of daisies. I will send you them back.  Spring has come out here, the grass is fresh green, the lark sings its glorious song, in spite of the sound of guns & the hawk is as keen as ever to get her prey; the buds on the trees are quickly turning into fresh leaves.

Well I never! Do you know I was only the other day thinking of sending you some cash to buy some seeds & you could set them for me as a sort of curio.  I was regretful that I had no money in pocket, but, as a sort of unique idea, could you get some seeds of a nice flower or plant & I will send you a franc or so when I get it.  I wish I could have got some seeds from last year’s flowers but I was not in the vicinity at the time. It would be nice for you to have some French flowers growing.

Tommy's Cooker.
Tommy’s Cooker and Mess Tin.

Yes I do know what Dad is like, but I do not in the slightest mean any hurtful thought.

My order for pipes is one just like those two you sent Sydney and me at first – my word and that is nearly a year ago since I started to smoke.  A cherry wood I believe you sent. Also I have a new mess tin & the need of some Monkey Brand is my next request.

Miss Foster* is ( I don’t know if she is strictly serious) almost hurt that I do not ask her for anything in my letters of late  (don’t say anything to her).

I believe I told you in my last letter that Leave  has been suspended again for an indefinite period, but we are going for a Rest in Reserve soonI do not at all like telling you for Mum’s sake & Dad’s, but I eventually thought it best to tell you everything that comes to hand as Mum told me to.

I will close this my ‘long’ Active Service Epistle. I hope it gets through to you, let me know if so.

With my heart’s love to you all.

Your ever affec.  Bertie.

April 1916.
‘My Dearest ArchinaldYou ought to see the ruins caused by the Zeppelin RaidYou can’t imagine the awful state!  Yours affec.  Margerine’.    ‘My Dearest Margerine,  Really! Great Scott, the ruins you speak of must be simply awful! I can hardly realise the sight of the remains of this village.  Yours affec.  Archinald.’    Original sketch by Arthur H.Hibbett.  NB ruined church through ruined doorway of house.



To be standing guard on a green Mont St Eloi during Holy Week & Easter is highly significant to Pte Bertie Hibbett, reminding him as it did of the Passion of Christ and the Words from the Cross. His cartoon indicates how difficult it was for families at home to imagine what their sons were being asked to endure.

(1) ‘Eloi Eloi…’ Mark 15.34. Christ’s words from the Cross. ‘My God, My God why have you forsaken me? King James Version retains the Aramaic/Jesus’ native language. cf Psalm 22.

www.timeanddate.comPalm Sunday search(2) Palm Sunday: Sunday before Easter/beginning of Holy Week/ commemorates Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem/waving of palms (symbol of victory). Mark 11. 1-11. (My father used willow branches in Palm Sunday processions).

H. H. Milman.

(3) ‘Ride on Ride on.. ‘. Hymn: Henry Hart Milman. 1827. Mark 11.1-11 (AD 64) has Jesus riding on a ‘young donkey‘.  NB Pietro Lorenzetti’s painting above follows the text of Matthew (AD 85) which emphasises the fulfillment of prophecy by interpreting the poetic lines of Zechariah 9.9 literally, as if there were two animals i.e. a mother ass/donkey and her foal/colt (terms interchangeable).

(4) Brother Lawrence (born Nicolas Herman, Lorraine), 1614-1691. French lay-brother, Carmelite Monastery, Paris. Given name ‘Lawrence of the Resurrection’. Known for ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’.

(5) Wayside Ministries. Pamphlet with words of wisdom & comfort sent by Pte Bertie’s Godmother, Mary Foster/ frequently quoted in his notebook ‘A Little Book of Words & Doings’ (the first being ‘Pray to God in a storm but keep on rowing’).

(6) Zeppelin Raid on Walsall. 31st Jan -1st Feb. 1916. Observer photo? (7) Kathy Brookes: superintendent St Paul’s Sunday School/ family friend. (83/5th S. Staffords: Territorial Battalion/ served in UK.

(9) Vernon Evans had returned to the UK on sick leave and (along with other sick/ returned 1/5th S Stafford soldiers) was attached to 3/5th S. Staffords, Territorial Battalion. 

(10QMS Houses: School House; Dellow’s House; Powis’ House; Frith’s House, (the last three named after their House Master).  From a letter asking for a Magazine subscription, signed S Powis /dated July 24th 1917, I assume my father was in Powis’ House & the move to alter House names failed. NB Was there a Davies’ House & a Thomas’s House at QMS?

NEXT POST:  21st APRIL 1916. Good Friday.