Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, No 9 GENERAL HOSPITAL, ROUEN: LETTER to HIBBETT FAMILY 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.
Holy Cross Day. (1) Tues. Sep 14 / 15
I wonder who Dad will give this letter to? Will he read it himself first? Let me know if you have got this letter by return of PC.
My Dears – Dodger, Champion & Mummy (2),
Just eaten one of those many apples which smelt as good as it tasted, and then I set to work re-reading all the letters I’ve had from Sweet Home since I sent my last green to Mum, taking notes as I re-read them for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time, as I could not hold all of them in front of me to refer to, especially Ida’s long scroll of the Committee’s parchment (3), and also Basil’s many sheeted epistle .
Now I promised this letter to be plain, short & serious, but how ever can I! I have had something from the post every day I have been in Hospital since the 10th when I got Mum’s letter of the 5th (Sun) – the record coming to a climax today & yesterday when I got Ida’s letter including Mum’s off the sheet & Basil’s & one from Cousin Muriel; she can write well both in hand & in grammar. The final – The Limit came today when I opened your other hamper of good stuff.
Dodger, you said Lissie (4) had brought you something from Venables*, were they the delicious cheese tarts? – and Mum you didn’t finish your letter either – I’ve caught you this time, Ha hee. Did Basil get his letter I enclosed in the green to Mum & Dad?
I really thought I had thanked you for all. I’m sorry, very, if I did not say I got a bit of cash – which came in useful, as I missed pay day again, coming here on the Tuesday.
Now Dodger your description of Home was simply delightful to read & you’ll be surprised that I did not sentimentally faint, to long all that much to come Home. I hope you will not look at that in the wrong light – what I’ve just said – especially Mum.
Yes I can picture you now Dodger coming down stairs after washing off the smoky grime of the journey. How miserable too the journey for you must have been, but I was so very pleased you loved the sight of Home again.
I am human & sometimes long to come Home & I think Ida will agree with me that if I give myself to that feeling & did not try to master that longing & check it I should not live happily out here. I say I made short notes but it looks as though this letter will persist in great length, try how I might.
Did Ida & Mum read Dodger’s letter before he sent it off? Ida ought to be proud that Basil loved to meet her at the station. Ida is a genuine Champion for advice, & if she could not see her way to give advice she would show wisdom. I mean she will help Dodger to pass his exam next time & she has bucked me up a lot too, I could say more on this but must stop.
No: I must just say one word more. I am cross at Ida for not taking notice of what I said in my green to her – & Mummy I cannot let you off lightly ’cos I know you would get to know all – as for myself I put all the blame on my rascally pate. I do feel a hypocrite, yes Ida there are worse cases than mine, & I ought to have trusted that you would know my case was not all bluff (for they do not send anyone to Hospital for nothing) without me saying even a word .
Oh I am sorry Mummy I have made you all more anxious, it was not at all my intention, but my intention has been all along to make you happier. Sydney, I have no doubt would have ‘scolded & reproached’ me dreadfully & rightly too I now think.
Just a touch upon light trivials:- I have mentioned the same Winnie unconsciously of Basil’s thought (you can tell by the time the letters were written). This Irish Sister laughs just like Winifred Overend Yes Ida is a Champion with a knack of putting one right, & that put me in mind that Basil too becomes his nickname nicely when I read of his whimsical dodge at catching bunny rabbits on his record tramp to R.N.B. (5).
Now will that do for Dodger. I will just wish him the best of luck in his next attempt. Is he going to school again? I hope so. QMS I suppose.
Now for Mummy, as I read yours next I will say my say. Yes I will try & cuddle round the cook to get me some of your nice apples roasted & will tell you if I succeed. I will not miss out thanking you for every article in the parcel this time, starting with the welcome bit of cash. I have not unwrapped it yet, but put it in my purse straight away.
I will keep to your advice Mum & buy, if I can get, milk, eggs & fruit. I am sure of the last, but not so sure about the eggs because I am not at the Base & eggs are nowhere to be found to buy here. As for the milk there is only tinned milk here, if none at all & if I am out of the Hospital tomorrow the only liquid milk obtainable is at YMCA & that is Horlicks Malted Milk. At any rate I will try my best to spend it wisely & think of Mummy as it dwindles down to a penny & then to a sou.
With regard to Sydney’s Com: I say what Mum sais, you seemed to want us both to be officers, but if you think, as no doubt what you say is true, we shall likely be parted, then I say Down with the idea. Down with it.
I am quite well now Mummy & am happy, so you will be too in the future won’t you Mum? I do feel a hypocrite when I am in my deck chair among the flowers & think of Sydney up there. How can I reconcile for what I have said & the consequences in the way of making you anxious again. I pray twice a day for you Mum. So let us both ‘Look up’ again.
I am writing straight away again you see for your kind things & will tell you how I enjoyed my tea with apricots, cream, sugar & cheese tarts. I will reserve one for supper, & will make the parcel last out. I am looking forward to the other part of the hamper & you will naturally have another letter from me but let me keep . . . . .
(end is missing)
(1) Holy Cross Day: Feast Day of Veneration of the Cross of Christ. St Helena of Constantinople 250 -330 AD. Patron Saint of Archeologists is reputed to have discovered the true Cross in Jerusalem. Mother of first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine (‘In hoc signo vinces – by this sign I will conquer’).
One of Dad’s favourite hymns: ‘Lift High the Cross’ 1887. Words: George Kitchin, Dean of Winchester. Revised 1916 by Michael R. Newbolt. Hymns Ancient & Modern.
(2) Basil, Ida & Mother. (3) Education Committee paper from Arthur Hibbett’s office? (4) Lissie: Arthur Venables* little sister? (5) R.N.B. : ?
Lance Corp. SYDNEY HIBBETT & 1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.
14th Sept. Tue: CANADA HITS NR DICKEBUSCH. Divisional Reserve.
NEXT POST: 19th Sept 1915.