Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.
Tuesday Dec. 14/ 15 – am
My Very Dear Mother – 5 pm
I wrote the date this morning& was about to continue when I thought I should in all probability receive a letterfrom you tonight. I went to the post myself this afternoon on my way back from the bootmakers (1).
Yes, poor Sydney, you will get my letter of Sunday(2) saying I had his long letter telling me how he got to dear old England.Sydney told me I need not send it Home but I am, as Mum wants me to.
I daresay I shall get your parcels tomorrow night (Wed). I also got anotherparcelfor Vernon, which makes the fourthsince he left us on Saturday 11th for the Field Ambulance(3).
Poor old Verny, how very unfortunate he has been for parcels. Last night (Monday) he had his Xmas parcels from Home oh dear – & I was away when they came to our billet & when I came back the Platoon Serg. had opened them & was about to distribute them among the Platoon. The contents would not keep until Vernon came back as they were, so I put a sample of everything in one of the tins & am keeping themin high hopes that Vernon will return verysoon & enjoy some of the Xmas fare.There was his Christmas cake above all too!
I wrote a letter to Mrs Evans & from the beginning to nearly the end it was a very unpleasant undertaking.I said nearlybecause I had toFINIShappilyto wish Vernon’s people a Merry Xmas.
I hope you have enclosed some candles; excuse me saying so, thiscandle is nearly ‘na pou’ finis, so I shall have to close soon (4).This morning I took the opportunity of acknowledging a handsomeChristmas giftfrom Miss K. Brookes* , a Cigarette Case. I suppose she thought I shall receiveenough eatables to satisfy my appetite, well quite right too.
I heard from Hackett* (5) . . . (censored but ‘Capt. Lister’s orderly’ can be discerned) . . . that no person can obtain a Commission without having been an N.C.O. for two months. I shall put my case forward tomorrow or in a day or two.
Forgive me, dear Mum, but I shall relish the mince pies – if there are any coming & I am wondering if Champion has made an attempt at a cake.
Lights out – I mean the candle – ’tis not 6 yet. Let’s see. I shall wantabout four dozen Xmas cardsfromBoots Park St – I shall leave the billet & go my shopping down Walsall Town.
I was puzzled on reading what Vernon’s brother told Basil about him not hearing for 3 weeks.I felt it my duty as a friend to be faithful to Vernon & take care of his parcels, but I do not at all like it. He said he thought he would be back in three days. I will wait either till tomorrow night (Wed) or keep patient till we move. I might try to carry some of his parcel from Home in my valise. I should like you to converse with his people about it.
I said my next letter would be to Basil & Ida, but dear Mummy has had to have first attention lately.I shall write myChristmas letterto you alleither next Sunday or Monday the 20th,or I might write it when I get the parcels.
Dost thee remember my Christmas letter last year at Saffron Walden?Drawing to the end of Novemberwe shook handswith our old Colonel, who came to give us a surprise visit (7): when at Saffron Walden he hoped we would spend next – i.e.this Xmas at Home, which I am hoping to see about.
Best love to all hoping & trusting you will all keep in the best of health & good spirits to enjoy a Happy & real Christmas.
Your very affec. son
Pte Bertie Hibbett’s feet & those of his pal Vernon Evans suffer the consequences of the waterlogged march from Neuve Chapelle trenches to Rue des Vaches Billets, 5th Dec.1915. Bertie appears to be about to visit a local Frenchbootmaker to repair or replace his boots and Vernon has gone to The Field Ambulance to be passed up the Casualty Evacuation Chain see (3) below.
(1)Bootmakers: British B5 Boots. Soldiers of WW1 & WW2 marched in Northampton boots as did Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army (Roundheads) in the Civil War, 1642-1651. 70 million pairs of boots & shoes were made in WW1 (50 million in Northampton). Crocket & Jones Factory made 3,493956 pairs for officers in WW1. https://www.crocketand jones.com>. Interesting blog photos re history of bootmaking at Stony Middleton. <https://www.loomstate.blogspot.com/…/william-lennon-factory- >
(2) Not extant.
(3) The Field Ambulance (not a transport vehicle as today but) a RAMC organised Casualty Evacuation Chain attached to each Division: consisting of Bearer Relay Posts immediately behind Regimental Aid Posts in the Front Line, further back the Brigade’s Advanced Dressing Stations (ADS) & further back still the Divisions Main Dressing Station (MDS). There were also Walking Wounded Collection Stations, Rest Areas and Sick Rooms. (Regimental Aid Posts could be in a dugout, communication trench, ruined house or deep shell hole).
See The RAMC in the Great War. https://www.ramc-ww1> Also The Long Long Trail.<https://www.1914-1918.net/fieldambulances>. Each Field Ambulance had 10 Officers & 224 men (no weapons or ammunition). Each Division had 23 wagons & 3 water carts and 10 ambulance wagons for transport/ mostly pulled by horses but some motorised ambulances.
(4) ‘na pou’/slang for ‘finished’, ‘no good’.
(5) William? Hackett’s* application for Commission was successful, he eventually became a Captain. (Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall, 1900-1905). Interestingly his training as Captain Lister’s* Orderly involved attendance at Army Servant School. (He died in 1918 in Scotland, reason as yet unknown ).
(6) N.C.O:A private must have had some experience as a Non-Commissioned officer (Lance Corporal/Corporal/Serjeant) before acceptance for Officer training & Commission.
(7) Colonel Crawley*. See A Little Book of Words & Doings.Letter: 5th Dec. 1915.
NEXT POSTS: 19th Dec. 1915. Letters to all Four Hibbetts: Basil. Ida, Mother & Father, to arrive for Christmas.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, No 9 GENERAL HOSPITALROUEN: LETTER to MOTHER, Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd. Walsall.
Another Sunny Sunday Afternoon. ‘In the easy chair’. Sept 19th / 15
‘O prosper thou our handywork’ (sic). Psalm 90.
My Dear Mother,
Beginnings. I’ve missed out the ‘very’ & was thinking of beginning afresh, but then it would be waste so you will forgive me won’t you Mum. Now I have got a lot to say and didn’t know which end to begin so I’ve adopted little headings. I do like to make a good start to a letter.
A Striking Coincidence. Oh Mumyou have begun your letters of late capitally. Your last two did thrill me, especially the long one enclosed in the last parcel. What a queer thrill went through me when I read that you were thinking about us both in the garden in the sunshine.Now it is natural that both sides should be thinking of one another, but after me writing last Sunday afternoonjust when you were thinking about us & me writing about the fact too & then to hear from you in writing. It was indeed a striking coincidence.
I’ve just sharpened my pencil & popped the last of your Nestle’s chocs: in me mooth(1) – no more details now, you’ll understand I guess. I have your letter in my hand.
Well MumI should like to say I’m TOP HOLE –but will put it that I am happy & grateful at present.
A Victory. I was going to begin my letter dramatically & shoutHurrah! – for I managed to coax round the cook & get three apples roasted on the day I got your last parcel. ( Oh! I say to me sen, I’ve let the cat out of the bag. I wrote to Mr Darling* yesterday & had to start twice, the first attempt was on this sheet and I haven’t a rubber to let the cat in the bag again (2).
Parcels. Yes Mum I’ve had both parcelsall right, the one addressed to the Base came up without fail. I don’t think there is any harm in hard boiled eggs, I think they have done me good, having had no signs of further illness through eating them.I guess they are dear in Blighty now.
Lissie’s* Toy Gun. I had a parcelfrom Okoo when I got yours as well. How thepatientseyed me with envy carrying the parcel post away again. I opened your parcel1st & found the treasureDodger told me to look out for, Lissie’s gun. I sent her a card & she will get it today & you will have got my F.P.C.It was too bad of you to send another bit of cash. I tried to get some of the apples roasted, but I was late at the cookhouse. The cook hadn’t got the ovens going then. Then I opened Harold’s parcel after reading your letter.
Mummy’s Photo. . . Oh! Mummy!Let me see you again. How lovely you look, your light hair in contrast with Miss Bore’s and the pretty frill.
I see you are busy with your ‘fissies’ as usual – (tissies)as Basil called them (1).Yes! I have looked closely & well I never! its a pair of socks you are knitting & very likely the ones I’ve been wearing. Oh! you are nearer to me now Mummy – & you felt so near to me all day Thursday that I almost saw you by my side.Iknow you are thinking of Sydney & me again, but I trust you are thinking happily.
Sister’s Address.A very nice letter indeed & I was in raptureswhen I read near the conclusion & went to read that little bit to theIrish Sister & showed her your photo Harold sent. When she heard of such a generous exclamation as ‘Bless all those who are kind’ to Sydney & me,and that you would send a littlepresent, – guess what she said – she said it quite naturally, not as if she was posing & aware that I should write down her words – ‘What a nice kind Mother she must be’.
She was delighted with the photos; she knew Whitby & had a sister who had been there & seen the old bridge, underneath which you were taken, & the old houses on the cliff.She gave me her name so that if you wish to keep toyour generous promise, dear Mum, you can send a little present to Miss M.E. Boyd*,No 9 General Hospital B.E.F. – that is enough to find her. All the Sistersare right for their work & take things lightheartedly, amusing the patients & asking them how they are getting on. But this Irish Sister, who I have said reminds me ofWinnie Overend*, often gives us cigs & sweets,which I believe she buys out of her own pocket.
The other dark-haired Irish Sisteris alwaysproddinginto me when she sees me writing. (She is going to give me some cigs; she interfered with my writing again jokingly & I showed her your photowhich she greatly admired – & then promised me some cigs this afternoon).
Miss Foster. I wrote to Miss Foster on Thursday, in time for the letter to reach her onher birthdayyesterday. This sister picked up my letter when I showed her my drawing of a patient in Hospital Dress& she just glanced at the introduction. How she larfed. ‘No it isn’t’, I said as she expressed the idea that it was my fiancee.
I thought I would draw something for Miss Foster, not being able to give her anything more than a letter, but as I was half way through a newsboy came to the Ward door & instead of buying a paper I bought a Souvenir Card he tempted me with.I put some of Ida’s W.H. scent on it & enclosed it inMiss Foster’s Birthday letter.
Dr Hibbert (3). Now here’s another funny coincidence – during yesterday I came across a patient who had been to Nottingham Goose fair every year & never missed up till theWar. He was a Lincolnshire lad who knew all about Uffington (4)too – the conversation started with reference to mushrooms.Another patient I came across was in the Royal Scots Greys & came from York. By the by, these acquaintancesremind me of Ida at Leicester Hospital. TheHead Sister of the two Wardssaid once when she was giving me medicine, ‘Call for your medicine Hibbett – let’s see – I know a Hibbert, I have a friend related to a Dr Hibbert’.That’s the limit – now on to something more serious.
Besides the photos of you all at Whitbythere was one of Harold. Who took it? I must congratulate the photographer for it is very artistically arranged, butOh dear Okoo, why isn’t there a smile, eh.
The Marriage. I say Mummy, & all of you at home, wouldn’t it sound nice to read & hear of a Lieut. Harold Victor Hibbett R.A.M.C. will be married shortly to Miss H.B. eh. what oh! & to hear that his brother, Mr.A. Hibbett’s second son, who is fighting at the Front will act as best man.
Best Man. Oh Sydney! how can we buck up & ‘singe his whiskers’ (5).How can we bring such a colossal state of upheaval to a close – & get Home to witness a fine bust up at Home, Sweet Home.
Boils. Now, Mum, that leads me to tell you the answer to your anxious enquiry. Yes, I will let you know all in this my (next) letter.I daresay you were disappointed in all the letters you’ve had since the 12th thinking I should answer your queries in them. I don’t think for a moment now that I could get Home through my complaint for I am quite better now; the ‘excavation’ into my neck has been finished with & the ‘cavity’ is practically closed up now.
Home Sweet Home. I was expecting to bemarked out (6) today, but the Doctorsaid I should be in tomorrow, Monday. The Doctor was very amiable & knows his business, but I do not think he could do anything to send me Home & I know it is of no use whatever to try & put the matter to the Colonel. You see there are many more cases & some are worse than mine & too there have been many cases such as mine& they have been able to put them right enough for Active Service.
Blighty, My Little Grey Home in the West. No, I don’t think Dad could do anything; it is all very well for Sydney to say what he has said to you & I’m grateful to him at the same time.I believe the great majority of patients want to go to Home Sweet Home – Blighty as we call it.
Dining Hall Talk. It is ‘Dining Hall talk’ on how chapsare favoured & work their ticket marvellously & that it isone in 1000 who want to go up the line again.
The Three Calls. But oh Mum I have told Mr Darling* that I feel I am on the balance in Hospital here. I can hear three calls. I can hear Sydney calling me (seems funny, although he doesn’t wish me to join him). I can hear the call of Duty. ‘Rise! fellow-men, our country yet remains, By that dread name we wave the sword on high & swear for Her to live, for Her to die’ (7).
At Duty’s Call. My New Calling. Ready Aye ready.The third call comes indirectly through Hopes of living through the campaign & taking up a new career. His calling, that came to me through Bishop’s Stafford’s text for the confirmation candidates of 1911. ‘Blessed is the man whom thou choosest & receivest unto thee. Here am I – send me.’ (8).
My Little Khaki Case.Another look at you dear Mum. I have scentedyou with Ida’s White Heather Scent. Motherit reminds me of the lovely scent you had on you. I have scented the case. And there’s ‘Crippen’ Mummy – oh don’t say that ofdear Dad,but it’s a joke ehMum, ‘Hoo Hic! ain’t he strict.’ (9).
Thinking. Another look at Mum. Yes you are thinkingof me & I of you. I wonder if you are peeping at Sydneytoo & my photo.
Today’s Post. I had a letter from Cousin Stanley* this morning. My word what a change in style and manner, – of course he is 17. He seems to have grown out of his shyness by the way he writes.And I have had a nice, delightful, little letter from Miss Jones* & Miss Humphries*. . . There was to be abox of cigs with the letter but I have not had it yet, perhaps it will turn up tomorrow.Miss Humphries says rightly, ‘The Lord is the same yesterday, today & forever’ (10).
Keep Looking Up.There is a happy thought to conclude with. Keep looking up, it is a bright blue sky & the sun is ‘nearing’ the West where you are. Let your two sons push forward to the East & singe his whiskers, asHaroldsaid, & do our Dooty,as England expected in Nelson’s day, & ought to now, & does now (11).
God bless you dear Mother, my very dear Mother & the same to my Father. I do love himwhom Ida once said is ‘kindness itself’ – she knows.
Best love to all, from Bertie.
Post Script.Another Victory.Of course you must always expect a Post Script.
I have been unable to obtain any milk or eggs,but I should think I shall be at theBasebefore this week is out & then I shall be able to get some eggs. But you must understand thatwe have not the conveniences like at Home. Men won’t be troubled with boiling milk & eggs for me or anyone else. But I managed by coaxing the chap at the Soldier’s Institute Canteen to make a bowl of coffee with the coffeeyou sent me in the parcel & it was ripping with those digestive biscuits & I enjoyed a good little supperthat night (last night). I wondered whatever to do with that coffee. The shirtwill come in useful when I am out of Hospitalbut you need not send me another as I have lately been given a new outfit & Sydneycould do with them.
Hoping I have satisfied your queries. I have not said all yet. I wonder if I was thinking of you before you were thinking of me today when I went to Holy Communionin the same lovely little tent.
It is a lovely evening again & I am going to Church, are you?
Pte Bertie Hibbett’s longest letter yet in which his little headings help him to sort out his own confusion between Three Calls:Duty to his Brother, Duty to his Country and Duty toGod.
(1) Hibbett Family Jargon/ Slang: mooth–mouth; sen–self; ‘cat out of the bag‘ –let out a secret by accident; fissies (Yiddish for ‘feet‘) – hence knitted socks; Hoo Hic– nonsense words; dooty-duty. NB. ‘Okoo’ & ‘Dodger’: nicknames for Basil Hibbett, Bertie’s youngest brother.
(2) Bertie has written ‘Saturday Sep 18/15 ‘Dear Sir’ along the side of paper).
(3) The Hibbett Family was proud to differentiate itself from the ‘Hibbert‘ descendants of the Ibbot Family. Spelling: from my (6 x great) grandfather John Ibbot b. 1690; William Hibbett/or William Ibbot b. 1735; Luke Hibbitt b. 1765; William Hibbett b. circa 1790; Henry Hibbett b. 1824 (my great grandfather of Rutland & York); Arthur Hibbett b.1860 (my grandfather); Arthur Hubert Hibbett. b.1895 (my father). Sydney Martin Hibbett b. 1931 (my brother). NB Observant folk will notice the number of years between father & eldest son is mostly 35 years.
(4) Uffington: Lincolnshirehome of Hibbett cousins. (5) ‘Singe his (Kaiser Wilhelm II’s) whiskers‘: get close enough to defeat him. Found in WW1 soldier’s story.
(6) ‘Marked Out’ (by R.A.M.C.): to be sent back to the Front Line. (7)’Rise fellow men. . . ‘Wanderings of Childe Harold’: John Harman Bedford, Lieut. R.N. ‘A Romance of Real Life’ (Lord Byron). 3 vols. 1825. London. (8) Bertie has conflated two biblical sayings on God’scalling:‘Blessed is the man…’Psalm 65.4. ‘Here am I send me‘: First Isaiah 6.8.
(9) Dr. Hawley Harvey Crippen: American homeopath murdered his wife/ first criminal to be caught by wireless telegraph. Executed Pentonville Prison, 1910. Familynickname for Dad (Arthur Hibbett) when strict.(10) ‘The Lord is the same. . .’ Hebrews 13.8.
(11) ‘England expects that everyman will do his duty. . .’ Signal sent by Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson from flagship H.M.S. Victory 21st Oct 1805, Battle of Trafalgar. Napoleonic Wars.
Lance Corp. SYDNEY HIBBETT & 1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.
CANADA HUTS NR DICKEBUSCH.
18th Sept Sat:Divisional Reserve.Relieved the 6th North Staffin the trenches.
19th Sept. Sun: S.W. SLOPE HILL 60. Very quiet day.Aeroplanes active on both sides, our machines appeared to have the upper hand.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: Ward 6. No 9. General Hospital: LETTER toMOTHER,Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall, forwarded on by Idato 7, Victoria Square, Whitby. (1). In Red White & Blue. Sunday Aug 22/15
My Very Dear Mother,
Today is Sunday & I have just come back from a beautiful little service inside a tent.Neat little chairs, & neat little forms, scrubbed white, a beautiful little altar covered with a nice plain green cloth. On the altar was laid abeautiful brass cross, & vases in which were some lovely white flowers.
A soldier in khaki rang ‘The Bell’, which was in the form of a bar of iron& to make it ring the soldier smote it with a wooden hammer – quite a good imitation. Then in came some patients in Royal Blue suit, white shirts & wearing scarlet ties, just like me.Yes, in Red, White & Blue, the Hospital Dress.Thensoon after, a fewnurses (Sisters we call ’em) came & sat down in the chairs, they looked so ‘spick an’ span’ in their caps & aprons so perfectly white.Thenin came the organist or rather a nurse who sat down to a fine piano. Then the clergyman, a very gentlemanly M.A., no bombast at all about him. He walked up the aisle to his little stained wooden desk & prepared theservice.
Then a whole party ofR.A.M.C. Soldiers in khakicame in & we had a good few, ‘a handsome little muster of souls’ altogether. A nice motley of colour – to see the scarlet copes of the Sisters, the hood of the priest, the green & white of the altar, the blue of the patients’ uniform & the khaki of the R.A.M.C.
The service started with that glorious old Hymnal March ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ (2). I think of Sydney when I think of this hymn now, praying that he may go ‘Onward’, while he is the indirect cause of me resting here.
The sermon was good & just right for the congregation,about prayer, why some are not answered. Then the climax of the service came, after the sermon we had that hymn reminding me so much of your dear daughter & my affectionate sister.
The Sister at the piano played exquisitely & we all joined in the anthemtune of ‘As pants the hart for cooling streams’ (3) & a sweet voice from one of the Sisters sent me back to the memories of Ida as a nurse.
I spoke of resting here. Well as a matter of fact we have work to do. Just a bit of light duty in the way of house wifery. I wasorderly one day, but owing to vaccination & the irritation of sores round the ankleSister put me on ‘The Bright Things’, as she calls the dinner tins & trays & milk cans.
Well isn’t it funny Mummy,you saidI was fond of brightening, when I mentioned Sydney’s bayonet. Well Iof my own accordcleaned a dozen or more rusty knives (included in the bright things) which looked as if they had never been cleaned for half a century.Yes Mummy your painstaking & care will – & always will leave a trace in the family.
I was told to pick up all the rockeries around the front of the hut & put them beautifully straight again.Well here again, you can tell the reflection of your nature upon mine – I scrubbed all the stones, they looked so dirty& theresult gained great commendation from the Senior Sister.
I will close now. Hoping again that you are enjoying a sunny Sunday like it is here, all together& another nice evening’s walk. I can picture the calm sea & sunset of a Sunday’s evening.
Mum, you know I like bread butter pudding, well I had a secondserving for Sunday’s dinner & it was so nice, with currants & large sultanas in & custard on TOP, poor Sydney. I hope to rejoin him soon & be proud to live the campaign through, yet above all how nice it would be if Home Leavewould buck up in coming eh Mum.
Best love, Bertie.
PS It takes a week for a letter to come from England. So if you wrote last Sunday afternoon I should not get the letter till tomorrow Monday. I went to the 6.30 Holy Communion this morning too in the tent. You can let Ida read this letter if you like. I addressed thisHome, as I guess you will be home in a week’s time, the length of time this letter will take. (1)
(1) This Letter only took 3 days instead of Bertie’s expected week so Ida forwarded it on to Whitby.
(2) 19th Cent. Hymn: Onward Christian Soldiers.Sabine Baring Gould. 1865. Music: Arthur Sullivan.1871.
(3)Anthem:As Pants the Hart for Cooling Streams. George Frederick Handel (5 versions 1713 -1738, for use in Chapel Royal). Words (based on Psalm 42) attributed to John Arbuthnot, 1667 -1735. Scottish physician, mathematician and political satirist, (John Bull series).
SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY shows Lance Corporal Sydney Hibbett still in Reserve Camp.
NEXT POSTS:Apologies for late posting of Letters dated 22nd,25th, 26th, 29th & 30th AUGUST 1915. (I needed a walking break in the Lake District and will be back to original post dates by end of August).
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT:A Little Book of Words & Doings(1).
‘ Went for a Rest to Base at Rouen, Medical Inspection. After 4 days I was stated unfit for Entrenching. Sent to 12 General Hospital & 9 Gen. Hospital with boils (2).Fine sunny weather. Lovely wards at No 12. Two Irish sisters at No 9. Fussy little elderly sister. Fine time at YMCA Huts – attended Bible Class in afternoon. Good food at T.B. (3). Learnt chess at YMCA with Ruberry.’
FIELD SERVICE POSTCARD to Arthur Hibbett Esq. c/o Mrs Hardcastle, 7, Victoria Square, Whitby, Yorkshire, England . Same FPC to Ida Hibbett,95, Foden Rd Walsall.
I am quite well. I am sent down to the base. Letter follows at first opportunity.
Bertie HibbettAug. 12th/15.
Lance Corporal SYDNEY HIBBETTremained at theFront.
SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY. S.W. SLOPE OF HILL 60.
11th Aug. Wed: Very quiet day. Aeroplanes of both sides very active.CASUALTY: 8825 Pte S.J. Parkesslightly wounded. Remained at duty.
12th Aug Thurs. Enemy grenades fell short of 37trench. Enemy working partyobserved and bombedopposite36 trench. Sounds of enemy mining reported by listeners in defensive mine in 37 trenchbut could not determine in what direction.Hill 60 trenchmortaredfrom 37 trench. CASUALTIES: WOUNDED: 7886 Pte S. Noble. 9415 Pte W. Pearson.
(1)Note Book most probably begun in Hospital at Rouen. Aug. – Oct. 1915.
(2) ROUEN: B.E.F. General Headquarters in France. Many R.A.M.C. Stationary & General Hospitals. Main point of Red Cross casualty evacuation to England (getting a ‘Blighty‘ – See Bertie’s question on PC to Ida, 11th Oct. 1915 above). No 12 Gen. HospitalRouen held 1,350 beds in tents. No 12 (and possibly No 9) were in vicinity of ‘champs de courses’ (race courses), cf ‘Great War Forum‘ ‘TheLong Long Trail’ and ‘Old Sweats‘ online.
9th Aug. Mon: Furnished Working Parties to RE. CASUALTY: 6443 L/ Cpl J. Williams wounded.10th Aug.Tue: Ditto.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings.
“Aug. 10th 1915: Last conversation with Capt. Cozens* (Tim) on leaving Railway Dugouts. Not been five minutes with him before a whole crowd was round him. Talked of a Charge in which Earl Cardigan (1) , dressed in civvies with frock coat, fancy socks, swagger cane & cigar astonished theenemy. Offered Tim a State Express cig. Harper* and Serg Major Gee* whom I saw also. All three killed while I was at Rouen. Aug – Oct 14th.“
Lance Corporal SYDNEY HIBBETT: FIELD SERVICE POSTCARD to Miss I. Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall.
I am quite well. I am going on well. Letter follows at first opportunity.
Sydney. Aug 10th/ 15 .
On Tues, 10th August, 1915, Pte Bertie Hibbettwas sent down toB.E.F. Baseat Rouen for a Rest. He had been ‘recommended for a rest’ by R.A.M.C. since 25th July. Hisfeet were considered unfit for the march from Wulverghem to Ouderdom Divisonal Base, Ypres Salient, so he went by‘ambulance’.
(1) Earl Cardigan, 1872 – 1961: George William James Chandos Brudenell-Bruce, 6th Marquis of Ailesbury, styled ‘Earl of Cardigan’ from 1894.Boer War awarded D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order). WW1 mentioned in Despatches/ awarded T.D. (Territorial Decoration). Knight of the Garter/ St John; J.P; Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire.
(2) ‘Swagger cane’. A short stick(not cane) made of rattan. Symbol of one in authority usually military. e.g. RomanArmycenturions in Punic Wars. 264-146 BC.
18th May 1915, Tue: ‘D’ Coy proceeded to relieve ‘C’ Coy.CASUALTY: KILLED: 9998 Pte Swancott ‘C’ Coy. 19th May Wed:‘C’ Coyinspected by Bdr Gen. Feetham.20th May,Thur: Proceeded to the trenches in relief of 6th Souths at 9.0 pm.CASUALTIES: WOUNDED: 9899 Pte A.D.Wood 7855 L/C J. Bird (slightly wounded); 6108 Sgt E. Lloyd. 21st May, Fri: Enemy burst seven shells over 9A support. Otherwise quiet day. CASUALTY: WOUNDED: 8707 Pte J. G. Bennett.
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd, Walsall.
The ‘Listener’s Lounge’ Friday May 21st / 15
My Dear Mother & Father,
All about Smoking.
To begin with dear Motheryou were the Ist to convey the news of our letters being‘in the paper’. I mentioned the fact to Norman Cope & Cyril Hinde who are in the same hut in camp. Norman was puzzled, he could not remember writing a letter which would be likely to appear in any paper & we all three could not think of the paper it could be in. I thought of the Advertiser, Syd of the BirminghamMail.
Well the puzzle was solved on Syd’s birthday I believe, or the day after, when Copegot The Express & Star. How we roared at the large block heading & how flattered we felt. We indeed were ignorant of such consequences on acknowledging the bacca which by the by was issued with the rations – little packets of Kitcheners and Roll Call cigarettes& a packet of Matins ‘Arf a Mo’ tobaccowith a PC in each packet, having the address of the contributor. * * * * * * * * * *
‘An Explanation & A Request. The smokes in this parcel have been subscribed by the United States, as a testimony of their kindly feelings towards the cause of the Allies. They would naturally be glad to hear from you of the safe arrival of the parcels, and would treasure a momento from the trenches, in the shape of a few words from the men ‘who are making history’ at the Front.’ Over-Seas Club,Tobacco Fund,General Buildings, Aldwych, London W.C.
* * * * * * * * * * Have you had my letter written on his coming of age? another racking of my brains for a real Birthday one. If you did I guess, or rather I am wondering greatly, what sort of opinions Mother & Father will have of me for smoking Syd’s health. Well I have not yet smoked a cigarette& I know Dadprefers apipe.
I shall have to be a smoker now. Miss Foster has ‘done it in’ for me. Fancy, she addressed the parcel to me & not to Syd. Of course the contents were for us both. Guess? – why Country Lifecigs with a nice letter enclosed.
Miss Fosterseems to be puzzled with regard to our ‘diggings’ – she had an idea we lived in houses.
Now look here Mum, what can you make of Mrs Jones, isn’t she TOO BAD. Why another couple of tins of Embassy& two more of Nestles. I gave Syd a good share of one box. Vernon, Oh Vernon – now I have smoked a pipe on Syd’s 21st, has jokingly pestered me to smoke one of his cigs. After tea he sais a smoke is most soothing, and at the rest, on a march when my head ached, he said a cigarettewould put me all right.
Should you agree to me smoking could you please send me a white bone cigarette holder & if you are kind enough to consider Syd too, one for him; but perhaps he doesn’t want one. Perhaps Harold would subscribe for a cigarette holder. The smoking will help to keep down bad smells, by the by. A Lieut. passed the Listener’s Lounge & remarked upon the ‘Hum’ – ‘What is it?’ he said ‘ a cow or a horse? ‘An awful smell to be sure!’
Vernon’s sister has sent him some lovely shortcakebiscuits& a few currant cakes& some toffeeall of her make & he was very generous in letting Syd & me sample some.
Your letterMother written on Syd’s birthday was ripping, long & of course most Motherly. I often picture you in Church alone. Couldn’t Dodger go with you some Sunday evenings now summer is coming?
Talking about Nature which goes on as usual – the war only affecting man’s work such as houses etc – on going & coming to & from from the trenches we often hear the Frogs croaking. There must, I should think, be an innumerable number of the songsters all along the fields, especially around the stagnant ponds.
Send some lilies, as Ida promised, – the garden will be lovely if all goes on well, considering what Basil said in his past letter.
If you don’t get a letter for some long time after it was written you will know it was written in the trencheswhere there is no outward post until we get back to Camp. I guess Basil will tell you when we are coming out of the trenches & the day we are going into them. Go to Camp next Monday night.
I promised Vernon I shall not smoke again until I hear what you & Dad have to say on the matter. We have had wet weather in Camp, but today, as I am writing this, the sun is scorching & I shall have to close now as I am getting sweaty. I expect a letter from Harold tomorrow, for he said he was writing to me. So Fred York* called did he? – well I wrote to him & Harold on the 6th when I wrote those letters you were anxious about, namely acknowledging the good parcels.
It is not very often that I miss (filling) a page, but I am getting exhausted of reliable news.
Best love to all.
It was very kind & considerate of you to visitBailey’s mother*.
Best love, Bertram.Censor W.E. Wright.
My Memories of the First World War. The Revd Arthur H. Hibbett. 1967. ‘At The Cenacle, British Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Berkenhead, a friend (Vernon Evans) gave me an Autograph Book in which I collected autos of the patients, written on cigarettes, which I cut in half and pasted on the pages. I spent my time doing drawings and sketches with my left hand.’
Pte BERTIE HIBBETT’S Autograph Album. Signatures collected at The Cenacle, British Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Birkenhead. 1916 – 1917. Troops Autos & their Cigarettes: 1) The Queen’s Westminster. July 1916. Ward 6. Rifleman G.Hughes, De Reszhe as supplied. Rflm A.J. Bays, Abdullah & Co. Ltd. EW Bond Street. Turkish Fine.
2) Scottish Regiments: J. Beck 1/10th Liverpool Scottish. Capstan & Navy Cut. Medium. W.D. & H.D. Wills. ‘J. Beck underwent almost 10 operations’.
3) Irish Regiments. 1st London Irish Rifles. A. Kelly Pte. South Irish Horse, Players No 3 Virginia; E.J. Leggett, Rifleman. R.E. Notasa(?) Ltd. Picadilly, London. Turkish Grade No 4; L/Corpl. Sofetig (?) Gold Flake, W.D. & H.D. Wills.
4) R.A.M.C. (Royal Army Medical Corps). J. Whyte. Players ‘Medium’ Navy Cut. Ernest C. Kirk (ditto).
NEXT POST: 30th May 1915.
The WW1 Letters and Drawings of Private Bertie Hibbett, 1/5th South Staffordshire Regiment, to his family in Walsall, will be posted again, one hundred years on, from August 1914 to November 1918, by his daughter Elizabeth Hibbett Webb. The first posting will be the Recruitment Postcard sent by Queen Mary's Grammar School Headmaster to the Hibbett family on holiday in Abergele, Wales.