Tag Archives: Sleeping Helmet/ Baraclava 1915.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


28th Nov. Sun: Quiet morning.  Considerable shelling from 2.0 pm to 3.30 pm. Centre of  SUBSECTOR whizz-banged heavily on front MOGGS HOLE (1) shelled with H.E. and part of 1/5th North Staffs caught, of whom 1 man was killed and 1 officer and 1 man wounded. Enemy shells blew in about 12 yards front parapet opposite BREWERY.  Relieved in trenches 6.10 pm by 1/5th Batt, North Staffordshire Regt.

CASUALTY: 8844  L/ Cpl C. A. Gurley wounded.


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. Censor D.N. Robinson.

‘Sentry Duty’. Advent Sunday (2). Nov 28/ 15

‘My sons be not negligent, for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, & to serve Him’. 2 Chron. XXIX. XI. 29th Nov. inDaily Strength for Daily Needs’. (3).

My Dear Father & Mother,

I was almost afraid that this memorable Sunday would pass without me having time to write to you.

Picture No. 10847532
Picture No. 10847532

Yes ’tis Advent, Christmas is coming & there are signs of it too in the weatherfreezing all dayMany, many hearty thanks for the cozy sleeping helmet which I got yesterday & wore last night, & how queer, I did so soundly sleep, such a good sleep too, never had a better since I have been in the trenches after coming from the Base.

Don’t say I’m greedy, I was half expecting some of Mum’s Home-made toffee –  at any rate I scented the helmet,  some of Ida’s Heather Scent, & cuddled it on me & thought of you all having tried it on each of you. What lovely soft wool isn’t it?

I wrote to Dad on Thursday to give him my wishes on his birthday. Tell me if it gets to him ‘on the right‘. Miss Foster* wrote another nice letter which I got this morning & mentioned you had written about Sydney & (she) is sending me a scarf & mittens. She says ‘say everything and anything’  in my letters.

We have had our feet greased everyday, every 24 hours, & occasionally wash them & put clean socks on.  If your poor busy fingers (fisses) are not tired I should love another pair of socksMy feet – & all of us get our feet damp & cold after a day in the trenches.  Sentry is a cold slow job & we tried to keep warr(sic) by making a fire.  My relief almost burnt his boots, he kept his feet rested on the fire. We are going to billets I believe again this evening  & hope to have another 3 days comfort.

I saw Serg. Sanger* & he wishes to be remembered to you & sais he might come across Dad when he goes over for his Commission the Colonel has recommended him for – without any application on his part.  Sanger said he cannot give me any definite news with regard to Serg. Tim Fenton.  Poor chap, the general opinion with the men here is that he was killed in the Charge & never brought in or found.  I am exceedingly sorry my enquiries have been in vain (4).

Poor old Vernon has not yet found his voice; sounds queer at times for me to hear him whisper every time he talks to me.  I do think he ought to be where Sydney is, if not at Home.

Mr. W. H. Cozens* sent mewhat do you think? why about 40 packets of Woodbines 9 & 2 packets of bacca through the British Exped. Force.  Of course he intends me to distribute them among the men. So I will.  Twas jolly of him eh!  I thank Ida for her efforts in trying to find ‘The Highwayman’, it was in a Red Reader (5), one of Basil’s.  Perhaps it is in the TOP ATTIC.  Oh I shouldn’t mind enduring the cold of the TOP ATTIC now.

If I had five francs I would send it to you  to make some toffee Vernon is very generous, he generally has sent him a small Winter’s Malt Wheat Loaf  (6) & in the last parcel he had was a tin of Golden Syrup & with the Maltwheat it tasted grand.  We both share each other’s parcels.

Well I will close now.  Hoping you are all having a Happy AdventI can picture Dad this evening playing those Advent Hymns (7).

Best love to Dodger & Ida & Harold etc etc. 

Of course I shall write again tomorrow. I remember Dad always eyed anything in the way of rich cakes etc with dubious curiosity. It is not poison is it?’  So Mum, I know you will treat Dad, & you too Ida, make him receive that which is good & all enjoy a happy day with the King , the Gov’nor, the Pater,  AH! Dad. (8).

Ta Ta.  Love from Bertie.

PS  My text, at the head of my letter, I read in a book at the YMCA at the Base, a daily text book & I read all our birthdays.  I found this for Nov 29thMy sons be not negligent.  Vernon told me about the Matinee & Miss I. Cozens* went with Ida did she?  I wrote to you the Tuesday thanking you for the ripping Pork Pie & other good things.



(1) Moggs Hole Cemetery (begun during Battle of Neuve Chapelle, March 1915) now called Neuve Chapelle British Cemetery. Origin of name ‘Moggs’ unknown. 

(2) Advent Sunday: from Latin Adventus ‘Coming’. 1st day of the Church’s Year, month before Christmas.

(3) Daily Strength for Daily NeedsH. Eastman. Publisher Rangoon. American Baptist Mission Press 1915. (appears to be still on-going publicaton).

(4) Trench FeverPyrexia: raised body temperature (of unknown origin hence PUO). First reported summer 1915. Officially recognised summer 1916. Possible causes include body lice infection. See Journal of Royal Society of Medicine/Trench Fever article L.T. Atenstaedt. 450,000 British soldiers affected. Vernon was eventually invalided out of the army. See also National Archives Kew/medical records MH 106/446.

(5) Red Reader: pre-WW1 Book of short stories & poems to encourage young readers?  Open University Arts Research/ The Reading Experience Data Base (RED) 1450-1945 < https://www.open.ac.uk Arts/RED/publications > may solve this query.

(6) Malt Wheat Bread: John Rowlands, proprietor, The Central Stores & Bakery, Llangollen.Telephone No 8: placed advertisement: ‘Appetising & Nutritious Winter’s Malt & Wheat Bread. 3d’ in  Llangollen Advertiser & North Wales Journal 29th Oct 1915. (National Library of Wales Newspaper Collection).

(7) Advent Hymns my grandfather loved & passed on his family:- ‘Hark a herald voice is calling’: 6th Cent. translation. Tune Merton. W.H. Monk, 1823-1889. ‘Lo! he comes with clouds descending’: Charles Wesley, 1758. 18th Cent. English melody ‘Helmsley’.   Also ‘O Come, O come Emmanuel!: 18th Cent. tr. of Latin ‘Veni Veni Emmanuel’. (8) AH! & AHH!: play on initials Arthur Hibbett & Arthur Hubert Hibbett.

NB ‘fissies’ – See Letter: 19th Oct 1915.

NEXT POST: 29th Nov. 1915. Pater’s Buthdoi.



South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

PARADIS BILLETS. (Bn refitting).

6th – 7th Nov. 1915

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd Walsall.

23rd Sunday after Trinity.  Nov 7/ 15

Send a candle or two so that I can write to you at nights.

Hope thou still in the Lord & abide patiently upon Him.’  Psalm 37 .7

My Dearest Brave Mother & Father,

I will write Home first.  Have heard from several people since I rejoined the Company (1) last night & they have all sent parcels, with the exception of the letter addressed by Ida, but the enclosure was written by one of my little scamps, much to my surprise.(2)

Vernon came back from Hospital last night & is now squatting beside me; we are both busy, very busy puzzling our brains on how to write interesting letters to all the people in dear old England who have so kindly remembered us.  Vernon had quite a bundle of letters on his return.  I got the comfy shirt & delicious toffee this Sunday morning & Mother’s nice letter of 29th Oct & Champion’s generous little gift of Turkish cigarettes, my word.De Reszke Cigs.

Poor Vernon, he has had a lonely time in Hospital, no cigarettes, no letters from Home, no anything of any sort So, Ida, I offered him a few of your superb smokes.  imgresAnd now, dearest people – do forgive me for I opened Sydney’s parcel as well, because they could not send his parcel without great risk of getting it mislaid.  So I am keeping the toffee & Chief Whip Cigarettes.

To have to break into his parcels is not at all pleasant & rather tends to make me unhappy, but I have to open them consequently, because I cannot very well carry so many parcels about with me.

Since I rejoined the Company things seemed to be making up for the time I have had with the Bombing Party(I can tell the difference so much, between the man who has been in the trenches & the man who has not, the former are so much sober than the latter).

I have had no less than four parcels, but of course one was for Sydney Auntie sent a parcel for us both, poor Sydney, never mind, I am saving him some of the thick Rowntrees chocolate Auntie sent, but could not very well save him some of the Parkin & applesAuntie Pat also sent some soap & I only want a nice towel now.

Picture No. 10847532

If Harold sends us both a Sleeping Helmet, I shall be much obliged to him, but I should treasure a Home Knitted one & would like to feel the home knitted wool round my cheeks at night; I should conjure up jolly thoughts of Mummy & you all (3).

Mrs. Hurst* also sent me a parcel – inside were many different sorts of luxuries, Nestles chocolate (plain & nut), tin milk, stationery this I am writing on ——-

Broke off here for a bath, then put on the comfy shirt you sent.  Arthur Brown* showed me one exactly like it last night & made of the same lovely soft material;  as you told mevery likely from Mrs Venables*’ Sale (4).

Don’t you think I’m greedy for parcels?  What a time I’ve had with the Bombers (5) & it seems as though the parcels came ProvidentiallyBut I’m so sorry Sydney is not here to share, not only the luxuries, but the happy thoughts And you will forgive my inquisitiveness in reading Mum’s letter to Sydney which was a beauty.

Oh how glad & happy I felt when Vernon quoted from a letter from Mrs Evans*  saying you looked very well.  Yes the inward thoughts and temperament are reflected in the outward manner & appearance –  ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.  ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His’ (6).

Army life is a jolly, jolly life if one suddenly has a surprise of a few parcels.  I was not thinking Sydney would be so long away.  I suppose you will have heard from him.  I have not heard yet since he went.  I hope it has not upset affairs regarding his Commission.

Sorry the time has come for me to conclude the rotten part of a letter, just the same as the rotten part of Home Leavele Finis.  Hoping you are spending a Happy Sunday again. I guess Okoo is with you. I wrote to him on the 5th.

Bestest love,  Bertrum.



It is clear that Pte Bertie does not realise the severity of his brother’s illness. 

(1) ‘A’ Company.

(2) ‘Little Scamps’: Bertie Hibbett’s Sunday School pupils, St Paul’s Church, Walsall.

(3) Sleeping Helmet: soldiers suffered particularly from cold & wet in Winter of 1915-1916. Pattern ‘Knitting for Tommy’ <https://www.thehistorypress.co.uk >

(4) Mrs Venables, (mother of Arthur Venables* who was to save Bertie’s life) held one of Walsall’s fund-raising Sales for Soldiers. 

BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.

(5) Bombing Party:  A Little Book of Words & Doings:  ‘Bombing Course. Oct – Nov 1915:  Marvellous escape after 4 bombs, one dud, dropped by feet of Chester Robinson*, unhurt.  Ida writes from Home she is making springs for bombs & complemented on by manager.‘  cf  The West Spring Gun. A bomb-throwing catapult ‘designed to throw a hand grenade in a high trajectory into enemy trenches’. <https://www.en.wikipedia >

(6) Mtt.7.16  & 2 Tim 2.19. 

NEXT POST:  10th Nov. 1915. The King’s Review: waiting inches deep in mud & water for hours.