Tag Archives: Sleeping Helmet.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


29th Nov. LORETTO ROAD. In Brigade Reserve ‘C’ Subsector Rest Houses.  CASUALTIES: 2 men 672 Pte S. Gee wounded by shrapnel whilst on working party. 9187 Pte L J.  Harper slightly wounded.

 TOTAL CASUALTIES NOVEMBER 1915: KILLED 1. WOUNDED 4.  Slightly wounded 4.

Signed: H. A. WISTANCE Capt. Comg 1/5 South Staffs Regt.


BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
20  in 1915.


Pater’s Buthdoi.    29/11/ 15.

A MORNING’S  X  Mum; X  Ida; X Dodger;  X  Harold; X  Sydney; X  Myself.

11.30 am. In a billet.

That our sons may grow up as the young plants and that our daughters may be as the polished corners of the Temple’. 30th Day. (1)


My Very Dear People,

Walter Crane: The North Wind doth blow.
‘The North Wind doth blow’. Walter Crane..

So you all tried the soft woollen helmet on, & fancied yourselves in a barn like the Cock Robin (Bertie)when he knew Winter was coming, to keep himself warm, he hid in a barn (2).

Well you will be happy to hear that the parcel came on Saturday when I was in the trenches, so I wore it that very same night – & luckily too it was the night I was able to get the most of the hours sleep since I was in; for the night before I was on sentry all through.

Oh how I did larf Champion –  at Father’s Nellie Grey (3). I had an idea you would send those poems out ofTroubadour’ (4), how good of you, you brick, to rip the pages out.  Forgive me, I was somewhat disappointed on seeing that the ‘The Highwayman’  was not in the parcel, it is such a fine poem eh?

Now you’ll all enjoy a good lunch, a good tea & tell me if Dad had bacon for breaker.  Also tell me if he gets to be N.U.B. (5) Also tell me if Dodger wants M.I.K. (6) also Mum tell me if Ida is M.Xant  –(i.e. Most Xtravigant) with the butterfood rationing WW!search

Also lastly tell me if you’ve adopted any Table Economy (7).

’Ello what’s this? I said to me sen as a letter addressed to Sydney from Mother was handed to me.  On the envelope it had ‘NOT AT BASE Try Front’.  So by that poor Sydney is of course not at the Convalescent Camp, but I wonder if he is on the way to see me or joined a wretched Entrenching Battalion (8). Forgive me, I took it into my head to read the letter and I will keep it for the dear boy.

Yes poor Vernon is still ill with a chill, woke this mornin’ and greeted me in a whisper, no improvement in his voice, but the voice of influenza is creeping o’er him.

Mum, I made some coffee on getting intobed’ last night& I saved Brewin* some for him to drink after going out on duty.  Brewin made some Porridge this morning & said it is the ‘finest thing one can have in the trenches’.

Dodger, you aren’t preparing for anything at Christmas at the Grammar School like you did at B’ham?  I am looking forrard to Christmas, no matter in what way it comes, how when or where.

Toodle oo,  

7381788Best love Bertie Arfer, Cock Robin. X X X X X.

PS  Auntie* sent me a letter, the longest she has ever written – on large foolscap She said she is knitting a pair of socks for Dad & also making a Cake for Christmas & is sending some to Sid & me.

Had a letter from Miss Foster* yesterday, a jolly letter, she wants me to tell her anything and everything and wants me to give her a description of a dugout, but oh my after knowing the result my letter of Sunday Nov 14th and the effect it had on poor Mum I could not tell Miss Foster, for she too was taken by a simple heading to one of my past letters to herWritten Within a Barn by Candlelight’.  She added that she was aware that we have to put up with worse things & I think I will leave it to her imagination.  She told me you had written to her about Sydney.

Well  Ta Ta.  Dad’s letter must not go without a PS.

Whit too whoo’ said the owl last night.

X Mum,  X Ida,  X Harold,  X Dodger, X Sydney, X Myself.

PS NB  Also tell me if Dad smoked a cigar & if he got my letter of Thursdayon right’. (9).



Pte Bertie draws a picture of how the Hibbett Family made their Father’s  Birthday/’Buthdoi’ special.

(1) Psalm 144.12. (Book of Common Prayer). Original Hebrew words used here are rare and difficult to translate into English. In some versions ‘sons‘ are ‘towers‘ rather than ‘plants‘ and ‘daughters‘ are ‘corner/foundation pillars‘ of a palace rather than merely ornamental statues. (Good example of how translators can perpetuate gender stereotypes).

Walter Crane.

(2) Nursery Rhyme ‘The North WindorThe Robin‘: The North Wind doth blow and we shall have snow and what will Cock Robin do then, poor thing. He will sit in a barn to keep himself warm & hide his head under his wing, poor thing. Last verseWhat will children do then, poor things?  ‘They must skip, jump and run until they have made themselves warm, poor things‘. Mother GooseimagesMother Goose: imaginary author of Fairy Tales & Nursery Rhymes. A Baby’s Bouquet 1878. Illustrations by Walter Crane.1845-1915. English artist/children’s books.

Benjamin Hanby.

(3) Nellie Gray: popular 19th Cent. song against slave-trade. An African-American male slave of Kentucky mourns the sale of his beloved into slavery in Georgia. Benjamin Hanby, 1856.

(4) Poem The Troubadourappears in ‘A Magazine of Verse’. January 1915. Madison Cawein, 1865-1914.  American Poet (‘Keats of Kentucky’). His poem ‘Waste Land’, 1914, is said to have inspired Ezra Pound’sThe Waste Land‘, 1922, foundation of modernism in poetry. ‘Night they say is no man’s friend and at night he met his end … Hate crouched near him as he strode… Eyes of murder glared and burned at each turning of the road… And with Death we stood and stared… but he never looked nor cared.’ cf The Poetry Foundation.

(5) N.U.B: ‘Nigh to Bursting’. (6) M.I.K: ‘More in Kitchen’.

Illust LondonRationing-begins2(7) Table Economy: Food rationing was not introduced until 1916 but pressure was put on public to be frugal. 60% of food in Britain was imported. 300,000 tonnes of food shipping was sunk every day by German submarines. cf. The Illustrated London News. 

(8) Entrenching Battalion: temporary units to provide ‘pools of men‘ in a Corps from which to draw replacements in infantry battalions. See Wikipedia. Fuller details in Long Long Trail <https://www.1914-1918.net/entrenching.html >

(9) ‘on righti.e. on the exact day 29th Nov. ‘Pater’s Buthdoi’.

NEXT POST5th Dec. 1915.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.


17th -18th Nov:  Brigade Reserve as on 15/11/15. (Pte Bertie on Bombing Course).

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT:  LETTER to Mother, Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd Walsall. 

Thursday Nov 18/ 15

My Very Dear Mother,

I had the letter of the 11th when I returned from the Bombing Course for the last time, tonight & I have read Sydney’s dear letter of Nov 2nd & will send it back to you in this.  Also read Dodger’s small, but welcome letter & quite understand his circumstances (1).

Have now Mother’s letter at hand for reference.  Sorry I cannot say as much as you or I could wish to say owing to the limit of my stock of paperThis I have had just from old Vernon in the trenches – Vernon of course, he is again squatting by me in this dugout & we are both writing Home & exchanging wishes.

Vernon thanks you for your kind Remembrance.  He had the reward of his patient waiting last night, 17 th, by receiving, bringing into the dugout two huge parcels & a small one on the top of them, which were almost as big as the dugout itself & he had a good spreadI would insist on refusing & telling him I would not have anything, but the result was that he got awfully huffy & cross & so I gave in, after much persuasion on his part, to have a little of the Wedding Cake (2) – the last bit his people had saved.

Hudson Soap box.Yes, the large Hudson Soap Box parcel with the towel, hankies & eggs etc came, or could not have come at a more acceptable time, in the trenches.  I could not say whether I was favoured or what, but it was the only one that came that day to a platoon in the firing line.  I have not ’arf relished the apples you have sent lately – what beauties.

Some NCO said there was a letter for me from Sydney, but Vernon looked after my letters while I was away today & I have not yet heard from him by letter, just a PC saying ‘am quite wellso what can his temperature be eh! – a problem for you.

Shall I tell you what I should like in a parcel at this time of year?  Why some more sugar, but ’tis dear isn’t it Mum, some of that brown you sent?  You see I am on the que vive, the alert for something HOT.

Horlick’s advert. c. 1915.

Other things are: –  another of those fine batches of currant bread, and another of those pats of butter & could Harold send me a bottle of Horlick’s Malted Milk in powdered form, it just wants HOT water adding & makes a nourishing drink (3). The sugar is to go with cocoa or coffee, which friends send & don’t think of the sweetening.

Miss Foster* sent a delightful little parcel for Sydney to share in as well.  I have told her where he is & given her the address, thank you for itJust another article to make the parcel complete  – some St Ivel cheese or cream cheese, if you do not think me extravagant.  Another pencil & paper etc.  That’s all. 

So grateful to you, Mum, for the Helmet that is on the make.

Good wishes to Basil & all.


PS  I shall have to write my PS on the back of Dodger’s letter.  

Brit WW I Tommy Cooker 2
British WW I  Blackie Brand Cooker.  ‘Reprorations’ website.

I meant to tell you that Vernon had sent to him a patent stove for making a handy drink HOT or frying cheese & ration of baconDo you think you could send me one & it would do for Sydney (when he comes back) – they are in the shape of a Boot Polish tin & contain a certain composition which, when lit, goes liquid & gives off heat of course & turns solid when cold Just handy So it will alter my next parcel.

Tommy's Cooker.
Tommy’s Cooker. <http://www.frontlinecrates.com >

I will put what I want plainly here:-  1. Stove.  2. Batch of currant bread. 3. Pat of butter. 4. Horlick’s Milk (powder form). 5. Sugar. 6. St Ivel Cheese.



Pte Bertie’s longing for something hot to drink & warm to wear reflects the bitter cold & wet Tommies had to endure in the winter of 1915 -16.  

(1) Basil’s Letter of 11th Nov. 1915 requesting information about 19 yr old  Serj.Tom Fenton, missing since 13th Oct.1915.

(2) Norman Evans’ Wedding, Walsall.

(3) Horlicks Malted Milk created by James & William Horlick, Chicago. USA. c. 1875.  A safe, easily digested milk powder for children & invalids; widely used as a nourishing drink in WW1, on the Front & at Home.


< http://www.oldglassbottles.blogspot.com >

NEXT POST:  21st Nov. 1915: