Tag Archives: St Paul’s Walsall 1915.

27TH NOV. 1915: ‘NEXT TIME THERE’S A WAR I SHALL STAND ON THE PAVEMENT – WAVE TO PASSING TROOPS & STAY AT HOME’.

Centre: Sgt S. HIBBETT when training as a Sergeant.
Sarjeant Sydney Hibbett. 22 yrs 1916.

Serjeant SYDNEY HIBBETT: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95 Foden Rd.Walsall.

Convalescent Camp.  Rouen.                           Saturday.   Nov 27th/ 15.

My very dear own Parents,

I am feeling much better today and can safely say I am quite well. I came out of the special treatment ward today and am now with the ‘Z’ Company again (1).

There was a concert in the YMCA last night so I went over and enjoyed myself.  I don’t think I shall be here very long now as I don’t particularly desire it and want to get back to business.  I wish it was the old Works again though (2). Then there is my commissionI want to see how that is going on, though a sergeant has a lot of privileges, I find (3).

I am looking forward rather to the morning service tomorrow: it was beautiful last Sunday, though I was so bad I could hardly stand.  We have the Chaplain, a kindly old man, to play the harmonium & this, with all the band’s flutists, makes a most beautiful and tuneful melody.

The big YMCA hut is crowded with convalescents and we have a very similar service to the Matins at home.  You know I delight to hear &  sing the Psalms & a service without these & the Venite is no service to me (4). But last Sunday reminded  one very much of the service at St Paul’sSt Paul's Interior Walsall

Ah yes! be happy that you have a good church and a nice service to go to on a Sunday;  I think of it you know & can see you all in church in my mind’s eye: the familiar, well known people, the Farringtons, Fentons, Middletons, the Miss Hills and Co and so on.

St Paul's at Crossing
St Paul’s at Crossing.

They all perhaps think – ‘same place, another Sunday, same people, the same old round’.  How I enjoyed the service that morning I went when I was on leave!

Tell Harold I wish him the best of luck and hope he won’t be forced to join the Army. The way some of the crippled soldiers have been treated by the War Office is enough to deter anyone from joining the Army.  What will become of a great many of the poor fellows who are not able to help themselves, I don’t know:  I shouldn’t like it. (5) 

Yes next time there’s a War I shall stand on the footpath and shout Hurray! and wave my hand to the passing troops & stay at home – & send them cigarettes!  And that is as far as I shall go.

Tell old Hal (6) to write me a line as he owes me a letter.  Jolly old boy.  Hasn’t poor old Alan been home yet?  Perhaps he will be in time for Xmas.

I suppose you are having one of your usual Saturday afternoons again  – nothing much to do and Hal is over at Sutton I expect,  and Dad is reading his Times in the red chair by the fire and I hope you will both be going a walk soon.

What does Dodger do on a Sat.  I suppose he kicks a ball about up at the old field, but I forgot, they have a new ground now (7). Ida will be making bombs perhaps, good old sort.

Well there is not much to say now it seemsthe fellows are off to the pictures in Rouen & are marching down with the band.  I never go myself. I think I will close now: the next time I write will probably be at the Base, we shall see.

Goodbye, dear Mother and everyone, and I hope you have a nice SundayKeep Harold at Home & don’t let him be in a hurry to join.

Best love from Sydney.

PS  I had a letter from Miss Brookes* (8), a very nice one too.  What about my watch?

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South Staffordshire BadgeePte BERTIE HIBBETT & 1/5th  SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY

NEUVE CHAPELLE TRENCHES

25th Nov.Thur:  Relieved the 1/5th Batt. North Staffordshire Regiment in ‘C’ SUBSECTOR trenches at 6.40 pm.

26th Nov. Fri: Quiet Day. Enemy placed considerable number of H.E. around BREWERY. CASUALTY: 8646 Pte W. Edwards wounded by shrapnel.

27th Nov. Sat:  Quiet morning. About mid-day enemy whiz-banged field West of BATTALION HEADQUARTERS.  At 10.0 pm slightly increased activity of hostile gun and rifle fire.

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SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
Sydney Hibbett QMS Cadet.
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
Elizabeth Hibbett Webb

The young Queen Mary’s School Cadet is now an experienced soldier and this Letter is that of a man who has fought his way for 2 days or more – along Big Willie in the Battle of Loos-Hohenzollern Redoubt.  However sad, however disillusioned with the Army and the War Office he may appear to be, there is no question that Serjeant Sydney Hibbett knows his dutyhe must get wellfurther his commission and get back to the Front to look after his men.

(1‘Z’ Company of Royal Engineers: a special unit specialising in use of gas & flame projectors (to create walls of fire) came into being  in response to German gas attacks, 22nd April 1915. (Long Long Trail/ Royal Engineers/ website).

(2) Mining Engineering Works/Old Park Works,  Wednesbury, Staffordshire.

(3) Serjeant (official spelling in WW1).  2nd in Command of a troop or platoon (50 men). Privileges: presumably these included exemption from censorship of letters ? 

(4Matins: common name for ‘Morning Prayer’ in Church of England Book of Common Prayer.1662.  Originally a monastic liturgy at cock-crow/ also called ‘lauds’ (from Latin meaning ‘praise’). Oxford Dictionaries: Origin of word ‘matins’: Middle English from Old French ‘matines’, influenced by the Latin ‘matinutae’ (morning prayers), from Mutata/name of the Roman Dawn Goddess. Nice!

The Venite, Exultemus Domino ( ‘O Come, let us Sing unto the Lord’) is the 1st line of the opening Psalm 95. The Psalms Sydney loved (he probably knew many by heart) would be those of the Psalter in Book of Common Prayer (ordered to be read or sung through once a month) rather than those in King James translation of Old Testament Book of Psalms.

(5) Crippled Soldiers: 30% of British Soldiers were wounded in WW1. Before 1915 they relied on Soldiers & Sailors Help Society. The State reluctantly began to take some responsibility and Pensions were introduced. But many of the disabled & their families suffered great hardship. Those with ‘shell-shock’ were ignored or treated with suspicion as ‘malingerers’. See Jenny du FeuFactors Informing Rehabilitation of British Soldiers of WW1‘. <https://www.medicinae.org >

(6) Hal: Sydney’s abbrev. for elder brother Harold. (7QMS New Sports Ground: in same place as today?    (8) Miss K. Brookes*: family friend & well-respected Sunday School Superintendant at St Paul’s Walsall.

NEXT POST: 28th Nov. 1915.

20th JUNE 1915: STAFFORDS ‘MOVE TO HOTTER QUARTERS’ & HOME LEAVE MATTERS.

South Staffordshire BadgeeSOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY.

WULVERGHEM TRENCHES

20th June, Sun.   Hostile aeroplane over trenches about 5.30 am.  Quiet day. Demonstration at 11.30 to ascertain enemy’s strengthArtillery fired 2 salvos, 2 burst of rapid fire opened with interval of ten minutes. Impression that enemy’s trenches more weakly held than usual. CASUALTY: Pte. B. Lakin wounded.   

Bertie in UniformPTE BERTIE HIBBETT: LETTER to Mrs A. HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd. Walsall

3rd Sunday after Trinity                                                             June 20 / 15

My Very Dear Mother,

‘O anxious one!  Sit still at Jesus’ feet, In quiet there thou hearest words so sweet.’   Very beautiful, comforting & soothing are those verses by Bessie Porter (1).  Yes they are all full of Mother, as I said in my letter after Mothering SundayThey also apply to me.  I have thought of a quaint coincidence.  I must ‘stand still’ on Sentry & you must ‘sit still’ at HomeI have just read them over again they are so fine. 

Bessie Porter: Elizabeth Ann Porter Head.
Bessie Porter: Elizabeth Ann Porter Head.

You got the pamphlet from the case of Bibles.  You were so generous as to call it mine I am half sorry that you sent it, but really such a poem helps wonderfully in my life away from home.  Yes we must ‘sit stillnot so literally speaking though.  I shall guess rightly if I say that your letter on the 16th Wednesday afternoon (when you said Ida was cutting the grass & it is nearly teatime) was sent posthaste to the General (PO), for I noticed the post mark – 5.15 pm 16.

So naughty Sidney, besides disappointing you with saying we shall move tohotter quarters’, will tend to make you more anxious, but ‘Be not impatient, but in stillness stand’ & again ‘leave it in His wise hands’. (2). He can work the impossible.  Yes none of us on earth can actually tell when this War will be over.  Peace can come any time, sooner or later. Let us pray that Peace will come soon.

Now I must say how sorry I was for not addressing my letters to you more often, but you know dear Mother, who said in her short address that Sunday afternoon (sunny as this is) to the girls in the Sunday school,  ‘Let our minds be as broad as the skies(3) & you will have noticed that I mention you in most of them.  I must apologise too for not letting you know that I have got your two pencils now, the one made in Manchester, called the ‘Popular copying’ and the yellow B pencil I am writing with the ‘Popular’ one now.

We had our rest this morning after doing Listening Post in the new place last night.  So I spent some of the time in reading the Psalms & I again pictured you in St Paul’s.  I can remember some of the chants now (4).

Now I will have my say with regard to Home leave.  We heard that Capt L. (5) & the Adjutant* had gone yesterday, Sat. so your words came true.  Our Platoon Commander seems to have an idea the privates will not get Home Leave for some considerable time, but it is not improbable that the NCOs will have Home leave after the officers & then there will be four men out of each Company go each day.

Oh rumours have been quite at large lately, but we, (Sydney & I) have thought it wisest not to alarm you & get you disappointed for fear we do not go home (6). Brewin* also had a curious letter saying they expected him coming home with Capt. L.  & W. (7).

Well I will close now, hoping you are spending a very Happy Sunday together.

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

I can picture you all at tea.  Sydney & I are going to have some of that nice tea from Home today.

Best love from Bertie.

PS  On Saturday morning we had a celebration of Holy Communion out in the open fieldThe Chaplain wore his surplice & purple stole & the altar was a lovely little one with cross & cloth complete.  What interested me were three little children, as quiet as mice, playing together without the circle of men in khaki (8). After the Eucharist we had an ordinary service when the Chaplain gave a very useful address upon the Gospel for the 2nd Sunday in Trinity about the feast (9).

I am finishing this letter about 6.o’clock.  I have been digging a communication trench all afternoon & thought of you about 4.30 at tea.  We are waiting to be relieved by the next (digging) party so that we can go & have our teas & I can enjoy some tea from home.  We were paid last Thursday so I got a tin of milk from a stall outside camp.   Shall you go to Rushall (10) this lovely evening?  I read that Mrs Jones* went to St Paul’s one Sunday.

PS  I shall have quite a number of headings to letters this week.  Tues. ‘Summer Commences’.  Wed. is ‘Prince of Wales Coming of Age’.

Censor WE Wright.

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ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB
ELIZABETH HIBBETT WEBB

(1) Bessie Porter:  Elizabeth Ann Porter Head. 1850 -1936.  b. Belfast. Evangelical Hymn writer/ secretary to YWCA. Refs on the web to ‘O anxious one…’ state origin unknown, so thanks Dad. (2) ‘Be not impatient’: my father implies this is also by Bessie Porter. 

(3) Mrs Kathleen Brookes. Walsall Sunday School superintendent. (4) Anglican Chant grew from Medieval Plainsong tradition during Reformation.  Devised to provide musical settings to English language version of Psalter in Book of Common Prayer. 1662. ‘Matches natural speech-rhythms to notes in a simple harmonious melody‘ (Wikipedia).  Earliest known are by Thomas Tallis 16th Century. Used by Christian denominations world-wide. Under the influence of his father, Arthur Hibbett, organist & music teacher, my father loved both Plainsong and Anglican chant

 (5) Captain Lister*.  (6) Home Leave: in the event, NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) Sydney Hibbett did not get Home Leave until hospitalised with jaundice in Autumn 1915.   Private Bertie Hibbett never had Home Leave the whole of his Active Service (i.e. 17 months) and probably not until hospital discharge in Spring of 1917. 

(7) W: W.E. Wright: adjutant? /censor of most of the 1/5th Staffords Letters.  (8) Bulford Camp, Neuve Eglise attracted local people (& their children) eager to sell wares to soldiers. (9) St Luke 14.16. (10) Rushall Church, an evenings walk from 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

NEXT POST:  23rd JUNE 1915.