Tag Archives: The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital New Brighton 1916


Concert Programme

2nd-cenacle-concert-part-2Transcription: The Cenacle British Red Cross Hospital  Concert. Winter 1916-17. Program. Sketch drawn in pencil. Finished 1923.

1) Pianoforte Solo:  “Overture 1812″. Tchaikovsky. 1882. Piano arrangement 1882. Lance Corpl F. Richter. Mus B. (Bachelor of Music).

2) Song: “Follow me ‘Ome”. Rudyard Kipling, 1865 -1936. ‘There was no one like ‘im ‘Orse or Foot Nor any o’ the Guns I knew; An’ because it was so, why o’ course ‘e went an’ died. Which is just what the best men do. So knock out your pipes an’ follow me. An’ it’s finish up your swipes an’ follow me. Oh ‘ark to the big drum callin’ Follow me – Follow me ‘Ome. Corporal J. Beck. 1/10th Liverpool Scottish. (Underwent 10 operations) .

Corpral Beck
Cpl. Beck




3. Song: Nurse Cicely G. Wilcox.

4. Recitation: Selection “The Lay of the Last Minstrel“. Bertie Hibbett1805. Sir Walter Scot. Romantic/Gothic story of 16th Cent Border Feud/ theme-loyalty to one’s homeland. Pte A. H.Hibbett 1/5th S. Staffs.

5. Song: Nurse Mildred E. O’Neill.

Irish regiment Autographs collected on Cigarette ppares . Hsopital Birkenhead. 1916.
Cigarette Autos: Pte A Kelly & Rfle E. J. Leggett.

6. Song: “Lowland Sea“. The Golden Vanity’s Cabin Boy was promised silver & gold to sink a Spanish galleon, successful but betrayed & left to drown. 17th Cent Battle between Spain & England. Rifleman Edwin J. Leggett. 1st London Irish Rifles.

Cenacle Red Cross Nurse Cockeram.

7. Violin Duet: Andantino“. Shin’ichi Suzuki, 1898 -1998. Japanese inventor of Suzuki method. Taught self to play violin in 1916! Nurse M. Evans & Nurse G. M. Cockeram.

Nurse G. Cockeram. 12th April 1917.
G. Cockeram’s Blindfold Pig. 12th April 1917.

8. Song: When Irish Eyes are Smiling from Olcott’s ‘Isle of Dreams’ 1912. Lyrics: Chauncey Olcott & George Graff Jr.  Tune: Ernest Ball. 1878 -1927. Pte A. Kelly. South Irish Horse.

9. Song: Three Score & Ten“. (Source unknown. Biblical span of  human life). Sister Dorothy Clive. 

Red Cross Nurses: Sonia Langdon & Kathleen Hay 1916.
Red Cross Nurses: Sonia Langdon & Kathleen Hay  (Winnnie Hay’s sister) 1916.

10. Pianoforte Solo: Walse Romantique“. Own Composition, L/Corporal F. Richter. Mus Bac.

Nurse W.Hay's Blindfold Pis & Signature.
Winnie Hay’s Blindfold Pig & Signature.April 13th 1917.

11. Recitation:The Yukon Trail“. Hamid Kareem? (nationality/date unknown). ‘To Yukon for gold they went, they left in poverty & death they found. ‘Twas no gold but iron ore. . . fool’s gold. Yukon was but a fool’s paradise’. Nurse Winnie Hay. 

Geoffrey Carman’s Cigarette Paper & Signature.

12. Song: Geoffrey Carman. 5th City London Regiment. 

Corp. Bostock Byrd.

Byrd’s Signature.







14. Duet Burlesque: The Optimist & The Pessimist“. Own composition. Corporal J. Beck (see Song 2) performed with Corporal G. Bostock-Byrd. 2nd Bn Coldstream Guards.


Transcript: Topical Verse introduced in “The Optimist & the Pessimist For “Cenacle” Patients’ Concert. Nov. 10.16.

Optimist: I hear there’s going to be a Concert here. Pessimist: They’ll be asking us to sing. O: Well I don’t mind if they do, mon cher, a duet ‘d be just the thing. P: You’ll be alright I havn’t a doubt. You’ve got such an awful neck. But what about if we get chucked out? O: Well! I shall be in the wreck. O: The Optimist. P: & The Pessimist. Both: may sing a duet sometime. We may even try a topical verse To add to our list of crimes. P: I warn you not to clap too much. He’ll be wanting to sing some more. O: O come along! They’ve had enough of you. Both: So There!!!  The door (hurried exit).


Transcript: Topical Verse introduced in “The Optimist & The Pessimist” For “Cenacle” Patients’ Concert. Nov 10th 16.

Optimist: Well old boy, we’re in the Cenacle yet. Pessimist: We’ll soon be out in France. O: before I go out there anymore I’ll lead them a lively dance. P: You’ll soon be keeping down your head in the trenches over the way. O: Not while I can swing the lead you can bet your blooming pay. O: The Optimist. P. & The Pessimist. Both: Have both had all they want. P: It’s all right talking about doing your bit. O: I know it’s no picnic stunt. Both: No doubt we are very fine fellers & all that sort of pot but the climate over in Flanders is too bloomin’ hot. J. Beck.



This second Patients’ Concert  at the Cenacle provides another good example of the artistic talent amongst soldiers & nurses alike. (cf 4th Oct. Concert).

“The Optimist & The Pessimist” by Corp. J. Beck 1/10th Liverpool Scottish is a grim reminder that all the wounded at the Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, including my father, obviously wanted to get better but were under the threat of being sent back to the Front as soon as they were.

My Father’s 21st Birthday Autograph Album has been a most valuable source of information when trying to identify people in the Hibbett Collection of Photographs. He illustrates the signed cigarette papers giving details of regt & rank & adding little notes e.g. Corpl Beck’s ’10 operations’. That so many nurses had some fun on 12th/13th April1917, indicates he was close to leaving Hospital. Their amusing drawings of a pig  (with their eyes closed) giving signature & date solves the problem of just how long my Father spent at the Cenacle. His 1967 My Memories of the First World War’ states it was seven months but now we know it was at least ten months.

NEXT POST: 15th NOV. 1916.  ‘R.A.M.C Operations on Wounded German Prisoners’.  NB This post may be late. I hope to remember my Uncle Sydney & Aunt Ida this Remembrance Sunday at Walsall War Memorial, also at the National Memorial Arboretum. 


Harold Hibbett. Abergele, August 1914.

HAROLD V. HIBBETT: LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, British Red Cross Hospital, The Cenacle New Brighton, Cheshire.

13, Lea Rd. W’hampton (1). Thursday.

My Dear Bertie,

It’s very bad of me not to have written before, but now I am writing you before I go to bed. I seem to have  a little peace & quietness up here, but nowhere else as at work I am very busy every minute & when I have finished work I get a little fresh air.

It is hard to realise that our dear brother has gone to that peaceful land where there is no war. We shall miss his cheerful voice & encouraging word. but we know that he is safe & all is well with him & he will be the first to greet us when we are called up yonder.  I hope he was not left in pain long, it doesn’t seem that he was. It seems to me that we have to be very thankful that you are with us old boy.

Although I don’t write as often as I might I am often thinking of you.  I hope your arm is getting along well & I hope I shall be able to welcome you Home before long. Our Home where mother is, that is our earthly home.  She grieves very much about our lost brother, but it will be our duty to alleviate the loss as well as we can.  I have been Home with Hilda, & Mrs Thacker* was there for tea.  We had a wire come from Ashton (2) to say that cousin Ada & Maggie (Yoxall?) are coming over tomorrow, that will liven Ma up a bit (3).  She keeps very well, but at time she has to give way for relief.

When I feel very sad & glum I think, well we have our brave lad Bertie to welcome back to his Home one day & I think that it is alright with Good Old Syd.  He is well & doesn’t want us to grieve for him.  As long as we remember him in our prayers then it will be all over one day & we shall have lost nothing, but our Syd will have gained a Golden Crown (4), more glorious than we shall ever have.

Dodger (5) was not very well this afternoon.  He is worried a bit at present.  I am keeping well, although we have a lot of work.  It behoves us to keep our spirits up in spite of all, because those that are left have a lot of work to do. Let me know all the latest about your arm, if it is likely to be much longer. I saw your Programme (6) this afternoon & it is splendid.  It is marvellous that you can do it with your left arm.

Well dear old lad keep your pekker up.  I often think of you.  If you want anything I will send you cash to get it.

With kind wishes & love from your affectionate brother,




Every now & again the Hibbett Letters raise a question which is happily answered in a Letter some weeks or months later. I must have read this Letter from Harold Hibbett to his brother many times but not noticed that it indicates quite clearly that  Pte Bertie Hibbett was not yet allowed Home from Hospital. Back in September I had been wondering about the date of the photograph of my father in uniform & labelled ‘outside 95 Foden Road’. I mistakenly deduced (from the poem ‘Back from the Front’ illustrating the 4th Oct. Concert Programme & the fact that the photo shows my father’s arm still in a sling) that he must have been allowed Home  for a visit before the Concert.  My father actually remained in Hospital until April 1917. 

I did not know my Uncle Harold. He  contracted TB whilst in the Army in WW1 & died in 1940 when I was two. He was the eldest of the five children. The few letters of his that survive are typical of a generous elder brother, to whom my father, eight years younger, looked to for advice. The Letter is interesting in the picture it gives of how a Christian family coped with the tragic loss of a son & a brother during the Battle of the Somme.

(1) Wolverhampton. Harold Hibbett was a Chemist & Photographer. He had sent many parcels of medications, creams & flea powders to his brothers at the Front. (2) Ashton under Lyne,Tameside, Greater ManchesterMarie Neal Hibbett’s Family Home. (3) Cousins Ada & Maggie (Yoxall?) Marie Neal’s nieces/ sisters? to the ‘Ashton Boys’ mentioned in Sydney’s first Letter, 19th Aug. 1914 as joining the Reserves.

Christ Pantocrator. Byzantine. St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai. 6th Cent.

(4) Golden Crown: an archetypal image/symbol of power/ emblem of authority, royalty, sovereignty, eternal heavenly reward. A Diadem (type of Crown/ golden headband). 

Apollo with circle of rays of light.  2nd Cent AD.
Assyrian Crown. Sennacherib
Assyrian King Sennacherib. reigned 720 – 683 BC.
Assyrian Crown.
Assyrian Crown.
Madonna Benois.











Many literary refs to Golden Crown in The Hebrew Bible/ Old & New Testament: e.g. Isaiah 28.5; Psalm 21.3; Exod.25.11; 37.25; I Cor. 9.25; & Revelation 2.10 ‘a Crown of Life’. Golden Crown images found in religious iconography world-wide: Ancient Greek/Roman; Christian; Buddhism; Hinduism see <www.biblical-history.com/sketches/ancient crowns.html>. Bible History Online.  Compare with Halo from Grk ‘Halos’: light/ aura/aureole/ glory/gloriole/ ray of light surrounding a figure/hero/ ruler. Evolution of the Halo in art history goes from a solid gold background to the whole body, a circle of gold around the head, a solid ring of gold around the head , to faint rays of light radiating from the head or faint circle as in Leonardo’s Madonna Benois above. AD 1478.

(5) Dodger (nickname for Basil Hibbett): no doubt worried about his call-up papers as well as his missing brother. (6) The Cenacle Concert Programme 4th Oct. 1916.

NEXT POST:  23rd Oct. 1916. News of Sydney Hibbett from the Red Cross.


South Staffordshire Badgee
South Stafford’s Knot Badge: ‘Hope &  Perseverance’.

YOUR OLD PAL BEN, 1/5th South Staffordshire Regiment at the Front: LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

Field Post Office 152    Censor L. J. Taylor.

                               Sep. 19th  1916.

Dear Pal Bert,

I was very pleased indeed to get a letter from you so quick and it gave me such a surprise when I opened it and saw your photo (1) a straw would have knocked me down in the trench.  Reg Taylor * fainted when he saw it.  He said to me ‘Ben, he has got some swank on him now, with his ring on and a cigar in the same hand’.

Pte Bertie Hibbett.  Aug.1916.

Bert we are having a very pleasant time where we are. I think we have frightened them just where we are holding. We have had the pleasure of catching a few of them since we have been at that part.

I hope by the time you get this letter you are better in health and look better.

Bert I was so proud of the five fags as I was smoked straight out and they made me a very comfortable night.

What do you mean Bert that you like my style of writing.  What is it like –  a young lady’s style? (2).

Yes Bert, I think myself that you had had enough – and also myself, don’t you think so, Bert. I am A.1. myself and ready for them any time they have got the mind to come over.

Serj. SydneyI was very sorry indeed when I read your letter and you said that you had wrote  (about Sydney) to the N.M. Div. Base (3) and had it returned back to you, but you may get some news, I say Bert, better late than never.

There is one above who knows where he lies at rest.

I say Bert it was a very hot 1st of July.  I shall never forget Derby Dyke (4).

Cheveaux de friezes. Barbed wire entanglement.
chevaux de frises: barbed wire entanglement.

Bert what makes you think about barbed wire now you have got a contented mind and you are so far away from the Boss (i.e. ‘Bosche’).(5)

Venables* is a prisoner in Germany (6).  J. Maley* is with us now and in the  pink. Yes I have heard about A. O. Jones* being in Blighty (7).  I say it is luck.

I may see some of the old faces shortly as they say we have got a big draft at the Base (8) waiting to join us.  It is very seldom I see Pte Gurley* (9) now as he stops at Head Qrs.  I shall see him when I get out of the line and I will show him your photo and letter.

D. Ball* (10) has left the Batt. some time now, he has gone back under age.

I now close and more next time.

I remain your Old Pal,   Ben.

Write back Bert.

Bert – let me know if you move and send your address.



More evidence of the many letters my father wrote in the search for his brother and the whereabouts of his friends. I would love to know more about his ‘old pal Ben’, he sounds such a cheerful lad but without a surname to go on this will be very difficult. He was probably in my father’s ‘A’ Coy if he was in Derby Dyke trenches facing Gommecourt Wood, on 1st July 1916. 

Well might Pte Bertie Hibbett be haunted by barbed wire. Not only did he have to face the possibility of being caught on the German wire if he managed to cross No Man’s Land but he also had to carry his own chevaux de frise along the flooded Derby Dyke to the Front Line (700 yrds or more). In his Memories of the First World War my father describes how impossible this was under the relentless shelling. A detailed description of Derby Dyke on 1st July 1916 is given by Alan MacDonald in A Lack of Offensive Spirit? p 348.

(1) Pte Bertie’s Photo: probably one taken by Harold on the beach at New Brighton, Aug/Sept. 1916. (2) Writing Style: perhaps Bertie had teased Ben about his conversational repetition of ‘Bert‘ in a previous letter. (3) 46th N.Midland Division Base: Rouen.

(4) Derby Dyke: 1/5th S. Staffords Assembly Trenches, Foncquevillers, Battle for Gommecourt, 1st July 1916. One of the principal communication trenches named after the Division ( Staffords Avenue, Lincoln Lane, Leicester Street, Nottingham Street, Derby Dyke, Roberts Avenue, Rotten Row, Regent Street, Raymond Avenue & Crawlboys Lane). Derby Dyke ran through orchards at the edge of the village parallel to Nottingham Street & the modern road into Foncquevillers. These trenches had been deepened from 2 ft to 7 ft in the lead up to the Battle and on the day were full of water. Derby Dyke held the ‘Advanced Battalion HQ of the right attacking Bn in the right brigade’.

(5) Barbed Wire: See My Memories of the First World War ref to chevaux de friezes/ barbed wire contraption my father was desperately trying to carry through the trenches on 1st July 1916. (6Arthur Venables*: Missing on 1st July 1916 after he had dressed Pte Bertie’s wound and saved his life. It was possible but I think an unlikely hope that Venables was captured that day. Commemorated on Thiepal Memorial to the Missing & Walsall War Memorial.

(7) Corp. A.O. Jones: the Hibbett family was anxious to trace Sydney’s pack & belongings, which in his last letter he said he was entrusting to his friend Jones ‘in case’. If Corp Jones was wounded & back in Blighty that would account for the lack of news, especially as the Battalion had moved to a different part of the Line on 2nd July.

(8) Base: Rouen. (9) Gurley*: my father had also written to Sergt Price about Gurley. See Hibbett Letter: 17th Aug. 1916. (10) D.Ball*: younger brother of Sydney & Bertie’s pal Ball. He appears to have been with the S Staffords in 1914, so very much under age if he was still under 18 when the Military Act 1916 caught up with him.

NEXT POST: 4th Oct. 1916. Soldier’s Concert at the Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton.


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton. CARTOON POST CARD to Arthur HIBBETT, 95 Foden  Rd Walsall.

                       The Cenacle.     30/8/16. 


Copy of Le Journal Cartoon
A.H.Hibbett’s Copy of Le Journal Cartoon. Posted Home 30/8/16. (NB Double Click to enlarge).

Received Mother’s letter yesterday & PC this morning. 

I will write to the Quartermaster today about Sydney’s things (1).

Could Basil develop some more photos that Harold took and bring some when Mother comes (2) also one or two white soft collars. 


I am as usual.   Best love,  Bertie.



The optimistic tone of this French Cartoon suggests a date of publication during the long weary months of the Battle of the Somme when, with the enormous loss of young men in France, there was a felt need to raise the nation’s morale and hope of victory.   

Drawn with his left-hand my father’s copy of The Le Journal Cartoon reads: ‘The Big Boy: Hi! Hi! I’m a German.  The Small Child: That doesn’t frighten anyone now’. ‘Re-drawn by A.H.Hibbett. From Le Journal‘. (French daily newspaper founded & edited by Fernand Arthur Pierre Xau 1892-1899, then by Henri Letellier. Closed 1944).

(1) Quartermaster in 1/5th Bn South Staffords: A Quartermaster was a senior NCO responsible for supervision & distribution of food, clothing & equipment. Sydney’s last letter before the 1st July Battle of Somme, entrusted his belongings to his pal CorpA.O.Jones. Hibbett Letter. 28th June, 1916. 

Matron, nurses & patients at The Cenacle.1916.
Matron Gertrude Bellow (centre), Sister  M. Clive (dark belt), Nurses & Wounded Soldiers at The Cenacle.  Pte Bertie Hibbett  (seated right, arm in sling). Photo: Harold Hibbett. Autumn ,1916.

(2) Photographs of The Cenacle Nurses & Wounded Soldiers: Basil Hibbett no doubt developed extra copies of Harold’s photos in the Top Attic at 95, Foden Rd. Walsall. (NB A Names List of Cenacle Red Cross Nurses mentioned in my father’s Letters & Papers, as well as of fellow Patients, is pending).

NEXT POST: 3rd SEPT.1916. Basil Hibbett & the Harvest at Earl Soham, Suffolk, 1916.


Bertie in UniformAUTOGRAPH ALBUM of Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle Red, Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

.Champion Ida Hibbett VAD Nurse.

VISIT of his sister Ida Neal Hibbett on 30th July 1916 & his Godmother Mary Foster on 15th & 30th -1st Aug. 1916.

Autograph Album To My Sister: ‘She Loved me for the dangers I had passed’. Othello. Shakespeare. Ida’s Visit to the Cenacle Hospital. Thurs. July 30th 1916.

To My Godmother: ‘I would flood your path with sunshine, I would fence you from all ill, I would crown you with all blessings if I could but  have my will. Aye but human love may err, dear, and a power all-wise is near, I only pray God bless you  and God keep you through the year’ (1). July 15th & 30th – Aug.1st 1916.

1916 The Cenacle Front
The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire: Main Entrance sketched from grounds. Pte A.H.Hibbett. 1916 -1917.


The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, new Brigton. Birkenhead.
The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton. Cheshire. Pte Bertie Hibbett standing  3rd from right, with arm in sling.
Pte Bertie Hibbett; Beck; C. Bostock Byrd; Cpl. H.Turnbull;   ?
Coldstream Guards:
Coldstream Guards: C.Bostock Byrd, 2nd Bn Coldstream Guards.( Muratti’s Au Bon Fumeur); H. Turnbull Cpl RE. (Gold Flake. W.D.& H.O.Wills).
SCOTTISH REGIMENTS. J. Beck 1/10th Liverpool Scottish.  (Capstan Medium W.D. & H.O.Wills). ‘J. Beck underwent about 10 operations’. A.H. Hibbett Autograph Album. 1916.


The Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett.

My Memories: A friend 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. The Revd Arthur H. Hibbett 1967.



The Cenacle belonged to a Roman Catholic Presbytery and was the Home of Nuns before it was lent to the Red Cross as a Hospital for wounded soldiers. My father kept up with several of his fellow patients & especially the Matron for some years after the War.

(1) Poem:I would flood your path with sunshine, I would fence you from all ill; I would crown you with all blessings if I could but have my will. Aye! but human love may err, dear, & a power all wise is near. I will pray God bless you, and God keep you through the year.’ (Unable to trace poet but poem known before 1909).

‘I would flood your path with sunshine’. Post Card. <http://www.delcamp.net&gt;

NEXT POST: 4th Aug. 1916. The Cenacle Red  Cross Hospital Nurses & Patients.


54 on 13th July, 1916.

Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, at the Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, in July 1916, received an Autograph Album with the message:

‘Wishing you very many Happy Returns of your Birthday from your Chums’.  Mother. (My father has added ‘Enoch, Vernon Evans‘) (1) .

Disease – G.S.W. (Gun Shot Wound) Right forearm. Fractured Radius.   Able to eat? Yes, (and plenty of English food). Able to Walk? Yes, I should think so & dance for joy too.

On 13th July his Mother visited Bertie at the Cenacle and with his left hand he drew  her a special page with the Stafford Knot, Union Jacks, a Lily of the Valley and a Rose, her favourite flowers.

‘At the time I drew this Mother was sitting by the side of my bed’.

To Mother

To my Mother on her Birthday. July 13th 1916: ‘May every morning seem to say: “There’s something happy on the way, And God sends love to you” H.V.D. from her ever affectionate Son, Bertie, who celebrated his 21st Birthday yesterday.’  The box left reads: ‘This Quotation and the Following are written by Me leaving Spaces for each Corresponding Autograph. Arthur Hubert Hibbett. 



Pte Bertie Hibbett’s best pal Vernon Evans, still serving in the Army, had obviously asked Bertie’s Mother to  take him a present. It was an inspired present for three weeks after he was wounded my father had taught his left hand to write & draw well again. The Album was a present that he took pleasure in for the rest of his life.

During the time he was in Hospital my father began to collect signatures of his fellow patients, written on their carefully pressed & pasted cigarette papers. 

Cigarettes papers & signatures.
Troops Autos and their Cigs. The Queen’s Westminsters. Wounded soldiers’ Cigarette Papers & Signatures. The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire. July 1916.

The signatures above belong to soldiers of the Queen’s Westminster Regiment, Ward 6, The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital, July 1916. The Badge records the Regiment’s service in South Africa,1906 -1909. County of London. Queen’s Westminsters. Clockwise from top right: Rifleman A.F. Bays (Wills & Co Ltd New Bond Street. Turkish Fine); Rifleman G. Hughes (De Reszke as supplied) & Rifleman W.S. Markwell N.S.


I can imagine that first visit of Pte Bertie’s parents and the stories he told them of his journey home. These memories were still strong in 1967, no doubt re-enforced by frequent reference over the years to his 21st Birthday Autograph Album.

Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett 1965My Memories of the First World War. 1967. 

As ‘sorrowful yet alway rejoicing!’(2)how we rejoiced to see Southamptonand from the railway carriages, what a sight it was to see all the men, women and children – all waving Union Jacks from their back gardens for miles along the line to Birmingham.

When we neared our home town of Walsall we Staffordshire boys thought we would be detrained at Birmingham station, but no, we remained in locked carriages and a rope, stretching all along the platform, kept people awayNevertheless people threw packets of fags and boxes of chocolates, and other articles of food, towards those soldiers who could get to the windows.

We eventually arrived at Birkenhead, where lots of private cars were waiting to take us to the different hospitals I was taken in a car with another soldier who was also wounded in his right wrist. I heard later that the poor man died. And so I was left. 

It made me think, and ask why my brother was left on the field of Battle, reported wounded and missing, and why my companion in the car, with similar wound as me, had died while I lived on. 

Pte Bertie Hibbett centre. The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital. New Brighton Cheshire. 1916-1917.

I spent seven months in The Cenacle Red Cross Hospital in New Brighton.  During that time I asked for my Latin and Greek Grammar books, but found it difficult to study (3).

A friend 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.


(1) Enoch Evans was Vernon Evans’ father, not his brother as it appears here.

(2‘As sorrowful yet alway rejoicing’. St Paul. 2 Corinthians, 6.10.  AD 55 approx. [K.J.V. King James 1st Version, 3rd English translation of Bible, 1604-1611. NB. No major revision of K.J.V. until the RSV (Revised Standard Version)  & a whole range of English translations mid 20th Cent. following development of rigorous academic methods of historical biblical criticism; something I was able to share with my Dad in 1960s as he tackled the introduction of new liturgies in the Anglican Church & I studied for my degree.

(3) Latin & Greek were pre-requisites for training in the Anglican Ministry in my father’s day. The philosophy behind such study is basically the same as it should be today – that anyone seeking to understand and teach biblical literature (as it was first intended by the Gospel writers) must have a working knowledge of 1st cent colloquial (‘koine’) Greek as found in the New Testament, before they offer an interpretation and attempt to apply it as relevant for the present. A basic qualification in Hebrew is also useful – in understanding the essentially poetic language of the Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible – and as an antidote to misleading literalism. Sadly, too often, one hears interpretations that give a message almost the opposite of a text’s intention in its historical context! 

NEXT POST: 29th July 1916.


Bertie Hibbett
Pte Bertie Hibbett. Just 21 years. 1916.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, 1/5th South Staffords. British Red Cross Hospital, The Cenacle, New Brighton, Birkenhead: PICTURE POSTCARD to ALL at 95, Foden Rd Walsall. 

Written with the left hand in tiny writing with his new address given by a nurses’ hand. Posted in plain envelope.                                                            


Dear All,

They wouldn’t let me come Home till I was wounded. But never mind Dearies. I feel proud to have been in the ‘Big Push’. I stayed at this Hotel (see picture) (what oh!) 2 days before crossing. 

TREPORT-COTEAUX et TRIANON HOTEL aux Terrasses. Published L’Hirondelle, Paris. [Hibbett Collection].
You will be pleased to know I had a calm crossing & wasn’t ‘mal de mère’. Arrived Southampton 1 am. Thursday.

‘Grande Reception’ at B’ham Stn. 7 pm.  Reception De Luxe on arrival at Birkenhead about 9.0 pm.

1916 The Cenacle Front
The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton. Pen & Ink.  Pte Arthur Hubert Hibbett. 1916+

Private cars drove us to this H(e)aven of Rest.

Best Love to all.   Bertie.



On leaving Gommecourt Battlefield on 1st July, it took 2 days for Pte Bertie Hibbett to travel by Motor Ambulance & Train to a Hospital set up in the expensive-looking Trianon Hotel, on the cliffs at Le Treport.  There he spent another two days before crossing the Channel from Le Havre to Southampton arriving on Thursday 6th July.

By 7th July he was in The Cenacle, New Brighton, Birkenhead  – owned by nuns – now a Red Cross Hospital.

NEXT POST: 9th July, 1916.  NB. Back on  track now after return from remarkable visit to Fonquevillers & Gommecourt.  Almost over-looked 7th July Postcard !