Serjeant SYDNEY HIBBETT, 8830 (A Coy) B.E.F. 5th S. Staffords London Rd Congreg. Sch. Derby (1): LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.
Sunday (most likely 10th Jan. 1916)
My Very Dear Mother & Father,
I received Dodger’s card and Mrs Penning’s* letter on Friday. I shall not write to her yet. There is not much news this time, except that I visited our native town of Nottingham yesterday (Sat). I made up my mind at the last minute so to speak. We were finished parade at 11.30 yesterday morning so I went down the town & had a look at the trains. Then I thought that as I should have nothing to do till bed time I would try Nottingham. I came back & polished up & by that time it was late so I jumped for the tram outside to the Station, just got into the 12.45 in time.
We went via Trent Junction & it was a fast train so I got out at Midland Sta. at 1.20 pm. I had a bit of lunch & a shave & then started out to find Miss Foster’s* house. Another tram ride & I found it (2). She was at home & delighted to see me. After I had told her about Bertie & you all at home, we got on another tram which runs from Radford & Lenton to Nott. Rd. We had a good view of the town & the Forest & went up Sherwood Rise & got out at Lantry Grove! (sic)
Well I didn’t recognise any of it, but we saw 95 (3) and walked round the back, but saw no big apple tree either. Lantry Grove is paved with setts now. Do the Giffords live any-where about there?
We walked back down the Rise and up Mapperley Rd & got on the car in Woodborough Rd. We came down that big hill & saw our other house & also Miss Foster’s*. Then we had a look round the Market & then went in the car to Trent Bridge.
We had tea at Miss Foster’s house or rather rooms. After a good tea she took me to the Empire where there was a very good pantomime ‘King Cole’. It was very pretty & also very funny. Then we walked round the foot of the Castle to the Station
& I went back on the 9.25. Altogether it was a very enjoyable day and I was delighted with Nottingham. It was very crowded too.
We also saw Holy Trinity Church (4) where Dad used to play the organ. The fare to Nott. is only 2/- return from here.
Other evenings we are free after 5 pm, so I sometimes go to the Station & watch the locomotives on the Works near the station.
I have been to two diff. picture houses this week, one at Normanton about 2 miles away. There is one called ‘The Cosy Picture House’ in London Rd & its name suits it. I felt rather awful the first night I was here.
There are no Parks here but a very small Arboretum, and most of the people appear to work at the M.R. loco & carriage works (5). There are thousands of men there. There are a lot of very good shops indeed and a church or chapel at every corner. The tram service is also very good & frequent, but they do not run on Sundays. Usually we go on them to anywhere.
There are 180 wounded soldiers here from 1/5th & we are billeted & kept apart from the 3/5th – which is a very motley crowd – kids & old soldiers mostly. They are very jealous of us. We have no band but we can march much better than they.
The Fast Party are those who can walk at the ordinary rate & carry a pack but no rifle. They go & do drills in the ordinary way. The 2nd party, nicknamed the Irish Guards can walk all right but not fast or far. I am with those. We go a march about 6 or 7 miles round Alvaston, Allerton & Normanton. It is a very nice walk. We just wear the usual uniform & overcoats.
The 3rd party are the hobblers, the limpers, staggerers, dot & carry oners, as the people know them. They go hobbling along on sticks at 1/2 mile an hour & do about 2 miles. They are known as the Flying Column! In the afternoon the 3 parties go out again 2-4 pm.
We went to St Mary’s Church this morning and tonight I shall go to Elvaston Church. I & another Sergeant walked round to Nott. Rd Sta., which I remember we used to pass going to Whitby.
Miss Foster* asked how you all are at Home: I expect she will write to you. Weather has been excellent so far. I got Mother’s letter this morning. I wish for some reasons I was with the 1/5th. I expect Bertie will write when he gets to Alexandria (6).
I will close now thanking you for you letter, dear Mother, & with best love to you at home
PS Hope you have sent the Confession Books (7) back to Evans*.
Serjeant Sydney Hibbett re-visits his birth place and makes his way by tram & on foot down roads familiar to me as a student at Nottingham in the 1960s. The old tram-lines (hazzardous when crossing Nottingham by bike) now support a fine modern tram service.
(1)London Rd Congregational School (closed before WW1) in 1916 a Soldiers’ Convalescent home/ billet?
(2) Lenton Sands: Miss Foster’s 1916 home. (3) Bertie Hibbett’s birthplace was 95, Nottingham Rd on corner of Langtry Grove (B682). Sydney Hibbett was born a year earlier at ‘our other house’ 168, Robin Hood Chase, a long road running between Woodborough Rd & St Ann’s Well Rd.
(4) Lenton Parish Church of the Holy Trinity, Nottingham. 1840: Arthur Hibbett also played the organ at St Mary’s High Pavement.
(5) Midland Railway Loco & Carriage Works. 19th Cent.
(6) 1/5th Staffords arrived in Alexandria 9th Jan. 1916. (7) Confessions? Could be religious but more likely WW1 soldiers’ diaries?
1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY
2nd Jan 2 Embarked on H.M.S. MAGNIFICENT. CASUALTIES: 7949 Pte W. Dandy accidentally injured. 9955 Pte J. Steen; 9122 L/ Cpl E. Pitcock; 8779 Pte S. Pitt; 6876 Sgt A. Stace; 8758 L/ Cpl G. Gibbs, accidentally injured, but able to embark.
2nd – 8th Jan. Voyage to ALEXANDRIA, Egypt. 9th Jan Disembarked and entrained for SHALLUFA.
NEXT POST: January 31st 1916. 1/5th South Staffords War Diary: Embarkation Accident, Voyage to Alexandria for Suez Canal.
Pte Bertie Hibbett’s January 1916 Letters are missing. NEXT POST: 7th Feb. 1916.
New Page: ‘My Memories of the First World War’ (with account of first day of Battle of Somme 1st July, 1916). The Revd A. H. Hibbett. 1967.