Tag Archives: Thiepval Memorial Arthur Venables.



IDA NEAL HIBBETT, 95, Foden Road, Walsall: LETTER to BERTIE HIBBETT, Student RoomsTheological College, Lichfield, Staffordshire.

the 11th Nov. 1918.

My dearest old Bertie,

This is a day of days & no mistake.

Foden Road(1) has been already decorated like magic – for the WAR is over me boy & I offer you my heartiest congratulations Bertie & best love.


Many thanks for your note. I wish you were here, we all feel so topsy inside. Basil is coming from London tonight (2). I am longing to see him & you.

Glad you are so comfy & among such nice people (3). Mind & not forget my advice & always be polite & stand in the presence of superiors.

Hope to come & see you very soon. Can walk to the bottom & back now (4).

Heaps of love from Ida.

PS Just going to see about decorations.

Arboretum Lodge Gate, bottom of old Foden Road, decorated for Armistice Day 2018.
Plan of Walsall Arboretum c 1918: showing walk down Foden Road passed Persehouse Street & Denmark Road to the Lodge entrance opposite Queen Mary’s Grammar School on Lichfield Street.



On Armistice  Day 1918, my Grandfather & Grandmother were mourning the loss of one son Killed in Action and the Wounding of their three other sons & their daughter.

Ida Neal Hibbett, was 25 when War broke out. I wish I had known my aunt. Her wise & comforting letters to my father during and after the war show her to have been a most loving sister & dutiful daughter. Her family nick-name was ‘Champion’ & her War Work lived up to it: secretarial work at the Town Hall, Red Cross nursing, farming and making bombs.  She died in 1921 of cancer of the womb, attributed to ‘dangerous chemicals’ exposure.  My father’s letter of 11th Nov. refers to Ida’s ‘wound’  and her boast of walking down Foden Road ‘to the bottom & back now’ may well refer to her recovery from an operation to remove the cancer. I am sure my father’s unfailing courtesy & consideration for others was under the influence of his sister Ida. 

(1) Foden Road: now called Broadway, part of the Walsall ring road. No 95 is on the corner of Rowley St, just left of the word ‘Foden’ in the Plan above. Next Street down is Persehouse Street, where on Armistice Day 1918 the Venables Family mourned their Arthur*. He had saved Bertie’s life at Gommecourt 1st July 1916 & his body was never found. His name is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. See Top Menu ‘My Memories’ & Left Menu ‘South Staffordshire Officers & Men’.

(2) Lieut Basil Hibbett was wounded in the shoulder sometime during 1917-18, a wound that contributed to his death from cancer in 1965. On 11th Nov. he may have been discharged from the Army already or on his way home on leave. 

Lichfield Theological College Magazine Cover. Advent Term. 1921. A.H.Hibbett. Pen & Ink.

(3) ‘Comfy’ at Lichfield Theological College. My father’s student rooms in the quiet Cathedral Close must have been in stark contrast to his experience in the trenches. He was soon making himself useful with art work.

(4) ‘To the bottom & back’ i.e. from 95, Foden Road, corner of Rowley Street down the hill to the Arboretum Lodge Gate and back.  The Hibbett Family arrived in Walsall around 1902, when Basil Hibbett was 6, Bertie 8 and Sydney 9 yrs old. No doubt Ida 15 & Harold 17 would have been put in charge of the younger ones when visiting the Arboretum, the Hibbett Family’s favourite playground with its lakes, leafy walkways and sports fields. See Hibbett Letters.

NEXT POSTS: 11th Nov. 2018. Armistice Day in Walsall: Pte Bertie Hibbett 1/5th S. Staffords comes back Home a Hundred Years On. 

And 19th Nov. 1918. Letter from Bertie Hibbett’s best pal, Vernon Evans son of Mayor Enoch Evans, Solicitor, Walsall.

After which I will return to posting the Hibbett Letters of 1917.  EFW.


South Staffordshire BadgeeH.E. BIRD, C. QMS 1/5th South Staffords Bn Head Quarters, Berles au Bois (1): LETTER to Pte BERTIE HIBBETT, The Cenacle, Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton, Cheshire.

                                                         19/ 7/ 16

Dear Bert,

I was pleased to hear you have got to Blighty and hope your wound will soon be healed (2). 

SYDNEY HIBBETT 20 in 1914.
20 in 1914.

With regard to your brother Sid, I am extremely sorry to say I fear the worst has happened.  The last thing I can get to know of him was that he was severely wounded, lying in No Man’s Land.   He was unable to speak but wrote on a piece of paper that he required a drink of water, which one of our chaps gave him, but could not stay with him. That is the last we have heard of him.

I hope we may hear of him again, for he was a brave man and one who did his duty without fear or favour.  If, as I fear, the worst has happened, I hope you will try and soften the blow to your parents as much as possible. 

All papers, letters etc I found in a pack belonging to you or your brother I have handed over to L.Cpl. Jones A.O*, as Sid told him if anything happened he was to forward them.

Arthur Venables. Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. Visit 2006.

Your chum Venables* is also missing, we can get no news of him at all (3).

Kind regards,  Yours sincerely,

H.E.Bird  C. Q.M.S.  Censor J. N. Wilkinson.


Revd. Arthur H. Hibbett 1965‘MY MEMORIES of the FIRST WORLD WAR’. 

It took us one and a half days to reach Le Treport where I was put on a bed in a tentThe next morning I awoke to see, in my bed, a basin of blood from my wounded wrist.  I was transferred from the tent to a Hotel-turned-Hospital on the cliffs of Le Treport.

Treport-Coteaux et Trianon-Hotel, aux Terrasses. A nurse has written Pte Bertie’s address ‘Red Cross Hospital, New Brighton’ twice on the front. Posted 7.7.1916.

I was in the bed next to another wounded soldier being treated by a doctor; he was trying to get a bullet out of his patient with forceps, but the forceps kept slipping.  The sound of it got on my nerves.  I went out of the room, but it was likegoing from frying pan into the fire’, for on the landing four orderlies were trying to keep a  soldier down on his bed; he was raving with pain (4). I was glad to get back into my room again.

It was not long before I was labelled ‘Serious’, for I was wounded not only in my right wrist but had an extra ‘Blighty’: wounds to my neck and my left wrist as well.  The wound in my neck came when I was running out of the trench at Foncquevillers.  I was ordered home.

The voyage across the Channel was memorable indeed for, while I was eating a late dinner on board, I heard that my brother, Sydney, had been seen dead in No Man’s Land.  On his breast there had been a small piece of paper on which he had written,Pour a drop of water between my lips, thank you.  Now every Good Friday I am reminded of how the dying do thirst, when we sing His are the thousand sparkling rills … and yet he saith ‘ I thirst’ (5).

On hearing the news of my brother I could eat no more, but went straight to my cabin bunk. Two shall be in the field of Battle, one shall be taken and the other left’ (6).



The details of my uncle’s death, given by Chaplain H.E Bird’s in his Letter of 19th July, 1916, tie up closely with my father’s ‘Memories’ 1967. These in turn no doubt rely on a note in my father’s 21st Birthday Album, 12th July, 1916, but probably added some years later which reads: ‘Soldier Jones gave a piece of paper to my Mother on which was written by my brother Sydney, as he lay dying on the battlefield: Pour a drop of water between my lips. Thank you’. 

 (1) The Revd H.E. BIRD C QMS: Chaplain to the Forces, serving with the 1/5th Staffordshire Regt. (As Chaplain to Queen Mary’s School, Walsall, he probably went straight to the Front without any specific training). 1/5th S Staffords were now at Berles au Bois, a commune, 5 miles (8Km) approx. from Foncquevillers. His letter is presumably in answer to one from Pte Bertie Hibbett enquiring about his brother. 

(2) A ‘Blighty’: a serious wound that sent a soldier back Home. My father’s Blighty was a gun-shot wound to his right wrist & a wound to his neck (both of which we were aware of as children); he also had a minor wound to his left wrist. The German heavy 77mm guns had fired from 3 miles away behind Essarts. [See 1st July Operations. Appendix 1.]

(3) Arthur Venables* dressed Pte Bertie’s wound on the battlefield. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. His family lived near 95, Foden Rd. See previous Hibbett Posts.

(4) Anaesthetic in WW1: chloroform, ether, ethyl chloride and nitrous oxide (oxygen mixture).  The RAMC had pitifully few resources to cope with the grossly under-estimated number of casualties for the first day of the Somme. Pte Bertie’s fellow patients at Le Treport either did not have any anaesthetic or were re-acting badly to it’s effects. See <https://www.asaabstracts.com&gt;: no development in anaesthesia since mid-19th Cent. /no new anaesthetics until 1940, but experience of WW1 put Britain at forefront of 20th Cent. development in anaesthetics. It is amost  unfortunate irony how modern medicine owes some of its existence to the existence of war‘. Anthony L. Kovac MD. University Kansas. 2006.

(5Hymn based on Christ’s words from the Cross, ‘I thirst’, John 19.29. Mrs Cecil Alexander, 1875. (6One shall be taken the other left’Matthew 24. 40-44. Apocalyptic/ poetic language to describe the Last Days, a future End Time (Eschaton). 

NEXT POST: 20th July 1916: ‘Back in the Homeland bearing the Marks of Unthinkable Experiences’.