Back again in Hospital: No 12 Ward. No 9 Gen. Hosp. Friday Sep. 10 / 15
I shall need some more envelopes I can see at this rate!
My Very Dear Mother,
Good! I said, as a letter was thrown into my lap – delivered to me out of due time. I was sitting this morning, as I am now, in a Camp chair in the sunshine, just outside the Ward door surrounded by flowers. And I was bemoaning myself, not so much about the pain, but because of not getting anything in the post. I saw Basil’s writing (it has improved by the by) & as I ripped it open I was thinking his promised long letter was enclosed, but when I saw your writing Mummy I was – NOT disappointed, you must not think that at all.
Now I have been in a tremendous dilemma since I read such a beautiful letter – – – Called! to go for my dose of horrible medicine – – – a dilemma as to whether to write to day or not! I was thinking of all I that could tell you, with ‘chirpy’ little bits here & there between the news & after it all I was almost going to send you a FPC instead, because of this:- –
Are you getting tired of hearing from me so often and not so much from Sydney? Have you lost looking forward to my letters because they are so common? Why, only just this very second, a sister passed by me, from the opposite Ward into No 12, my Ward (not No 6 now) and she said, ‘What a scribe you are’.
And, now dear Mother, I’m beginning to think that you will be getting more anxious about the expense & rapid consumption of your writing paper than of me, or Sydney put together.
Perhaps Dodger is sick of seeing the postman hand him a letter from me, eager by all means to get to the door first, but coming away slower than he went, very much disappointed at seeing a letter without a penny stamp on, and above all with my hand writing on.
I’m a scribe and no soldier, but I don’t care a toss, as long as the censor don’t say nowt, – so here goes and on to another sheet of your writing pad, for all that.
What a happy coincidence Mummy, to have had a letter from both boys on the same day, and did they come in the same post?
Page 3 & 4 missing. Page 5 . . . I think I have enough (letters) to have kept me going eh Mum? He hee Hoo Hic, how brimful I am. Here’s another letter to spoil your breakfast. Dad will be vexed. I’m sure he thinks I was foolish to have said too much about my complaint. You too Mum must rest happily & as I have said before, which really came from you & I have still got: ‘Sit still & leave all to Higher Hands’ on that little pamphlet (1).
Aren’t you grateful we are both still safe. I’m sure you are & I hope you will hear from dear Sydney soon if not since you told me you hadn’t.
Hoorah Hip Hip for Harold, he has good intentions, but poor Mum (2). I could not fancy him out here in rank & file; he ought to try & get a commission in the R.A.M.C. & I feel sure he could try & probably succeed nine times out of 10.
Isn’t this letter getting long! How can I leave room to acknowledge Champion’s effort supreme. I shall have to send her a ‘superb effort supreme’ shan’t I?
I was proud to relate Sister Agnes Sawyer’s career in the War Zone (3). Agnes is a pretty name eh Mum, just right for a nurse. The Irish sister would ‘love to go to the firing line‘ she told me. Ida would envy Woody* in such a Ward. By the by, these Wards hold thirty four beds, not 32 as I told Ida.
We had a Jock, Ida, in No 12 Ward, who made us all roar with laughter especially when he joked with the other Irish Nurse, but he could not match Woody’s Jock.
Yes Ida, there are, I guess, a lot like Oriel*, the Oxford man, as privates (4) & it puts me in mind of the J. Bull cuttings I sent Mum & Capt Tim*, so you will not be ashamed to say you have a brother fighting for you. I say fighting in a general way. I hope to soon. I am succeeding little by little to stifle & master my lesser self. It is just like your life in Leicester Royal & reminds me of you telling me of Woody’s letter when she said ‘Your disappointment is God’s appointment’(1).
Now I should like to know who reads this letter first. I wonder if Dad will, as this effort is addressed to him. I wonder who he will pass it on to. As Dad generally contributes the address & wrapping I will address it to The Gov’nor & trust that Dodger, Champion & Mummy will see that he reads it if he wishes to sacrifice his usual perusal of the newspaper.
See how I fill up the corners!
Best love to all. Bertie .
Private Bertie Hibbett is still struggling to rise above his emotions, his illness, his Blighty disappointment and his own status as a ‘Private‘.
(1) 19th Cent. Christian sayings. Origin? The first is possibly inspired by Psalm 46.10: Be still and know that I am God.
(2) Harold Hibbett’s proposed enlistment would make all four Hibbett sons in the Army. He eventually joined the Inns of Court & was invalided out with the TB that ended his life in 1940.
(3) Sister Agnes Helen Sawyer: niece of former Matron Leicester Royal Infirmary, where she trained & became Sister of the Men’s Accident Ward. Served as a nurse in France 1914 – 1918. Obituary The Passing Bell. British Nursing Journal: Nov.18th 1922. (Known to Ida Hibbett). <http://rarchive.org.uk/data>
(4) ref. to university educated middle-class responding to John Bull posters and serving as privates rather than taking or being offered commissions as officers in the Army.
SW SLOPE OF HILL 60.
8th Sept. Wed: 41st Trench Howitzer Battery fired 10 bombs from 34, four exploded. Enemy retaliated with 10 on 34 and 4 on 35, blowing in No 1 Snipers Post and damaging the parapets in several places. CASUALTIES KILLED: 9714 Pte T. Blount. WOUNDED: 8588 Pte J. Carroll.
9th Sept. Thur: Enemy fired 40 trench mortar shells into 34 and 35, damage slight, our supporting battery replied. Discoloured water apparently from a mine coming into ravine from enemy trenches. Enemy rifle fire heavy till midnight. CASUALITIES WOUNDED: 7953 Pte J.Mayer; 65 Pte J. Siviter (slightly wounded remain at duty).
10th Sept. Fri: Mine explosion felt but not heard about 1.5 am. Enemy burst a trench howitzer shell in the air about 12.30 am. Twenty trench mortars fired from 34 and 35 this morning. Two did not burst. Enemy retaliated with many trench mortar bombs, damage slight. CASUALTIES KILLED: 8406 Pte J. Astbury Brigade Mining Section killed in Sap in Trench 37 (Left Sector). WOUNDED: No 4. Pte A. Billingham; 9009 Pte B. Hendley. 8427 Pte A.E. Smith (slightly wounded remain at duty).
NEXT POST: 12th Sept. 1915.