Tag Archives: WW1 Home Leave.


South Staffordshire Badgee1/5th SOUTH STAFFORDS WAR DIARY


21st Feb. Mon. Battalion marched to new billets at PROUVILLE (1).                                   22nd – 27th Feb. Sun. Battalion Training.                                                         

Bertie HibbettPte BERTIE HIBBETT: A Little Book of Words & Doings.

Treasured Sayings in Letters from Ida and Mother:  On my photo, taken at Marseilles with a Leica, Ida thought I looked ‘a wee bit sad’Mum altered the opinion – ‘I think your photo simply lovely & very happy. You look alright & everybody likes it & thinks it fine to be taken with an Indian* (2). (I did not send Miss Foster* one),  Mother’.

LETTER to Marie Neal HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd, Walsall.

 Sexagesima Sunday (3). Feb 28/ 16

Mother at Tea.
Mother at Tea.

In weariness & painfulness; in watchings often, In hunger & thirst, in fasting often (4). Be not anxious, but by prayer & supplication Let your requests be made known unto God (5). Bring forth fruit with patience (6).

My Very Dear Mother,

How can I express my feelings after reading such delightful letters & enjoying the parcels.  The currant bread was fine & I toasted a slice, it was excellent with butter.  I think you have set me up for some considerable time with this pad, the three pencils & other paper & envelopesI will do my best to use the paper in writing comforting letters to you.

I feel a little better to day after the shock I got yesterday when you so much wanted me to get to England straightaway.  I will put the matter to a chummy officer I know.  I should have thought Sydney would have explained my circumstances to you.  I believe a candidate for a Commission has to be an NCO for 2 months, that is why A.O. Jones* is a Lance Jack (7).  As for keeping on arsking (sic)- worrying the officers it is counted as a breach of disciplineA private is supposed to be escorted by an NCO if he wishes to converse with an officer.

And then again, dear Mum, there are NCOs, even Sergeants, who have been out here as long as I have & NOT been home yet.

You ask me to say more about myself. Well all I can say is that I was keeping very happy & in good health, but reading your letter wanting me so to get to England worried me a little. Yet I am very anxious & do so hope that you, including the others & Harold (are) calling the photo a ripping one (8).

Indian soldiers arriving in France. 1914. ww1blog.osborneink.com
Indian soldiers arriving in France,  greeted by a French child.  September, 1914.

I was a little disappointed with the photo, yet I risked sending it you & hoped you would like it & – please take note that (I thought) you would not detect the slightest sign of sadness, but rather that I should cause you at least another brighter ray of happiness & comfort to you, Mother, & all of you.  I only wish I could send you a really jolly one  of myself with the sleeping helmet you sent me & Miss Foster’s handsome muffler round me, & taken in my bed of blanketsI guess there are several people at Home who live the life of Tommy just for fun.

Tell Basil I have had all his letters up to date & they were rippers.

PS  M.P. HIBBETT:  I meant to say a word of congratulations towards Dad after praising Mum for her calmness during that awful time at night, before the glow of the fire in the darkness, with Basil & Ida doing Sentry Go (9).  I meant to say how self-sacrificing in everything is Dad. I thought of that trait in him when I read what Councillor Evans* said at the meeting with regard to Salaries (10).

Three cheers from France to my brave & loving parents & hearty handshakes to jolly jolly Dodger & excellent Ida.

The Assembly Rooms Derby.
The Assembly Rooms Derby.

I wrote to Sydney the other day too, but he has not sent me his address.  I had to risk the one at the Assembly Rooms at Derby (11).  I enclose you his jolly lettersMy word I wish I could write like him Aren’t mine absurd & hard to understand?  I really am of no reputation that you should all so want to see this poor self.(12).

I am quite happy, yet I do hope what Basil saidto kiss your dear cheek in reality & not in mere dreams.  Yet again I hope you will have ‘beaucoup’ happy dreams till I see you ‘face to face’.

God bless you all.


PS I went to Holy Communion in a barn this morning & of course thought of you & Ken Marshall* (13) & the Mayoress* (14) etc.



This letter is a good example of how Pte Bertie Hibbett, in the increasing anxiety & uncertainty of the War, found comfort in the words of the Gospel and Epistle each Sunday; identifying with and applying the biblical message to himself & his family. 

(1) Prouville, Picardie N. France15 miles northeast of Abbeville(2) Buckshee Ichbye Singh Waltu, Indian Expeditionary Force (Hindustani Sikh). Photo above: Indian Soldiers arrived in France 1914. <ww1blog.osborneink.com>

(3) Sexagesima SundaySunday within sixty days of Easter. (Book of Common Prayer, 1662). Term rarely used today.

(4) Epistle and Gospel for Sexagesima Sunday (Book of Common Prayer 1662): 2 Cor. 11.27. (Paul’s description of his sufferings for the Gospel) and (6Luke 8. 15. (Parable of the Sower)(5) Philippians 4.6. (AD 60-62, Paul, under threat of death himself, writes to the first European Church which had suffered great persecution & poverty since AD49). 

(7) Lance Jack: Lance Corporal in the Army. An informal promotion/appointment; became a rank in 1961). From Italian ‘lancia spezzata’ – broken lance (i.e. when unseated from horse in battle he joined the infantry on foot. WW1 Army song ‘If you want to find the Lance Jack . . .’

Ur-Leica Original Leica, from 1914.
German Ur-Leica ‘Original Leica’,  from 1914.

(8) Leica photo of Pte Bertie Hibbett and Buckshee (i.e Private) Ichbye Singh Waltu at Marseilles.

(9) ref. Zeppelin Raid, Arthur Hibbett acting as ‘M.P. like his son in Bellancourt(10Walsall Education Department Salaries. 1915. It appears Councillor Evans, (Vernon’s father) praised my grandfather for declining a pay rise to help the War effort.

(11) The Assembly Rooms, Market Place, Derby. Gutted by fire,1963. (12Of no reputation‘. Pte Bertie accepts he’s a Private and must not expect preferential treatment re Home Leave. Unconscious ref. to Philippians 2.7 ?  (humility of Christ the Servant).  

(13) Ken Marshall, wounded/ missing son of QMS Headmaster, E. N. Marshall*?   (14Mrs: Maria Julia Slater*, Walsall Mayoress.

NEXT POST:  28th FEB. 1916.


Bertie in UniformPte BERTIE HIBBETT, attached Notts & Derby TransportPAGES 4-6 of  LETTER to IDA HIBBETT, 95, Foden Rd Walsall. 

(Sun. 13th Feb. 1916?) (1)

. . . .  They have passed me as a qualified Sniper (2) & I satisfied our old Coy. Com. Capt List-r (3).

British Sniper. NB Steel helmet issued 1916.
British Trench with Sniper and dead /sleeping soldier?  NB Steel helmet issued 1916.

He has a brother in the 3/ 5th (S.Staffs) who wrote to him concerning Sydney.  Captain L — r, now Major, is acting as Colonel while R—r (4) is away.  I am sorry for a reason; Sydney’s release will be delayed again.

I am what you might call ‘humbly’ glad you liked my small gift, & really did not think it would give you so much pleasure as you made out in your letterThe cross  must be yours for all time.  (I don’t know so much that I shall have a cross dangling from a watch Chain)I might go in for a couple of wrist watches.  I say two – so that I can take the average, or otherwise the medium (sic) time (5).

Camouflaged Springfield Rifle with telescope. www.pinterest.comimgres
Camouflaged Springfield Rifle with telescope. https://www.pinterest.comimgres >

I shall have to finish on this fourth sheet.  

I am especially glad that you received my letters on the dates which were most appropriate. 

Now, dear Sister, don’t you think it would be a weee bit impertinent to bother the Colonel aboot Leave It is like this, you cannot die of your own accord before your appointed time, you cannot die before God wishes you to die& so with everything in life. I shall have my Leave in all good time; do not think for a moment that I have been easy going & let opportunities slip, far from that.

In the Corps (6) we are now attached to there is no Home Leave, so I have heard.  We shall be leaving the Corps at the end of the month & then Leave will start againThere are lots of other men – & so accordingly there are lots of other men’s parents who are just as anxious to see their relatives.

Oh! Bukhshee* was very fond indeed of me, I might say without any self-assertion. Luckily he saw me again on entraining, & after we were dismissed, immediately came up & shook hands with me.  He also gave me his address & your letter has just reminded me to write to him.  He & thefrogeater’ will serve as jolly correspondence chums when ‘aprés le guerre’ (7).

Thank you very much for your advice. Yes Sydney & Bertie have a very brave & patient Mother.   So Mum was very different from those ‘silly, three fat ladies’ who clung to Dodger for protection. (8).

Best love to all,




Whilst his family would have been pleased Bertie had passed as a Sniper they were obviously very anxious to see him on Home Leave. He had been in France & Flanders for almost a year.

(1) 13th Feb. is the most likely date for this Letter.

James Paris Lee. 1831-1904.

(2) Pte Bertie’s Lee-Enfield Rifle, took its name from the designer of the rifle’s bolt systemJames Paris Lee , British Canadian & later American manufacturer  – and the factory in which it was designedthe Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield.

(3) Captain Lister*. Old Company Commander. (4) Lt. Colonel Raymond Raymer* 1/5th S. Staffords.

(5) Pte Bertie wanted to know the Greenwich Mean Time & new Summer Time at Home to compare with the time in France‘Mean’ time rather than ‘medium’ is meant.

(6) Notts & Derby (Transport Coprs). (7) Bukhshee Ichbye Singh Waltu* an Hindustani soldier met at Marseilles Joe Albene*, farmer landlord of Pte Bertie’s billet at Bellancourt.

(8)Ref. to Basil’s actions during Zeppelin Raid over Walsall. 31st Jan -1st Feb.1916. See New Page: ‘My Memories’ A.H.H. 1967. published 10th Feb 2016.

NEXT POST: 20th FEB.1916.





BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT. No 6 GENERAL BASE CONVALESCENT CAMP: LETTER to Arthur & Marie Neal Hibbett, 95 Foden Rd  Walsall.

Sunday Afternoon 4.20 pm  3/ 10/ 15

My Dear Mother & Father,

A Break in the usual Sunday Letters, & Home Thoughts Abroad eh. 

When I go into the fray for tea, for it is a fray indeed standing in the crush of men outside the hut or canteen,  shall be thinking of Sydney waiting for his nice tea at home, laid on a nice white cloth & flowers & nice food.  He is perhaps listening to Ida’s music or Dad’s opinion of the War, or joking with Dodger, or watching the cool fresh sparkling water running from the tap on to the slop stone,  – yes & he sits there & finds infinite pleasure and amusement with turning the tap. 

The Hibbett Family at Tea: Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida.
The Hibbett Family at Tea:  Mother, Bertie, Sydney and Ida.  Possibly Abergele Holiday, August 1914.  Photo: Harold Hibbett.

Come alongshouts Mummy from the Dining Room & in Sydney goes arm in arm with Champion & Dodger, immediately the latter relieved by Mum’s arm, & he then sits down to enjoy a nice Sunday’s tea with you all.

I went on Church Parade this morning & we had 370  (1) again – the Sea Hymn, ‘Eternal Father’. Yes, by the time this letter reaches you, Mother & Dad, Sydney will be in the train very likely, & will have crossed again those seas which the Spanish Armada sailed on.

What is there for tea for me today?  I must be going to get some Roley Poley sic (2), or Duff as the Tommies call it.

It would not do for any of you to write to the authorities.  You may write to John Bull, good old JB. (3).  I never take him serious, so it’s all very well. 

Macinichies imagesWe had Marconochies (sic) (4) for tea once & Mum’s hard boiled eggs came in pat.  A Tommy sang a very comic song at an entertainment for Winter Sports entitled ‘I’d rather have an ’ard boiled egg’ (5) & so I did in place of that which I believe caused my boi— no I won’t say any more, ever about them!

I guess you will all be going again to St Paul’s tonight (6).

Best love, Bertie.



Pte Bertie Hibbett’s father appears to have considered writing to the Army about his son’s illness, in the hope of obtaining Home Leave for him.

(1) Hymn. Eternal Father. No 370 in Bertie’s version of Hymns Ancient & Modern. cf Letter 2nd Oct.

(2) Roly-Poly. Plum DuffTraditional British suet puddings, one spread with jam and rolled up, the other with added raisins/ currants: early 19th Cent/ associated with school dinners.  (3John Bull Magazine. British Sunday Newspaper estab.1820. ‘ultra patriotic’. Wikipedia.

(4) Maconochies: tinned stew / for ingredients see letter 17th April. 1915.  (5) Comic Song by Worton David and Julian Mack. published Sydney, Australia. 1912.  (6) St Paul’s Church, Walsall (now St Paul’s at the Crossing. See Letter 26th Aug. 1914).


South Staffordshire Badgee



3rd Oct. Sun:  In Billets.

NEXT POST: 10th Oct. 1915.





BERTIE HIBBETT: 19 in 1914.
19 in 1914.

Pte BERTIE HIBBETT: No 6  GENERAL BASE CONVALESCENT CAMP ROUEN:  LETTER to Marie Neal Hibbett & Ida Hibbett, 95, Foden Rd Walsall.

Saturday Oct 2/ 15

My  Very Dear Mother and Sister Ida,

It is getting dark.  I am squatting in the tent_________  I feel I ought to write at once to you___________  I was going to  dinner when a chap out of my tent told me to turn back, there was an urgent letter waiting for me in a pile of rifles in the tent.  When I saw it I suddenly thought of dear Sydney.  I thought the letter was to say he had either been k_____d  or wounded I had heard that our Batt. must have been in the General Advance & I thought he had been in the Charge (1).

But I have been praying for him, remembering him in my prayers &  have also thought more often of him likely being on the journey Home to see Mummy & Dad & all of you.  I prayed that he may have a Happy & Safe Journey.

Do you know Mummy here’s another queer coincidence, I’m sorry I left it out in my last letter.  When I went to Church in the S.C.A. Hut (2) in the Con. Camp we sang ‘Eternal Father strong to save’ (3) & my didn’t I let my voice go thinking of Sydney, & in mind of him going across the Channel, either that night or someday in the coming week & ain’t it funny, it was so (4).

I did laugh, I couldn’t help myself laughing after I read Ida’s lovely letter –  especially as I read of Sydney & pictured him sitting with Mummy by the cheery fireside, in the sound of the guns no, no, but in the sound of Sister’s lovely touch on the pianoforte.  Ha Ha!  I am as blythe & gay as can be & only hope that Sydney, deary me, is making the best of his Leave.  And too I am sorry for him for it will be another wrench for him to leave Home.

So you got those lovely apples from Gaunt’s Farm (5) & the eggs were so creamy and nice again.

Oh Ida you did hurt my feelings – I mean to say I am really ashamed of the complaints in my past letters which put you all so anxious, why I was even bemoaning myself on coming away on the march from the drilling field this morning.  All the T.B. men (6) went to a large field for training & as we came back we passed No 9  General Hospital where I had been for such a long time.  I saw the men in blue & thought of the long letters I wrote home from there & those horrible complaints which made you so upset.  Yes there’s no denying I have grumbled, but dearest Mummy, it will teach & has taught me a lesson.  I shall be able to bear greater pain should it come in the future.

I have had some pay today & there are several Canteens here.  I hope to be able to take something for Sydney when I go up the line again for I am sure he will feel the reaction greatly & will want something in the way of luxuries to help to graduate the sudden fall from Home comforts.  I’m glad Mum will find a spare minute to scratch a line to Miss Foster*; it will help to make things clearer as I don’t care much to explain things myself.

It is too dark to write now & besides the post goes soon & I want to get this off.  Perhaps it is likely that this letter will be in time to wish dear Sydney the Best of Luck & a Hearty Send Off, hoping he will cross in safety Mother dear

Ought not we to be indeed grateful & thankful to those Higher Hands I’m sure you are & do not worry an iota about me coming Home.  I am grateful to say I am taking things as Dad wished me to take them – ‘as a matter of course’.  ‘I will sing of the Lord because he has dealt so lovingly with meapplies to both, eh Mum. (Psalm for this evening 2/10/15 (7).

Best love to all,               Bertie Arfer.



(1) Major Offensive: 25th Sept. 1915.  (2)  Soldiers’ Christian Association Hut.

William Whiting.
The Revd William Whiting.

(3) Hymn: ‘Eternal Father‘. Words: William Whiting. 1825-1878 (Anglican, Head of Winchester College Choristers’ School).

John Bacchus Dykes.
The Revd John Bacchus Dykes.

The Navy Hymn/ Seafarer’s Hymn: 1st edition Hymn Ancient & Modern. 1861. Based on Ps 107 the hymn expresses a three-fold experience of  the divine as Father, Son & Holy Spirit.  References to Genesis 1.2: The Spirit of God (Hebrew: Rûach רוּחַ Elohim אֱלֹהִים/ wind/breath/spirit (feminine/ plural) hovered/ brooded over the waters of chaos like a Mother bird;   Mark 4.35f:  Christ Stilling the Storm & Walking on Water; also Acts 27-28: Luke’s eyewitness account of Paul’s shipwreck off the island of Malta. Tune: Melita (Malta). John Bacchus Dykes, 1823-1876. Precentor Durham Cathedral 1849-1862.

(4) WW1 Home Leave varied in length (travel time included).  Corp. Sydney Hibbett is logged as ‘Rtd(Returned) on 5th Oct., so a ‘10 Day’s Leave’ (if Bertie is correct & his brother sailed Home on Sun. 26th Sept.)

(5) Gaunt’s Farm. Sutton? (connection John O’ Gaunt,1340-1399 1st Duke of Lancaster?).

6) T.B.  TuberculosisPte Bertie includes himself here. The family did not know of this until 1960s when my father went into Boston Hospital for operations on his war-worn feet and was found to have T.B. scars on  his lungs.  His brother Harold was invalided out of the Army and died of T.B. in 1940.

(7) Psalm 13.6. (8) Ouderdom 5 mile march. (9) Abeele, Poperingue, West Flanders: (Site of WW1 Military Airfield).

(10Fouquereuil, village one mile SW of Bethune, Nord Pas de Calais40 mile train journey. (11) L’Ecleme near Lillers, 15 miles SW of Bethune.  (12) Brigade Operation Orders (Staffordshire Regiment Museum, Whittington Barracks, Lichfield).


South Staffordshire Badgee



1st Oct. Fri:  In Brigade Reserve.  Brigade relieved by 17th Division. The Battalion vacated the dug-outs about 8.30 pm and bivouaced at Transport Lines near OUDERDOM (8).


Abele Poperingue.
Abele Poperingue.

2nd Oct. Sat: At about 11 am Battalion paraded and marched to ABEELE (9).  

Entrained for FOUQUEREUIL (10) 4.30 pm arrived 6.15 pm.  Marched to billets at L’CLEME near LILLERS (11) arrived at 12.30 am 3rd inst. Ouderdom(See B.O.O’s  d/1.10.15 attached) (12)

NEXT POST: 3rd OCT. 1915.