Skip to main content

Bert Hebbes WWI letters, 1916-1920

Identifier: 2007-017

Content Description

A personal archive of a WWI Rifleman stationed in Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan between 1916 - 1920. Comprises primarily of correspondence written to and from Bert Hebbes. Over 240 long detailed letters from Bert Hebbes to his mother, father, and siblings with sketches and drawing throughout, including 4 letters with stunning watercolor drawings. Contains 50 letters written from his mother, siblings, and friends. Also included are over 40 newspaper clippings and 21 photographic negatives.


  • 1916 - 1920


Condition Description



This material is open for research use by any registered reader.

Conditions Governing Use

This material is owned by the University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections. Unpublished manuscripts are under copyright. Therefore, permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from both the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Bertie (Bert) Hebbes was born in Eastleigh, Hampshire, England on February 17, 1893. He was the youngest of 11 children to Walter (b. 1849) and Emily Hebbes (b.1851). His father, Walter served as the local Postman in Eastleigh. His siblings were Eva Hebbes Fordham (b. 1873), William Hebbes (b. 1874), Ada Hebbes (b. 1876), John Hebbes (b.1878), Ethel Hebbes Fisher (b.1880), Emily Hebbes Richards (b.1882), Frederick Hebbes (b. 1884), Walter Hebbes (b.1886), Percy Hebbes(b. 1888), and Stanley Hebbes (b.1890). Before the war began, Bert worked at a Book Stall.

Do not confuse either father or brother with Walter Henry Hebbes, Eastleigh, Hampshire (b. 1899), parents John and Mabel, sister, Ada M. (b. 1900).

He joined the war in January 28, 1916 and served as a Rifleman in the 1/8 Battalion Hampshire Regiment in the 163rd Brigade of the 54th East Anglian Division. His first letters begin in July of 1916, where he was stationed in Alexandria, Egypt. The 54th Division becomes a part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) where he occupied the Suez Canal defenses, as part of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. In 1917, the 1/8 Battalion marches across the Sinai Dessert to Gaza, and fought in the First, Second, and Third Battle of Gaza from March to November of 1917. They remained in Palestine until the Turks defeat in September of 1918 when they sailed back to Alexandria, Egypt.

After the war ended, Bert stayed on with the 54th Division when the Egyptian Revolution began, and rioting broke out in January of 1919. They remained in Cairo until the rioting ended. He was then sent to Khartoum, Sudan where he stayed until his demobilization in November 1919.

In March of 1919, during the Egyptian Revolution, Bert’s father died. Because he was the eleventh child of Walter Hebbes and the severe conditions in Egypt, he was not granted leave for his father’s funeral.

When Bert was not working, he read up on England and church news and politics, wrote letters to his family and drew in his sketchbook. He loved to garden and frequently spoke of his tulip garden back in Eastleigh and local flowers and vegetation where he was stationed in his letters. He was dedicated member of the Church of England and was involved in the Church Army Recreation Huts. He frequently attended services and volunteered to help with services and play the organ.

Bert lived a long life and died in February 5, 1977.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Collection shelved on 3rd floor.

Condition Description




Bert Hebbes WWI letters, 1916-1920
Tracy Ashby
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections & University Archives Repository

McFarlin Library
University of Tulsa
2933 E. 6th St
Tulsa 74104-3123 US US
918-631-5022 (Fax)