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March 7th 1918 - Letter from Bernard Sladden to his uncle, Julius Sladden

7th March 1918
Correspondence From
Bernard Sladden, At Sea, HMS Tahiti
Correspondence To
Julius Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

At Sea, HMS Tahiti


7th March 1917 [sic – should be 1918]


Dear Uncle Julius


We are now about a week from the end of our voyage and while there is plenty of opportunity for writing I will tell you something of our journey. Our only calling place has been Christobal on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal. Our port of embarkation was Liverpool. We left that place on Saturday 3rd February with a strong escort of destroyers and a powerful looking auxiliary cruiser at the head of the convoy. I told you that we had bad weather for practically the whole of the first week. On the 15th we sighted a derelict sailing vessel. Without altering our ship’s course we came up with the stranger, the engines were eased and several blasts of the whistle were sounded, but there was no response. The ship had evidently been deserted, but why it is hard to say for she was floating too buoyantly to be making much water. Her masts were bare except for one span and some shreds of sand, she was a Norwegian vessel with her name “Paposa” and colours painted along her sides. It seemed a pity she could not have been taken in tow but the captain evidently thought it not practicable for us soon as she had chugged astern she was given two shells from our 4.7 inch guns. We had expected to call at an American port for coaling but our course now appeared to be taking us too far south for that, and on the night of the 17th we passed close to a lighthouse and one of the islands of the West Indies. Next day we passed Cuba on the starboard side. At midday on 21st we came in sight of the mainland and within a couple of hours we were waiting outside Colon Harbour for the pilot who arrived in a launch and took the ship in through the entrance of the breakwater. Colon Harbour serves as the entrance to the Panama Canal from the Atlantic side. There are two towns close together, Colon and Christobal, the latter being in America was within the belt that is known as the Canal Zone over which the US government has control. Our ships docked at Christobal in an incredibly short space of time for the machinery there is the most up to date in the world. The coal is brought up in electrically driven trucks which empty their contents into a hopper and from there the coal is taken up the elevators to a height sufficient to send it rattling and banging down through steel shoots into the ship’s hold. We were not allowed to go ashore much to our disgust, but a few of us did set foot on American soil all the same. No objection had been raised to our joining in for a swim and on the starboard side it was only a matter of about 60 yards to reach a stretch of beach so some of us including myself took advantage of this to stretch our legs by strolling along the sand. There were some sunburnt backs next day but we were able to say that we had set foot on American soil.


Petone 19th March 18


Reached here last night and find all well at home. Last part of our journey the weather was mostly good. A mail for England closes this morning and I have just time to get this dispatched. The enclosed pamphlet [NOT WITH LETTER] published on our troopship will tell you something of our doings. Please excuse hasty scribble. Good wishes to all.


Your affectionate nephew

B Sladden

Letter Images
1917 was written in error at the beginning of the letter instead of 1918. The letter was posted in New Zealand once Bernard Sladden had arrived home.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 7 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference