Jan 8th 1915
My dear Father
I meant to have written earlier in the week but have been lazy in the evenings. I am taking the chance of a free afternoon to write so that you will hear before the week is out. I hear through Jack that George has at last managed to get enough leave to run down and see you; I suppose you had him home on Sunday last.
A terrible tragedy occurred here yesterday, which came as a big shock to everyone in the mess. Our Colonel, who had been suffering for several weeks from nervous worry and sleeplessness, shot himself in his own room. Nobody noticed the report, and he was found by the Adjutant going to find him; he was not dead, but terribly injured and unconscious, and he died soon after being taken to the hospital.
He was a splendid looking man and finely built, and had the reputation of being a very capable officer. However his nerves went wrong, he worried terribly about unimportant trifles and became obsessed with the idea that he was not capable of holding command of a battalion, but carried on with his duties all right, though he had some extra leave before Christmas on account of his health. The fact that he was quite recently married and had a son only a week or two ago makes it much worse.
Our second in command Major Nunn is at present away on leave; I suppose he will take over the battalion permanently.
I don’t know whether you had heard from Mela that she has been put on as one of the theatre nurses. This is pretty responsible work, taken on by 2nd year nurses, and is generally regarded as a post to be coveted so that (as she put it) all the people who liked her congratulated her, and all those who didn’t thought “it warn’t fair”. However at the start the work seems to have been about as much as she could stand, and she was feeling after a couple of days that her position was anything but an enviable one. I hope when I hear again that she will be getting more used to it, knowing more what to do and how to do it. It must be a great strain having to keep absolutely on the alert all the time, especially as the atmosphere of the operating theatre is liable to knock over anybody not pretty well accustomed to it. Fortunately the hours are short as nurses’ hours go, as they are normally free from 4.30 to 9.0.
I suppose you have been having floods lately. There is a lot of water about here, and the mud is worse than ever in many places. Still the ground drains here more quickly than in any place I have ever been in.
We start on battalion training next week, and after about a fortnight of that we hope to get another course of firing on the range, provided ammunition is available, as it certainly ought to be. That will be very useful as the shooting is still capable of a lot of improvement.
Will you send Aunt Lottie one of my photos, if you have not already done so. Also to Barbara, which had better go c/o Mrs Money, 1 Kingsnorth Gardens, Folkestone.
Please thank May for her letter; I was very glad to have a little extra account of your doings at Christmas. I forgot to acknowledge your congratulatory telegram when I last wrote. It reached me soon after 10 o’clock on Christmas morning; as Kath’s letter came that morning too I felt I had not done badly.
Has Arthur moved yet? I wrote to him on Sunday.
Love to all from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden