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February 14th 1915 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his mother, Eugénie Sladden

14th February 1915
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden, The Vicarage, Old Basing
Correspondence To
Eugénie Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

At The Vicarage
Old Basing

Feb 14th 1915

My Dear Mother

I am sure you have been thinking me very naughty indeed to leave you so long without any news; I ought to have written last Sunday while I had the chance, as opportunities have been very few this week. We have had a very heavy week’s work, except for yesterday when the weather put a stop to the short programme of morning drill that was arranged. I reckoned as carefully as I could that I walked 85 miles from Monday morning to Friday night. We are two miles away from Basingstoke here, and as it happened every day except Friday that the battalion had to go out in the other direction, so that we had four miles extra each day. On some occasions it was necessary to make a second journey to Basingstoke in the late afternoon. We now have two platoons out here, and room has been found in the town for the rest of the company which has been moved altogether out of the schools.

There are a good many difficulties involved in having the men in billets, but it is well worth while as the men are so much more comfortable and happy, and the change will do them a lot of good. I learn from last night’s orders that we are moving next Saturday, when we shall march to Blackdown and occupy new huts that have been put up there. These are close to the Pirbright ranges I believe, and it is for further shooting practice that we are going. I suppose the men will have their own rifles issued to them this week; I hear that some of the brigade have got them. The new pattern leather equipment is in our possession, being marked, but has not yet been issued out to the men. The officers are all to have sets issued, but we shall have to adapt them to some extent to serve our purpose.

Tomorrow all ranks have to undergo a medical inspection, so that all unfit for foreign service can be weeded out. I suppose any officers or NCOs found unfit would be drafted to some other battalion where they could do good work training men.

I had instructions to arrange independent church parades for the men out here today, so we shall be going to the 11 o’clock service, which will give the men a chance for a thorough good slack. I get up for 8 o’clock service, and am now writing after breakfast.

It is curious that I should have landed in a billet here. When I met “Passen” a fortnight ago almost his first remark was that the vicar of Old Basing was a friend of his. The Reverend T T Blockley was chaplain of Magdalene, and only left Oxford three years ago. He tells me he has been to Badsey and taken a service there one lent. He is to my mind curiously like Mr Allsebrooke in feature, but not so tall. He has the same shape of head, the same grey hair. Possibly you would recollect him. Mrs Blockley is extremely quiet, almost to the point of appearing a little melancholy. She looks after me very well, and makes me most comfortable; indeed I feel I am enjoying my last spell of real comfort before going to the front.

The family numbers three. One daughter (at I guess, about 19) works all day at one of the various Red Cross hospitals in the district. A son rather younger is at Harrow, which is his father’s old school. The youngest is very much the baby and is only four. She and I are great friends, and my arrival hailed with great joy, especially as I am not much in the house before 6 o’clock, which is bed time.

I was glad to hear that Ethel and Mary were going over to see Mela yesterday, but I rather wonder if the weather made them postpone the visit. It always cheers Mela up very much indeed to see familiar faces, if only for a short time.

I shall be very interested to hear any news you may have had from Arthur as to what he is doing. It is good to hear that he was so well. Kath wrote to me and said just the same.

Best love to everybody from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 double sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference