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March 30th 1915 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his mother, Eugénie Sladden

30th March 1915
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden, Blackdown, Farnborough
Correspondence To
Eugénie Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Officers’ Mess
9/Worcs Regt

March 30th 1915

My dear Mother

I seem to have left you a very long time without any news. I was glad to hear from you, giving the first news from George; I expect you will get fairly regular letters from him as the post by all accounts is most efficient.

I have been pretty busy for some time past, having charge of the machine gun detachment while the regular machine gun officer, Pearson, is having a special course at Hythe. I thought he would be back by now, but he wrote to tell me the course goes well into next week. It is rather a task trying to train enough men for four guns when we have only one gun available and that on alternate days only. Moreover my own knowledge of the subject is very slender and doesn’t leave the safe margin that one likes to have when instructing. There are three of us at the work, and I am responsible in virtue of a few days’ seniority. I think it is certain that we are to have two machine gun sections (each section two guns) per battalion instead of the one section that was the rule when the war started. But it is not quite certain that there will be an officer for each section, though there certainly ought to be, and probably will be. In case there are two we are uncertain who will be the second, myself, by virtue of seniority, or one of the others who has been appointed to the work since Christmas or thereabouts. He has lost touch with his company very much and has had no opportunity to learn the new work much before we get the gun.

We have been doing our firing separately during this course so as to have the day free for training. We fire between 7.0 and 8.30. It means getting up at 5.45, and parading at 6.25. We have breakfast on our return and then start work again about 10.0. I started firing absolutely rottenly early in the course, so spoilt my chances of doing well. We are firing the classification course of the regular army which divides us into “marksmen”, 1st, 2nd or 3rd class shots - the last named including all who for some reason fail to attain 2nd class standard. I ought to have been a marksman but as a matter of fact still require 4 points on the last practice tomorrow to make my score to 1st class standard. In normal times a fully trained soldier, if a marksman or 1st class gets 6d a day proficiency pay, and a 2nd class 3d a day. It is laid down that the weather conditions are to be chosen as possible during the firing, which of course is carried out in summer after a good long course of instructional and practice work. So our fellows who have to fire with no immediately preceding range practice to get their hands in, and as a rule in a biting north east wind, will thoroughly earn whatever they secure. In the early morning it is generally freezing merrily, but we secure some advantage in having less time to hang about and get cold than the companies do later on.

I hear that no leave at all will be granted us over Easter; I suppose they feel everybody would want it.

You will have seen some notice in the paper of our big affair on Saturday. As we were reserve brigade in our division we didn’t come into action, but we arose 4.30, the battalion marched off before 6.0. We marched over 11 miles, sat down for 3½ hours, feeling a bit chilly, went forward a little, and then returned home as operations came to an end, and were back somewhere about 6.0 pm. On Sunday we had to do shooting, so I had to be up pretty early again.

Mela keeps on with theatre work till the end of the week; she doesn’t know what she will be put on to next. I do hope it won’t be night duty, as she wants three months of lighter work now.

I hope your cold has about gone by now.

There is no need to describe my visit to Sydenham as Betty will have given you all details; needless to say I was very glad to be able to go. I think Kath said she will be there till some time after Easter.

Though I still hope to be able to come and see you again I can’t say in the least when it will be if it comes off all right.

Thank you for mending my socks, I hope I hadn’t let them get too bad. I shall be glad of a new pair or two.

I must get to bed now, so will say goodnight.

Your most affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden

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