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July 1st 1915 - Copy of part of letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

1st July 1915
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

July 1st 1915

…… From the time when I closed my last letters, we have had a more interesting time. Also the weather has been excellent and until we had a very high wind last night the boat scarcely had a perceptible curve, so everybody felt fit. It is calming down quickly this evening to the old conditions. The first land we sighted was well worth seeing, a fine rocky coast and remarkable headland. We were near enough to get quite a good view and with glasses and telescopes could make out houses and many features on the hills behind. We had a treat on Tuesday morning between 5 and 7 o’clock, and I would not have missed it for a lot. We didn’t stop, but transferred mails to a boat sent out to us. The coast was beautiful in the early morning light, and to the south we could see the country well, one fair-sized town of very unfamiliar appearance (to me at least) was plainly visible. But the mountains were of course the part that struck us most. They are all so rugged and unusual in shape. It was difficult to realise all the time that we were passing one of the best known spots on the earth. We have never been so close to shore since that morning but have constantly had some view of it in the distance. At one time a range of mountains running up to over 11,000 feet was to be seen at 80 or 100 miles distance, so it was estimated; this was interesting, as being much the highest mountains I had ever seen, but it wasn’t at all picturesque and showed only as a shadowy line through the haze. The coast this morning is just within view all the time on our starboard side and is mountainous and very irregular in outline but we cannot see any detail to speak of. I expected after Tuesday to find the sea very blue indeed, but as a matter of fact it was not at all the deep blue we had had before and for a day was green, quite a beautiful pale green in the wake of the boat where the white foam dilutes the colour down. Now however it is becoming deep blue again. I think it will be about tomorrow evening that we shall reach our first stopping place and this letter will get posted. Of course we don’t know that we shall stop for certain, nor if we do can we tell for how long. We are not allowed to know the ship’s orders at all.

The men have had instructions to mention no names of places, so I am writing on the same principle, knowing you will have little difficulty in recognising all the places referred to, the more so because you know them all yourself. Pearson has got a new lot of men in training for use as reserves and I am assisting him, which runs me in for a couple of hours work or so a day. There won’t be much time for them to learn a lot but it is something to have plenty who are not entirely foreign to the work to draw upon. One thing we miss is the loss of the long late English twilight, one can do very little reading or writing after dinner although we dine so early. The cabins are always too hot to spend much time in. The stars are splendid, especially now that the moon rises late; they are getting quite out of place, and the pole star looks absurdly low down. Quite a good lot of new stars show up to the south, and I rather wish I had some means of getting to know what they are. The night before last I watched the moon rise out of the sea and was particularly struck by a whole series of distortions that it went through as the result of refraction in the air; whether it was due to some special kind of atmospheric conditions, or whether it is quite usual, I don’t know, but I never remember hearing of anything of the sort.

July 2nd – I have a short time to write this morning before I shall have to get my letter handed over to the Purser.

I had a packet of letters to censor last night, it very soon becomes a monotonous job, they are mostly very similar, quite short and entirely innocent of any trace of censorable matter. In point of fact scarcely any of them would be capable of giving any information that could be of the slightest use. They have no maps and possess only the vaguest idea where we are going for the most part ……

Letter Images
Copy of part of letter. From time to time, Mela would copy out interesting parts of Cyril's letters to send on to his family in Badsey.
Type of Correspondence
2 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference