Skip to main content

August 23rd 1915 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his mother, Eugénie Sladden

23rd August 1915
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden, Blue Sisters Hospital, Malta
Correspondence To
Eugénie Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Blue Sisters Hospital

Aug 23rd 1915

My dear Mother

You will by now have got my cable which may very likely be the first news you have had of my getting wounded. I hope the letter I posted a week ago from Lemnos will reach you fairly quickly, but I think it is just possible it won’t be sent because the crest of the shipping line and name of the ship was on the back of the envelope. So I will repeat what I said there, with fuller details.

My bullet was obtained late on the night of the 12th (the anniversary, by the way, of the day I applied at Oxford for my commission) after an unsuccessful attempt to attack a position reputed to be lightly held, but unfortunately rather more strongly held than we had been led to suppose. The ground was quite new to us, and we had been sent there that evening to carry out this particular job which turned out rather disastrous as all the remaining officers (except the quartermaster who was left behind) of the regiment were knocked out, and a good many men. I was retiring up a hill with a small party of men and a couple of wounded who required assistance, with only a little firing going on, when a random bullet caught me just behind the left shoulder blade and came out at the end of the shoulder. The entrance hole was tiny, the exit about as big as a sixpence. The former never gave any trouble, and the latter is just about closed over now and has been very satisfactory throughout. The shoulder has been bruised and stiff, but is easing already, right down to the elbow my arm is brilliantly coloured in many hues and looks quite alarming but is perfectly harmless. I wear a sling by day, but almost as much for appearance sake as for use, though it is certainly useful when I walk. From the elbow downwards I use my arm and hand quite freely. From doing very little – though never entirely confined to my bed – I have lost most of my strength, and easily get tired if I try to walk and stand about much; but I am sure I shall soon cure this when I can get myself some clothes and go out a bit, as I hope to do in a few days.

It was several miles from the place where I was wounded to the landing stage where I embarked for the hospital ships, and I covered the distance walking in es broken by prolonged halts at three different dressing stations on the way, and got on board about nine or ten o’clock on the Friday morning, having only what I wore on me, and of that I discarded the shirt and jacket which had been cut about past all hope and were very filthy and covered with blood. So I have lived since in pyjamas, and only today have seen a tailor and ordered some more clothes. I think it is hopeless to try to get my kit sent to me; I must hope to run up against it when I return to the regiment. At Lemnos, we changed ships into a larger boat which had only just been transformed into a temporary hospital ship. My doctor on board there was a man named Sylvester who knew Arthur quite well at the Metropolitan - rather curious I should have run up against him, wasn’t it? I was comfortably quartered there with a double cabin to myself and we were sumptuously fed with many course meals. I wasn’t feeling specially well though most of the time I was on board and had a bit of indigestion so the feeding was rather lost on me. I have felt much better since I have been here.

We lay some time at Lemnos (taking on more cases) before moving on here. At the beginning of the journey we were all assured that everybody was going to be taken to England, so that it was rather a appointment when I was selected with a number of the lighter cases to be put off here. Not that I had any right originally to expect to be sent home with so slight a wound, but it was bad luck after there had been every appearance of my coming in for a slice of extra good luck. Today a party left hospital to go onto the same ship to go home – inclusive of one officer who came off with me, which is typical of the army! I think I have just seen her sailing by after leaving harbour, so her lucky passengers will be home about Sunday I suppose.

We are some distance out of Valletta here in a good position up on a hill. If one ferries across the harbour that lies between it is not very far, but round by road it is 3 miles’ drive into the town, but that can be done for about a shilling in the local substitute for a cab. It is a convent with a hospital attached, and the convent building has largely been given up to us as well as the hospital proper. It is an officers’ hospital exclusively and quite comfortably fitted out. The food is simple but extremely good and well cooked. I have one other officer of the regiment here with me, who is over in the hospital proper, where I can easily go and see him. Lord Methuen who is working hard in organizing all the hospital arrangements is a frequent visitor. He brought us some very good news this afternoon concerning the Russian treatment of the German navy near Riga. My poor regiment has been terribly unlucky, especially in the loss of senior officers. I heard last night that poor old Major Barker, whom I knew to have been badly wounded, died on his hospital ship just before reaching Malta. So we have had our five senior officers killed, and all shot within about an hour the same morning. The remaining company commander was with me on board and has injuries that will keep him out of the field for a long time.

It is ages since I had a letter from home; it is rather a doubtful matter whether some of your recent ones will ever reach me at all, at any rate there is bound to be any amount of delay. So I rely upon my cable to produce news for me again as it is quite a quick and frequent mail here. There was to have been a mail brought to us on the 13th, but of course I missed it. The last news from you was dated about the middle of July.

Best love to all from
Your most affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden.

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference