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September 30th 1915 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

30th September 1915
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden, Majestic Hotel, Alexandria
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable, Sisters' Quarters, University House, Birmingham
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Majestic Hotel

Sept 30th 1915

My own darling Mela

I am still here, and still wondering when we shall go. There is some sort of delay, due I believe to the shipping of Greeks from Egypt on account of their mobilization. I quite expected to embark not later than this morning. If I find we are going to be kept here much longer I shall go to Carlton camp and be uncomfortable for a little while; it won’t hurt me now I am fit again. I believe I can borrow most of the necessities.

A mail leaves at 2.0 tomorrow, but I dare not put off writing till tomorrow in case I get taken for some duty. But I rely upon getting a letter from you tomorrow morning. An English mail was delivered today, and I called at Cox’s but only got a letter from Jack, written on Sunday the 19th. By tomorrow the full mail should be delivered and carefully sorted, so I count upon hearing from home and from you. I am so glad now that I sent that cable.

I hear on reliable authority that about three weeks ago two barges full of mails were lost, one sunk by shell fire, the other foolishly overturned in Mudros harbour by overloading. The mail bags lost have to be counted by hundreds, about half being I believe Australian. I calculate that letters written between the time you heard of my wound and the time you got my cable may have been lost with that lost. The only ones I have had during that period were letters of the 17th from May and you on first hearing, and a postcard next day from you telling of May and Kath’s visit. I feel certain several more were written; you especially never go 5 days on end without writing. During the last week I have had no luck at all in calling at the army post office.

I have been meeting all sorts of people.  First of all my presence here was discovered by Lintott, George’s friend, who took a commission from the Civil Service Rifles in the Armoured Car Squadron of the RND.  After nearly going to East Africa they are now planted here, having arrived in the middle of August.  I had only just met Lintott once, but found him very jolly and full of news about his doings, which seem to suit him very well indeed.  He asked me to dinner with him at the headquarters' mess at Mustafa barracks on Monday; and yesterday evening came over here for the same purpose. His job is a bit unique and must be very interesting. He is a full lieutenant (which being naval rank is equivalent to a captaincy in the army) and is adjutant; so he has done pretty well in about 6 months. They are a funny lot, and have besides their CO no less than six Lieutenant-Commanders (= Major), crowds of full Lieutenants (= Captains), and Sub-Lieutenants (= 1st Lieutenants) enough to make up 28 officers. The men are all petty-officer mechanics, and rank about as sergeants. I think it seems rather the right sort of show to belong to; one ought to rank about as a Brigadier by the end of the war!

Then a couple of nights ago Marshall suddenly appeared here, sent from Cyprus. A bullet went across the palm of his hand, and somehow contrived not to damage any bones. He will stay here a bit for massage. He tells me he was close to Lancaster when he was killed, and saw him fall, and had no doubt that he was killed instantaneously. At the time he was bandaging his hand. He is under the impression that everybody round about him was killed except himself. Then yesterday I went to visit De Blaby who is in hospital not far from Mustafa. His wound healed long ago, but he is going home to get fit after jaundice.

I was accosted on Tuesday morning by a lance-corporal (promoted since I left) of my platoon. He only left the firing line on Thursday last week, so gave me plenty of quite recent news. The rumour that they had had another rest at Lemnos was all rot. A major of The King’s Own RLR has taken command; most of our sick officers have recovered and rejoined; at least two have come from England, including Myles who was with us many months in England but was left behind when we sailed. Finally some Australians have been commissioned and fill some more vacancies. One of them is Adjutant, a job I should not have minded being offered myself, but one needs to be on the spot to catch these things.

Everything seems to have been very quiet since I left, and casualties have been few. The doctor got ill and is replaced. I imagine it is not unlike the person we had at first down at Cape Helles.

The movement on the Western front is most encouraging, and I hope we shall be able to press the initiative without letting the Germans recover. It seemed high time we disturbed their equanimity a bit. The Russians are getting on better and better so far as one can judge so altogether things seem to be looking up a bit, and seems to confirm my conviction that the high-water mark of German success has been reached. The early part of their downward movement will be sure to be slow, but I am not without hope that it will become quicker and quicker as months go on and finally be a rapid collapse.

I will write no more this evening but will contrive to find time to add a little tomorrow in answer to the letter I absolutely rely upon receiving. Goodnight, dearest.

Oct 1st, noon. I got my letter all right, but none from home which is odd. However it was yours I chiefly wanted.

I received my orders yesterday, a note was awaiting me up in my room when I went to bed. I am to embark by 10.30 am tomorrow on the Manitou. I am going on my own, that is to say I am not in charge of any draft, for which I am grateful. I think I am sure to go ashore at Lemnos, and quite possibly may be detained there a little; this seems to have happened to Rawle who left some time ago, but was not with the regiment the latter part of the last week.

Your letter is full of news, because you wrote it on Sept 19th (at midnight while on duty) and you refer to events quite new to me because the next earlier letter I have had was posted Sept 4th. You mention going to London to see Cecil and your Mother. I am so glad you were able to see the former, and it was an excellent occasion to renew your meetings with your Mother. The first occasion would naturally be the most awkward, and I am glad you have got it over. An officer of the North Staffords left nearly a fortnight ago to rejoin his regiment, and I told him if saw any of ours (as is probable) to say I should be following in a week or two, and that I should like any letters to be kept till I came. So I hope to get a big lot on arrival. Any more that you address here will be sent on at once by Cox’s.

Goodbye for the present, sweetheart. I shall of course post to you from Lemnos provided it is possible.

Best love from
Your own most affectionate
Cyril E Sladden

Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 double sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference