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October 27th 1915 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

27th October 1915
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden, 13th Division Details, "C" Advanced Depot, Lemnos
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable, Sisters' Quarters, University House, Birmingham
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

13th Division Details
“C” Advanced Base Depot

Oct 27th 1915

My dearest Mela

I received warning this morning to hold myself in readiness to proceed at any moment to rejoin my unit. I don’t expect to move before tomorrow morning, and I may have to wait a few days; when the orders do come they are sure to be sudden.

I can’t get a lot of news from the regiment, but so far as I can make out there is next to nothing going on there, and the food issued is rather better than it is here. If they haven’t learnt how to make themselves fairly comfortable by now, they never will, so I hope to find fairly weather proof dug-outs and so forth.

I ought to have written to you sooner but have been waiting from day to day thinking that some letters must be coming, but they didn’t turn up, and so far haven’t done so. However I discovered yesterday that no mail had come from Alexandria for 10 days, but that there was one then just in. I have great hopes that today’s delivery about midday may bring something, though it doesn’t give over long for sorting.

The weather here is almost as variable as it is at home, with the difference that it is almost always windy in some degree. Friday was an awful day, wind and rain combined, and we had to spend a day in the tent repressing its leaks.

On Saturday, which was a most beautiful day with not too much wind, I went for a long walk. There were no men for parade so we had the morning for it. I went with Captain Attlee of the South Lancs who has made a fourth in our tent for some time past. We went towards the hills and struck a track which proved to be the most direct track to Castro. We went through valleys and over passes which reminded us very much of North Wales and the Lake District, only browner. It is more sheltered there from the north-east winds, and there is more moisture in the valleys than round this part of the island. We passed a few quite green patches of orchard and garden, flourishing where the necessary care was given; they looked so refreshing in this ever brown island. Finally we got to the top of a pass where we looked down on the west coast and could see Castro some three miles away. We climbed a peak to the right in order to get a better view, and were well rewarded. Castro is a very picturesque little town, situated on an isthmus leading out to a big rock, rather like St Michael’s Mount (which I haven’t seen, except in pictures) but not so far out to sea. The rock had a castle on it and a rampart round its upper part. On either side is a small bay and a certain amount of shipping. The town is at the foot of a long valley with big hills all round.

The north-west of the island consists of big rolling hills, not so rugged as those we were upon, and with the shadow on them they looked black and impressive.

Far out to sea we could see a big mass of land faintly showing, with clouds dark below and shining white above hanging over it. The sun breaking through these clouds caught the southern slopes of this land, making it shine out more conspicuous than the rest. It was not until we had been looking about for some minutes that we noticed at the same time that the silvery cloud was not all cloud, but there was a great shining peak, steep and sharp rising out of it. It was Mount Athos on the mainland of Greece, which is I believe over 7000 feet high. I had seen it before from the sea looking quite different, just a black peak against the horizon. Our walk wasn’t more than 6 miles at the most, so Castro isn’t quite as far as had been made out to me.

Yesterday I decided to make a further effort to get on the track of my valise; I didn’t accomplish much, but had quite a pleasant day out. I took the ferry across to East Mudros to make more enquiries there, and then went on to the Aragon, where I spent the afternoon. They had failed to get any news of any of our valises, and I pretty well decided the only thing left was to write myself to Cox’s, who are sure to get it some time, so I have just completed a letter.

I had all the afternoon on the Aragon and managed to get some tea, which was the more satisfactory as I had had no lunch. Also there was a barber on board whom I visited; and I saw a little news and had a chat with the post office corporal. Altogether it was a great improvement upon spending the day here.

On Sunday I went up to the hospital with Beard again to tea; there was quite a crush, including lots of naval officers off various ships. I gathered that when the hospital was first here it was chiefly the assistance of the officers of some ships here that made life bearable for them at all. The hospital was at Wimereux previously, though many of the staff were attached to British hospitals in Boulogne previously to April when the Canadian hospital was established.

We have got a new CO attached to the regiment, Major Foster having returned to his regiment. The new man came from Alexandria in the same boat with Marshall, a Major Vaughan I think his name was, who had been a good many years in the Egyptian Army. We also have a Lieutenant of the 1st Battalion as Adjutant now, which is more satisfactory.

I feel that my letters degenerate to a mere chronicle of events as long as I get none in return; but at least I try to give you all the little news there is.

I don’t feel much disturbed one way or the other about going back. One never knows what the future contains, but the only thing that can be foreseen at present seems to be a prospect of long quiet trench routine such as has been the rule for two months past. The danger involved from enemy fire seems to be a minimum, and if the weather gets really bad that will be sure to bring sickness which will be our chief difficulty. I am feeling very well, having a little tendency to lumbago which gives me some discomfort early in the morning, and is made rather more troublesome from sleeping on the hard ground; but I don’t feel it during the day.

I will drop a postcard when we start, so that you may know the date as soon as possible, and will try to write as soon as possible across the other side. My chief dislike to going is that I feel sure you prefer to think of me as being here.

Very best love, sweetheart, from
Your ever devoted
Cyril E Sladden

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