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October 31st 1915 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

31st 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 31st 1915

My own Darling

At last the post has brought me a letter from you. You will see from the address that I am still waiting here expecting orders to join the regiment any day; as a matter of fact there is a rumour going today which suggests we may not go across after all, though no reliance can be placed upon it at all. Meantime it is an unsatisfactory existence because we have to keep in camp all the time, except for a short time in the evening when we can get a walk for some exercise as we can rely upon not being required at an hour or two’s notice just then.

Naturally I have simply been longing for letters each day because I knew another move would mean a lot more delay again, so I was extremely glad when yours came this morning – the first I have had since coming here. It was written on Sept 22nd, three days later than the one I had in Alexandria from you. You put c/o Cox’s, Alexandria, on it, but as you had also put the full BMEF address it got into the regimental mail bag and went straight to the peninsula, taking apparently a long time getting through, as the return postmark is Oct 27th at the field post office. Probably by this accident I have got it earlier, as I might have just missed it at Alex, and then it would have gone on by degrees to the regiment, instead of going direct there. But in future if you use my emergency address, only put the regiment and Cox’s, Alexandria, then it goes straight there by the ordinary civil post.

I am particularly glad to have picked up this letter now, as it is the one in which you ask advice about signing on again from the end of December. It is awfully hard to give much opinion that is worth anything at this distance, when I have only just one letter to go by, and no chance to discuss anything at all. So far as I am concerned I cannot see the faintest likelihood of leaving these regions for a long time to come. As the weeks go by everything here naturally takes on a more and more settled appearance which doesn’t necessarily go for much, but certainly makes one feel that this show out here won’t finish in a hurry. Of course the Balkan developments all point to this conclusion so barring sickness or wounds I don’t foresee any chance of seeing England for some time to come though one always has the complete uncertainty of war which renders it perfectly possible that something should turn up to bring me back unexpectedly; but it is not a thing to calculate upon.

By the time you get this reply it will be so long since you wrote the letter I have by me that you will have thought the matter over a lot more, and very likely come to a nearly definite decision. A great deal will depend upon how you have been feeling in the interval. If you have kept pretty well on the whole, and feel that a return to day duty will make you even better I should think you could safely continue for another six months without fear of doing yourself any damage. If on the other hand you are still feeling, as I think you were when you wrote, none too well and rather overdone with the work, it is worth considering that you should at least have a break before taking on the work again. I agree with you that there is a much better chance now of your being happier at home, but at the same time it is bound to be a bit of an uncertain experiment; so I recommend you to go home, if you do decide to go, with the idea of taking a holiday and rest that you need. Don’t ever give rise to the idea that you think of giving up work permanently, then you will not have trouble in going back to hospital if you want to either on financial grounds, or because you find it unwise to spend too long at home.

I feel sure you have a hope that you will get on much better with your mother now, and that is in itself an attraction to going home, because I know how much you would rejoice if you could get back to a proper sympathy with her. If that is the impression that your meeting at Tunbridge Wells has left then I think it would be a good omen. At the same time it is risky to start with too long a meeting, and it is necessary you should always be in a position to cut it short if you think fit, for to live unhappily at home would do you more harm than hard hospital work.

I suggest that if you decide not to carry on at once in hospital that you should go to Badsey for a good visit first, and if you like one or two other visits in England before crossing Boulogne. That would do you good and give you a rest before you got home, and it would be better for you to be fairly fit when you reached there; for one thing it would minimize the chance of the argument being used that you were physically unfit to stand hospital work any more. Also they haven’t seen a lot of you for a year or more at Badsey, and it would be best to go there first on grounds of economy.

So if you go home at all, say you do it because you are tired and want a holiday, and it is in your own hands to take one for as long as you feel inclined; also you want to pay a good visit home, long enough to make the journey worthwhile. Then supposing you should settle down well at home and find plenty of activities there you will be at liberty to extend your stay indefinitely. By that time we shall be able to discuss the whole position afresh in the light of what may have happened meanwhile.

I don’t think there is a lot of use in taking a holiday in the hopes of my getting leave. I have never heard of any physically sound man getting leave here, with the single exception of one Australian officer who by some miracle has lasted from the landing until the end of August, so had earned a rest; and even he got away partly as the result of eye strain I believe.

At present I have little information concerning promotions in the regiment, though I know four names have been sent on, but they are I have not learnt. I am uncertain as to how far actual presence with the regiment is considered necessary; certainly it will be an advantage. In any case even supposing that promotions become frequent I am a long way down the list at present; there are two subalterns up there now who are senior to me, who both avoided the big show in August through sickness. So I am afraid we shall have to wait some time yet before a further rise comes in sight at all. I am rather keen to find out what principles they work on in sending in names. As regards anybody who gets to England it seems to be a toss up whether he returns to the same battalion, so it seems little good recommending such.

I am very sorry you have had so much trouble with varicose veins. In letters I have had before all references to them have been slight, and so I hadn’t thought a lot about them; I suppose they are rather tiresome things to get rid of.

You can hardly believe what it is to get a letter out here after an interval of over four weeks. I have a good many July letters still wandering, just a few of the end of August, and most of the September ones except some of the first few days and some about the 20th, and of course all October are on the way.

Very best love from
Your own most affectionate
Cyril E Sladden

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