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November 7th 1915 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

7th November 1915
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden, Lemnos
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable, Sisters' Quarters, University House, Birmingham
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter


Nov 7th 1915

My dearest Mela

I little expected to write again from here; but two efforts to leave were both doomed to failure, and now we are back again wondering when we shall be ordered to pack up yet once more. On Thursday after waiting at the pier several hours, part of which time was relieved by rain for our diversion, we were told the weather was too rough and they would not take us till next day. Having returned to camp for a muddly uncomfortable night we packed up again on Friday morning and again got as far as the pier, only to be told that no reinforcements were to be sent up just at present. So now we don’t know a bit when we shall go. The pretext given us for the change of orders didn’t sound a very plausible one, so speculation is rife, manufacturing rumours of more interesting explanations. Anyhow it really seems as if that old presentiment of mine, about which I told you long ago, were making a great fight of it; it is still possible that I shall never reach the old peninsula again after all.

I have had more news from the regiment, where everything is very quiet, though they are kept busy enough I think. I gather that several of the captains lately sent out have gone sick; I am inclined to think everybody needs some acclimatizing out here, though I should hardly have thought it necessary at the present time of year. The various belongings that were in my pack have apparently gone the way of my valise, of which I still get no news at all, also my revolver is missing though the quartermaster has my field glasses. Of course I can get compensation for what is irretrievably lost, but it is a nuisance, especially my revolver which certainly ought to be there. If I get these I shall have a good search myself. One thing is certain that I shall know how to manage things lots better if I get wounded again or sick, and if not too bad, or in a very desperate show will guarantee not to lose much that matters.

I think the great thing to hasten promotion is to be with the regiment as much as possible. It is rather bad luck if we don’t count while here, as it is no fault at all of ours that we are not more actively employed, and we are on full duty all the time. I have been writing and keeping in touch as much as I can since I got here. It is rough luck on men who lose promotion through getting wounded in any case, but if they get a long spell of leave or light duty at home they get something in return. Still I am in hopes we may see some of the regiment getting a move upwards some time, and then things will look more hopeful.

We had a bit of a social function on yesterday afternoon, to wit sports, with a band – quite a good one – and a fair number of guests, including several nurses from the two Canadian hospitals. There was a tea fight, but as I was unattached, I forewent the attraction of free buns and came to my tent to read two letters that had just been handed me, namely one stray one of yours written Sept 22nd (which I had observed as missing in the series), and one from Sanderson up at the front. Your letter showed me that the cable I sent from Alex never enlightened you as I imagined it would. On the top of my Malta letters I thought it would tell you that I was settled there for a bit – long enough to hope for letters to reach me there. You mentioned that Mother was rather distressed at thinking I might be being sent back rather early. I have no doubt I aroused anxiety at the time, but that cable was designed to relieve all anxieties on that point. After all I had had about 9 days extra already before dispatching it, so it ensured the week or fortnight more that I had expressed a desire to have. I expect Mother fancied when I said a fortnight I ought to have made it at least a month, probably two, which wasn’t really the case at all. You can always rely upon my giving you as accurate an account of myself as I can; you know I believe in stating things as they are as a general rule, because it relieves anxiety several times for every once that it eases it.

I hear that a big British hospital with a thousand beds is going to be established here; some English nurses have come to East Mudros, and I saw one up her yesterday in the regular army uniform. Today I went with the rest of our tent party to have tea at one of the hospitals, but it was rather a crush and bored me. I like seeing the nurses about as it looks so much more civilized, but I don’t find much pleasure in meeting them. It is a funny idea perhaps but the thought of you makes me altogether disinclined to get to know any other girls, especially when I am away from you as at present. I think you once expressed a rather similar feeling in one of your letters to me some time back. I don’t like to feel that anybody else is filling the tiniest remotest corner of the great big gap which is the result of your being always away from me. I expect you will understand, though it is rather hard to describe exactly.

I thought of the 2½th anniversary (so to speak) on Friday, and thought in the morning that I was going to spend it in a memorable way by making my third journey up from here to the peninsula. By the way I still hold the position of being the last officer hit in the battalion, so you see it is almost entirely a matter of keeping fit under present conditions. I am already in bed, if it can be decently called a bed, and must get to sleep now. So goodnight, dearest, and God bless you.

Your own affectionate
Cyril E Sladden

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