Skip to main content

November 11th 1915 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

11th 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 11th 1915

My own Darling

My long stay in one place is gradually having the effect of collecting my letters for me. Yesterday brought me a great packet all tied up together and sent back from the regiment. It comprised 13 letters, 3 postcards and a Punch. They belonged to two periods, the new one being a series of 6 of your written during your midnight watches from Sept 30th to Oct 8th. All the rest (except Punch of Sept 22nd from home, which I had not seen) were fine old antiques dating between July 19th and Aug 8th, from your three letters and three postcards, from Father two letters, and Jack one. I am nearly forgetting a letter from Chambers dated Oct 4th, giving me all the news of Brecon – this in answer to a picture postcard I sent from Alex just to report recovery. Then today one more of yours has turned up, of Sept 27th.

The wanderings of these are many and various and often quite hard to trace. The old ones have all been to Malta during their travels. None of them contained anything of special importance luckily, but it was nice to get them and read some of the old news which I had missed, and hear what you had to say about things at that time. Your letters included the description of the King’s visit, and your first mention of the varicose veins. You must trouble yourself unduly in case you ever fear loss of some of your physical soundness. It is very sweet of you to be so anxious to be perfectly well for my sake, and in that it makes you take all care of yourself I am very glad of it, for certainly I would love best to have you so. At the same time you know I should always want you even if you were a permanent invalid, just to have your company always, and to be able to take the best care of you I possibly could. So if ever you find anything a little wrong, do your best to put it right again; but don’t ever worry too much on my account. No physical ill can damage the spiritual and mental woman in you that I love.

We have had a very distinguished visitor here today, no less than Lord Kitchener. We all had to turn out on parade this morning for his benefit. It wasn’t a parade that would stand much minute examination. Heaps of the men have been wounded and so lost all or most of their original kit; others sick and lost some; others are fairly lately from England. Although they are of course re-equipped the result seems to be that not two men are quite the same – an intensely unmilitary thing especially on a review parade! One can hardly explain precisely why this varied appearance grows, but it certainly does very quickly indeed. But for all our appearance I should say we are a pretty useful lot when it comes to business. The inspection was soon over once it started, I expect Kitchener has plenty he wants to do while out here. We heard he had come out this direction some days ago, and rumours – apparently correct for once – brought him here last night. Everybody out here is naturally very pleased that he has come to spy out the nakedness of the land out this way.

Recently there has been a decided improvement in the papers obtainable here, mostly rather ancient certainly, but Beard borrowed The Times Weekly edition of Oct 15th and 22nd (!) a few days ago from one of the hospitals, so having read them I feel quite up to date. It was in the former of these that I read Neville Japp’s name among those killed in France. I felt most thinking about poor Madeleine and all his family. I think it makes it so much more horrid when you know a man’s people, and can understand more clearly what they will feel. I had just completed a letter to Mrs Japp yesterday before my big post came in bringing the letter in which you told me the news about Neville.

You can imagine what an afternoon I had getting through all that budget of letters yesterday; I should be quite lost without my catalogue now. Soon I shall feel it is worth sending you a copy of that catalogue of your letters so that you can see how many I have received. As a matter of fact it is quite possible a lot more may come presently for me, as I know a mail exists a little way off that is not completely delivered and has already been very fruitful to some people this morning.

9.30 pm – I am finishing this after getting my bed made, and getting more or less into it. I went for my usual walk this evening between tea and supper with Attlee. Since dinner I have been looking through a whole budget of newspapers that Rawle has had sent him, most of them D Mirrors or D Sketches of the end of Sept or early October. I realize something of the excitement caused by the push on the Western front. Of course I heard that at Alex in the form of terse official telegrams.

This is really much the nicest time to write, when the other three are asleep or getting on that way. I secured the tent to myself for a short time this afternoon while writing, as you may possibly have guessed, knowing my little ways pretty well by now. You must have felt anxious about Cecil after hearing the rumours he was wounded; the evidence of a London Scottish ranker ought to be fairly reliable too. I see from the casualty lists that the regiment apparently didn’t get a very bad time of it.

Suddenly a beastly wind has arisen, since I started writing, which almost blows the candle out, and is filling the tent with dust horribly, so I must stop.

Nov 12th morning – I had to break off very suddenly and just smother myself up as best I could out of the dust, which was fortunately laid soon by a heavy shower. Altogether the little squall badly spoiled my arrangement.

I have no time before the postman goes to answer in details anything in your letters though there are various little topics which I could comment upon. You have had a sprightly tone about some of your recent letters which makes me think you cannot have been finding your night work too much of a trial. Still I am glad there cannot be very much longer now before you are due for a change. Then you will be relieved of your anxiety about growing “old and ugly” which is probably only “tired and fed up”. Whatever it is I would undertake to cure the disease if I could have you to myself for a week or two.

Very best love, dearest, 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