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November 17th 1915 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

17th November 1915
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable, Sisters' Quarters, University House, Birmingham
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Nov 17th 1915

My dearest Mela

Yesterday morning my premonition of some time ago, after an excellent struggle, had to admit defeat, and I landed for the third time on this benighted spot.

The weather did what it could to delay proceedings, but could manage no more than that.  We had a roughish passage, and then had to lie all night with a certain amount of shelter; the morning was inclined to be worse, and in the afternoon we took an hour’s run to a better harbour where we spent a fairly calm night, returning next morning when the sea had pretty well calmed.  I think on the whole it was a good thing it was me and not you on board!  We were lucky in having one of the best of the boats used in these services and I had two excellent nights’ sleep; but the best is not made of the feeding facilities that might exist on board.

We didn’t leave the beach at once, and just before starting something akin to a miracle happened; one of our party spotted lying on the shore Marshall’s and my long lost valises.  Of course I seized them and brought them along with the rest of our baggage. I can only suggest as an explanation of this wonderful incident (they had only been unloaded onto the pier half an hour before I saw them) that they were addressed to us at the place I came from, so you see it was quite a mistake after all.

By the time the usual long round of reporting at successive HQs was completed I had carried my pack quite a lot of miles, and it was pretty late when I reached battalion headquarters.  Although so many faces have changed since I left there was quite a suggestion of home coming about it.  Even the strangers were not quite strange in that they had become a part of the regiment; and as old members with at least some experience we got a warm welcome.  There was any amount to talk about, and it will take quite a long time before comparing of notes, and settling up of various sorts of business is completed.

For the present I have been given command of ‘C’ company, a position of responsibility much greater than I had ever anticipated, from what I had heard of the number of officers; but the climate and conditions generally seem to try the older men pretty hard, more particularly those who have not been in the regular army, so several have not made a long stay.  I am lucky in taking over just when we are beginning a spell in the reserve dug outs where the men get a rest to some extent.  So I have time to pick up the threads again before going up to the firing line where the responsibility is greater even though little is going on.  Fortunately I am well off for assistance in the matter of officers – strangers except one whom I met a month or so ago for some little time.

I don’t know however that I shall remain at this job, as I hear I was originally sent for because the brigade was searching for a brigade machine gun officer.  So they may call upon me to do that any time.  At present the job is in the hands of an officer of another regiment whom I have known for quite a long time – since the days when we belonged to the same mess a year ago while training.  I should think it would be quite an interesting job, and one lives in comparative luxury.

Promotions have been giving just lately.  We are commanded now by a Major (just promoted) Faviell, our regular CO, being temporarily incapacitated.  I haven’t fathomed his history, but I believe he belongs to one of our old regular battalions; but he said he has not been in France.  Sanderson and Hiscock are captains.  They have both been back with the regiment the greater part of the time since I left, so have done something to earn it.

I hear with great surprise that munitions have claimed Neame; his business has been with a firm of metal workers so he will undoubtedly be of great use there, but he is certainly a loss to us.

It is a beastly night tonight, with rain and a strong wind, relived at intervals by lightening which is not very productive of thunder.  It has been blowing hard all day, and the dust has been rather a nuisance, and I was rather anticipating that sunset would see the rain coming too.  I am congratulating myself upon having quite a good little dug out to sit in where the rain and wind both seem to be fairly effectively shut out.

They seem to take trouble to issue the best rations available out here; rather better than what we got in camp I think.  Bully and biscuits is of course the stand by which we rely upon in emergency, but quite a varied fare is obtainable, especially when calm weather makes landing of stores from store-ships easy.

I received three letters today, including yours of Oct 22nd (enclosing Wilfred’s) and Oct 25th, the other being one from Mother.  These are quite nice recent letters to get.  I have of course missed several that were addressed back to me, but that was inevitable, and I shall get them before very long again.  When I can find opportunity I will answer Wilfred’s letters, and also write about Captain Falcon, though it is little news I can give at present.  I met him for a short time while he was with us, but he didn’t come out with us here.  He joined our other battalion out here quite shortly after and was killed on Aug 6th I believe in a very expensive attack in which they took part down at Helles. Possibly I may get a chance to learn a little more detail later on, but I must see what I can do.

I am so glad to think that you are off night duty now; I was afraid till I got your letter today that it went on longer.

Will you send a note home to give them the gist of this letter; it is getting late now, and rather cold, and - what is much more urgent – I have only about one inch of candle left, so I must turn in.  I shall post these soon of course.

I am very well indeed, and have every hope of keeping so for some time to come.  If I should get ill you can rely upon me looking after myself; I should be sure to do it on my own account, and much more so on yours.  I don’t believe in getting unnecessarily bad just for the sake of appearing heroic.

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