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September 2nd 1917 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

2nd September 1917
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable, Seward House, Badsey; redirected to WAAC Residential Hostels, Somefield, Manor Hill, Sutton Coldfield
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Sept 2nd 1917


My own Darling


I got a ripping long letter from you this morning after posting to you last week.


In it enclosed two mug shots, one taken by Bar with you in it; the other (which you did not mention, slipping it in probably at the last minute) I presume you took at the same time with Bar in it.


You do show some of the effects of energetic rambling, but it isn’t very bad, and a ruffled blouse is quite powerless to prevent you looking perfectly sweet. I sit and long to be able to walk into the photograph and go straight up and give you a big kiss. Most photos of you have that effect oddly enough, especially new ones! Can you suggest an explanation.


I don’t notice it with other people’s photos, not even Bar who combines with her exceptionally good-looking features a very pleasant likeness to yourself. I wish I could get a decent photo of myself for your benefit as I am sure you would see some difference. Incidentally you have guessed right about the moustache, which is quite large these days.


I generally used to clip it fairly short, but when I had to aspire to filling the place of a major for a time I began to think it was time to develop something rather more fearsome in aspect! So I tried to see what would happen if I let it grow. Result was nothing very great, but it does possess some sort of natural shape and is not a mere bramble, not of a purely walrus type. If I get a chance I will try to get a photo taken that may be of some use.


I shall be in charge of the digging parties going out this evening, but am having a thoroughly easy morning. Being battalion on duty, supplying all guards and fatigues for the area, we had no church parade this morning. So I just arose at my leisure rather after the sun, about 6.0 o’clock; and before breakfast I answered Wilfred’s letter.


Church parade is rather a nuisance under our conditions. It is held at 6.0 – which is now rather unnecessarily early, though reasonable enough in July. One has to get up at five and shave in a half light and put on a lot of unaccustomed clothes. So one is entirely deprived of that weekly late morning that most people appreciate. Then when we are there most of us are in a poor sort of temper, and at that hour nobody can sing, so very few try to, and the whole service becomes anything but inspiring.


Sept 4th – I was sufficiently lazy yesterday after going out on the digging to do no further letter writing; in fact I had a ripping sleep in the afternoon. Now I must finish today and also write to somebody at home in time for posting this evening.


Certain private cables have been arriving giving us news of various awards in the regiment; so evidently General Maude’s list of awards and mentions is now published at home as well as the despatch that it corresponds to, which we just missed getting by the last mail. All we got was one paper which gave a summary only, from which we learnt that the battalion had secured the honour of being named. On the strength of this we had a little celebration dinner at which 14 of us sat down, being those who had shared in some or all of the fighting before Bagdad was taken.


As Inwood had had a cable from his wife congratulating him and also Holmden on getting a Military Cross, and also Ainsworth had had a similar cable from home we had further cause for congratulation. Only yesterday we discovered that the Colonel had received in the morning a wire congratulating him on DSO. As we had three immediate awards, ie two DSOs and one MC out of the fighting we have been pretty lucky altogether, even supposing we know the whole list. Certain posthumous awards we should like to see as well.


The Colonel stood to get something, either DSO or CMG presumably, as CO of a successful battalion, and also for very good personal work on Jan 25th last when he got wounded. He has been unlucky in getting no more than a mention and a Serbian order previously. The three MCs are well earned.


Inwood has long been overdue for special mention, as he has always done us splendidly and is at his best in difficult circumstances. He gets a share of risk too. Holmden has worked with tireless energy and great efficiency for a long time too, and his services have been invaluable. Ainsworth’s award will be probably for Jan 25th when as Lewis Gun officer he went over in the original attack in the morning, and was the last whole man to return after dusk at night, dragging a gun back with him. But he took an active part in every bit of fighting we had and only got a slight wound in the last of all which did not send him to ambulance. He is at his best in a tight corner.


I hope that by virtue of long service I may be amongst the mentions. It chanced to be my luck (I don’t quarrel with it) to take a very subsidiary share in the background during all the various shows with the exception of Dec 15th when I was well in it all right. At other times I was generally somewhere behind during the worst part, and only turned up at the close; also while 2nd in command I had really very little actual responsibility especially during fighting.


I am told that the mail will not be up for another day or two yet, so it is apparently rather later than last week.


I do hate not knowing what you are doing, whether fruit-picking at Badsey, or “welfaring” somewhere or other, or whatever it may be.


Whatever it is I wish I were there to help.


Best love, Mela dear; keep on keeping fit and cheery. 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