Skip to main content

December 17th 1917 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

17th December 1917
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable, Unit Administrator WAAC, Command Depot Camp, Sutton Coldfield; redirected to Depot Hostel, Handsworth, Birmingham
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Dec 17th 1917


My dearest Mela


Some utterly vile and despicable man of authority whose wickedness is only equalled (since it cannot be exceeded) by his colossal foolishness has decreed that no mail shall be delivered till Christmas week. And all for this wretched reason, that the postal authorities wishing to be on the safe side gave themselves a fortnight’s grace and announced that Christmas mails for this country were to be dispatched by some date about Oct 25th.


All things being peaceable this in the ordinary course would have reached us ten days ago, so that the next after it is now overdue as well. We are in fact promised three mails about Christmas time. What a terrible calamity if letters bearing best wishes for Christmas should be delivered a week or two before the intended date!


If the restriction were put upon the parcels mail only these might be some sort of sane argument for it; but to hold up letter mails gratuitously and without necessity for a fortnight, as if an average of six or seven weeks were not long enough, does seem to me just about the outside limit.


Imagine the feelings of any man whose last letter contained some special news of great anxiety, longing for the next letter to come, and knowing that it is deliberately held up in the country by some pig-headed idiot who ought to be condemned to have all his mails for a year burnt unopened in front of him.


Who cares a brass button what date he gets the letters that were aimed for Dec 25th? There is one thing and one only that really matters, and that is to get letters in the shortest possible time.


If, as is generally expected, the mails are delivered about next Sunday, the 23rd, it will be then ten and a half weeks since the date of the last letter I have had from you. It should be nearly time to get a reply back under favourable conditions.


The chief event of the week has been the weather which has been uniformly fine and very cold. It has been frozen hard every single night, and water standing outside in the sun an hour or so after sunrise will generally still start freezing. Canvas buckets of water get nearly solid during a night. So long as there is not much wind it doesn’t feel bad, but is jolly cold in a breeze, and fires are very limited indeed owing to shortage of fuel. Luckily the fuel problem is not so bad here as it used to be down river round Kut where there simply was not a stick except what we get for rations, and nearly all that was required for cooking.


The frost rather put a stop to our building activities, so the comfortable little mess has not progressed very far. The bricks we made got frosted while wet and spoilt, and in any case they don’t lay well when it freezes every night. However we have made a little progress with old bricks and could soon get it done with a few warm days and nights.


I thought yesterday afternoon the cold spell was over, as it clouded, and didnt freeze until quite late on in the night when it got clear again. However it remains pretty clear today, and is rapidly getting cold this evening.


I simply cannot write a decent letter. Nothing makes me so incapable of writing as not hearing, and when the reason for not hearing is such an unutterably stupid one I just feel fed up and annoyed.


I ought to know all about your doings up to the end of October at the very least by this time.


Best love, dear, 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