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February 11th 1918 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

11th February 1918
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable, Unit Administrator WAAC, Somerfield (sic) Hostel WAAC, Manor Hill, Sutton Coldfield; redirected to Handsworth College, Birmingham
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Monday Feb 11th 1918

My dearest Mela

There are no letters to reply to this week. We have had no news of the next mail for a long time, but it ought to be coming up river by this time I should think.

It has not been a very cheerful week, the weather having been quite unsettled.  It only rained at all heavily one night, but has been showery, dull and often rather cold.  The outlook is improving I think, as it has been sunny most of today though the wind is fairly strong and rather cold, being due north; at any rate it is most unlikely that it will rain while the wind remains where it is.

I ought to have started my letter yesterday, but it was so cheerless a day that I felt quite incapable of writing decently.  I often wonder if after the first irrepressible delight of being home again has subsided a bit I may not find myself hating the weather as I never used to do after all this long experience of nearly perpetual sunshine.  I know I simply hate any rain out here, and even when it is cloudy I am always wishing it would clear altogether.  Of course it is partly due to the fact that in a tropical climate when the weather is not extremely good it is so liable to be extremely bad, and one is a bit nervous of possibilities.  Also a water-tight house that can be relied upon to withstand the weather’s worst possible efforts affords one a very different point of outlook from an unstable and slightly permeable tent or dug out which may blow down or be flooded or collapse in some unforeseen manner.  It is a great thing to know that one can go out and come back to a warm dry furnished room, with fires and hot water and a change of clothes.

Anyhow even if English clouds and rain are depressing at times it will be worth it fifty times over to be back in it again.  And as a matter of fact I have never experienced anything so perfect as England on a real fine day.

I have to go in to HQ immediately after tea (so very shortly) to attend a lecture for officers on some of the more recent local operations in which we were not directly concerned.  I have been invited to remain there for dinner, so shall be rather late back tonight.  We don’t know yet when we move out of the line; it will depend to some extent upon the weather.  The unit that takes over is to finish firing a musketry course first, and the improvised range facilities are a bit limited and the course takes time.  We are starting some preliminary firing ourselves so far as we are able to manage it, and shall be hard at it I expect as soon as we have been relieved.  The standard of firing soon deteriorates unless men get some range practise at intervals; I don’t think there is any substitute.

Tuesday 12th.  I had quite a pleasant evening at HQ last night, one other company commander stayed to dinner, also the brigade major who had given the lecture.  He is newly appointed to this job, and I had not seen much of him before.  We recently lost our highly appreciated brigade major who went to GHQ staff; we had long expected he was too good a man to be left with us very long.

As I rather anticipated the weather has become perfect again after its relapse of just a week.  It is quite cloudless, and mountains covered with snow are clearly visible in every detail goodness knows how many score of miles away on the north east horizon.

It was very interesting yesterday to hear details of fighting in the hills, which are incidentally most difficult to move in being very rugged and broken and destitute of any semblance of roads, except just about two ancient caravan roads that have been used for thousands of years.

We were asked for a return recently of married NCOs and men from territorial battalions who had been 3 years in the east.  As a matter of fact we have none such; but the significance is that the return was required I believe in connection with sending such men on leave home.  If this is so (and it can hardly be otherwise) it indicates that a real move is being made towards supplying some of the force with leave.  It seems as if the shipping problem is improving slowly.  The weekly returns indicate plenty of arrivals and departures, and the sinkings are much lower than they were.  I believe women can travel to and from India to some extent now, which signifies improvement.

Forgive a rather second rate letter, but the reason is the usual one.  I hope the mail will come in plenty of time for me to reply to it by next mail.  I am not writing home at all this week as there is so little to write about. 

Best love as ever, dear; I wish I could have a good kiss.

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