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February 17th 1918 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

17th 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

Feb 17th 1918

My own Darling

Just after I sat down to breakfast this morning your cable was handed to me bringing me the first news of my award; I am so glad you should have been the one to tell me of it.

I feel very pleased of course; most of all when I think how glad you will be, and Father and all the family.  I was not without some hopes from information I had been given, but it might not have come off so I decided to say nothing even to you.  The list of names was sent in as long ago as last September, just after the announcement of the previous list of decorations.  On that occasion several recipients, when I congratulated them, replied with condolences.  But the regiment had a great many names sent in, and an exceptionally large number were given something, and I came among the mentions only.  I was told I was the first name on the list in this last list, which really covers a period in which the battalion saw very little action, and so there were not many names to submit.  Mine went in of course on the strength of past service entirely. 

I hope people who are in a position to judge will think I have earned it.

I suppose in time lists of mentions and awards will be coming out for the WAAC; when that happens I shall be on a look out for the chance to pay back congratulations.  I shall be enormously pleased when the chance comes.

We got English mails yesterday, and a further portion today, but apparently there is nothing for me today.  They are supposed to be London mails up to Dec 24th.  I got yesterday yours posted Dec 13th, also one each from Father and Arthur of about the same date.  I was rather expecting another from you in today’s bags, but possibly it may yet come, or else you were busy and didn’t write quite within the usual week.  The Bagdad Times states that mails up to Jan 9th are due in Bombay today.  From there they take rather over a fortnight to reach us generally.

You acknowledge receipt of the bundle of snap-shots I sent.  I am glad they got home safely as they are interesting mementos, and one or two, though not very much as pictures are interesting from a historic point of view, and have at any rate the merit of being perfectly genuine.

I was very pleased from every point of view to hear that the Chief Controller could not find anybody good enough to take your place; it is a very nice little compliment, and on the whole I prefer you to stop where you are.  Evidently there are other people besides me who don’t think you are an easy sort of person to find a substitute for!

There is only one thing for which I might prefer to have you in France; I am inclined to think the atmosphere at home is more depressing than a service abroad.  Heaps of men who have been in France a long time and more lately come here have said as much; and I generally get the same impression from Arthur’s letters, this last being no exception.  Perhaps it only affects occasional visitors that way, owing to their noticing enormous changes at every turn, but I think there is something in it all the same, whatever the reason may be.

Wherever you may be at the time you may be sure that if my chance for leave ever comes along I will not fail to wire and let you know, and if possible report progress on the way, so that you may know as nearly as possible when to expect me.

Your cable I see was sent off from Badsey, so I expect you were taking a few days off there; not in the nature of convalescence this time I hope.  The date your wire was sent does not appear on the form I received; but yesterday’s paper mentioned the publication of the list, so presumably it came out about the middle of last week.  We have been told the cable line is partially out of action, and week-end rate cables are suspended, so I am lucky to have had yours so quickly.

You seem pleased because I made no fuss about you taking your commission so suddenly.  Luckily I do put great faith in your judgement, and so, while we are so far apart and the discussion that we should both prefer always to have is quite impossible, I am content to leave it to you to do as you think best.  I don’t think you are likely to make a mistake often; and even if two heads would be better than one as they ought to be, we might still make mistakes if we decided together.  I rather believe in a woman’s instinct where a quick decision is wanted – though it depends a good deal on the woman, of course!

I got a bit of news that concerns you from an entirely unexpected quarter.  Arthur after saying he just missed seeing you goes on “By the way, I didn’t say anything to anyone, but I heard that her father is taking a curacy in Port Talbot – I don’t know exactly the situation between Mr B-C and the rest of his family”.  I am wondering whether I shall hear of this from you shortly, or whether perhaps you may not have known of it about the time of your last letter.  It is not likely to be anything but true any-way; so I welcome it as a proof that he is ever so much better than he has been.  I can imagine he will be awfully glad to be able to get to work again.

Tuesday, 19th.  I had no spare time yesterday, and must finish this today and send to post.

The official list of awards in the Division came out last night, so I have been getting wires from all round. I have not seen it myself yet, but have heard a few of the names from the doctor this morning when he came on his rounds.  He remarked how odd it was that I should spend about two years in all sorts of sticky fighting, and then get something only after sitting down peacefully for about 9 months. 

I must try to write to somebody at home before sending to post, but I am rather busy, so am not sure I will succeed.

Very best love dear from

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