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June 4th 1918 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his sister, May Sladden

4th June 1918
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden
Correspondence To
May Sladden
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

June 4th 1918


My dear May


I find that all sorts of laudable intentions of writing letters keep coming to little or nothing. I will make a start on yours this evening before turning in to bed, then in time it may get finished.


In my letter to Father a fortnight ago I acknowledged the long letter you wrote when you sent congratulations. It was one of the big budget that awaited me on my return from Kirkuk, and I should have had it nearly a month before had I not been away. It is always very nice getting a long letter from you as you have the knack of giving the whole atmosphere of things at home very well indeed.


I keep on getting little jobs of work in connection with the expedition I went on recently. I had to write an account for the regimental war diary. Then Major Gibbon who paid us a visit a week ago at the conclusion of the first of the monthly officers’ courses at Bagdad asked me to write a criticism of the detachment for him. His colleague on the staff of the school was in charge of a similar sort of unit on the Euphrates some time back and Gibbon was keen to compare notes. Now I have just had instructions to compile a report for the benefit of Corps, which I have started on; and it will take a good deal of time and work to do it decently.


The last straw was when, a couple of days ago a wire came to ask if I would deliver to the Divisional Platoon Officers School two lectures on (a) the mechanism and (b) the tactics of lewis guns. Through being put in charge of this little show I appear to have acquired a most undeserved reputation of being an expert lewis gun officer! As a matter of fact all I know about the mechanism could be put on a very small sheet of paper. So I declined (a) with thanks, and undertook to do (b) if they liked.


I have not heard yet whether they want me to or not. Not that I know anything about it in particular, but I have been with the regiment ever since lewis guns first made their appearance in this country, and seen them used in all the operations there have been since; and for the rest it is a matter of working up all the varied booklets etc that have been issued from time to time on the subject: I suppose I can do that the same as anybody else, so I thought I would not destroy my spurious reputation too badly by jibbing at both.


It was very interesting having Major Gibbon here. The course I was to have gone on in May, but am not likely to be able to attend at all now, is a mighty strenuous one, but very good indeed and very interesting. There are officers there from all parts of the country, and they can discuss all sorts of topics past, present and future between them.


I cannot get any reply from Wilfred, and am wondering whether he is with his regiment just at the present time as I have not heard. If nothing comes soon I am afraid I shall have to miss him and go to Bagdad alone for a few days, as I shall not be able to get away very well after the middle of this month when I have to take over temporary command of the battalion while the Colonel goes to brigade. If I go alone I have a standing invitation to stay with Gibbon at the school down there, which would be very nice. But if Wilfred should be meeting there we should most probably stay together at the Club or at the Maude Hotel. I rather want to see Bagdad again as I have not been there since we first captured it; it has been developed in a remarkable way from all accounts in the short space of a year.


We have had it most surprisingly cool so far. It has only been up to 107 in an EP tent on one day, and fails to reach 100° some days which in June is astonishing. The nights are so cool that it is uncomfortable to sit in shirt sleeves outside after dark.


Of course we are acting in every way as if it were getting properly hot, and so the difference of 10° or so from what it might be makes it feel quite comfortable. Of course if we were on the move, and not settled down in a particularly good summer camp it would be another matter altogether.


It has been very sad getting all your bad news about Aunt Lottie and Aunt Edith. I hope the latter is doing as well as may be at Northampton, but I gather there is not much likelihood of very great improvement in her condition. However it is a very good thing she is no longer liable to bring Marion and Norah to the point of breakdown.


I am very sorry indeed about Aunt Lottie who has been a very good aunt to me for so long. From the news of her I suppose she cannot live long, and I am most unlikely ever to see her again. I only hope I may continue to get news that she is not suffering pain from the disease; one is so afraid of that in the case of cancer.


I am always very interested to hear from you of the progress of the school. You seem to be working it up well at a steady rate. As a matter of fact I believe secondary schools are booming these days, quite contrary to most people’s anticipations. I know this is true of large numbers of public schools. I suppose it is partly that many people doing well in munitions have the necessary money; and partly that education in general is booming.


I have written until 4.0 o’clock, an unusually late hour these days when 5.0 am is the hour for rising. I must stop, as I shall be most unwilling to wake tomorrow as it is, and I have crowds of things to do. I intended only to start a letter, but progressed better than I thought I should.


Very best love to Father and all of you girls who happen to be at home.


Your affectionate brother

Cyril E Sladden

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference