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March 22nd 1916 - Letter from Ethel Sladden to her sister, May Sladden

22nd March 1916
Correspondence From
Ethel Sladden, Trouville, Middle Deal Road, Deal
Correspondence To
May Sladden
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Middle Deal Road

March 22nd /16

My dear May

I was very glad indeed to have your letter last evening, I was wondering when I was going to hear again and wanting news. Letters take 24 hours to get through now. Yesterday and today the weather has been vile, cold rain with east wind, I did not go into the town yesterday, as there was no special shopping necessary, but I had to go today, so went about 3 o’clock when Miss Tildesley came in and read to Norah, I persuaded Aunt Edith to rest on her bed yesterday and today, and she slept both times until tea-time. We have just finished tea, so I will write and post, then run in next door to change shoes, and then I must come in and read to Norah again. We all read different books, so she gets a variety, one I have nearly finished is very interesting about Russia, entitled “Glorious Russia”. I find plenty to do in one way and another. Norah has seemed a little brighter the last day or two, but she does not seem quite so well today and complains of a good deal of pain. She takes a lot of nourishment on the whole, but the question is, does it feed her system at all! At present it certainly feeds her brain, as it is quite clear and she talks about various things with interest, when in the mood to chat. She suffers with her head at times, want of sleep must cause that and she still gets very little, never more than one hour straight off in the night and only dozing the rest of the time and in the day. I fancy her night medicine has a little morphine in it. She may live on some unless something else develops which is quite a possibility. Mrs Ladd is good soul and a great help, she does lots of little jobs in the kitchen in the morning which is a great help to me. I had a good deal of cooking this morning, I made a cake, meat rolls, turnovers and dripping rolls and soup for dinner. I always take Aunt Edith something upstairs at 11, then Norah’s dinner goes up at 12, Mrs Ladd sometimes cooks that now. Norah is very pleased with the peppermint, the doctor came yesterday morning (he comes about every 3 days now) so we could not ask him about her having it, but she seems anxious to try and Aunt Edith thought it would not hurt, she often has had peppermints for indigestion. I gave her a sip after her beaten-up egg at 2 pm and it seemed to do her good, and she is quite keen on it, no ell-effects have followed so far. Your money I have been spending on grapes chiefly, and flowers sometimes, when wanted, she always has grapes going by her bedside, she is very pleased with your present. Marian sent me £2, one for little extras for supper and Aunt Edith, the other for Brand’s Essence for Norah, she uses a pot every 3 or 4 days. Her meals seem a pleasure to her, chiefly because they mark time and she will often say it is nearly time for so and so. It certainly does seem always time for one or another, sitting her up for it, getting it, putting her down comfortably, or else giving medicine. I have been trying experiments with her hair, it was uncomfortable and irritable, and at last she has given up hair curlers, so the fringe was rather a nuisance. She finds the dry shampoo powder rubbed on the scalp and brushed out very soothing, and now I have got her a tortoiseshell band threaded with elastic at the back under the hair, it holds back the fringe and looks quite nice. I plait the hair in two plaits and tie with ribbon and let them hang over the shoulders in front. She finds great comfort in a water-pillow which Uncle George had, and she has an air cushion lent her which we put behind her back when propped up. She was rather worried about her money affairs, so Aunt Edith got Mr Harrison, the solicitor, to come over last Friday and make her will, she is leaving everything to Marian, I had to witness it for her. I went to tea at Miss Marsh’s last Saturday at the Manor House at Upper Deal; she called one day to enquire after Norah and I had to interview her and she asked me then; it appears it is rather an honour to be asked, they were quite amused here, so I went after I had given them tea here, partly because it would amuse them here to hear my experiences. The old Mother is still living and is very charming, but somewhat deaf, Miss Marsh is quite a nice typical [?] and very devoted to her mother, Miss Fanny Marsh the sister is the authoress and a great character and highly amused me. They are all very sorry for the Pattisons at the Rectory here, on Saturday morning they heard that their youngest son had been killed in France. I felt so sorry for the old Rector on Sunday at church in the morning, he was very plucky getting through the service. The young widow and the mother were both in church, the former looked very ill, it was brave of them to face a congregation. Mr Pattison came in to see Norah on Monday afternoon, he stayed half an hour, he is very kind in coming and has been about twice a week lately, Norah likes him.

Sunday’s raid was rather trying. I should have liked to watch more but was worried as you can imagine about Norah and Aunt Edith. There had been a good deal of distant firing on Saturday, and aircraft were about, I think they must have been expecting an attempt. We had just settled down upstairs after dinner and continuous firing began in the direction of Dover, and we wondered what was up. I went down to ask as everybody was looking about them. We saw over Dover a perfect string of aircraft and balls of smoke light up, and knew what it was, then one aeroplane came straight this way flying fast and lower, no doubt it was the German one which dropped bombs here. I did not see them fall as I was too busy trying to look after them here so only got spasmodic looks from the window. I saw two aeroplanes over the sea towards Ramsgate and they must have been the two which attacked it, for I heard firing in that direction. The explosions were very loud, I suppose they were about half a mile off. It was wonderful that no injury was done to people here. I went on Monday and looked round that part of the town, several windows were boarded up by then, there was absolutely no glass left in many. The wall of cottages opposite St George’s was literally peppered with fragments of the shells. Just after I got to bed and could hear distant firing again, it was very likely the destroyers near the Belgian coast. Rumours are current that a Zeppelin was around that night but driven off, so it might have been guns firing at that. Marian said in her letter yesterday they had an alarm round there that night and electric light was turned off, but they did not know until morning. I am sorry Mela is so run down. I hope she will lose her cough at Folkestone. I do not know quite what to do about going back, I have not said anything yet. Marian comes back on April 7th. Really Aunt Edith needs someone, there is a lot to look after and everyone thinks her looking very worn out. My fortnight is up on Monday, I thought I should stay another day or so, if you can manage. You must tell me how Mother is, I am sorry she does not get on very fast, this weather is against anybody being well. I wish Mela could have come for 5 days or so between my leaving and Marian’s return so that Aunt Edith would only have two or three days without anyone, but I do not like to suggest it, her people at Folkestone would not like it I expect and as she is so poorly, it would be trying for her perhaps. I am glad you saw Eva Gaukroger and that she has had good news, I wrote her a few lines. I did not see about Bee Mottram, I must write to her. Poor Mrs Wheatley, I am sorry for her, I hope the children will get over and no more develop it. It is very true some having it about like that and rather too near us this time.

Well I must run, I did not mean to write to much but felt more inclined than sometimes.

Much love to all, from

No news still from Cyril I suppose!

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