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April 8th 1916 - Letter from George Sladden to his father, Julius Sladden

8th April 1916
Correspondence From
George Sladden, In France
Correspondence To
Julius Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

In France

8 April 1916

My dear Father

I have two letters of yours dated 28 March and 1 April. I wonder whether you forgot you had written so recently, or whether you were rewarding evil by piling up coals of fire. I am surprised that you had not heard from me for over a fortnight; I did not think I had been nearly as bad as that.

Glad you had had further news from Cyril. I see in today’s paper that his Division has done brilliantly, and of course, I shall be anxious now to hear news of how he has come through. The relief of Townsend’s force should be close at hand now provided that weather conditions don’t interfere again. What varied and active work Cyril is seeing. Activity, indeed, seems to be spreading and increasing everywhere. Scarcely a day now without news of some action somewhere by air, sea or land. The Zeppelins seem to come often, but really they seem to do less rather than more as time goes on. Several of the recent raids appear to have been of the “bomb and bunker” order. I don’t think the crews enjoy their jobs much nowadays, for defence measures certainly appear to have improved greatly. Instead of inquiring “Did we hit anything?”, we shall soon get into the way of asking “How many did we bring down?”

What a bad blizzard you had! We only caught the extreme outskirt; for our share was merely a couple of days of cold weather with sleety rain. What with Zep Raids, Rosie has had a very rough time, and a heap of extra night work to do. One of the raids kept her on duty for a stretch of twenty one hours with only a break of two hours in the middle. Luckily the night supervisor was a pearl among supervisors and managed to get hold of a special constable and his car to take her home; for it is a long way and all public conveyances had stopped working long before she was able to leave. I had a letter from her today saying that she interviewed Mr Jacob at the Inland Revenue on Tuesday. I expect by now she has heard whether they have anything to offer her. I can’t quite imagine Rosie interviewing the solemn head of a Department. In fact he wasn’t totally solemn, for Rosie says he seemed distinctly amused with some of her answers. I expect she was rather more frank than many interviewed. She would have no hesitation at all, for instance, in confessing (as I expect she did, though she hasn’t actually told me so) that she has often been in trouble with the powers that be at her Exchange. She came away with a pleasant impression of Mr Jacob, so I hope the visit will result satisfactorily.

Arthur’s leave must be all over by now. I hope you saw a little of him. The necessity of being on at least three places during the week makes it impossible for him to see much of anybody.

You are all a trifle premature in addressing me as Sergeant. I don’t suppose I shall be quite as long in getting mine in paper as Boo was over his; but these things are done with majestic leisure in the Army. I was recommended for it immediately Mr Craig came back; but then the matter finds its way gradually back to the Base, where the OC Records looks up my conduct-sheet to see whether there is any just cause or impediment. Then the slow ebb tide of official procedure carries the approved recommendation back to Battalion HQ and finally the promotion is recorded in orders. At present I am still floating somewhere between Battalion HQ and OC Records. Of course I have been doing the work of Sergeant ever since I got back here. It is in many respects quite an independent command that I have. The discipline of the section and the stable management are, practically speaking, my affair only. The Officer is nominally responsible for everything, but he acts chiefly for everything, but he acts chiefly as a channel of communication between Section and Higher Authority. His commission gives him the status necessary to rub shoulders with the various Battalion and Staff Officers concerned with us. It is much best to have a commission (even a junior one) when you want to prove to a staff Captain, say, and an Adjutant that their orders are conflicting. If an NCO had to do it he would (if tempers were short, as they often are) fail, very likely, to get a sufficiently patient hearing. When on the move the Officer is responsible for the proper direction of the column. The Sergeant acts as whipper-in and has to keep the column well together if possible (mostly it isn’t) or if it falls to bits to pick up the bits and get them to their journey’s end as soon as possible. It is a pleasant job all round and gives on an excellent status.

You must have Judy home now. That will be a good thing for Mother, who must have found the bad weather trying. I hope you are now having the nice Spring days that we enjoy here. They would do her a world of good. Love to you all from

Your affectionate Son

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