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June 6th 1916 - Letter from George Sladden to his father, Julius Sladden

6th June 1916
Correspondence From
George Sladden, In France
Correspondence To
Julius Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

In France

6 June 1916

My dear Father

This ought to be a day for me to make up all arrears of correspondence, for I am off duty with “inoculation arm”. Unluckily it makes one feel the very reverse of energetic, so I am afraid I shall only wipe off a few urgent ones. Of course the talk of the hour is all of the battle of Jutland, which has roused the greatest interest here. In fact, the course of the Verdun battle seems at present to take its place as an affair of minor importance, although I suppose that the Germans have never yet been so close to success. The first news of the Naval fight caused a good deal of uneasiness here among gloomy minded people; but a very large number did not fail to read between the lines and to look forward to a report more satisfactory to our side. The newspapers and the experts still appear to regard it as a rather doubtful victory for us. I expect that during the next week or so, though, we shall continually hear of fresh German losses of which evidence has been found. For one thing, there must surely be some ships that were forced to take refuge in Danish ports and that will be interned. It may not be possible to claim it as a decisive victory; but will any further sea fight take place, more decisive in nature? I don’t see how that is likely. Apart from the proof of the superiority of our men as fighters, it seems pretty certain that the Germans have none of the feared naval surprises tucked up their sleeves. I expect risks in future; and after last week’s experience, that is not likely to make the German fleet more inclined to give battle. By the way how did you regard Balfour’s Lowestoft Letter”? I thought from the first that it was a clever bit of groundbait carefully disguised as an indiscretion. And events seem to bear that out. I feel sure the Germans came out to look for that detached patrol fleet – which may have existed and may not! They can’t have proposed to risk their whole Navy on a coast raid. The only other possibility that I can see is that they wanted to make a double approach on the Russian Fleet, half advancing from Kiel and half from the Sound. Careful timing might have given them the chance of drawing the Russians into engagement with one force and then bringing up the other.

Wasn’t Mr Eyres Monsell on the “Queen Mary” at one time? I suppose he must have been given another ship. I noticed the name of Chaplain Reverend C W Lydall (who was to be married on 1 June, they say) in the casualty list. He was an old master at Bancrofts’ when I was there. Senior Classical master he was: I was under him when in the Sixth Form. A cultivated, interesting man. Though at the time I used to look on him more as an affliction than as a human being – not entirely though.

I often think when I read of Naval actions how I might have been there if it had not been for that wretched defect in my optical formula. I have never ceased to regret that. I can’t raise the same enthusiasm for the Army as for the Navy; it is a poor sort of affair compared with the Senior Service.

We have amassed a large number of decorations in the battalion since this last affair. The CO has the DSO (we look on that as a Regimental honour, not a personal one), also two Military Crosses for Officers and a regular bunch of DCMs and Military Medals. Flanagan, one of the men from the Ecclesiastical Commission is one of the winners of the Military Medal. They will be pleased at Millbank.

I am glad you have had good news of Cyril. I really must write to him.

Love to all from
Your affectionate son

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