Dear Mrs Sladden
I was so glad to get your letter dated Nov 14th but sorry to see by it that your poor boy Cyril had been wounded. I do hope he is now quite well and strong again and that he will escape any further hurt. This terrible war, when will it end? I wonder the curses of the mothers and wives have not killed that vile Devil before men. The awful horrors that our poor dear boys have to put up with will never be known to us. Poor Harry, by last mail, was still in hospital. He had to have his wound reopened as it would not heal. He is wounded in the foot and thigh. The first time it was both his hands. George had been to see him, but he is now (we hear) in a Home, having been operated on for appendicitis. He had six ulcers on the appendix, so I’m afraid he must have been suffering a lot of pain, poor boy.
I hear (privately) that my darling Fred was shot in the leg, so he must have died from blood poisoning. He was such a splendid fellow, so tall and good looking, so full of fun, and so good tempered. It is awful to know I shall never see him again. My poor brave boy. He was so devoted to me. The only thing that grieved him was saying goodbye to me, and I prayed and hoped that he might return.
We have been here since March. Jack has been seriously ill. He had a serious operation. The doctors thought it was stone, but found the pain was caused from a thickening of the pancreas, so the “op” was no good. I have been obliged to have two nurses nearly all the time. Being in the back blocks the expense is [?]. He was getting a little better when we had a big shock, which then set him back weeks. Viz Marie eloped with one of the ploughmen, who she married. It is a great disgrace and is a terrible trouble as you may guess. He is quite a boy and nothing to keep her on. I don’t know what the end will be. Poor Jack had terrible heart trouble from the shock added to his other agonies. We did not think he could possibly live. It was terrible to see him, but I hope we shall pull him through. He is better again now, and is beginning to walk a few yards, and to take solid nourishment. It is dreadful for such an active man to be laid up in bed for such a long time.
We seem to have nothing but trouble. Connie is suffering from breakdown and Winnie is not too well. Everything seems wrong. It makes me feel half mad sometimes, but we have to keep a smiling face because of Jack.
How pleased you must have been to see your first dear little grandchild. They are so sweet to have in the house. I hope Arthur and George will return to you without hurt. These are anxious times for the wives and mothers.
I was very amused to hear about the girls fruit picking but I suppose all we women folk will have to do the men’s work soon, so many are enlisting. More of my men are enlisting after the [?].
Florrie and her husband and baby paid us a flying visit at New Year. She does not look too strong. The baby is a splendid boy, just like her Dad, her dear old friend. I must end wishing you all a happier New Year than the old one has been.
With much love