Aug 7th 1914
My dearest Mother
We have returned this evening from Canterbury and find your postcard and also a letter from Arthur. I am afraid that out in the wilds all this trouble of the war is making you unduly depressed. You must cheer up and be ready for whatever must be done. It will be a pity that your visit may be shortened, and in any case must be spoiled by so many disappointments. But you must make the best of it while it lasts to get yourselves as well and fit as possible. There is great comfort in the knowledge that the Germans have received at the outset a check which must have spoilt their original plan of campaign. We all feel confident that Germany must be beaten in the long run, for she has not a friend left in Europe save Austria – and I can imagine that Austria is aghast at the situation she has let herself be driven into. What we must all work for and pray for is that Germany’s complete subjection may be attained with the utmost rapidity, for so the suffering will be reduced to a minimum. I think the spirit of the country is perfectly magnificent; it far exceeds the highest hopes I ever had. There is a quiet, calm resolution everywhere. All seem bent upon doing the best they possibly can, there is no shouting and flag-waving, and all the papers are most sensible, and the people seem to read them sensibly.
We hear from Arthur that he has joined the RAMC. He expects to be going on service soon and hopes to see Father before he goes. Father will go and see him in London on Monday, and is now writing. I have undertaken to write to you for him, because he has many letters on hand. The head clerk at Evesham has another job offered him and wants to leave almost at once; so that may involve some difficulties. He is writing to Mr Collier.
I have been a little uncertain during the last few days as to my own doings. The papers have not hitherto contained any special applications to men quite in my position. I have decided today to write at once to the Oxford OTC Headquarters for information, if they can give it me, as to the best way in which I can apply my services. This demand for 500,000 men at once means that officers will be urgently required; so I fancy there must be arrangements for giving old OTC men a further training in camp or barracks to fit them to occupy these posts in case of necessity. If such is the case it will obviously be the best thing for me to do, and it would be a mistake to make any move to join the ranks in any corps. Normally a three months’ course in barracks would I think have been the requirement to make me fitted for a commission in the special reserve. So probably I could do a good deal in four or six weeks.
Father has had a postcard from Jack written on Tuesday which seems to give later news than that we get indirectly through you. He then thought he would after all be able to get down to you for his holiday. I hope he will, as I am sure it will buck you all up very much. Aunt Lottie is so thankful to have us with her, and says we keep her spirits up very much. Certainly we are not suffering from any depression of spirit here.
It seems to us that it will be best for you to stay where you are, according to the original arrangements, as long as nothing happens definitely necessitating the reopening of the house at Badsey. Meanwhile it will be necessary to be ready to return at rather short notice should occasion arise. It is indeed impossible in these days to have plans worthy of the name. Father is very anxious not to have to curtail his holiday and I hope this business of Mr Tisdall will not compel him to. His idea at present is to spend Monday night with Arthur and Mary and to return here on Tuesday.
We want to go over to Dover tomorrow, and have been asked to lunch with Mr Henry Hayward. Dover is of course under martial law, and is a most busy place at present. We believe that is the chief port for sending the expeditionary force; and we have reliable rumours going round that a very large army has been shipped already to Belgium. Much military activity is visible here, especially troop trains, and collection of horses – mainly heavy transport animals. The visit to Dover should be most interesting.
The harbour here is kept extremely busy, as all the services to the continent have been diverted from Dover; of course the service is much restricted to all continental ports. Our visit here is going quite well. Of course the conversation is limited to the one topic almost all the time. Father enjoys walking about and I don’t think he has often felt the time dragging. The weather has been uncertain, but when it is bad we brave it after attiring ourselves in overcoats. I have been able to get my morning bathe the last two mornings.
We got to Canterbury before 11 this morning and Father visited “the old woman”. We wandered round a bit, Father recalling many old memories, had some lunch, and watched the afternoon’s cricket.
Yesterday we tried to look up Harry Robinson, but were not successful in our search.
Mela has written cheerfully from Aunt Lizzie’s, but was unable to alter the latter’s firm conviction that she was doomed to end her days under German rule! She should be at Hindhead now, but I have not yet heard from there. Father will write to you himself very soon. I know he is wishing he could be with you during this time of stress. I understand from him that Arthur is likely to be going to Chatham next Thursday. Best love to yourself and the others.
Your most affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden