12 Charleville Circus
Aug 13th 1914
My dear Betty
I am very much in your debt as regards letters so will address this to you, though much of its news is really for the family in general.
I went down to Oxford yesterday morning, after spending a night with Arthur and Mary. I found everything very busy, but very well organized at the OTC Headquarters. I found out that the Territorials are almost complete, but that the urgent want at present is for officers for Kitchener’s new army. So I put in for that. It consists practically in taking a commission in the regular army for as long as the war lasts. I went through the necessary formalities in the morning, and went out to Cowley barracks for the medical examination in the afternoon. My recommendation will be forwarded at once to the War Office, and I now have to wait until I hear from there. They were very vague as to the length of time we should be kept waiting; it may be a few days, or it may be a fortnight.
There was nothing more to keep me in Oxford, so I decided after much deliberation to come back here, where I can manage for myself, having meals out. I have arranged for the woman who is living next door to give me my breakfast. This scheme will give me a chance to see a lot of Mela while she is staying with Mary. I think also that I shall see about getting uniform and kit together, although I have not yet any official assurance that I shall get the commission. I passed the medical, so I don’t see any possible cause for refusal.
I don’t know what my first move will be. I know there has been a suggestion that we should form a training camp, somewhere near Oxford probably, for a time. Then we should be sent off to our allotted regiments later on. However this may not be decided upon after all. I think the function if this new army is to replace the old gradually, as the latter is sent to the front. As it gets better and better trained, more and more of the old regulars will be set free. It seems to me that we shall not be fit to send on active service for some time to come, and they are not likely to make the mistake of sending raw troops against well trained ones, unless things should come to a very bad state, which I don’t think at all probable. I shall be glad if I am not wanted till next week, so that I may have a few days at Badsey before being ordered away.
I cannot help thinking that the fate of this war will be very greatly determined by the events of the coming week. Germany's sole hope is to smash France so badly at this one blow that she will be able to keep her down for the rest of the war with a comparatively small army, while turning the rest against the ever increasing hordes of Russians. If the battle is a drawn one, or even if Germany gets an advantage that is only slight, she will really have failed.
Another week should clear up the deep mystery of the whereabouts of our army, no word of which is allowed in the papers.
I was sorry to leave Folkestone, as it was quite a nice interesting place to be staying in. On Monday afternoon I saw a big dirigible airship, French I believe, going slowly down channel, about mid-way between the coasts. The patrol of six destroyers in mid-channel was just visible, though those little grey vessels lying low in the water are not very conspicuous. Also I saw seven battleships or cruisers of some kind off Dungeness right out on the horizon that afternoon.
There is a bit more of that stupid wearing of Union Jacks and so forth in London than I saw in Folkestone; but people seem to be going about their business pretty quietly and sensibly on the whole.
Best love to all, and hoping I may be able to see some of you at Badsey soon.
Your affectionate brother
Cyril E Sladden