Nov 22nd 1914
My dear Father
I have had about the busiest week I ever remember, so letter writing has been pretty well out of the question. I didn’t forget the four family birthdays, but I am afraid I didn’t write a word for any of them. I hope May and Ethel will excuse me.
We have been on the range every day, sometimes for half the day, but on three occasions for a full day. Firing is possible from 8 till 4, so we have usually marched off from here at 7.0, which means getting up about 5.45. In the evening we have a lot of work to do in connection with checking and entering up all the scores, besides other work which is always cropping up. Often I have had scarcely a minute just to run over the paper and find out the news. It has been very cold, but we had rain only on Thursday afternoon when it was perfectly beastly, being icy-cold as well. Also that day we arrived on the range at 8.0 only to find it too foggy to fire until about 10.0, which was annoying. However I have thoroughly enjoyed the shooting, more so as I am doing well myself, and up to date am equal with one of the platoon sergeants head of the company. The men are keeping up a very decent average; there are few really bad, and several very good among them.
I have heard several times lately that the War Office are regarding very seriously the possibility of an attempted German invasion on the East Coast. Some rumours go so far as to say that they are on the look-out for it almost at once. Anyhow every battalion in this division had orders yesterday to fit out one company at war strength with full equipment. One brigade so fitted out was paraded and inspected this morning; it has to be ready to move at a few hours’ notice, but is to remain here unless the Germans actually come. I have no doubt you read the latter part of The Times’ Military Correspondent’s article yesterday in reference to this subject.
I think there is no doubt that you are quite right, and that the immediate difficulty is to find arms and equipment for the men who have enlisted; but I don’t think that is any reason for slackening the recruiting. It takes a long time to train a man to be any use, and it is well to start early. A lot of useful training can be done with little equipment, and in mufti. The output of rifles, khaki uniforms, etc is sure to increase greatly, as they must at present be putting in new plant for manufacture. A very big reserve supply for all the army serving abroad has to be made and kept up, and that has probably kept us short here.
I expect Mela wrote to let you know that Wilfred has got engaged. Judging from what he wrote to Mela about long engagements I imagine he will want to set about getting married before long. I believe he is doing quite well now.
If there is any chance of our finishing our shooting by Friday afternoon I am rather thinking of putting in for leave from London; but one has to start at breakfast time to get here from Badsey on a Sunday. I am sure I shall not be able to get Monday or I should want to go and see you. I still hope to manage that at Christmas time, which is not so far off now.
How is the new beer tax likely to hit your business? I hope it won’t enable you to save too much on the income tax.
I am glad Mother keeps so well, and hope this biting north-easter won’t try her too much.
Best love to you all from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden