9th Worcs Regt
May 19th 1915
My dear Mother
By the time you get this Mela will be back with you and so you will have heard from her whatever news I have to give concerning departure. Yesterday evening I met the brother of one of our officers in Aldershot. He is a gunner, and belongs to the 14th Division, and told us he received definite orders at 2.0 pm to parade at 4.0 am this morning for departure. The divisional headquarters had already gone. He did not know his destination, or whether they would embark immediately. At any rate the 14th are on the move. It is confirmed that the 9th have gone. As to the 10th, I took it on the authority of a speech of Redmond’s quoted in the paper that they were in France. I now discover that he was wrong, and they are in Basingstoke. When they moved from the Curragh they all thought they were off and were given a fine send off, hence Redmond’s mistake. You may be sure that I shall keep you as well informed as I can about prospects of moving. We are certain to get indications beforehand which will give us the hint. Probably I shall give some false alarms.
We had divisional field operations today, but so far as this regiment was concerned they were rather an absurdity. The area was quite near barracks and our side were attacking away from barracks. We were the reserve of the brigade and were never used, so that we only marched about two miles altogether, starting at 8.0 and getting back at 1.30! Most of the time we spent lying down in the heather and basking in the sun – rather a pleasant change after the last two very wet days, but not strenuous. I believe plenty of the troops were kept quite busy. It was rather a pity as things turned out that we couldn’t have gone on the range to do some firing that has twice been postponed in consequence of the weather.
The ground gets most awfully wet on the surface here because it lies on the sand very easily without soaking in; but as soon as the weather changes it gets dry almost immediately. We have had a case of measles among the machine gunners so they have all had to move out of their room and go into tents; yesterday morning they were nearly flooded out and had to spend some hours digging ditches to run the water off.
As soon as it seems quite certain we are to move from here I shall pack up everything into my suit case and big canvas camp-kit bag, lock them up and make a parcel of my keys. I shall probably keep them by me till the last minute, as preferably arrange if possible to have them sent off after I start in case of counter orders. I had debated whether to send them to you or Sydenham, but think perhaps it will be better to send to you. There will be a certain number of things you can send if I require a change, and I shall make a practice of getting you to supply all my needs periodically, as I ask for them.
Love to all from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden