9th Worcs Regt
June 4th 1915
My dear Mother
It is time I wrote to you again now that you no longer get news of me regularly from Mela, otherwise you will be thinking I may have started. As a matter of fact at present there is still no sign of us moving. The 12th Division started I believe last Saturday and the last of them went on Wednesday. Any time we may hear that our advance party has gone, and we shall really know where we stand when divisional headquarters move. Of course it is just possible we may not be the next division to move after all, but it seems to be generally assumed that we are to be, so I expect it is correct. If another goes before us that would mean another week here at any rate. As usual we are quite in the dark and can only guess. We don’t know that the second half of the army is to follow immediately on the first. But I think you can be perfectly assured that I shall not disappear without giving you warning; though I shall probably not be able to state the exact day and hour of our own departure I shall know beforehand when we are certain to move and shall be able to write and tell you.
Please thank Ethel and May for their letters; I shall be very glad to get letters giving all the home news when I get across the other side. It is extraordinary how one grows accustomed in a way to the idea of going and facing and enduring all the horrors and risks of war. Now that it has got to come I feel quite ready to have it and get it over. So far as I can make out about two or three months is a fairly reasonable expectation for the time that a company officer may hope to last before being hit. Of course a few carry on a good deal longer, and some don’t get so far; much depends on what sort of jobs one happens to get let in for. As the end of the war seems to recede rather than otherwise with the passage of time it becomes an unreasonable thing altogether to expect not to be hit some time so long as one remains in the capacity of a company officer. At or behind headquarters the risks are considerably smaller. So I have become entirely used to the practical certainty of becoming a casualty some time or other, and I tell you this because I want you all at home to become used to it too. If I get some sort of damage that will ultimately heal and leave me quite well and sound then I shall be very thankful and think myself very lucky. I am quite prepared to make the best of more serious and permanent damage, especially if I am not incapacitated from earning a living properly. Beyond that point it would be more than I can tell you, but not perhaps more than you can understand, I long for Mela’s sake to come back alive. Anyhow it is no use worrying, and one must just hope for the best. I want at any rate to have a chance to do a good big “bit” and with this in view I shall do my best to put off the evil day as long as I can. Perhaps after a little time when we have at last secured all the shells we can use, the risks will diminish very greatly, and the achievements increase at the same time. There is little doubt that every week of delay in going out is an advantage on this score.
I think it has been a bitter disappointment to everybody in the country that the great advance on this front has never begun; I feel sure that it is simply that which has caused the recent change of outlook towards the war generally, the German-Austrian success in Galicia helping in the same direction.
Mela has not had time to write at great length from hospital yet but she seems very pleased with things so far as she has found them at present. I hope she will find the work interesting and not unreasonably hard.
Best love to all from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden