Sunday July 18th 1915
My dear Mother
They soon get us to business. We transhipped at about 6.30 on Tuesday evening and after a lot of delay landed about 3.0 am on Wednesday. We had several miles to march to our first resting place by the shore and had breakfast. Soon afterwards we heard we were to parade at 12.0 to march up to the trenches. C Company got into a support trench, where one has a good deal easier time and no firing at all to do. The rest of the battalion was put into the firing line. Last night Neame and I brought our platoons to a position in support which is under cover, and it was a great relief to be free of trenches after 3 days of it. Today we are living relieved by another battalion, and move back to the shore. I expect for a day or two. It is a wretched rest camp, very little room to move but very nearly safe from artillery fire. I don’t think any spot on the peninsula is absolutely secure at present, though a fair amount is all right for all practical purposes.
Everything is extremely quiet, and on our flank nothing to speak of has occurred for a week or more. We were never shelled all the time we were in the trench and so far as fire went we had a picnic of it. The flies are our great trouble and give us no peace at all, they swarm everywhere, prevent our sleeping during daylight (and one doesn’t get many hours sleep by night), and make meals a nuisance. You might make me a muslin bag to put over my head, to fit quite loosely, and hang down loosely over the shoulders. It might turn up in time to be of some use, as the flies won’t get fewer for a long time to come. It seems odd that amid all the abominations of war, easy enough for us to see and smell, even though we have suffered but little yet, our attention is more taken up by flies than by anything else, but it certainly is so. After seeing the place for myself and the remains of the defences I marvel how the landing was ever effected; it cannot have been bettered as a military feat by anything else done in the war. Had it been possible only to get men stores and ammunition landed quickly enough we should have been further advanced after five days than we are now.
I am sorry to say we have started losing officers, and had one killed and one wounded last night.
Yesterday Cecil Crane came around to our trenches and I had a talk with him. He told me young Jefferies had been hit the day before by a sniper, rather nastily I should fancy. He said he thought the bullet must have struck the parapet first and exploded (snipers apparently use explosive bullets) and he was hit in the side of the neck and in the left upper part of the arm. His regiment was relieved last night and is going to have a good long rest, well deserved.
It is extremely hot during the middle of the day, and one feels none too energetic. The evenings are quite pleasant though and the nights so warm that one needs little or no covering. The place is very dry and water has to be economized, though we get quite a good supply to drink. Washing facilities are very poor unless one can get to the sea. I had my first wash this morning in a can of not very clean water.
I am keeping very well, and looking after myself carefully. I had much more sleep than usual last night, so feel very chirpy today. We go back to the shore tonight for a day or two’s rest. I have had no mail since arrival but had Father’s letter on board on Monday night. I hope I shall hear again very soon.
Best love from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden