Sept 15th 1915
My dear Mother
Quite a remarkable effort on the part of authorities finds me still on the high seas, expecting to reach Alexandria tonight. After we got on board at Malta, some men were sent on who were required to go to Lemnos at once, so our orders were changed on their account; however, there are presumably no proper facilities for dealing with men returning from hospital there, so the rest of us were left on board and are now on our way back to Alexandria. I am very glad we are returning, both because I want to give my shoulder as long as possible, as it is still capable of only about half its proper use, and also because I want to get at my base kit and fit myself out so far as possible with a view to much more severe weather. We had some idea of the change that is setting in while we were in Mudros harbour on Sunday when it was quite dull and a keen strong north-east wind was blowing. I seem to have a strange habit of spending Sundays at Lemnos. Nine weeks ago last Sunday we arrived in harbour there for the first time. Three weeks later I was back there on land, and another fortnight after that saw me lying in harbour there again with my wound. I wonder whether you noticed in the copy of The Sphere you sent me while I as at the Blue Sisters a small photograph of Mudros harbour. It merely entitled it “Shipping in the Dardanelles” or something vague, but it was in point of fact taken at Lemnos; it only gave a very incomplete idea of the shipping that is there. I notice several photos appearing now of scenes in the fighting area out here, among others the old River Clyde on the beach where I first landed and afterwards left on my first trip across. It was in that region that I ran up against an officer in the RGA who knew more of me than I of him, and told me his name was Burrell and he came from Evesham. He enlisted at first in the territorials, and took his commission later.
Just before leaving hospital, I left instructions for the first mail to be forwarded to Alexandria for me to call for it, the remainder to go to the regiment direct. Then when we found our orders were for Mudros, I sent a postcard to cancel this, so I am afraid I shall get no letters after all, unless the mail which we just missed came in before the postcard. I am afraid that is a forlorn hope though.
I have only the dimmest idea what will be done with us at Alexandria. I have visions of an embarkation officer dispatching us to some camp (probably unpleasant to match the rest of the place), and subsequently on interview with some medical authority or board, and finally a short period of waiting for very sudden orders to embark on some transport again. If there were ever any prospect of staying there long, which I have no reason to anticipate – except that anything may happen in military life – I should cable an address again in the hopes of getting another lot of letters. This knocking about cuts one adrift most hopelessly. It was rotten luck just missing that mail at Malta; it was an exceptionally long interval since the previous one. I have one other hope, and that is that I may pick up some letters that are returning from the regiment on the way to search me out in hospital, but I shall be very lucky to strike any of those.
I have quite enjoyed my trip on this boat which is very comfortable, and provides an awfully good little library so that I have read a lot and the time passes quickly. There are four of us who had all been together over a fortnight in hospital and had got to know one another quite well, so we make quite a party together. The chief thing that worries me is that I am completely and utterly out of condition, and don’t see any likelihood of breaking myself in gently to hard conditions again. I will add any further information before I post this in Alexandria.
September 16th – I am spending tonight in a hotel, as the authorities can find nothing better than bare sand and a tent, and I have no valise! Tomorrow morning I see a doctor and shall know what will be done with me. I may return at once if fit, as I believe a party goes tomorrow. I am posting tonight to make sure of a mail.
Best love to all from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden