Oct 16th 1915
My dearest Mela
I have been longer in settling down to write your promised letter than I had intended. It isn’t due to lack of time because we are not overworked, but it is difficult getting a fairly continuous period of quiet in which to write letters. Also it is very inconvenient trying to write after dark because lighting in a tent is poor at the best.
I have made myself fairly comfortably now, though I should be glad of my valise and its contents. We have a parade before breakfast at 6.30 lasting about three-quarters of an hour or so. The men just have a run and do some physical drill, but we mostly take a walk just by way of getting an appetite for breakfast. The morning’s parade is from 9.30 to 12.30 and often finishes rather early, and there is an unexciting hour of drill of the barrack square type in the afternoon. This is quite sufficient to keep the men in good condition, and that is all that is required. As regards my own regiment, and similarly I think with most others, the great majority of the men here have seen some service on the peninsula already.
I think I told you in my last letter that I am in a tent with two others, Marshall and an officer of the Warwicks. They came along from Alexandria a few days later than I did, but got put ashore here the same day. Walton and Le Fleming came along in the same boat, and I propose to go along presently to their camp to look them up.
The leading interest of life here is eating; and the problem of the menu occupies much of our time and energies. There is no trouble in getting plenty of supplies, but the prices are frightfully high, from double to treble English prices in almost every case, so that messing works out expensive for what we get. The supply is limited and the demand very large; also freightage and insurance send prices up. The number of Australians about has the same effect because they get such high pay that they willingly pay what is asked.
Yesterday afternoon I accompanied Beard on to the “Aragon” which is headquarters here, where we drew a supply of cash. I also made further enquiries about my valise, but found that no reply from Alexandria had yet been received to the wire that Marshall got sent on Tuesday. By a process of bribery and corruption we contrived to get a tea on board; it was a pleasant change to get a cup of real good tea again. She is a fine boat, a regular palatial hotel inside, but I believe the staff on board get very sick of being there, and in many cases I expect they are kept very hard at work. She is a regular ferry boat running from East Mudros across the harbor, calling at the Aragon and the Minnetanka which is a standing storeship, to West Point which is about two miles from this camp.
We have had practically no rain since I came on shore, and it is getting rather dusty again in consequence; for two days the wind was strong and it was quite chilly in the morning and evening. The nights are always cold, but the sun if it comes out is fairly powerful still.
It seems impossible to get any English (or other) newspapers here. A little news is to be had occasionally from the War Office telegrams which are sent to the Aragon daily. We are very much out of it here, as everything goes to the peninsula direct. If the regiment is still getting as many papers sent as were originally ordered for the officers’ messes (we mess by companies out here) I am thinking of asking that some be forwarded to us here, as they can easily be spared. When we were at East Mudros Camp I remember some papers (at extortionate prices) used occasionally to be on sale, but apparently none ever appear here. I shall begin to look out for letters again next week. I posted on Tuesday to the regiment to tell them where I was, and I am in hopes they may have some there to send back. I am most thankful now that I sent my address at Alexandria or I should now have no news of you later than the beginning of September; as it is the latest is now almost a month ago.
I have already contrived to reach the top of one of the big hills in the neighbourhood, and certainly the climb was well rewarded. I want some time to climb the biggest peak which appears steep and very rocky. Suggestions are afoot for some of us to try to get a day off to go to Castro which is the capital of the island, and quite a fair-sized place I believe, boasting the possession of a decent hotel. On the way there are hot springs at Therma where one can get a hot bath; this should be worth the 4 or 5 mile walk necessary to get there. Castro is a matter of 10 miles off, and one has to walk – or else hire a donkey and ride! So it will be a pretty long trip if we tackle it. I am rapidly getting into better walking trim with some exercise regularly every day.
The colonial hospitals here bring a certain number of nurses with them, so a few English women are sometimes to be seen about. It isn’t a very pleasant place for them, and the English hospitals have not brought any nurses so far forward as this. It certainly has a remarkable civilizing effect to see a few women occasionally other than the foreign women, who don’t count in quite the same way.
I am rather sorry I have no camera here. There would be quite a lot of amusing photos to be had of local scenes. Some of the villages are rather picturesque.
There is little doing here that is worth writing about, and I haven’t even the consolation of possessing a supply of highly censorable information which I am unable to impart. So I feel the lack of any letters from you to comment upon and only hope I may get another in a few days.
As to the one point that interests you most, namely how long I shall be here in safety, I am as ignorant as you yourself.
Very best love sweetheart; I hope you keep well and are not more than comfortably busy. If things go on here for long as they have been for the last month or two I fancy the weather will be almost the greater enemy than the Turks, and I am not sure that I am not better fitted for tackling the former than the latter.
Your own most affectionate
Cyril E Sladden