Oct 20th 1915
My dear Father
You will be looking for another letter as it is a week since I last wrote. Not a lot happens here to make much to write about as a matter of fact, and I have not yet secured any letters at this address. With regard to these I propose to make a practice of keeping in touch with Cox’s at Alexandria so that they will always forward my letters. This is a pretty reliable method of ensuring delivery within a reasonable time, and I would make it my permanent address but for the fact that I believe efforts are being made to improve the direct mails out here. Anyhow I will cancel the previous suggestion I made in case I get wounded or sick again, and suggest that you had better in that case address to me care of the Cox & Co, Alexandria, not to the Army Post Office, though I shall send addresses to the latter as well of course. I believe that will be the safest method. My idea then is to write and give instructions for my letters to be held up if I get on the move for any unknown destination, and send the address immediately I settle in.
The return post from the peninsula here seems to be absurdly slow from all accounts, but I hope that I may get some letters in a few days now from some source or another. I didn’t advise you to write direct here because return post is sure to take over a month, and though I may be longer than that here it is extremely uncertain. We call ourselves 13th Division Details, “C” Advanced Base Depot. I can get no news of my valise. It may have been dropped into the hold of a ship bound for England, and ultimately get to Cox’s in London, who take over all officers’ kits. Supposing it ever turns up at home don’t be surprised, but clean up the contents a bit, remove all drill khaki from it, as it is no more use this time of year, and make Cox’s or the War Office send it back to me with all speed at their own expense. They will perhaps protest if it exceeds the 35 lb limit, but I don’t think it will. The other alternative is that it has gone to Alexandria and is hidden either in a ship’s hold or in a dark corner of some shed in the docks. If it comes to light it will be sent to the Divisional kit sheds and I may someday see it. Fortunately I can rub along without it.
I am trying to find out from one of our officers at the front how much of my equipment (revolver, glasses, etc) is still in the keeping of the quartermaster. So far I am keeping very fit here and cannot see any reason why I should not continue to do so. It is getting pretty cool except at midday on sunny days and there is still very little rain. It is often windy and that often makes it seem colder than it is. The nights are scarcely as sharp yet as I had expected, but possibly would seem rather different if we had no tent to cover us. I think it is a good thing to have this opportunity of becoming hardened by degrees to colder weather, especially those of us who have been out here some time. A camp of this sort is necessarily in a continual state of flux, men coming in and going out. I don’t have a strenuous time by any means, but get a little work when I have to fit drafts out for the peninsula, as I am in charge of the regimental details at present. Men who have been wounded naturally want a good deal of refitting, though on the other hand many get their fresh supply at Alexandria.
The most unsatisfactory part of this place is the hopeless lack of news; we simply cannot get a single English paper old or new. As the regiment used to have heaps sent out, and very likely do still, I asked whether they would spare us a few and forward them back here. We live chiefly on rumours of official telegrams, about two thirds of which turn out incorrect subsequently. When this is added to the difficulty in securing letters it makes one feel rather isolated.
We are doing ourselves pretty well in the feeding line; in consequence of inflated prices which rule here it runs expensive for what we get, but I believe it is a sound proceeding to look after the inner man well as long as it is possible, especially in circumstances like the present where ill health is the most dangerous enemy; from all I can gather things have been very quiet indeed for a long time past so that casualties are few. The difference made by supplementing army stews or bully beef with pickles, sauces etc; tea with milk; bread with butter; and the whole with biscuits, tinned fruit, sardines and so forth is enormous.
The island offers plenty of scope for walking and hill climbing and we are very well placed here for both. I haven’t yet done anything very much in that way, but can see that one will be well rewarded by awfully good views. The ground is frightfully stony everywhere, and roads almost non-existent except where we have been responsible for them, so one does full work for every mile. I should like to visit Castro, the capital of the Island, which is 10 miles away over the hills; but it is rather a longer journey than I have felt energetic enough to tackle up to the present. Our evening meal will be up in a few minutes so I will stop. I only hope before I write again I may have begun to receive letters again, it makes writing so much more interesting.
Best love to everybody at home from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden
PS - Did I mention in my last letter that Dick New is in camp here; I met him soon after arriving. He is now under orders to go up, and may leave any time, probably tomorrow, but is going to the other battalion.