13th Division Details
“C” Advanced Base Depot
Oct 21st 1915
My dearest Mela
I have had not letters yet since I came here, but I am only just about beginning to expect them seriously; and as this place is notoriously bad for securing letters I may have to wait some time yet. In writing to you I have no means of contriving to catch mails as nobody knows when they leave; posts go from this camp twice a day, so I just write at random when a good chance offers. Sometimes I shall just miss a mail, and probably the letters will in some cases reach you at the same time.
It seems ages since I had any news of you; it is in fact three weeks.
I wrote a fairly long letter to Father last night, not having written home for a week. I have changed my suggestion about addressing to me in the event of my being reported wounded or sick. Instead of address c/o Army Post Office, address me c/o Cox & Co, Alexandria. I will always keep them as closely informed as possible of my whereabouts whatever happens to me, so that will be my emergency address. Some officers use it as their permanent address; but I think it is a pity to do that when there seems every prospect of my having a good spell with the regiment before long, because direct mails through to the front are very satisfactory, and I have even heard that arrangements are being made to quicken them. I quite expect that when letters do begin to come I shall get a lot, because by this time Cox’s, the Army Post Office, and the Regiment must all know my present address.
I haven’t suggested your writing direct here because it seems so unlikely that I should still be here to receive it, though that is possible. If you like to send me an occasional note to the above address “on spec” it might results in my getting quick news through.
I can’t get news of my valise which is unfortunate; I expect it is hidden in some shed at Alexandria docks, or else has gone straight to England. I hope not the latter or I shall not see it for ages. I shall be able to get along without it, having learnt by this time how to pick up necessaries enough to live upon; still it would be much more satisfactory to have it.
I have had to see a draft equipped for the front, so have had a little responsible work the last few days. It is a pretty restful existence though, taking it all round, and having that to do has kept me off other parades. There are a large number of fatigues, guards and pickets to be supplied on the island which not infrequently absorbs all available men of some units, so that parades are automatically washed out.
You will of course be horribly jealous when I tell you that on Sunday I had tea with some Canadian nurses up at one of the hospitals. Curiously Rawle, who was in a bank in Canada for a year or two before the war ran up against a girl he knew there amongst them, so he and Beard have both been up there once or twice; and on Sunday Beard asked me to accompany him on a call. Sunday is their sort of at home day, and they contrive to supply a remarkably efficient afternoon tea in their mess for the occasion. They seemed cheery sort of girls, and I should think it makes a lot of difference to the unfortunates who get landed in hospital here to have some nurses to look after them. They have all been in France a long time, and remarked how much more done the men look out here than they did there. I should fancy they had a pretty poor time here at first though they are getting more acclimatized now, and are better accommodated.
I went and visited Walton, Le Fleming and several others I knew on Saturday evening just after writing to you and had a chat with them. Yesterday however they had gone away, as I rather expected, as I knew that a good many from their camp left in the morning.
Your good memory for faces would serve me well at present; I have run across such a crowd of men in one place and another, and I often see them again and find it hard to recollect where I saw them, or who they are. I should think I have some acquaintance with at least one officer almost every regiment out here by this time. On board ship and in hospital one meets such a mixture of regiments.
I very much wish I could see some English papers here. On Sunday Beard borrowed The Times Weekly Edition of Sept 24th at the hospital; this is the one and only paper I have seen since I left Alexandria where we had them up to about Sept 21st. I wrote the other day to Sanderson, who is with the regiment, to ask about various things, and among others suggested that if they still had the plentiful supply of papers we used to get they might forward one or two here.
We have had very little rain since I came here, but it is often fairly windy. It is never unduly hot now, and though chilly at nights, not really very cold.
I am keeping very fit and well and hope I shall continue to do so. Up to the present I have been very much fitter than the average out here, and really have only had that one bad week. Of course the week’s heavy fighting coming immediately on top of that took it out of me a good deal so it was not surprising I felt a bit cheap when I reached the hospital ship. If I stand the winter weather here as well as I did the summer I shall do well.
At present I am comfortable enough, and my chief need is for letters and news of you. However these I know are somewhere on the way, and any post may bring some now.
All my love, dearest, from
Your own most affectionate
Cyril E Sladden