Nov 6th 1915
My dear Father
After two splendid efforts to get away from here we have failed and find ourselves back in camp again very uncertain how much longer we may be kept here. On Thursday we reached the pier with all our baggage and were turned back after a long and moist period of waiting in consequence of the weather. Yesterday we again reached the pier, and as the weather was perfect thought we really should get away; however we discovered that the authorities had changed their minds about us and we were not to go, so we came back again. And that for the present is about all we know about it; I hope to find out during the course of the day whether we are to consider ourselves standing by ready to go, or whether fresh notice will be given again. We are kept standing by for eight days, during which time we were supposed to be in camp all the time. Fortunately the Adjutant had no objection to our taking a walk in the evenings, when it was certain we should not be wanted in a great hurry. So it was possible to get some change and exercise every day. We had the advantage of getting off all parades, which are very boring affairs that it is difficult to take any interest in at all.
I have had no further letters since those I mentioned in my postcard two days ago; there is no doubt that the mails out here have got into a hopeless condition and I fancy the staff is inadequate and has got behindhand and can’t make up the lost ground. It is close upon four weeks now since I arrived here, which should have been long enough to secure practically all my old letters if the post was being well managed. You seem to have been rather mystified by my sending some letters stamped and some not. While in Malta and Alexandria I generally used the ordinary post and did not send my letters through any military hands at all, so I had to stamp them in the ordinary way. I did it either for the purpose of catching a mail at a later hour or more generally because I fancied the letters were more likely to go through with less delay. When I have sometimes sent a letter by military post under circumstances which I knew or thought prevented them from getting the red censorship stamp put on immediately I franked them with my signature in the usual way, and wrote “no stamp available” which signifies censor stamp, not postage stamp. Strictly speaking the censuring officer is supposed to stamp all letters himself after franking and sealing them, though in general they are all handed in to orderly room and stamped there later.
It has been warmer here lately again; yesterday and today are like a fairly hot September day at home. At nights the dew is fairly heavy enough so to keep the dust pretty well laid. You would hate the winds we often get; they are of that persistent type which give you no rest, and appear only to blow harder at moments and never to slacken. Our best days are almost calm though, and the atmosphere is wonderfully clear. I have several times seen landscapes with remarkable lighting and tints which have recalled pictures that one too readily criticizes in a gallery as rather harsh in outline, or too vivid in colouring. One huge harbour packed with shipping often presents a very find view indeed. Facilities for purchasing stores are gradually improving. The canteens get their supplies in rather better and are not continually sold out. The Red Cross is setting up establishments designed to provide the men with refreshments, to eat on the spot at really reasonable prices. This will supply a very long felt want. I think it is a very great mistake that the canteens have not been given to English hands; they are run by Maltese. A good deal of the stuff they sell is English, but still a lot is Greek; and their prices, though better than these in the villages, are high. The money spent must run into at least several thousands a week, a very large proportion of which goes unnecessarily into foreign pockets.
This afternoon we have got some sports on. Having expected to be away for them I hardly know what the programme is. There is to be a band and tea for the visitors; so we are doing the thing well. The Canadian nurses provide the feminine element in all social functions here. There is no doubt that the colonials are great hands at making the best of things and doing themselves well; I hear great tales of the efforts of the Australians and New Zealanders. The latest news is that some English nurses have just landed here, but I fancy they belong to a hospital over the other side of the harbour.
I had better send best wishes to May and Ethel for their birthdays in the hopes this arrives about that time.
Best love from your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden.