Nov 6th 1915
If I write now there is a fair chance you may get this somewhere within shooting distance of your birthday, in which case you can regard it as a birthday effort on my part. If it takes as long getting through as mine seem inclined to do you had better adopt it for Christmas!
For some time past I have been expecting to be called upon any day to embark upon the objectionable journey which is necessary to enable one to get back to the peninsula. Once more they seem to have established the status quo, and I really don’t know a bit how much longer I may hang about here. They have a charming little way of doing things to us. On Thursday, after waiting on tiptoe (more or less) for eight days we were warned to pack up. We paraded in full kit, stacked baggage on a motor lorry, made our farewells, filled our heads with messages and our haversacks with rations, biscuits and chocolate, and marched two miles down to the pier, where – according to usual army custom – we arrived one hour before we were due to be taken off. There we sat in intermittent rain for over three hours till we were finally told that owing to the bad weather our trip was postponed till next day. So we walked back. Just to improve things of course somebody had seized upon the empty tent that four of us had left, had it swept and garnished and settled himself in with a large improvised bedstead and much furniture (also improvised) and luggage. So for one night, as we fancied, we crushed in five; not wishing to suggest to the gentleman that he should clear, and he being very genial over the whole affair. Yesterday morning the process was repeated in every detail – you know how I love packing and unpacking – and again we marched down to be informed that it had been decided not to send any reinforcements up until some apparently more urgent business was completed. So we came back again, “pigged” it five in a ten once again, and now with some probability of a further stay here are exerting our tact to encourage our amiable host to find greater comfort elsewhere!
This little incident I record in detail because it is so very typical of the way we get played about with. The last time I left this island for the peninsula we were warned about 10 or 11 o’clock at night to be ready by about 6 or 7 in the morning. When morning came we found a slight extension of time had been made, but started about 8. It was only a little way to the shore, and having reached there we were told that we must wait till 2 o’clock before we could embark. So we were planted down on the beach (a rather insanitary spot as it happened) and spent some five hours in a blazing sun with no chance of getting any shade or breeze whatever.
It will seem quite odd after the war to know almost for certain what one is going to be doing the next few weeks. Imagine a term in which you never knew whether the holidays were going to start tomorrow or a year next Easter, and you will get some idea of the appearance which life presents to all the army.
We are enjoying perfect weather today, little wind and a cloudless sky. I believe it is after Christmas that we may look for our real bad time out here. I imagine we never get anything quite so bad as the long bad weather in France, though it may be very bad indeed for the shorter period it lasts. Anyhow I have always made a point of asking everybody who has had much experience of both France and Gallipoli which they prefer, and not a single one yet has voted for the latter, and many have very decided views the other way, especially those who spent the early part of August here!
In camp here it is very boring, but otherwise there is little to grumble at, and the weather is much more conducive to real good health than it used to be. Newspapers a month old are a great rarity, and nearly all our news is old or false and often both.
Write when you have time and the mood, and tell me all the local scandal.
Best love from
Your affectionate brother
Cyril E Sladden