Nov 21st 1915
My dear Mother
It is a long time since I wrote, but I particularly mentioned in my letter to Mela some days ago that I wanted her to pass on any news as I was uncertain how soon I should be able to write; so I expect you will know before getting this that I am really back at work again at last. I embarked a week ago today, but rough weather delayed our landing until Tuesday morning and I ultimately reached here that night. It was very nice seeing old faces again; unfortunately not many of them, but sufficient to make it still the old regiment. All except the quartermaster were away at the time I left, several sick and some we had left in England where we were slightly over strength.
I find it quite difficult to accustom myself to the conditions here. By comparison with my later experiences I had come to regard my first trial of trench warfare as a very quiet and peaceful affair – so much so that it scarcely seemed worthy of much reference. But compared with this it was most strenuous. I really believe you could jump over the parapet and walk about in broad daylight for a quarter of a minute and stand an excellent chance of never being noticed – let alone hit! I don’t propose to try it though. I think the wily Turk, having put up plenty of wire is probably turning all his attention to making himself thoroughly comfortable for the winter. We cannot see much of him as the rest of a slight hill lies between our front lines of trench, which are roughly 200 yards apart I should say. Occasionally we get a few shells from our left flank, but there is little more to worry about.
I have been given a company for the time being; so I was very glad to arrive while they were in reserve. Last night we took over the firing line trenches again. I had time meanwhile to find out a bit about things, and pick up the threads. There are heaps of little routine matters to get hold of which vary from time to time and according to the taste of the CO and so forth. I may perhaps get put on to the job of brigade machine gun officer, but as I have gone so long without being called upon I am very doubtful whether they will do so now. An officer junior to me is doing it at present.
The rations issued here are very good indeed, for the best I have experienced out of England considering the difficulties involved in supply, I think they are excellent. It is getting decidedly cold, and there has been a biting north-easter the last two days. Luckily I am well supplied with all sorts of warm clothing. By the way I had a tremendous slice of luck in finding my valise on the beach the afternoon of my arrival. I think it had been sent there by mistake after being labelled to me at Lemnos! Anyhow I have recovered most of my last belongings with it and have great hopes that a few more may yet be found later on. I have had some fairly recent letters since getting here; one from Father came today, which was posted about the end of last month. I was interested to hear of his meeting Sgt Bloomer who could tell him lots of little things that one doesn’t care to put down on paper. I am very fit, and if active service were never worse than the past five days have been I shouldn’t be quite so persistently anxious for the war to come to an end. I have been much more uncomfortable on peace manoeuvres at times.
I am afraid I have hopelessly missed your birthday; but you must make the best of this in place of your birthday letter. I expect the men will do well at Christmas; I hope bad weather won’t hold up the presents they get sent them.
Love to all from your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden