Jan 21st 1915
My dearest Mela
I am very much enjoying a voyage on a really excellent boat, one of the best transports in use. It is such a joy to return really to civilization, to have baths, a good bed, excellent food nicely served, a barber on board, comfortable lounges and very little work. The only drawback is due to necessary precautions against submarine attack, namely enforced quietness at night and lights only in few places – none in cabins so that we have to feel our way to bed; also wearing life-belts all day which is rather tiresome. Still we are much too pleased with the benefits to grouse about drawbacks. But whenever I get on a nice ship like this I cannot help imagining how ripping it would be under peace conditions, especially with such weather as we have had which had enabled our very worst sailors to enjoy every meal. Tomorrow is likely to be a day of activity, as we expect to reach port at daybreak; probably by this time tomorrow evening I shall have some idea what is going to happen to us for the present.
I posted a letter to Father the day before we embarked, and yesterday and this morning I wrote a long letter to Neame in answer to his. I expect a great big lot of mails within a short time, meanwhile I have had something just to keep me going, namely your Christmas Eve letter, and Father’s written two days later. I am so delighted my little present gave you such a surprise and so much pleasure; I had always felt a bit sorry I did not buy you one of these scarves the first chance I had, so I took the second chance, and decided to reserve it as a Christmas present. I feel sure you will look a little extra nice in it in the evenings. It is good to hear you had so many nice presents. Mother sent me one of the postcard copies of her photo with Dolly Molly which I was glad to have. It is difficult to gather much from a photo of such a little mite, but one can see in it that she is quite up to sitting up and taking notice.
By the way I was very glad of that tiny calendar you sent. I had one just like it for last year from Ethel, and have used it ever since leaving England to note down all the dates of my many moves. I have now had 6 voyages through the Aegean, and 12 short runs from harbour to harbour in the neighbourhood of the peninsula. I have been on 5 transports, one hospital ship, one battleship, three small cross-channel steamers and a trawler. Certainly one cannot complain of monotony out here, and I think that is one of the advantages over France; the second is the winter weather which is usually most enjoyable with real bad patches.
Father’s letter contains the interesting news that Neame went over to Badsey to see them on Dec 26th. Father and Mother are both bad at giving their real impressions of people on paper, as they use pleasant expressions in a charitable way for dull ones, and similar ones intended to be taken literally for people they really like. I gather that Father got on well with him though, and quite think he would, as I share with most people a very high opinion of him. I shall like to hear from any of the girls about his visit as they will have more to say. Some of them are sure to write about their doings at Christmas time. I hope you didn’t have too tiring a time over your festivities in hospital.
It is quite likely that we may entrain straight from the boat, and get sent some distance tomorrow. I shall try to post this before leaving if I can manage it.
Jan 22nd – I continue while we lie in harbour waiting to get alongside the wharf, a proceeding that may quite likely take some time. At present we have had no notice taken of us, so don’t know anything. Newspapers have been brought on board and eagerly sold; they contain a rather abbreviated version of Sir Ian Hamilton’s long-awaited report which is immensely interesting to me, dealing as it does with operations I went all through. At last the public is officially informed that there is a certain division, by number the 13th, that has done a lot out here. I also observe for the first time the mention of the Aghyl Dere, a feature the maps have marked but never named, and one that the said division became well acquainted with.
I now hear our voyage is to be very slightly prolonged, but I don’t know yet when we move, but not just immediately. Furthermore a mail is being sent ashore, which will I fear just miss an English mail which is being made up at midday. However out-mails are pretty frequent here.
I hear on good authority that mails home from the front were probably stopped during the period of evacuations, so I am afraid you may have had extremely little news of me. With luck the one printed card I sent home just before Xmas got through at any rate.
I think I will dispatch this here, and also a note home, although it is possible that by posting at the next port it might get through as soon or sooner; probably I can get a line off from there as well.
Best love, dearest, from
Your ever affectionate
Cyril E Sladden