Jan 31st 1915
My dear Mother
You will long ago heard from Mela that I have been hoping for leave. At present the prospect seems poor. When we first got here we were told all officers who have been out here 6 months were to be allowed to go, and we thought we should go almost at once. Then they divided us into classes, according to length of actual service with the battalion, and we were to go at intervals. Delay in these matters is always liable to be disastrous, so I knew that didn’t improve my chance as I came on the 3rd list. Now the first people have still not started, and I hear this morning all leave is pronounced ‘off’, whether temporarily or permanently I have not yet discovered. A few red-hats are all that escaped.
We were to be given 30 days absence from duty, and pay our fares. By mail this would have been heavy but there was some hope of the shipping companies giving us a reduction, by transport, if it were available, the only cost would be messing which wouldn’t come to much, but most transports would work out much slower.
Owing to two new regular officers having been posted to us, a new CO and a captain, I lose my command of a company and the corresponding substantial increase of pay due to me while I held it, which is annoying.
I am at present doing most of the work in the capacity of 2nd in command; I also have some work in connection with the regimental officers’ mess which has just been started again, as I am on the committee and am responsible for keeping the accounts.
There is a lot of work in hand, all the arrears of months of neglected paper work, also thorough refitting and in addition a fair programme of training pretty much under peace conditions.
It was a remarkable circumstance that it was thoroughly wet when we arrived here. The ground was very moist in many places (desert sand will hold inches of rain without suffering much) and the first night our tents blew down, and next morning was heartily wet. Then we had sort of super-April weather for a few days. Now it is beautiful pleasant warm sun, with a nice breeze. I don’t think it had rained for 9 months previously and not as much at one period for a very long time. Everything dries up in about an hour between showers, so it doesn’t matter a great lot.
If I get leave after all I shall of course cable again, but I don’t know now what to think about it. It is something to know that the higher authorities at least realize that some of us have earned some leave, and that they are prepared to let us have it when it is possible. If it fails now we may secure it a bit later on.
The latest home letter I have is yours of 6th Jan. I don’t think I have acknowledged Betty’s written before Christmas, also Kath and Jack wrote in December. Then I recently had an older letter of yours with one of May’s enclosed, written early December. An ancient relic turned up a day or two ago, two fly nets posted with a letter from Ethel on Aug 6th; both are in quite good condition, and will be very useful again shortly.
I must try to find time for a longer letter soon, to tell you a bit more about things.
Best love from your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden