Feb 15th 1916
My dear Mother
In anticipation of moving tomorrow or the next day I must take this chance of writing while I can, as I am sure to be very busy later. It is my intention to go into town this afternoon and purchase you a present, one that I had some idea of getting for you for a long time past. Active service is such a profitable occupation that I feel justified spending a little on presents. Only as I have developed strong opinions on the necessity for much greater economy all round than most people are practising at present I am keen on selecting things as useful as possible, though that is difficult in the oriental shops here where everything is very ornamental and few things (almost I might say nothing) necessary. At the same time it is a poor thing sending presents from a foreign country unless they bear some stamp of their place of origin.
I see that The Times, having secured its service bill, has now turned its attention to the subject of national economy, and I gather big moves in this direction are likely to take place soon. I was very much struck by a series of articles entitled ‘Sinews of War’ in The Times recently; the author seemed to have put a complicated subject, that generally puzzles most people, more clearly than I ever remember seeing it put before.
I see at last the list of ‘mentioned in dispatches’ for the Anzac show. It was an extraordinarily difficult thing to compile these lists with any real justice because so few were left to recount the doings of others; consequently the element of luck entered in more than usual. Capt Gibbon of our names is the one most generally approved. When the lists sent in by Munro for the evacuation period come out it will be the staff who will come out strong there. I haven’t yet seen any lists of orders and decorations published, but have heard our brigadier has got a C.B., so I presume a list is out in English papers not yet arrived here.
I believe I just caught a mail yesterday with my long letter to Mela, so if she is still with you you will have most of my recent news. I was offered five days leave, but didn’t take it, feeling that it wasn’t worth the money I shall inevitably have spent, and also that the time spent in hard work and exercise would leave me fitter to start active service again than slacking about. I fancy it will be as well to start physically fit as possible for our next destination, which is likely to be a trying one from a climate point of view; certainly it would be hard to find anybody in better condition than I am.
It was rotten luck getting no leave home after being led to expect it; as long as one has no hope of it, it doesn’t matter so much as one carries on without giving the idea any rest of consideration at all. I must hope it will be better luck next time.
I don’t at all enjoy the prospect of much slower mails in the future; that is one of the worst parts of being out so far away. An answer takes a long time even here, and in the field it is simply hopeless.
This is a peculiarly dull place, with absolutely nothing to see either in the town or around about. The native part of the town (as viewed from a little distance) looks to surpass anything I have previously seen in the matter of filth, and I can fancy that in hot weather it is by no means a savoury sort of place.
Later - I just succeeded in getting my shopping done, only to return to dinner and find we are under orders to proceed hence tomorrow morning.
In your parcel (as a note explains) there is a scarf similar in kind to Mela’s, but black, which is your present. I also bought a brooch for my little niece, which won’t be much use at present but will come in later. I was persuaded into buying the other thing ‘to make the parcel travel better’. It represents a type of Egyptian work very commonly seen, and quite cheap. I don’t know that it is much use really, especially a single piece like that, but you may find something to do with it.
If it doesn’t turn up in the course of time write to Chellaram, Port Said about it. Mela’s parcel, by the way, was sent off by Ramswamy, registered and insured, so should be recoverable if it gets torpedoed.
I have read today in The Evesham Standard Mrs Eyres-Monsell’s account of the rescue from the Yasaha Mary close by here. It was the first I had heard of her being on it, and I was very interested by the account which gave a good picture of the thing. I wonder whether she is out here still; I don’t know the name of Eyres-Monsell’s ship.
In future you had better leave out BMEF. In my address, because we shall be joining a different command. As usual of course the regiment alone is always sufficient to find me, though it is best to add the division, which is the same as ever. I will do my best to find out an emergency address for you to make use of in case you hear I have had to leave the regiment at any time.
I hope you will be able to judge from what I told Mela where we think our next scene of action will be. Our immediate destination by transport is quite unknown to us. I hear the ship I shall be going in is quite a decent sort of one, and I hope that the voyage will be quite enjoyable at this time of year.
I doubt whether I shall get any more letters for a long time unless we get some brought on board just before leaving, which is a possibility. It is bound to be some time before you can hear again from me.
May wasn’t well when I last had news of you; I hope by this time she is quite well again. I am wondering too whether Mela is still with you, or whether she has moved to Folkestone or elsewhere yet.
Best love to everybody
From your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden