June 1st 1916
My dear Father
I am going before my board tomorrow morning and I believe the doctor has put me down as recommended for two months’ leave which is what they will probably grant. Provided I can get all arrangements made I shall leave here the next day, Saturday, for Simla. My name has been sent up to secure a place in the bungalow which is being opened from today to accommodate nine officers on sick leave. A Committee of ladies in Simla have arranged it and the superintendent is a trained nurse who can look after anybody who still needs it. The financing is being done by the War Fund which has a standing arrangement with a large number of clubs and hotels all over India, whereby the officers pay two rupees a day and the fund makes up the remainder. I think Simla ought to be most enjoyable as regards climate and scenery, though at the present time of year it is fairly rainy there, or very soon will be. No doubt I shall be able to get the use of the club there which is one of the best in India. I might feel inclined to move on there perhaps after a time.
I am wondering whether Mr Watson may be there; if I find he is I shall go and call on him.
My arm is getting gradually more normal, and I can now straighten the elbow practically completely. It only needs that I shall be careful not to forget and overstrain it for some weeks to come.
Supposing I should start for Simla on Saturday, I shall reach my journey’s end about midday on Monday. I should have to post before leaving even if the boat, as usually happens, does not leave before Tuesday.
From your letter and those I had from Mela and May, I was able to gather a very complete idea of Mother’s funeral. I am glad to feel that as I could not be there Mela was there to represent me. It was a pity neither Arthur nor George could get across and I am sure they must have been very disappointed; however they had the satisfaction of having been home for a visit quite recently. I have really been exceptionally unlucky in respect of getting leave. Even in England my regiment was always most stingy in giving it. Then of all the troops who went to Gallipoli in the early days there must be very few who have not since been home, either sick or wounded or else by the transfer of their units back to France. Of course a large number of the original forces engaged in Mesopotamia in early days have had no chance of leave to England, but many of them have a sort of second home in India. Then of the two divisions which left France about Christmas for the Gulf one had enough warning to grant leave extensively just before moving: the other was certainly sent suddenly but they had had the ordinary facilities while in France. I expect the East African force is pretty well out of the way of leave too. But when one totals it up the very great majority of British Troops on service have had a chance to see their people at least once within the last year, either at home or in some cases in India. It is rather tiresome now that I am having such a long spell of leave to be compelled to spend it here, where I have so little interest to be. It would be worth exchanging two months out here for a week at home if that were possible.
I wonder whether they will keep the 13th Division in Mesopotamia or try later on to use only Indian divisions again. It seems to me that if they decide to settle down to a pure defensive, to keep what we have got, then that is a possible course. If any greater activity is aimed at there is little chance that anybody will be sent away. The latest news, what there is of it, seemed to indicate that possibly there may be a hope, by concerted action between Russians and British of knocking Turkey out once for all after the plan that Garvin recommended. If this could be done it would be a most useful and accomplished. At present news is extremely scarce and it is difficult to judge what is happening or likely to happen.
I am very pleased to have The Observer. Of course as long as I am in India I can get hold of some home newspapers; but The Observer is not one taken in the club here. And when I get on service with the regiment again it will be a great boon. We had a heavy thunderstorm accompanied by a short shower of deluging rain last Sunday which has cleared the air a bit and made things fresher though it still remains pretty hot.
I am glad Mela was to remain at home with you for a little while before taking any further cases. I feel that she is not likely to have trouble in getting work when she wants it at any time. She has felt Mother’s death very much on her own account, apart from her feeling sorry on our behalf.
Aunt Lottie wrote me a very nice letter, the day after she got home, that was on my birthday. I must write back to her soon, but have so many I want to write to.
June 3rd. I found it would be inconvenient if not quite impossible to get away today, having many things to arrange. So I have decided to start tomorrow, by a train at 11.50. I have to go to Kallyan, a junction a little out of Bombay where I get onto the through train which has a coach going most of the way to Simla. So I think it will only be two changes altogether.
My leave, dating from the day I was wounded is 3 months and 21 days, that takes it to July 30th. By that time my arm should be quite well and strong again.
Please thank May for her long letter; she is very good in writing to me as I know how full her time is. But the letters are extremely welcome.
Best love to the girls and yourself from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden