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August 13th 1916 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his father, Julius Sladden

13th August 1916
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden, Carlton Hotel, Karachi
Correspondence To
Julius Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Carlton Hotel

Aug 13th 1916

My dear Father

I can write today before leaving to catch the mail that goes in a week’s time; it will be my only opportunity of letting you hear by it. I hope in that way I may not miss a mail without getting through some news, as I ought to catch the next with luck from Basra.

At first on arrival here orders were given us to embark this morning on The Elephanta. Shortly afterwards the orders were changed and we now have to be on board at 9.0am tomorrow. I am glad of the change because it improves my chance of picking up my mail before starting. It was very late arriving in Bombay, so cannot reach Cox’s here before today at the soonest. I don’t think very much of this place; it is at present very new and undeveloped, though it is being laid out on an extensive plan, with wide streets, and there are a fair number of good buildings erected. The actual harbour is at Kiamari about five miles away from the town. It is a fairly important military station, being headquarters of a brigade; and there are two regiments, one British, one Native, stationed here. The climate is not bad; there seems to be a pretty constant breeze at this time of year, there are generally clouds about too, so that it is not very hot. It is a bit moist, but that is always the case during the monsoon, especially on the coast.

The journey here is most unpleasant, as the line runs through the Desert of Sind, where it is extremely hot and the carriage gets filled with dust and perfectly filthy. It is about 40 hours from Simla, two nights and a day. Sleeping in a noisy hot and dirty railway carriage is not too pleasant, but I manage pretty well and night is much better than the day.

The little mountain line down from Simla to Kalka takes a long time for the distance. As the crow flies it is about 25 miles; the length of the line is almost 60, and it takes 6 hours, including half an hour’s stop half way for dinner. It is most astonishing how suddenly the country becomes perfectly flat immediately after one gets away from the foothills. I never had the slightest idea before I got out here what an enormous part of India is like that, almost as flat as the proverbial pancake. It is chiefly in actual surface that Mesopotamia beats it, as the surface in India is generally a little broken, besides having either trees or bushy growth over it, while Mesopotamia besides being flat is positively smooth and nearly devoid of scrub in most parts.

Indian hotels have a poor reputation on the whole, but this one is quite comfortable. I was quite pleased to have a couple of days here just to stop and look round and see the place. I felt a bit sorry when on the way to Simla to have to pass Agra and Delhi without being able to see anything of either.

I have been unable to get to know anything of the doings of the regiment for some time past. I know of several officers who may be there but have no news of which of them may have gone sick. No doubt several will have done so. I hope to find Major Faviell in command and Capt Gibbon back again.

The news continues to be highly satisfactory; the capture of Stanislau and Garitzia have been announced since I got down here, two serious losses for Austria. Not a great deal has been doing on the Somme lately, but we seem to have reached a commanding position, and I have little doubt that more news will be coming in good time from there. They made a very good job of that Turkish attack on the canal recently.

I did not feel in any hurry to leave Simla where I had really had a most comfortable time. In a way there was not an enormous lot to do, but you know how that pleases my taste rather than otherwise, and I can always find means to occupy myself very readily. I felt very much at home all the time with Mr Lowndes, and he always did everything he could think of for our benefit . I met sufficient people to find it interesting, and not so many as to get tired of it. It is of course an interesting place to be in because so many of the people have big jobs, and are interesting to meet. I have been extremely lucky to have missed practically the whole of the hot weather in the way I have done and spent it in comfort in the hills.

It is quite an uncertain matter how long I may be kept in Basra. Sometimes officers get kept a long time I believe, others go up river at once.

Best love to all the family from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference