Aug 30th 1916
My dear Father
News of my arrival here you will have had from my letters by the last mail to May and Mela. Since I wrote those I have had some more letters in. One of yours was pulled out of the regimental post bag which two of our officers were able to examine before it started up river. Mela's letters which the post office staff had not overlooked reached me a little later; delivery in this neighbourhood being a rather leisurely process. I was very glad to hear again after a long interval, and the letters have come in their proper order, yours being dated July 18th and 19th.
I went to Ashai to see our sergeant in the Base Records Office from whom I was able to get a lot of information about the regiment that was very interesting. Considering the tales I had heard I was agreeably surprised by the exact casualty figures for the whole period in Mesopotamia. Of course the numbers invalided to India run up to a considerable figure (numbers I cannot of course give in a letter) but I had come prepared to hear more. So also with deaths from disease. It is very remarkable what a high proportion of sickness has occurred among drafts who had not yet joined the regiment. It looks as if it is the first few weeks in this hot climate are the most difficult, and if a man gets over them he is more likely to carry on.
We have been having a fairly regular temperature of about 104 degrees since I have been here. This is very different from what it was a month or more ago, and the benefit is generally felt already. Yesterday was a terrible day, as we had a continuous dust storm from breakfast until tea time. The strength of the wind made it feel cooler than usual, but it is perfectly miserable living in an atmosphere of dust for a whole day. At its worst the range of vision was about 100 yards, at best about a quarter of a mile. Everything without exception was smothered in a layer of dust; and the design of our abodes, all for getting maximum of air and breeze, is the worst possible for making the best of things in a dust storm.
I was a bit out of sorts for about one day recently; however it very soon passed off, so I didn’t have much trouble with it and I feel quite normal again now.
The Basra Times announces as stop press news this morning that Rumania has declared war on Austria, also Italy on Germany, which latter might have been amicably arranged months ago, I should have thought. Rumania’s decision would appear likely to make a good deal of difference; I should imagine Turkey’s isolation may be not long distant, in which case I don’t see how she can carry on very long. Also Germany’s food problem will not be simplified, especially if Russia and Rumania get into Hungary in time to catch some of the harvest.
I was interested to read your news about the garden, which seems to have been better than usual this summer; after missing two complete summers there must be a good many changes that I should notice. The pool garden ought to be growing into a fine shrubbery by this time I should think. Mr Lowndes was very keen on laying out the garden of the house which he is shortly rebuilding; he is an enthusiastic gardener and something of an amateur botanist; India is not a very good home for the amateur gardener though in many ways. Your next letter will probably be from Eastbourne. I was glad to hear not long ago that Aunt Lizzie was keeping so well. I hope Mela's visit to her this autumn may come off. At present I am the only officer of the regiment in the depot, and the only captain in the brigade, so it seems not improbably that I may be kept here some little time. However I can never tell with any certainty. Glad to hear George is still going strong. His regiment don’t seem to have been given a very bad time during the recent offensive.
Best love to the girls and yourself from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden