Oct 29th 1916
My dear Father
The latest letter of yours that I have had was posted on Sept 13th, and came through quickly as I got it on the 17th. I have had a more recent mail on Monday last bringing a letter from May (Aug 23rd) and a short one from Ethel (Sept 14th). Ethel wanted news if I could give it of a certain man named Baldwin who is supposed to have been in my company. I looked through a lot of lists and found no record of his name at all as ever rejoining. The surest way of getting information of men is to write to the Base Records Office of the force he is supposed to be with. They know all about men who get mapped up for odd jobs who are lost, so far as the regiment is concerned.
May’s letter was written from Wrexham. Please give my thanks for it. I was pleased to hear as it was quite a long while since I had had one from her. I hope to reply in course of time, but my opportunities for writing are very restricted, so I don’t aspire to more than two a week as a rule, one to Mela and one either to you or one of the girls.
We had a rather quieter time early in the week and were able to do some useful company training of the kind the men are most in need of. It is most annoying to have attention – either one’s own, or still worse that of senior officers – drawn to glaring mistakes in the ranks during some battalion or brigade training, and yet never be given a day in which to set to work to teach and train all ranks so as to get some improvement. The soldier can be taught little or nothing by merely talking to him. One has got to make him do everything many times over in the right way, then it sinks into his mind and some of it will stick there.
On Thursday the brigade took out breakfast, and we had a pretty long morning. On Friday, the division practised itself in moving, with most of its transport. We did not go above five miles, but for a large force this is a fairly long business. We bivouacked for the night and starting off at seven yesterday morning did an attack back towards camp, getting in about two o’clock. It was a fairly satisfactory show except towards the end when everybody began to get fed up and in a rather bad temper with everybody else. It was a bit chilly at night. The nights are decidedly cool now; somebody told me the temperature dropped to 44 last night. With the middle of the day still quite hot, and after a hot summer 44 degrees seems pretty chilly. I have a little bit of a cold in the head which I think must have been brought out that night. Local inhabitants warn us that we may expect a little rain before long; last year however the November rain failed to turn up and there was none till January.
When you wrote, Arthur was taking his three weeks’ leave. He was lucky to get so much I should think at a time when the medical people must have had plenty to do. A good holiday ought to have done him a lot of good. I am afraid I don’t see any such nice trips home ahead of me for a bit, it is rather a long way to go. However at present this is a healthier spot than France, so I ought not to grumble. I am pleased to hear such steadily good news of my niece; she will probably be a proficient linguist by the time I see her.
Among the officers who joined the battalion this summer is one from Wellington who knows the Sladden family out there quite well, and has talked to me about them two or three times. His name is Busby; he was formerly in the NZ force which made the expedition to Samoa. Capt Holmden who joined us rather over a year ago and is now adjutant, was a solicitor in Wellington, and knew Bob pretty well, and a little of other members of the family. Busby knows them a good deal better apparently.
I must write to Mela this evening so must stop.
Best love to all from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden