Jan 12th 1917
My dear Father
I have hopes of catching a mail if I write tonight, but I have only a little time. The day before yesterday I dispatched a fairly long letter to Mela describing recent doings, the making of which was distributed over all sorts of odd moments from the 4th to the 10th. I never seem to get anything better than odd moments. Immediately after posting to Mela I had to move the company a little way into battalion reserve where I hoped to settle for four or five days. However yesterday the battalion suddenly got orders to change its position, not very far luckily, and we are in brigade reserve at the moment. This however is anything but a picnic. Immediately after arrival at dusk, having just had time for tea luckily, I was rushed off in charge of a big digging party to dig out in front of our front line. We were lucky in being out of the hottest area, but they had a rotten time I should think in one part, we did not get off scot free ourselves during our three hour spell before being relieved about 11 o’clock. When bullets are flying about it is particularly rotten for officers and NCOs who have to keep walking up and down all the time seeing that the men work properly, while the men have their work to occupy their minds; moreover as they dig they get safer and safer and incidentally dig slower and slower and want more and more attention. Sad to say I have the same nasty job on again tonight, when we dig from 12 to 3. At present the Turk is much quieter than he was last night which is very satisfactory. I am writing just after dinner, having started just before, and in a few minutes I propose to turn in to sleep for a couple of hours, as we shall not be in again before 4 o’clock, so won’t get very long at the latter end of the night.
Our mails come in by degrees, and today I had your letter posted on Nov 27th; two from Mela of about the same date came some days ago. Practically no parcels get brought up, transport being apparently wanted for more important things. Everybody would be glad to get their Christmas parcels though, and it is a great pity they cannot send them. Many of the contents will slowly be spoiling.
The weather has been better this last week; it has been foggy several days and nights, and often fairly cold but there has been very little rain. I only hope the wet of last year was abnormal, and we shall be spared a repetition of it. It is excellent to have got nearly half through one of the reported bad months so well.
The arrival of a few mess stores just lately has been rather a boon as for some time we had to be content with rations.
Everybody is very delighted at the thorough squashing the Allies have given to Germany’s peace talk. It is very cheering to it know that they are sufficiently fed up and hopeless of further advantage to mention peace at all. We must go on till they simply beg for it then it will be some real use. I live in hopes of being able to write more later on.
Best love to all from your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden