May 14th 1917
My dear Father
I meant to write to you sooner. My last mail came on May 8th and included your letter posted March 13th. However that same evening we had to make an unexpected move, and ever since have been out on trek and no mails have been sent away at all. We have now been for two days sitting down and watching for distant Turks through our glasses when the morning and evening light shows them up. During most of the day they are completely lost in the mirage. How long we are to be kept at this not very entertaining job I don’t know. When we started off we had just started pitching the big tents which had arrived, and were to have moved into our new standing camp on the following day; some time we hope to be permitted to make our way back there.
We are in a very decent place now, close beside a stream; but the day temperature is getting too much for the shelter of a blanket to give men much protection. Also at this distance from the enemy protective duties become heavier – peaceful as his attitude appears to be at present.
You made an enquiry some time back about your former employee Frank Harris who was killed in January. I heard about him soon after the event from his platoon officer whom he had told of the connection he had with me through his employment. He was only with us a short time and went into B Company and was killed while on that beastly night digging work that we were doing preparative to the attack on Jan 25th. I never knew he was with us until after he was killed, and the officer who mentioned the circumstances of his death is not with us now so I cannot get any more from him.
We sent a party to go for a month’s leave in India about the beginning of the month. We expect to send more later, but while we are out on this sort of job it cannot be done of course. How many will get away finally during the summer I cannot say, but if a reasonable number go I hope I may get a turn later on.
There is little doubt I think that the heat up here will be less trying than down river. We get it hot now but it is not unpleasant. There is nearly always a good breeze, and generally light clouds about. The nights are very pleasant. At the same time I have read in a German military geography book (in Bagdad) that the highest temperature readings in Mesopotamia are registered north of Bagdad, so we may expect it warm. A few degrees more or less matter little in comparison with conditions of mud and moisture or dryness of atmosphere though, and in those we are likely to score.
Love to all from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden
PS - This ought to be not too late for a birthday letter. I hope the present I have asked Mela to choose and buy will have brought my best wishes with it more punctually. May your next one be in times of peace.