June 2nd 1917
My dear Father
The mails have been a little quicker lately and yesterday I had your letter of April 11th. I was very glad to read that you had at last had further news of me from the War Office, incorrect to some extent, but still sufficiently reassuring.
Long before this you will have had my letter from Bagdad telling you details, but it was very annoying to find that official wires had left you so long without any detail at all. It was just bad luck that the cable service went badly wrong just at that time.
I don’t know how they came to report that I was discharged from hospital on the 17th because I never went to a hospital properly speaking, but was dealt with by the advanced dressing station section of a field ambulance, and was moreover with the regiment by lunchtime on the 12th. That however is a minor detail, and the great thing was that you should learn that I had not really been damaged at all.
My birthday parcel also made its somewhat belated arrival yesterday, and I was very glad to get it. It isn’t merely the contents that one appreciates in a home parcel, but much more what one knows they stand for. And the contents this time were very useful, particularly the socks and shirt, as my stock of clothes has suffered heavily through the campaign, though replenished at intervals by the gifts from some Comfort Fund such as we often receive.
I am chiefly concerned at present to find out what the prospects are of Mela being able to get to India. It is a week now since I cabled, so making full allowances for delays it seems reasonable to look for a reply any time now.
I only wish it was possible to hope for a trip home so that I could see you all as well as get married; but as that is so entirely out of the question I can only hope for the next best scheme, and trust it will not be so long now before we can all get back to a decent existence again permanently.
The latest indications have inclined me rather strongly to the view that a probable end of the war will yet come through Germany following the lead of Russia and having a revolution. If this were to happen it would be such a manifestation of a change in the whole outlook of the German nation that I think the Allies would be content with easier terms such as Germany – if able to express her real feelings – might be willing to meet. This is perhaps the last hope for a swift peace, and I am not sure it would not be in the end the most satisfactory and conclusive manner of arriving at it.
After all what we want most of all is a change of spirit in the German nation itself, and no clearer indication of such a change could well be expected than a revolution overthrowing the Hohenzollerns: I do not think we can ever expect this generation of Germans openly to confess, or even clearly to realize the enormity of their crimes. Moreover the next best hope of a speedy conclusion of war, which lies in the possibility of a sudden and complete collapse of Germany’s military strength would involve considerable subsequent moral danger to the Allies as absolute and complete conquerors. This is a position that has often been too much for a single nation, though perhaps a number of allies might avoid the dangers of a permanently swollen head.
Besides this any changes in Germany promoted by direct external compulsion would probably not prove in the end nearly so satisfactory when subjected to the test of time as changes undertaken rather more voluntarily. Either of these conclusions would be welcome however, and the sooner the better.
You must all be getting dreadfully sick of war conditions at home; while in all other countries, among the chief belligerents I suppose it is even worse. At any rate it must be satisfactory to feel that every effort is at last being put forward, uncomfortable as it must make things in many ways.
I have come to the conclusion that it would be a very good thing if all current news were limited to base recounting of facts, and all newspaper comment had to be held up for two months before it could be published. This would put a stop to about three-quarters of the perfectly distressing nonsense that gets written. It is the test that all papers are put to out here; we know the main facts of two months to follow before we can read the papers, and it is a test they come out of pretty badly for the most part.
I think The Observer comes out as well as any; I always appreciate getting it from you, and it comes very regularly. Garvin writes vigorously but adopts reasonable and moderate views as a rule. The worst nonsense of all recently was the wail that arose when the first German retirement began; it was apparently regarded as almost a German victory. We were not credited with any victory when we left Helles which was a many times more difficult performance.
Another rather funny article, as read some 50 miles north of Bagdad, was Colonel Repington’s greatly deprecating any idea of following up our success at Kut at all.
You must be very glad to have left well behind such a cold trying winter, and I hope you are being rewarded with a good summer. There should be no special harm in the lateness of the season provided the weather is good now.
I judge from reports that the submarine trouble is being pretty satisfactorily handled, though we had a bad relapse a month or so back. It must be causing you a lot of discomfort at home though. The army is the only body not allowed to feel the strain of it.
We have greatly appreciated sitting still and making ourselves as comfortable as possible in about the best bit of this country I have been in. The temperature rises to 110° now, but we are not worried much by it or by insects.
Give my love to the girls, with thanks for their letters and shares in my parcel. Please thank Mrs Ashwin too for sending me socks which I very much appreciate.
Best love from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden