July 23rd 1917
My dear Father
We are enjoying today by far the pleasantest day we have had for a long time. There is just the right amount of breeze and now at 11 o’clock the thermometer has not yet got to 110°, which we regard as quite cool. The record stands at 127° which has been reached on two days; but lately it has nearly always gone above 120°, and is generally as hot as that by this time of day.
About another three weeks will probably see the hottest weather over, though it does not get cool enough to do much in the middle of the day till the end of September.
The intense heat bestows upon us one very great boon in killing off all the flies. Just a very occasional one may be seen crawling about in the coolest available spots, but that is all. As it gets cooler they begin to multiply again.
We had a surprise when the English mail up to May 23rd came a few days ago, as we had been given to suppose that mails to India were only fortnightly, and in any case we knew the mail of May 31st had been sunk.
I got your letter of May 2nd, and was very glad to hear that at last you had run into a spell of really good early summer weather, which was bringing things on well and improving the prospects of good crops.
I see by the Reuter reports that the number of boats sunk is going down steadily, so it looks as if we have got the submarine campaign pretty well in hand, and Germany’s hopes so far as they rest upon it are pretty meagre.
I fancy by this time some of the more intelligent Boches must be thinking that our promised collapse under submarine blockade is rather a long time in coming.
We have been very pleased that Russia has been able to make a good move in Galicia; it holds out promise that she is recovering steadily and will be good for some valuable assistance yet. Germany seems to be making strenuous efforts to raise something in France that she can paint as a great victory, with small success beyond taking an occasional bit of front line trench, and generally losing it again, the process being I should imagine a pretty expensive one.
Your food restrictions at home must be very tiresome, but I gather they are not seriously unpleasant; I should imagine it gets pretty monotonous, and that is one of the chief drawbacks. You will fully appreciate the season of fresh fruit and vegetables now on.
We are very lucky out here and do splendidly, especially as in this hot weather one does not want a lot to eat. A very large part of our rations come from New Zealand and Australia, together with a certain amount of local produce, especially fresh meat. The Arabs keep up a good supply of fruit which we buy at reasonable prices. At present grapes, tomatoes, melons and small plums are the chief supply. Great big gufas (the round wicker boat peculiar to this country) loaded high with water-melons may be seen every morning floating down stream. They are bought in large quantities by the SOT Corps for issue as a ration.
The river goes steadily down and down, and the deep passage, capable of taking shallow draft boats, is pretty restricted in width now. Just where we are one can now walk right out about 200 yards to a big wide sandbank which sticks out high and dry in the middle, the deepest channel being right on the furthest side. The river is very wide here, about 700 yards I should say, with a steep bank about 30 feet high on the opposite side.
Lately we have had quite a moderate amount of light cloud, especially in the mornings. It seems to have little effect upon the temperature, but when a bit of cloud obscures the sun for a few minutes to some extent it gives relief from the glare. There is nearly always a wind, often too much. A strong wind even if not bad enough to raise the dust, of which the supply is unlimited, dries ones skin and then seems to scorch it. A little breeze is best, as one can, by drinking a glass of water every half hour or so, keep perspiring enough to keep pace with the evaporation, and the evaporation keeps one cool. If there is no breeze at all one soon becomes a sodden wet rag.
You will be busy fruit picking when you get this. I wish I could be with you to help.
Best love to all the girls from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden