Aug 13th 1917
My own Darling
Two years ago I was about as near getting sent home as I have ever been since I left. At this time of morning I had just about got comfortably settled on board the Guildford Castle, and having had a most excellent hot bath (much needed) was tackling an equally excellent breakfast (equally much needed). It is an occasion I shall not readily forget. The sudden contrast between the very worst of conditions on the Gallipoli peninsula and a very well fitted hospital ship was something to remember. Also it will be a year tomorrow since I sailed from Karachi, though as we took a week on the voyage I shall not have completed my year in the country until the beginning of next week. It is wonderful how the time goes, as it does not seem long since I was in India.
I don’t feel I have missed a great deal by getting no leave seeing that you could not come. The general opinion is that it is all very well while it lasts, but over short, and scarcely worth the great amount of trouble entailed in getting there and back. It isn’t as if one could escape nasty times by going; they take good care that you are only away during the period when you would enjoy the chance of sitting quiet in one place for a bit.
I have it in mind to apply later on for a week or so in Bagdad, but I shall not do so until Gibbon comes back and I can get the job of all these stores off my hand. I hope if I get down there I may be able to refit myself with various things I am in need of. It will be very nice not to do any parades or have anybody to look after but myself for a short while too.
I have been extra busy the last few days, taking from the Canteen some £150 worth of stores and retailing it. I have got rid of most of it in the course of a couple of days, the occasion being a good one as the men had just received pay.
I am surprised that Gibbon and Holmden have not got back to us yet, but they may turn up any day now. It is easy enough to get hung up at various places on the river.
A few days ago we had a new officer join us whom as yet I have not spoken to; but I am told that he was in the Cameronia in her last trip, so I must find out some time if he ever ran up against Wilfred at all. It will be interesting in any case to hear a first-hand version of the sinking of the boat, after reading Wilfred’s account.
I had an absurd form of dream last night which had some very pleasing points about it, but worked itself out in the most tiresome sort of way. I was arriving home, and for some reason was taken about all over the place on some rather obscure business seeing all sorts of people. I just managed to meet all the family (and you with them) for a moment on a sort of public and formal occasion and then got rushed away. I remember my colossal joy at being home again, mingled with much irritation at all this fuss; also thinking how stupid it was that after many hours I should only have had just a word exchanged with you, and not a chance of a kiss.
Which last item proves it to be a silly dream entirely, because in my sane waking moments I shall not wait for a chance, but certainly give and expect a kiss the moment I have you within arm’s length; though if we are lucky enough to be alone at the time all the better.
I wonder if you are at home now helping with the fruit picking which must just be beginning now I suppose. You suggested it was likely that you might be doing so in August if they had not found you a job by that time. I am sure my military efficiency would be enormously increased by a month’s course (or preferably more!) of fruit picking. Don’t you agree?
I hope it will not be long before the next mail comes as I feel quite ready for further news of you. I want to hear what sort of a time you had at your own new home in Marlow, pretty busy I suppose for a start. I gather that Kath by this time will have left Sydenham and completed the move to Bedford Park. I am afraid a lot of my property must have given them a good deal of extra work in the moving. What a lot of good weekends and Sundays we have to recall at old No 12. I shall certainly miss not going back there.
All my best love, dear, from
Your ever affectionate
Cyril E Sladden