Sept 16th 1917
My dearest Mela
The move into the line which I anticipated in my last letter is to take place tomorrow, so I must get on with letter writing today.
Tomorrow will be full of packing, Tuesday I shall be busy settling down, and in any case letters from there will probably have to leave by Tuesday morning instead of the evening as here.
I rode out on Friday morning to examine carefully the section I shall be in, so as to be able to make necessary arrangements in advance. I hear that we shall exchange our dust, which is the chief trial here, for sand flies which abound there.
I am in hopes they will not survive much longer, as a marked drop in night temperature is taking place, and really cool nights especially if there is some breeze generally put an end to sand flies.
When I was in Amara just a year ago they depended simply upon the weather and if I remember right we were not much troubled with them after October set in. Here the cold nights may be expected some weeks or two earlier than in Amara.
The chief disadvantage of being in the line is that one is rather scattered over a big area, and one sees little of anybody outside one’s own company. I always like to be in fairly close touch with battalion headquarters where they get all copies of intelligence (that is information about the enemy), of all kinds of orders and all the local news. I got used to seeing and hearing all this in the spring, and miss it now if I don’t get it.
There are at the same time several advantages, of which the settled smooth routine that one falls into is one of the greatest.
There has been no mail this week so far, and I cannot get any news of one coming so it looks almost as if the fortnightly mails still continue in spite of what was said in the papers about resumption of weekly mail boats.
Having nothing to reply to, I have less in consequence to write about this week. The usual routine of training does not supply much material in that line. We had several fairly long outings early in the week as a sort of final effort before moving; now we shall be limited to individual training, such as shooting, bombing, specialist work, NCO instruction and so on of which one can scarcely do too much. I don’t know how much digging we shall get; if there is much there won’t be a lot of time for anything else.
I picked up a book yesterday that struck me rather well in a hurried glance: “The Letters of Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple”. It is published in a cheap edition in the Wayfarers Library. The period of the letters is about Cromwell’s time. These two fell in love when quite young and were unable to marry for year’s owing apparently to political difficulties but corresponded regularly and met at intervals. A considerable number of her letters remain, and form a most interesting record of a very faithful attachment besides being a good picture of the relations of the best type of lovers at the period, and pleasantly written into the bargain. read several letters, chosen at random, and it struck me you would enjoy them greatly.
The latest Reuters has some rather remarkable statements of what are apparently rumours in Washington diplomatic circles of German peace offers. If any reliance could be put in that very flimsy basis of the news it would be very significant, as the terms, though not of course meeting ours by a long way, still go a great deal further than anything anybody had anticipated at present, and would mean that Germany must know herself to be in a very bad way indeed and scarcely able to carry on. I shall be very interested to read anything further about it, and to see whether anything really solid is behind it all and if so what. A paragraph a day or two ago said Germany was preparing to publish her latest peace offers. The subject would appear at any rate to be in the air.
When we set ourselves seriously to picture what it would be like if peace were arranged within a reasonably short period it becomes quite difficult. Everybody mentally adopts the attitude of arranging for unlimited periods of war in the future.
I know one thing; when that delectable time does come there will be mighty impatience to be the first to be sent home, both from here and everywhere else too. There will be lots of disappointments over it too. However a bit of more delay will be as nothing to the present anxieties, though it may be pretty annoying at the time.
I have not yet had any news of how you spent my last present. I hope you won’t forget to tell me about it, as I like to picture what you get and just the sort of pleasure I may expect you to get out of it. Probably I shall hear in some of your letters in the near future.
I must write to Father this week, and I should like also to manage a letter to Betty, so I will stop.
If this is not a very entertaining letter forgive me; you know it is because I miss getting fresh news of you which after all is what I chiefly live on.
Very best love Mela dear, from
Your own affectionate
Cyril E Sladden