Oct 2nd 1917
My dear Father
My mails have been arriving in an inverted order just lately. Yours of date Aug 2nd came a week ago with a later one of Mela’s. Letters of the previous week came yesterday.
We are very comfortably settled down now in our fresh position, and I like being here. It is a great change and I am very much on my own and able to run my own show to a great extent. Also the weather is getting quite respectable and one feels decently energetic most of the day. For a few hours about midday one still does not walk about much for choice, but it can be done without fear of heatstroke.
I hope we shall be left here a good long time, and I think that is quite possible though one never knows for certain.
We have just been greatly pleased at the success in the Euphrates! The news of it was a complete surprise to me as I had heard no rumour of operations in that direction. The loss of a clear 4000 means almost the entire Turkish force in that region, and will be a very unpleasant reminder to Turkey of General Maude’s unabated offensive spirit. Whatever plans for an offensive against us may have been made will be rather spoiled for the time being. Also I hear of extensions eastward and north-eastward from the positions we have held during the summer. This makes it all the harder for the Turk to concentrate suddenly at any point, especially as he has no single line of communications that can support a big force for long, and can only assemble big forces by using all possible lines from all directions converging upon different parts of the general curve of our position: for most of these lines of approach are separated by wide tracts of waterless desert.
One of the staff officers of the division lectured to some of us yesterday on a very interesting official tour which he made through the Russian armies of this area. He went up to them by motor while we were in connection through Kizal Robat, and made an intended tour right back to Tiflis the GHQ of the entire Russian forces in Turkey and Persia. Then he visited the Caucasus front, Trebizoud, Ergoroum and other places. The interesting part was that the dis-organization of the revolution was affecting everything to the utmost. Absolutely all authority has been taken out of the hands of officers, and an elected committee of soldiers dispenses punishment (if any) in place of the unit commander. It is only in rare circumstances that any officer figures in the committee. In Tiflis (a big modern city) there are lots of fine staff motor cars; but no officer by any chance can ever get the use of one. The soldiers take their girls about at breakneck speed for joy-rides all day and half the night. If the officers want to move their force anywhere or do anything at all they have to have meetings and attempt to persuade them to do it. If they won’t, they won’t and that is the end of it. It is a funny way to run an army, and a different way will have to be found before they can be any use at all.
I was interested to hear of your long ride with May to Northleach; you keep in very good form for riding, and it is a sign that you must be very well.
I suppose the bulk of the fruit-picking is done now; I hope weather has been good for it and that you have been able to manage all right for labour with your many helpers.
Mela reports well of most of the family except perhaps May. I hope she took a bit of a rest during her holidays and is by this time better for it.
Best love to everybody.
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden