Dec 11th 1917
My dear Father
Such things as have happened during the past week since I wrote to May have not much disturbed the even tenure of our way just round about here. Everything is much as it was, except that it has become properly cold, and froze hard last night with every sort of appearance this afternoon of repeating the performance even more rigorously tonight again. There is a biting NW wind that makes one glad of plenty of clothes even in the middle of the day when the sun is warm.
As there has been no rain to speak of yet a frost is not noticeable apart from its effect upon face and hands and any other parts of the body that gets left without enough covering to keep it out.
A little local expedition of short duration has lately had useful results, though the Turks were too quick in taking to their heels to let themselves get very severely handled. However these little shows, even if they only inflict a few hundred casualties, and loss of some arms and material have an excellent effect (as we reckon it) on the morale of the local Turkish forces. They are likely to be pretty sick at having set fire to their coal mines when they found we did not attempt to chase them so far.
It was just a toss-up that I did not have to go out on the expedition, but somebody had to be left to carry on this job and we were the lucky ones, so have remained in comparative comfort.
Your letter of Oct 17th, which I acknowledged last week in May’s letter remains my most recent news. It is now getting on for a fortnight since we had a mail, so we ought to get one shortly. I had hopes of one today, but there is still no news of any.
I have been watching the news from France with great interest lately. I judge from the Reuters we have had that there has been a tremendous pitched battle at Cambrai, not necessarily over. However I doubt if the Germans can have any more success in another effort than they had on Nov 30th, as every day must improve our defences, and we appear to have recaptured within a day or two practically every bit of ground they pushed us from.
There must have been a lot of casualties both sides, but theirs far more than ours in the circumstances. There is nothing more expensive than unsuccessful attacks except a regular disastrous defeat; and we gained our ground in the first place absurdly cheaply as things go in France.
I was lucky in having an old newspaper map showing that area in some detail. Maps are very rare indeed out here, and so I generally cut out any I can lay hands on and keep them. Sometimes as in this case they turn out to be very useful, but they are rather a job lot taken all round.
Best love to the girls and yourself from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden