Sunday July 14th 1918
My dear Ethel
The parcel which you and Betty packed and sent off about the beginning of May reached me in remarkably quick time (for a parcel) and in very good condition. It is very nice to get a parcel now and again, though in these hard times (hard times at home I mean) I feel quite ashamed to accept anything eatable at all. It happens that for a long while past, except for the month when I went on operations recently, we have been getting very comfortable and civilized by degrees, and in the matter of rations in particular I am sure we must have been doing far better than you do at home. As a matter of fact, however, it is a long lane that has no turning, and we are just coming to a corner, and perhaps we shall find ourselves very much more under active service conditions shortly. Naturally I have to be rather circumspect in saying anything about it, but you can know this much that after a long time sitting still and letting civilization catch us up we are going to put on a spurt and get well away from it again. Exactly where we are going I do not know; and I have the dimmest of notions what we shall have to do when we get there. Conditions will be very different from those we have grown accustomed to however, especially in the matter of climate.
To return to the subject of the parcel. I am retaining the tins of various things till we are uprooted, when they will serve me as a sort of second "iron ration". The pot of honey was getting sticky externally so I put it out for immediate consumption! The chocolate I dare not open till we get to cooler temperatures, as at about 100o it gets very soft, but hardens on cooling again all right, provided it has not been too roughly treated in the meanwhile. The big "housewife" of Aunt Lottie's is a good sensible one capable of holding something useful in the way of mending material. Socks, shirt and handkerchiefs are always useful at any time, especially hand knitted socks. Altogether you compressed a perfectly astonishing variety of things into a very small space. I gather everybody at home had a share in it; and everybody has a big share of my thanks. When all is said and done the thing that matters about a parcel is the association of it; I would always rather be using something sent from home, if it is only a stick of shaving soap, than one purchased out here. If in addition the home parcel supplies an urgent need, unprocurable here, it is so much the better.
My mails which are not too rapid now are likely to become appreciably slower before long. I hope I may just get another mail up before we leave this present camp, but it is uncertain.
I had a letter from Betty by the last mail. She must have written only a few days before hearing from me as a matter of fact. I am rather expecting an acknowledgement of that letter by the next mail, as I gave her a small commission to perform for me; so I shall write to her a bit later. By this time I suppose she knows her fate in the Inter exams last month. I hope they went well.
We have not had it so hot this year as last up to date. There is still a month in which it may get really bad, but I shall be slipping away to where it is not so extreme quite shortly. The real shade maximum has rarely exceeded 115o so far, and last year we had a fortnight when it scarcely failed to pass 120o each day, and reached 127o twice.
We are sorry to be leaving such a good camp. We have spent so much labour on it that it almost deserves to be called a barracks. One always takes the risk of doing a lot of work for nothing in settling down to make a decent place; but in the long run it undoubtedly pays.
Somewhere among my kit which I sent from Blackdown is to be found a big warm pair of wool-lined gauntlet brown leather gloves. If you can find them and will send them to me it is likely they will be awfully useful by the time they arrive. Just at the present they appear to be about the last thing we would want.
My address, after name and regiment, will in future be "Dunsterforce"; please inform all concerned.
Best love from your affectionate brother
Cyril E Sladden