Sept 3rd 1918
My dear Father
I have had very little chance for getting any letters written for some time past. For ten days I was doing a long march, and then I had a very short stay before moving on again by motor. I am now making use of the leisure afforded by a short sea voyage to write again. From tomorrow onwards, when I expect to be disembarking, I foresee possibility of a very poor time. However after a long time with very little doing I cannot complain if I come in for a spell of fighting, moreover appearances are often deceptive, and one can never tell what is coming.
I have been a long way lately in very unbeaten tracks, and it has been a most interesting experience. Much of the country I have been through has been magnificent; the mountains are all on a grand scale.
In the last part the level of the country fell steadily, and we passed through great stretches of forest of many kinds of trees. At the same time there was a continuous change in the appearance of the people and houses with increasing European influence.
It is odd in a way to be travelling steadily towards home in one sense, though for practical purposes (under present conditions at least) we are merely getting further and further away. I believe the part I am making for is a fine town, such as I have not been in for a long time. I shall not however be seeing it under the best of conditions, and most probably my actual period of stay in the town itself will be brief enough.
I have just been having a very interesting talk with an officer on political service of his country. He speaks French well and by letting him do most of the talking we get along famously. He has described very well the extraordinary complications of the politics of this part of the world, which are beyond the grasp of most Englishmen altogether.
Rather naturally the importance he attaches to the French front is much lower than my estimate of it. His opinion however should be a good one as he has travelled very widely; he was in London a year ago, and afterwards visited the French and Italian fronts. He met Lord Kitchener once in India, and I heard him just now speaking of General Joffre.
It is so very funny on this boat. All the wives and families of the crew appear to live on it, and one has to fit ourselves in as best we can. Everybody is very free and easy, and deck hands come and sit down and take forty winks on the upper deck seats! The whole thing is run in a haphazard sort of way, and one feels that if the boat were suddenly to put about and go back to where we started from nobody would be surprised at all. I suppose in time I shall get accustomed to their mode of life: but I hope the spirit will not spread among us, it would be rather disastrous.
We are having a perfectly smooth crossing; I believe though that it can be thoroughly rough here at times.
The climate in this region is not I think very severe at any time throughout the winter. In the parts I have travelled through, owing to the altitude, there is a very hard winter indeed. At present we notice it fairly warm and damp, both only relatively after the cool and very dry heights we have been in.
I will post this on arrival at the port, and will try to write fairly soon to give you some idea of the conditions I find myself in subsequently.
Best love to everybody from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden