Dec 20th 1918
My dear Father
The first regular mail for England by the new route leaves today. Such letters as I have previously got through have been sent in the care of individuals proceeding on special duty. On this occasion my servant, Private Lacey, is being sent to England as servant to an officer who is going. A very small number of NCOs and men have to be sent as servants or escorts to parties every now and again, and we are sending those with best claim to go who have never been able to go.
I anticipate that Lacey will get sent to Norton Barracks. If he should not get furlough immediately so as to go away to his own home near Southampton I have asked him to attempt to go and see you. I am sure if he is able to do so you will welcome him and be glad to have a talk with him. He is a good fellow and was in my platoon at Tidworth when I first took it over there. He went sick from Cape Helles and so missed the Anzac fighting. He joined us in time to take part in the Helles evacuation in January ’16. On first arrival in Mesopotamia he got jaundice, and so missed the severe fighting in April, and was sent to India. I picked him up there as my servant when I left there in August, and he has been my batman ever since, except while he went on leave to India this past summer. So he will be able to give you first hand information of quite a lot of our doings. I hope he may be able to get away to see you.
It is quite impossible to tell how long it may be before I get a chance to follow him up in person but I hope it will not be too long. I rather gather that a good many people at home are a bit worried to know what we are doing here at all; if they could realize the state of things here they would hardly need to ask. It is no good putting out the main part of a big fire, and leaving a dozen little patches still burning in various places, and quite capable of setting the whole thing ablaze again. Everybody here has come to regard a state of complete insecurity and muddle as the ordinary thing. There is nothing exceptional to them about utter dislocation of all transport, track and finance. It is normal that men are all armed and ready to use their arms with little provocation; that there should be food shortage and bread queues; that there should be a change in government about once a month.
If we can get these things settled and working more or less on a peace footing the people will probably have enough sense not to want to start further trouble. Certainly there is an atmosphere of much greater confidence now than when we came here.
There is a distinctly good opera company here at present. I have been twice so far, to Faust and Tosca. I enjoyed the latter particularly, a few days ago; the music was good and the acting excellent. The production of Faust was rather careless and the chorus insufficient for the needs of the opera, but much of the singing was very good. I hope to be able to see several more pieces later on; the prices are very low indeed, about the only cheap thing in the town.
I think there is some chance of our getting mails through from you by the new route fairly soon now; I hope so. I think I acknowledged your long Folkestone letter when I wrote recently to May. I have had no later mails since.
Best love to all from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden
PS – Will one of the girls procure me a suit of pyjamas and two Onoto pen ‘plungers’. I need both very badly, and can only get the first for about £4 and the second not at all here. I shall think of other urgent needs probably, and will name them and send a cheque later.