9th Worc Regt, Britforce, Baku
Jan 19th 1919
My dear Father
It looks as if we are never going to get letters any more; yours of August 17th which I had nearly six weeks ago remains the latest in my possession. I only hope you are getting mine a bit more regularly and quickly. Orders cancelling censorship have recently reached us, so that I can tell you about things more fully now than was possible before.
What is particularly annoying about our mails is that we get people arriving here from Batum who were in England at the end of October; while others have their home letters for November in their pockets. If there was any management at all of mails all of ours ought to have been set aside to be sent by the Batum route from the beginning of November when it was first decided to send us here. The occupation of Batum and Tiflis and the control of the railway was all in the same plan from the outset. Had this been done all our November letters could have been accumulated at Constantinople and sent on to Batum very soon after our force landed there. We should have had all of them by the end of December then. As it is those letters are probably in India or Mesopotamia by now, and it is highly improbable if we shall ever get them at all. The mails from Mesopotamia are just as bad. Two letters I have had from Bagdad have taken three months to get here, and this was not because they were mislaid in any way: they came along with the rest of the mail of the same date.
Even allowing for the fact that the going is very bad in Persia now this is absurd. The official despatch motor service is bringing us orders printed or issued in Bagdad in about three weeks. If anybody was sufficiently interested to push mails through they could do it, but so long as they get their own they don’t seem to worry. It is not as if urgent military necessity could be pleaded as excuse. There has been none since the end of October.
However I suppose somebody somewhere will wake up to the idea that we are in Batum and that there is quite an easy way to send things to us through the Black sea. When that happy event occurs we may see a letter again. It will be very much easier to write when I can get some news of what you are doing at home.
At present things go on here very much as they have been doing. I am still in command as there is no sign of the Colonel turning up from England at present, though it is over a month since his month’s leave was due to finish. Also Major Gibbon is still away in Shusha or Gerusi in Armenia on a special mission; I have had no news of him for some time past.
In addition I have another job on the billeting committee, the financial part of which falls to me, and a certain amount of other work.
We are doing a large amount of administrative work of all sorts. More than half the officers are on outside jobs, and over a hundred men are employed away from the battalion in Baku at present. We get a large number of guard duties and fatigues and do very little other work in the unit.
We shall be getting a heavy lot of office work in connection with demobilization organization shortly. This is all worked out in great detail, but so far we have only had preliminary and incomplete instructions and the blank forms (of which several have to be filled up with many details for every individual) are not forthcoming at present.
I imagine that this is all completed by now in most forces, so that they are ready for demobilization as soon as it begins.
I find that all forms of people in the educational line, instructors and instructed, are booked for early return; also a definite form of application for recall to one’s old job can be used to obtain release. Concerning the latter I have written to Dr Baker. I feel I have therefore two strings to my bow.
However just at present I am afraid I shall be kept here as indispensable, until either the Colonel or Major Gibbon returns. The billeting job I think I could get rid of all right.
There has been rather a lot of talk about leave, but nobody has been sent, and I very much doubt if they ever will be.
I told Kathleen in a letter not long ago of an accident which I had, falling on a stone staircase rather badly on the right elbow. I had it X-rayed the other day and discovered that it was fracture, the outer bone of the forearm having broken about an inch from the elbow joint. Very luckily there was scarcely any displacement of the piece, and it is going on splendidly. The movement was so good from the outset that the doctor could not believe there was a fracture, and the swelling made it hard to feel anything. However as the swelling subsided he began to be a bit uncertain, so partly as a matter of interest decided after all to get the photograph taken. I went to get it done originally the day after the accident, but it could not be done then. And as it seemed to be doing so well, and the Russian hospital where the apparatus is installed is rather a long way off, we gave up the idea at did not go again at that time.
I can get the arm practically straight now, and use it quite easily for all light work. I am not permitted to bend it too much at present. I also had trouble recently on the left forearm with two boils, more or less of the Bagdad variety; the second was particularly nasty but has healed splendidly, and there seems no sign of any more. It was rather a nuisance having both arms partially incapacitated at the same time.
I have been to the opera here about once a week on the average. The individual singers are generally very good, but the chorus nothing like up to their standard. The production is rough, but that I do not mind much. I saw Faust for the second time a few days ago, and enjoyed it more than before; there was a particularly good Mephistopheles.
The mails from England are cleared on Sundays and Thursdays now in the afternoon; I must close to catch todays.
Best love to all from
Your affectionate son
Cyril E Sladden