9th October, 1914   Cyril Thatcher   On the Chatham in the Mediterranean Fleet

“I received a letter from you a couple of days ago, dated August 2nd.  I expect things were getting a little exciting there.  They are gradually pushing us farther away.  First they sent us to Port Said, then to Suez; then we went to Aden, and at present, well – at the time of writing we are cruising in the Indian Ocean about half way between Aden and Bombay.  I have been wondering what ships Gordon and Alf are on.  We cannot get any news here as to how the war is progressing at home.  We don’t know whether it is anything like finishing or how long it is likely to last.  We have done our little bit up here I think.  My word, we didn’t half have a time coming through the Red Sea – no awning spread as we are all cleared for battle.  We were lying about the decks sweltering in the sun like rotten sheep.  They were hauling the stokers out of the stokeholds three or four at a time.  In the engine room we were working in quarter of an hour spells, quarter of an hour down below, and then nip up on deck for quarter of an hour.  I think the temperature in the room was a hundred and thirty-eight.  What made it so bad was because we had a stern wind; you see, what draught we creating was destroyed by the wind blowing astern.  Well, it is a bit better here.

Dear mother, you should not worry so much.  Try and look on the bright side of things, as we are only doing what thousands would do if they could.  You should be glad to think that at least you have done your duty to your country in bringing up men who are able to do their best for good old England.”