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September 3rd 1914 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

3rd September 1914
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Seward House, Badsey
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, Officers' Training Camp, Churn, near Didcot, Berkshire
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Seward House

Sept 3rd 1914

My darling Cyril

I am so sorry to see in the list of killed today the name of Viscount Hawarden. Wasn’t he one of those who went to the pea-picking mission the same time as you did? He was only twenty-four. You’ve mentioned him to me several times. There is also another name of a man I knew slightly, Lieutenant Thompson, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment.

Muriel has gone for her 2nd hospital day so knowing Mrs Ashwin would be a little lonely I popped over to see her this morning. She was interested to get news of you but she hopes very much you won’t be sent abroad. I am going to have tea with her this afternoon.

Ethel, Betty and I called at the Vicarage about 12.30 and found Ma, Massa, Evelyn and the babies all at home. Miss Allsebrooke is not pretty but quite a jolly little thing, red haired like her mother. Basil was busy reading the Daily Mirror!

Evelyn looks very ill, her hands are quite emaciated. She told me she felt very low and not at all well.

Harold Allsebrook is keen to get a commission in the new Army.

Last night after supper, Ethel, May and I cycled over to Evesham to a meeting held to explain the causes of the war. It was in the market place. Lord Deerhurst and Mr Ashwin spoke and others whose names I don’t know. Sergeant Walker addressed the crowd too and recruited men after. He has recruited more men than any sergeant in the county. Evesham and district are showing up splendidly and continue to give more men every day.

It was a perfect moonlight night and we quite enjoyed the ride back. I thought when I got back how nice it would have been, if you had been here to stroll round the garden with me. But still I have memories which are next best to having you. It made me think how possibly you were looking at your beloved stars under an open sky, loth to turn in under the canvas.

I wrote to George this morning and gave him an extract from your letter about your daily work. We continue to hear reports of Russian troops in England.


I’ve just been strolling round the garden with your Mother and Father. The latter gave me some lovely roses for my room. You remember the cluster of Reve d’or roses you admired so much in the Broad Walk. They are all out now and are a perfect sight about twelve in one cluster.

I actually had the courage to have an argument with Kath today on the subject of pensions for women. We differed a good bit but after some time your Mother who was listening said, “I think Mela is right”, and after a little longer waging of words K subsided. Her idea is that it is ridiculous for officers’ daughters to have pensions. My argument is that they are entitled to them quite fairly as their fathers have to subscribe to the fund all their lives. They are not given them. She also thinks every girl should earn enough to put by enough to keep her in her old age. This would be very nice in a Utopia where wages were in accordance with work done regardless of sex but as it is many years before this ideal state of existence comes to pass I feel it is early days for poor officers’ daughters to be deprived of their pensions.

You see she is gifted with brains and has had a certain amount of opportunity to cultivate them but in the rush and tumble of military life very few girls get the opportunity of a really good sound education such as would enable them to earn large salaries.

I see her point of view but it is that of an idealist and would hardly answer. After all, if every other man chose to subscribe to a pension fund his daughters would be entitled to a pension. The difference being that one is compulsory and the other voluntary.

Supposing an officer gets killed and leaves young daughters they are provided with almost enough to educate them supposing anything happened to their Mother, whose pension would die with her. These children would have relations but the pension they get would be of some assistance. And what I feel is the Father subscribes for a pension for them so why on earth shouldn’t they have them.

Sept 4th - 9.30 pm

Your Father has just been reading us Mr Asquith’s speech at the Guildhall. Isn’t it fine?

Bar wrote this morning to say they are safe at Beverly. She is so surprised to see so many men about still. She says in Boulogne there are only women and a few old men and that at the times when the newspapers are due to be out the women literally fight to get into the shops to get news of their husbands whether they are safe or not.

This morning I cycled into Evesham and did some shopping for the others. I find cycling quite easy now and do not get a bit blown. It is awfully nice because I can get into Evesham now in a few minutes.

I heard from the Matron of the Birmingham General Hospital this morning. She says she is taking probationers for one year during the present crisis but there would be no payment on either side. She writes a very nice letter and ends by saying that probably my previous training will prove of value. I have sent her letter and the forms she enclosed to Uncle Ben to see what he thinks about it. I expect I should not be a “first year” nurse very long if I proved myself fairly useful - and if occasion required perhaps I would get taken on the second year on paid terms.

Of course, dear, this is not a great catch and I shall not take it unless Uncle offers to help me out a little but it is a consideration only to have to sign for one year.

Ethel poured her griefs out to me this afternoon – she gets worked up and worried some times.

Cecil is in the London Scottish. I wonder how he’ll look in kilts! Bar thinks he’ll feel rather cold at first – it’s lucky it is summer. This regiment and George’s are rivals so he’ll tease me worse than ever now about the Scotch.

Betty is getting on with the blouse I cut out for her. She is making two new ones for next term.

It is just about prayer time. This is the hour when I feel most lost without you. I simply yearn to have you with me. But still, dear, don’t think I am unhappy. I am happy in the knowledge that you are doing your duty and mine is to keep well and jolly if possible and do the work allocated to me cheerfully so that I shall be my very best when you come back to me. Won’t that be a glorious day. I hope after that, Sweetheart, you may get the chance of a really good billet so that our time of preparation may not last very much longer. Some times I feel I cannot bear it but I know the only sensible thing to do is for us to wait and the only one to lead to ultimate real happiness.

Sept 5th

We were all so glad to get more news from you this morning. I am awfully disappointed that you did not get my first letter enclosed with the handkerchiefs. You must have thought I was an age writing to you.

Another week I shall arrange that you hear from me on Tues., Thurs. and Sats. Then on Sunday you will be able to answer my last. You seem to be quite enjoying your camp life – your description sounds as though you were pretty comfortable. Am so glad you are not in a crowded tent.

All my fondest love – Sweetheart. God bless you – the time drags a bit to me but I expect you are so busy that it simply flies!

I read the 5th chapter of the Epistle to the Romans last night. It was most helpful.

If you get a day or two off before going to Salisbury I do hope I shall see you – even if I am not here. Am looking forward to a nice long letter on Monday.

Ever your own affectionate

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 4 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference