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September 11th 1914 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

11th 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 11th/14

My darling Cyril

I was delighted to hear from you yesterday morning - and think, for you, considering the short time you had for writing, that it is quite a long letter!

Am thankful to hear that your feet are becoming hardened to their new use and hope they’ll soon get quite accustomed to these long marches. I know what it is to have to be on one’s feet the greater part of the day and what agonies it costs one to keep up a smart appearance when they are blistered and swollen. This time of training, I have procured myself a very supporting pair of silent ward shoes and am wearing them now so as to be used to them before actually entering the wards.

Your Father is busy now answering a letter from Matron, he seems a long time concocting it!

I went to the dentist yesterday. At first Mr Shuvelton was loathe to stop these two teeth at present – but ended in doing one of them. He only charged 3/6! He showed me a wonderful way of having a tooth inserted so that one cannot remove it, and suggested that when the one which protrudes slightly shall perhaps decay, that I should have the nerve extracted, the tooth filed down, and a straight tooth made to match the others inserted in the root of the old one – (so when I am old I hope this will greatly add to my appearance – it’s nice to feel one has a chance of improving as one gets older!). Isn’t it marvellous the perfection to which dentistry has reached. He says I am still well supplied with teeth, and the roots are very strong. (So I could have a whole set screwed in which would never come out!)

I have turned the heel of the first sock. I’m afraid I’ve been a long time but I am determined it shall be comfortable, so I pulled the thing to pieces when I had done about 9 inches of it – and enlarged it. However all goes well with it now, and having done one the other will be easy.

Juliet and I went for a walk this morning through Bretforton and round by Littleton Station. We quite enjoyed our tramp. It is time the holidays were over I think, everyone quarrels with everyone else! It is partly due to the house being full of women, if some of you boys were here it would vary the monotony.

Personally I haven’t quarrelled with anyone but it makes one quite tired looking on!

I am as happy, dear, as I ever could be, without you, and everyone is very dear and sweet to me, each in her own way. At first it seemed as though the heart ache would never grow less but the first keen poignancy has passed off and a kind of sweet longing pain remains. It is especially so when I wake in the morning and realize another day has to be lived through, but I also feel that is a day nearer to the time we meet again.

Ethel told me she was talking to the Mustoes and Mrs Mustoe said she felt so sorry for Mary, and old Mustoe chimed in “And what about Miss Constable?” His wife replied, “She is not married yet so it is not so hard for her.” Old Mustoe answered, “I don’t know though, I reckon it is just as hard.”

So I have one champion in the village, and he is a very understanding old man. He knows just as we do, that it is not the wedding ceremony or even marriage itself which makes people over. There is something more than that which even death cannot sunder, the union of souls.

Few people perhaps reach this height during the period of his or her engagement, but old Mustoe is one of those who knows it is possible.

I feel certain that our parting was every whit as keen as the parting between Arthur and Mary. In a few ways Mary may feel it more miserably than I do, because she has never had any trouble or serious partings before. Then to balance that there is my point of view, I have never before known joy, the joy of being loved absolutely for myself alone, and to be suddenly cut off as it were from any actual meeting with you, has been like taking away all that is best in life, and the first few days it seemed to dull my very vitality. We both have longed, even if this has not been expressed, for the joy which can only come when we see our own lives repeated in the lives of others, and at first I felt as though I could not let you go, perhaps never to see you again, never to know what I have just referred to. But I have roused myself and am now convinced that if I pray and God thinks fit to answer my prayers, He will send you back to me. If He wills otherwise it will be to fulfill His divine purpose, and I must bow my head to his decision. He will give me strength to bear whatever may come.

This nursing will be the very thing for me, dear. I shall nurse the patients tenderly, oh-so tenderly because I shall be thinking of you and praying that if you are ever ill, while away from me, that some other nurse will do the same for you.

Things look hopeful and perhaps you may never have to go abroad so I must go on cheerfully. Don’t think I am unhappy at the present moment because I write in this strain. I am not unhappy really – it’s only just that I want you and I must learn to realize that although you are not with me in the body, you are in the spirit. This will all come in time.

At any rate, dear, you can rejoice to know that I am in sound physical health, and everyone knows that it is next to impossible to be really miserable if one is in good sound health.

There is little news to give you.

I am so glad you passed the squad drill exam.

Good luck to you in the others.

With all my heart’s love, Beloved, God bless you. Keep well.

Ever your own affectionate


The handkerchiefs I sent on to you were in a long business envelope. I marked it “Handkerchiefs”. Enclosed was my letter and Dr Baker’s. I addressed it to Churn Farm Camp (I believe) at Churn – nr Didcot. After your name I put the name of your regiment, 9th B of W. I heard from the Postal Authority in Birmingham that up to the present the packet has not been found but that the search for it still goes on. I filled up a paper describing the packet, its contents and the way it was addressed, and how it would have been addressed.

Do you think it went to the 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment Officers mess? You’d hardly think so as I put Churn, wouldn’t you.

Betty heard from George this morning. He is still at St Albans. He is going to write me some “Scotch experiences” when he has time!

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference