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

3rd October 1914
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Seward House, Badsey
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, The Officers' Mess, 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, Bhurtpore Barracks, Tidworth
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

At Seward House


Oct 3rd 1914

My darling Cyril

I was very glad to get a nice long letter from you this morning.  You seem to be getting into the swim of things and it interested us all very much to hear details of your daily routine.  Fancy Tidworth boasting shops now.  It must be quite a place of fashion compared to a few years ago!  The market was our only place of shopping.

I have already started the cholera belt you say you would like to have – I take it turn and turn about with the new pair of socks, which you will like better than the grey ones – the wool is such a good quality that they ought to wear well.

I am writing in the schoolroom where May is working, so as not to be disturbed by the reading aloud.  Eight days ago you and I were sitting over the fire in here, and wondering whether you were in for a cold.  I am living last week end over in memory – it was good to have you those three days and I look forward to the time when we can together live them again, and especially to the time when every day will be as those three.

In the mean time I am gradually schooling myself to find pleasure in the pleasure of others and am trying to put my own happiness in the background, as it were, for the present.  I expect you will understand me when I tell you that I find that indulging one’s mind overmuch with thoughts of our love for each other, seems to sap one’s strength, the longing becomes almost more than one’s courage can face, and so to a certain extent I put a rein on my thoughts.

Some days I can dwell very happily on all we are to each other and our memories of times spent together without becoming in the least upset.  Other days I simply have to banish such thoughts from my mind, or else, should become unnerved, a state I dread more than anything on this earth.

As time goes on I shall get more complete control of my feelings and there will be no need for me to keep a check on my thoughts.  I wonder if I have explained myself clearly on this matter and that you will understand.  I think you will for I believe you have the same horror of losing your self control as I have, I hate to feel that circumstances are getting beyond my capability of mastering them.

Miss Holmes brought me in the Daily Graphic yesterday, in which were pictures of the London Scottish in France.  General French officially announced that they were in the trenches then and that they were the first Territorials to be sent on Active Service.  She had a wire from Portsaid from her brother, who was out in Australia, saying he would be landing in London in a fortnight but giving no particulars.  I believe I told you this in my last letter.  Muriel is now busy knitting khaki socks for him in the hope he is coming home to join his old regiment.  He is the brother who was in the Munster Fusiliers then became a clergyman, made an unfortunate marriage, gave up the Church, and then went to Australia for his health.

Your Father took Mrs Ashwin some chrysanthemums this evening and came back with a copy of the new ‘Struvelpeter’, which is simply delighted, especially William (Wilhelm) and the Matches, the end runs something like this ‘The rest of him was reduced to ashes, except the ends of his moustaches’.  These you see looking very forlorn amongst the ashes in a picture which exactly fits.

You heard that Dinky asked £30 for his piece of land and that the Committee of the Recreation Ground decided to have it valued as they considered it is not worth more than £10.  Your Father chose Mr Martin as valuer and Dinky chose George Jones, who by the way is Dinky’s bosom friend.

Mr M valued the land at £8 and GJ at £15!  Even his best friend came down to half the price asked!

Last night another meeting was held and Dinky would not budge a shilling, so now the matter has gone up before an Agricultural Arbitrator and Mr Fisher is coming down to settle it. I’ll let you know the result.  The villagers are most indignant with Dinky, and tell him he is trying to rob the parish etc. etc.!

Ethel and I helped with the Church decorations for Harvest Festival tomorrow.  There was an abundance of fruit and vegetables as well as corn and floral decorations. None of the Vicarage people helped, but Mrs Hands came puffing in when it was all done saying that she had only just come to look in as she had promised the Vicar she would just see that everything was going on all right!  Evelyn had gone to Leamington to the dentist and Mrs Hands said she personally was thankful that she had something to keep her away from the babies for a whole day, as she could not get her to take an interest in everything else.

Mrs H is very amusing at times but as her ideas make her blissfully happy it would be a shame to deprive her of them.  She said to me “Harold’s regiment is sure to go to the Front quite soon.  You see his Corps is composed of such intelligent men that they won't take long to learn the ropes.”

Personally, as they are all ‘non-manual’ workers I should think, that they will find some of the work extremely hard!

Your Father said I might have replied “My brother must be very intelligent, he was chosen to go after having joined a fortnight!”

Ethel met the Vicar in the village this evening and he said “Is it true that Cyril has gone to the Front, Mrs Hands tells me he has” – “No”, said Ethel “But perhaps Mrs Hands said Mela’s brother, Cecil had gone abroad”.  ‘Oh – No’ said the Vicar, I knew he’d gone”.  “Then perhaps she’d heard George would be going soon”.  “No – she said Cyril had gone.”

Isn’t it queer how reports get about?!

From your description of Capt. Barker and Colonel Sykes, they seem very nice men.  I know the former type of army man very well, the reserve is part of the rôle he has to play, he’d probably drop it away from the subalterns.

I am glad you’ve got your camp kit – it must have been so draughty sleeping without a mattress.  I wonder if you’ll be told off for Parade Service tomorrow.  I am going to take it easy tomorrow morning and not go to the Early Celebration, for reasons you can perhaps guess – which always annoy me very much.

Well, Goodnight Sweetheart.  God bless you – it was very sweet of you to write me a second letter. I appreciated it very much as I am sure it is difficult to write often as there must be many little odd things you want to do in your spare time.

With much love, dear, I’ll write soon again.

Ever your affectionate


PS – There was a letter from Arthur this morning – no particular news except that they are busier and the chateau was to be turned into a hospital and the doctors have to go into tents.

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