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October 17th 1914 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

17th October 1914
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, The Nurses' Home, The General Hospital, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, The Officers' Mess, 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, Bhurtpore Barracks, Tidworth, near Andover
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Nurses House
General Hospital
Bournemouth !!

Oct 17th 1914

My darling Sweetheart

There is just quarter of an hour before Night Sister comes round and puts out the lights and I am in my little bed in my nice little room and am just commencing a few lines of my first long letter from here. I am not a bit tired in myself only just ache a bit about the feet but even they are not as bad as they were yesterday – indeed I feel very fit. The work in our ward at present is incessant but not over arduous, nothing like so hard as I have experienced. It is partly because the men suffer so little pain with bullet wounds that they can help themselves a good deal. The wounds look ugly but the men do not seem to mind them. They are to return to the fighting line as soon as they are cured. A few of them are medical cases, gastric or rheumatic. They are such well mannered men and so grateful. Poor fellows – their wives and sweethearts are most of them prisoners in Brussels, Antwerp and elsewhere. Some of them do not know where they or their children are – nevertheless they are in wonderful spirits and often sing quite lustily “The Marseillaise and God save the King”, the latter in English. Most of them have really beautiful voices.

The House Governor died in the Hospital today – he has been dangerously ill for a long time. The nurses are very upset as they say he was such a kind man. The nurse who “specialed” his case has been given three days holiday. He chose this particular nurse to nurse him and it was considered an honour.

We get up at 6 am every morning - and breakfast at 6.30 – and have chapel at 6.50 - and commence work at 7. Matron is very considerate to her nurses and when there is no war on the nurses have half a day off every week and a whole day once a month. Now they get the half day fortnightly but I believe as I am an Extra I am to get it weekly. Voila la Soeur de nuit!

Sunday 10.30 am

I am now off duty. This is what they call a “Short Sunday”. One is off duty from 10 to 12.30. On Long Sundays one is off duty from 4.30 to If ever you do come down and it should happen not to be my day off or half day either, a Long Sunday would give us quite a nice time together. Your letter came as a great surprise today - it was good of you to write and it made me feel all smiles to hear from you unexpectedly.

Everything here is very nice and comfortable. The nurses have a nice sitting room with couches and comfy chairs in, a piano and an organ. At this moment, having made my bed and put out clean cap, apron etc., I am sitting with my feet up on a nice chesterfield. I cannot help thinking that it would be more ideal if you were on the other half of the couch! – but it does not do to dream these days.

The food is not bad on the whole but we do not have nearly sufficient and I have been obliged to supplement the meals here when I am out – but cannot do so every day or else I shall be ruined! I am going to ask Aunt Jessie if she will send me a hamper occasionally.

I shall also, when I’ve got the cash, invest in a decently soft pillow, those supplied for the nurses are so hard, and scrubby that it prevents me dropping off to sleep as early as I should otherwise do.

I do not consider the training here as good or smart as that of the P.V. Hospital, Bournemouth.

There are a good many students who have many smiles for the nurses – it is most amusing. Some nurses soon lose their heads over students and patients!

I heard from the little Mother today also. Ethel and Miss Pollard waited to go up to Town on Monday instead of going last Saturday.

Aunt Jessie tells me perhaps Maud will come and see me. She is staying somewhere in this neighbourhood.

Now – dear – I have given you the news just as it is – keeping nothing from you. I am really very happy here – the only drawback is the scarcity of food which is also badly served but in time one can get used to this.

I am glad your eye is on the mend and that it does not give you any pain.

I must write to your Mother also this morning – so must close this now.

Au revoir – dearest – one year from today I shall be free again unless the war is still on. We get little news here and even bad news does not upset us much as we are too busy to worry.

I must get myself some really good stockings, those I have are very old and mended and not the best thing for one’s feet. All my fondest love.

Ever your devoted

Letter Images
In error, Mela put the address as Bournemouth rather than Birmingham; she had worked at Bournemouth Hospital a few years earlier.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference