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January 3rd 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

3rd January 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, The Nurses' Home, The General Hospital, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, The Officers' Mess, Bhurtpore Barracks, Tidworth, near Andover
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Nurses’ Home

3rd January 1915

My own dear Cyril

As we are all in new billets for the New Year, our early morning letters were in the wrong wards at first and I did not receive yours until dinner time. It was most tantalizing - because I felt sure there would be a letter from you and yet I had no means of getting at it until 1.30 pm! I was so glad to read you like your new quarters and do hope you will be able to have the room to yourself. Cecil's last letter to Uncle Harry is rather interesting so I will quote from it:

"We returned to billet from the trenches on Xmas Eve - we had Xmas pudding and hot stew on Xmas Day - but our attempt at merry-making was not very successful with the temperature as low as it was. I have discovered rather an interesting fact; Marshall, my other pal besides Eggar, is the son of a man who was at Wren's with you and whom you have met since your return from India. Since leaving our last billet I have joined the Battalion Scouts and am therefore employed on various new duties, such as carrying messages from pt to point in the firing line, sometimes the work is more dangerous sometimes less than being with one's company in the trenches, but it is of a more interesting character.

“I have received a parcel and letter from Aunt Maggie and Dora. It arrived and was handed to me just a few hours before we made a sudden unexpected move, and was reluctantly compelled to abandon the good things uneaten, as it is not possible to carry things with one. News of the raid on England has not disturbed us. We are as anxious as ? several of the Germans who have been taken to see the war at an end, but are prepared to see it out to the bitter end."

I also had other news of Cecil through Mother and Bar. There is a London Scottisher, Pringle by name, in a Boulogne Hospital and he told Mother that Cecil has been very highly spoken of for carrying a wounded corporal out of a trench, under fire in the open until he reached a place of safety and could have his wounds dressed. I know heaps of other men are doing the same sort of thing every day but all the same it gave me a thrill of pride to read it. Pringle told Mother he and many others benefited by the hampers Cecil has had sent him as he always shared these out fairly with his comrades.

Barbara met Sister Alexander and Sister Bircle, who went out as Army Nurses, they are at Outreau Hospital near Boulogne. Bar went there to amuse and sing to the soldiers.

I have discovered Nurse Saunders' history more fully; quite by accident she began to talk of Evesham. Her mother married above her - she was or is sister to a Mr Cooper who teaches or taught dancing at Evesham, and she is also related to one of the confectioners there. She has lived at Evesham and Pershore and knows Dr Harry and other people at Evesham. She is a strange girl for she never told me this when she knew I was going to Evesham before Xmas. When I asked her why she said nothing she said she did not wish me to know as all the Evesham people know her history. She said that while I was away she pictured me walking over Evesham bridge etc. I believe she takes after her father's family for she does not strike me as being other than a lady by birth. I'm very much afraid there is even more at the back of her history than she has told me even yet because I'm always discovering by things she lets slip by mistake, all kinds of odd things.

I am going to meet Mrs Jarvis tomorrow, she is taking me out to tea in the town. By the way, dear, I am getting an outdoor nurse’s uniform very cheaply from a nurse who has lately bought one and who has had to invest in an Army one. It is a very becoming one (I'm sure you'd love me in it!) and it will save my other clothes to wear on days off etc.

Now that I am theatre nurse it will prove very useful for sometimes, if we have many emergencies in, we have to rush out when we can for a "breather" between whiles, although as a rule we are off at 4.30 pm every day. The nurses, who like me, congratulated me on my new work;. those who dislike me think "it isn't fair"! I don't care.

Goodnight darling - it is time for lights out - Mother says the wounded soldiers, without exception, say the war cannot last much longer - which is very cheering. Perhaps my guess that it will be over by Easter will be nearly right after all.

Much love, dear
From your own

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 double sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference