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January 5th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

5th 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

The Nurses’ Home
The General Hospital

Jan 5th 1914

My own dear Cyril

Since I have been in the “theatre” you and our happiness has seemed miles away and I have felt too “done” to do anything more than go out for a walk and then back to bed.

I have dreamt of my work and wake up in the middle of the night hot and cold all over. I feel less tired today and not so unstrung. We had six operations yesterday, all following one upon another with an interval of about 10 minutes to clear up in between. Some of the Surgeons are very nice – others are most rude and boorish to the nurses. I mean the visiting surgeons.

Theatre Sister is splendid at her work but rather trying to work with. I don’t blame her – it is almost impossible for her to keep her temper when the whole responsibility of the operation rests on her shoulders. However she is nice to one when it is all over, and she was good enough to say I managed things better today than yesterday, which is a lot for her to say! My little dresser helps me over many difficulties!

He is Mr Barling’s assistant. The latter is an awful old curmudgeon and even if a thing is “all correct” he will find something to grumble at. Last night – I don’t know whether it was the chloroform in the atmosphere or merely that I was exhausted – but I was feeling about as though I had had some of that champagne you mention in your letter!

Everyone tells me what a lucky girl I am to have been given this post. I’d exchange it for any other any day! Just imagine this sort of thing for the next 3 months! The worst part is the clearing and cleaning up after – ugh - - - - - !

It is supposed to be a mark of appreciation to be made a theatre nurse but I wish now that my work had not been appreciated if this is the result! The last nurse, who was in my place, was in floods of tears at the end of her first day; I was very nearly but nothing would induce me to let Theatre Sister think she could make me cry. She says the most awful things to one, but I shall simply do my very best and, to use a vulgar expression, let her get on with it!

I shall be sending you the London Scottish magazine to read and then, dear, would you mind passing it on to Mother, her present address is: -

9-15 rue Port Neuve, Boulogne-S-mer.

Mrs Jarvis met me yesterday and took me out to tea but I was too tired to do more than that and came home and went to bed.

Write to me, darling and help me to feel I have still got you, you seem such miles away these days – this operating work takes away all the feeling in one.

I am going to stick it though because I know it is such valuable experience as it brings one under the Surgeons’ very eyes and then he may engage you for his private cases later on when you’ve finished your training. Although I am not likely to complete a full training here I am told that if a Surgeon takes a liking to you or your work he may give you cases especially if you’ve worked with him in the theatre.

Well – dear – I must end now – don’t let this grumpy letter upset you. I shall soon get accustomed to my new duties and forget all the worry of the first few days.

I am not likely to go on night duty after 3 months, we change work every 3 months, because I am told Matron considers the strain of the theatre work too great, so does not send those nurses on night duty until they have had another 3 months of day work. If I get through this all right there will be no question about my being strong!

Goodnight and God bless you dear Love, I wish you were here to take your tired and homesick little girl in your arms. All my love

Your Own

Letter Images
Mela wrote 1914 but it should be 1915.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 double sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference