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January 20th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

20th January 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, The Nurses' Home, The General Hospital, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, 9th Worcesters, billeted at Briardene, Cliddesden Road, Basingstoke
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

The Nurses’ Home, The General Hospital, Birmingham

Jan 20th 1915

My dear Sweetheart

You must be feeling quite neglected and I must make up for my pcs by writing you a long letter tonight.  I am not going out tonight as it is very wet and my cold and cough are worse again.  I am thinking of getting some of that Emulsion your Mother once got me; by the way what is its name?  In this wretched plenum air it seems impossible to throw off a cold.  It is also partly due to the fact that my hands are constantly in cold water, as anything with bloodstains on it, such as sponges and mops, must be washed in cold water.

Your last two letters contained bad news as regards the health and comfort of your men.  Although the cerebro-spinal fever is the more serious, it is almost preferable to the other!

I don’t blame the men a bit for protesting strongly because surely a thing like that must come from mismanagement.  The last Regiment should have reported the fact before another Regiment was allowed to be billeted there.

I was interested in your account of the cerebro-spinal fever.  About 4 years ago there was a small scare of it in London and it was traced to the mud on a foreign workman’s boots, who had crossed over from the Continent.

Would it be possible for a German Scientist to bring the germ over and deliberately spread the fever among our troops?  One can collect typhoid germs so why shouldn’t one be able to collected spotted fever germs?  I always connect germs with Germ-ans!

Marshall and Lancaster have fallen on their feet!  You have my full permission to try and cut these out – only don’t go too far in case when the girl should hear you are engaged, she might be broken hearted!

I saw Mrs Jarvis on Sunday evening.  She is taking me to a lecture tomorrow evening at the University.  The title is fascinating as well as interesting.  The lecture will be in French on “L’esprit Belge”.  It will be a nice change and it will be nice to see how much of it I can follow.

Your Mother tells me that Arthur hopes to get leave to bring Mary home to England when they leave Nantes.  If he does I hope he will be able to come over and see me, it would be so interesting to talk about my work to him and I am sure Matron would like to see him.

We are having a new RSO, Mr Sampson’s time is up.  We are wondering what the new man will be like, it makes a lot of difference in the theatre what sort of RSO we have.

I am hoping to get away on Saturday week in the late afternoon and spend Sunday at Badsey.  I shall feel very lost there without you, and rather wish now that you belonged to a Flying Corps and could reconnoitre in that direction.

Of course Badsey is such a likely place to find Germans isn’t it?!

Think of me up all night on Saturday next, taking the night nurse’s night off.  I hope we don’t have many operations, I know I shall be dead sleepy!  A good number of operations are done by the Housemen at night as the Big Surgeons have the theatre in the day.  There are usually at least four, besides any emergency case which may turn up.

Sister is getting much nicer to me, but I cannot really appreciate it in the same way as if she had never been horrid at first.  She did not give me a chance at first and I don’t admire people who label you “donkey” before they’ve even heard you bray!

I must write to Barbara tonight for her birthday – it will be very nice of you, dear, if you do manage to find time to send her a little note.

I really wanted to write you a long letter but find there is not much news.

Nurse Saunders has left the hospital.  She went to see Miss Hatch at Oxford, who did not give her a very nice reception, as she told Nurse she was convinced she had run away from hospital.  So she came back to Birmingham and is in rooms waiting until her guardian, the Vicar of St Albans, comes back from his holiday.  I saw her yesterday.  She is at her wits’ end to know what to do.  She sent me a ppc of Christchurch College, Oxford, which I am very glad to have, although I don’t suppose you know the reason I am glad!

I am reading a book by Winston Churchill called “The Modern Chronicle”.  I’ve only just begun it but think it will interest me.

Although I am better, I still get very, very tired and tonight I ache all over.  If I report myself it may mean going off duty and that would be a pity just as I have got into the work, and also one has to make up times of illness at the end of one’s time here.

Sometimes I feel that the war will last so long that I shall end by finishing my training here.  It seems as though it is to be, because I am getting such good experience here – there are heaps of others who need the Experience more than I do in theatre work – so why should it come my way, if there is not some definite purpose behind it all?

Goodnight, love of my Life.  I simply long at this moment for your presence with me – when is this dreadful war going to end?

With all my love, write as often as you can to

Your own loving


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