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January 24th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

24th 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 General Hospital, Birmingham

Jan 24th 1915, 5.30 pm

My darling Cyril

I am just going to write to you and then go straight to bed and I am sure you’ll think it the best thing to do when you hear how much I have done since going on duty Saturday morning.

I had 4 hours off on Saturday afternoon from 1 to 4 but of course I did not sleep, then I had tea and went on as theatre night nurse at 4.30.  Luckily for me we only had two operations, although we prepared for two other emergencies which never turned up, so we got to bed by 2 am.  I did not have to go on duty again until 9 am so had 7 hours rest but I only slept fitfully, as we have to be prepared to be called up at any moment of the small hours of the morning if a case comes in.

I have just come off and had tea and it is now 5.30 pm.  We left Mr Barling still operating and the night nurses have two other big cases to follow.

When I went on at 4.30 yesterday I was told I was wanted on the outside telephone.  Who do you think it was ringing me up?  Maud Wall; she is staying in Birmingham and wanted me to meet her for tea.  She was astonished to find I was going to be up at night – however we have arranged to meet on Monday at 5.30.

Darling, you don’t know how delightful it was to hear a familiar voice – it was like a tonic to hear a voice of someone who cares for you.  Here one misses the intonation of the voice of a relative or anyone who knows you well.  Can you understand what I mean?  I am longing to see her tomorrow.  I would enclose Cecil’s letter only that I want her to see it tomorrow.  She asked after you and sent her love.

At the time of Cecil writing, his battalion was having a week’s rest in a town, but were to be off to the trenches again very shortly.  He says:

“Rumour, ‘that lying jade’, has it that we may get some leave in a few weeks’ time, but we cannot put much confidence in any report not actually official.  Rumours – the air is full of them and they help to vary the monotony of life in barracks.  You may have heard from Mother that I am taking a commission in the London Scottish, in the battalion in which I have been since leaving England, ie the 1st Battalion; in consequence of this I shall probably get leave in any case to get my equipment.  During our last spell in the trenches we have had the same miserable weather and dirty conditions, although of all the troops in our vicinity we had the best position, situated as we were on rising ground dominating flat country, which was crossed with sheets of water in parts.  I am very fit and well – getting fat slowly, as we do not get as much exercise as previously.  Unfortunately what we do get is all lumped together – a march of 20 miles, say, in order to arrive at some point in good time.  We had ‘truce of God’ near our positions on Xmas Day, though there was little firing between the trenches.  Well, goodbye old girl.  My kindest regards and good wishes to C E Sladden, Second Lieutenant, and to Mrs Sladden when you write.  Your affectionate brother Cecil.”

I think Cecil must have had his commission offered him for carrying that wounded corporal out of the trenches across the open under fire.

I simply cannot write any more.  This night work came at an unfortunate time and I simply ache all over.

You must let me know how Mr Marshall’s little love affair progresses!

So glad you enjoyed your couple of days at Tidworth.  I was very glad to have a few lines from you to greet me when I went on duty today and think it awfully nice of you to fit in time to write under the circumstances.  Oh darling, I long to see you again.

Goodnight and God bless you, Love, I am eagerly looking forward to hearing from you again soon.

All my love from

Your own tired grousy old


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