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February 2nd 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

2nd February 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


Feb 2nd 1915


My own dear Sweetheart


I was quite surprised to hear from you this morning as I had decided in my own mind that it would not be possible for you to write earlier than today and that I might with luck get a letter on Wednesday some time during the day, probably by the evening post. Of course I was awfully disappointed to hear so soon from you – it is so upsetting to be put out in one’s calculations!!! I expect you echoed this last sentiment when you heard from me today!!!


I am glad you thought me looking well. Yes – I was feeling unaccountably fit for these days. Don’t you think happiness has a good deal to do with anyone’s state of health? Eh?


These next two months in the Theatres will not prove so hard I am sure – and my health will regain its normal form. You can do a lot towards helping me writing often, as you have been doing, and tell me every detail of your life. I long to know everything, just as though you were talking to me. So do try and put even your thoughts on paper.


It was a very happy 24 hours and I thought Theatre Sister put it very aptly when she remarked to me, “Nurse – I hope you’ve enjoyed your holiday? I expect it has put new life into you and encouraged you to go on with the work you’ve begun.”


Sister Lawrence evidently sees further into her nurses’ inner lives than she appears to do for she certainly hit the nail on the head when she uttered those words.


We’ve had a moderate day today but quite enough to keep us busy. One operation in the women’s theatre lasted nearly 3 hours, I thought it would never end.


When we had had tea I actually played the piano for ¾ of an hour. I flatter myself that I did not play badly considering my fingers feel like knitting needles, for the Sisters pushed the folding door ajar to listen. Their sitting room is divided from ours by folding doors.


Two of the theatre “staffs” were there with me and about 6.45 we made some tea ourselves and each contributed from our private stores of provender and had an impromptu meal around the fire. It was quite jolly and homely.


Tonight at 9.20 a few of the nurses including myself with the sanction of House Sister are meeting in the Chapel for silent intercession for the war. Being women we cannot have a proper service so we are each reading the form of intercession for ourselves. We shall have similar little services on Tuesdays and Fridays every week.


We are nearly all juniors but House Sister likes the idea and is helping us to carry it out. I like the idea immensely. It originated with a Nurse Grouch, a very nice girl, a really good girl, and she has had the strength of mind to carry it out and came to me to back her up, which I was delighted to do. She has just got her “blues” but is about the only senior nurse who will attend tonight, the others are not a bit keen.


I had intended going out tonight to take the little Mother’s watch to be mended but it is such a bad night I decided to postpone doing so until tomorrow.


We’ve got a big day in front of us tomorrow and 3 major operations for Mr Barling and 4 for Mr Haslam. We are almost praying no emergencies will come in as all these are of a lengthy nature and we shall have our work cut out to get done by 4.30 or even 6 pm!


I wonder if this time next week will see you at Aldershot. You must look up Hope Ferguson, you are sure to be able to find out where she is staying if you enquire for Major Ferguson at the gunners’ barracks or mess.


Goodnight dear Heart – it is good to have seen you. Won’t it just be perfect when this wretched war is over. Just imagine it. I shall come to the boat to meet you if it is possible. I am sure in the end all this anxiety will have the effect of strengthening and deepening our love for each other.


Nothing that may come after will daunt us, for we shall have looked death in the face. And even if death should part us our love will live on. I can never believe that love dies. The verse which refers to there being no marriage or giving in marriage in Heaven has always puzzled me. I somehow feel that it must refer to the Earthly tie and not to the spiritual bond of mutual understanding and sympathy. If anything should happen to either of us, the time spent on Earth alone must be a time of preparation for the great meeting beyond the Grave.


As I’ve always said, darling, I would never wish you to remain single for my sake, but only once is it possible for human beings to reach perfect sympathy, so that I feel that your marriage with anyone else would be of a different nature and that you would always remember me, even though it might be possible for you to care for another woman.


For myself, my life would be a long preparation for the time we should meet again. I could never contemplate caring for anyone else again in the same way.


With all my love. God bless you, darling.


Ever your own


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