Skip to main content

March 6th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

6th March 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, The Nurses' Home, The General Hospital, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, 9th Worcesters, Officers' Mess, Blackdown Camp, near Farnborough
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

The Nurses’ Home

The General Hospital, Birmingham


March 6th 1915


My own dear Cyril


I have been wondering how those poor old feet have been these last few days and hope they are better. To harden the souls of our feet, we nurses rub in methylated spirit, but I suppose “mere man” would not take the trouble!


Wilfred’s fiancée wrote me a very nice letter, she had not heard from Wilfred since his regiment was sent to German SW Africa. She saw him before he went and said he was very much burnt by the sun, almost black, his face was such a deep copper colour. She is nursing private cases until his turn comes round to go to the Front – after that she would like to be in a hospital for a bit as she prefers the life to that of private nursing.


I heard from your Mother today – she is well enough now to come downstairs and to see visitors. “Ma” had called the day your Mother wrote, also Mrs Ashwin who took her some violets. She mentioned in her letter that a Badsey woman, Mrs George Hartwell, mother of the cook at the Vicarage, is in No II ward here, having been sent in for an operation for cerebral abscess. I enquired if I might see her today and was told that she is dying and in unconscious condition having been brought in too late for an operation, it being impossible to do anything for her.


We have had a dreadful week – so many amputations which I loathe – especially as it so often falls to my lot to hold the limb steady which is to be amputated. It is a horrid feeling when the jerk comes and one finds oneself holding the severed limb. Sometimes I dream awful dreams after these amputations.


I am going to spend the evening with Mrs Jarvis tomorrow – her sister is staying with her and Marjorie Slater will be in there to tea. Mrs Jarvis’ father-in-law died and was buried early this week.


Mr Barling has resigned, so Mr Haslam has been appointed Senior Honorary and then comes Arthur’s friend Mr Gamgee. We all heaved a sigh of relief when we heard of “Gilbert’s” resignation. Some day I must send you the poem about the various Surgeons here, it was recited or sung 2 years ago at the Xmas Entertainment, and it just takes them off to a ‘T’.


When busy this afternoon I thought of you and Mr Lancaster enjoying that lovely concert at Guildford. I did envy you. Am awfully glad you went though and hope you’ll give me a detailed account of it.


Would you believe it? Theatre Sister actually apologised to me today for speaking nastily to me. Wasn’t it decent of her? She certainly was in the wrong but as a rule she sticks to her point but this time I stuck to mine and she actually sought me out and said “Nurse – I am sorry I went for you just now”. I think she realizes sometimes that she goes a bit too far.


The other day I asked her for a 10 o’clock pm pass, that is from 5 to 10, and I was quite within my rights as we are entitled to ask for a pm pass occasionally but are only entitled to 11pm passes once every 3 months. She was very snappy about it and refused it to me saying I was not entitled to it. The only reply I made was that I would not have asked for it had I known I was not entitled to it. The other nurses were furious as they have 10pm passes at least once a week as a general rule, and they wanted me to take the matter to Matron or the Assistant Matron. But somehow it seemed to me bad taste to over-ride your senior officer as it were so I did not do it, preferring to wait until I want a 10pm pass another time and then applying direct to headquarters for it. I feel sure Theatre Sister knew she had made a mistake and had been unjust (for no reason but that she was feeling like it) and that therefore she respects my having obeyed her without questioning and will in future be more reasonable.


I was very disappointed as I was going out with Nurse Sampson who was taking me to the Pictures and she had a 10 pm pass.


I am going to bed early so will close this somewhat grumpy epistle.


Goodnight – dear – God bless you.


All my love, write soon - there’s a love.


Ever your affectionate


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