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March 15th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

15th 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



March 15th/15


Dear Love


I have just come from a very peaceful service, evensong in our own chapel. I like the services there better than those in the churches near, its very simplicity appeals to me.


The sermon was most helpful and covered the period from Palm Sunday to the Crucifixion. The Chaplain said we must have often been angry at the treachery of the crowd, who sang “Hosanna” and then 5 days after cried “Crucify Him”. He told us the reason for their change of front was that they did not know Jesus, has no personal knowledge of Him. They took their lead from the Scribes and Pharisees. He then pointed out how this can be applied to our own time, how necessary it is that we should have personal knowledge of Our Lord and not for us to base our views and beliefs only on the knowledge given us by other people.


He also pointed out that only two persons had the courage to push past the jeering crowd to the foot of the cross, a man and a woman, His Mother and Beloved Disciple. They knew Him and this knowledge gave them courage, so we too must try and know Him so intimately that we shall have the courage to be so sure that He is the Son of God that the jeers of our fellow men will not blind us, and we shall be found at the Foot of the Cross.


Do you know, Sweetheart, I believe you do from the tone of your last letter that I think the reason of my failure (I use the word failure because my somewhat limited vocabulary refuses to supply the right one) to be happy in my work just lately is that I have lost touch with Christ as it were. The hardness of the theatre life, the dreadful sights one sees, fill one’s mind to such an extent that if one is not constantly on the qui vive it deadens one’s sensibilities and one becomes a mere machine.


The nurses I am working with have been very decent to me but their natures are very blunt, they have no interests beyond catgut and forceps. My aim is and always will be that although I wish to be a Nurse, I will not be compelled to be a mere machine. It is this that irritates Theatre Sister, she likes to have someone to bang about (not literally!) who will come up smiling and say thank you after it! Very often, I am told, nurses who work under her, begin by hating her and end in worshipping her. Now I simply never have been able to worship anybody, not even you, and I think poor old Sister is disappointed I do not kow-tow to her and hold her in awe.


Perhaps, darling, if I pray more earnestly and hold more intimate communion with the Saviour, I shall be happier in myself. I have prayed about my work but I know I have been getting slack about meditating on my Bible reading and so living in close touch with Our Lord.


Your dear lock of hair rests in my Bible. I am so happy to have it, it seems almost you, and has been the recipient of what you would have had, had you been able to give it me yourself.


Sister told me today that my week-end is to be a fortnight from today, not over Easter Sunday.


Do you think that it would be wiser for me to postpone having a few days leave until you know when you are going to the Front? I shall feel better after this tonic and able to hold out a little longer.


Which of the two plans will you choose for my weekend? If you will let me know definitely early next week if you can get off I will ask permission for a night off, although of course Th: Sister won’t approve! If I can say to Matron that you have 24 hours’ leave and point out to her that it is very inconvenient to meet in Birmingham, especially on a Sunday as everything is closed, I think I shall probably gain my point. In this case shall I come to Badsey or would you like us to meet in Town and go to Sydenham, or shall I go to Aunt Fanny’s?


The second plan would be for you to come and stay over the Sat: night, possibly with the Jarvis’, it would be very nice in many ways for you to see the hospital and we could take a jaunt to the Lickey Hills.


If this plan appeals to you let me know as then it will not be necessary for me to ask for a night off, as we could meet again early on Sunday morning.


The home people must be thought of too, I know but perhaps if you go to them when you have a few days before going to the Front, they would not be very “J” at your coming down here.


I had a long letter from Kath today. I can read between the lines how it hurt her to part with George, they have been so much to each other since his confidence to her about Clara Jones. I think on the whole he is happier free for to a man of his nature, the separation from his fiancée would have been very wearing. She, too, is spared many anxious hours.


Perhaps when he comes home if they meet again things may come right, she will realize the grit there is in him. I have always thought that had she really known him as he is she would care for him. He never is at his best until one knows him well.


I am going to write to Arthur now dear. Yes it was a very sweet letter he wrote me. Kath says she heard from him saying how very happy he is and what a difference it has made to him and Mary, given them something to live for while they are separated.


Goodnight, dear Heart, you are very helpful to me and I will try as you say to live from day to day, and leave the future in God’s Hands. It is selfish of me to think so much of my personal happiness, I forget that I do not belong to myself at the present crisis, but to my Country, and always to my Creator.


You are much better than I am and I sometimes feel such a worm beside you.


All my love, God bless and have you in His keeping.


Ever your devoted



PS – A poor little “Pro” came to me just now and poured out her woes so the time I was going to spend writing to Arthur has slipped by. I must write after I get back from the dentist tomorrow.

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