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May 27th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

27th May 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Seward House, Badsey
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, 9th Worcesters, Officers' Mess, Blackdown Camp, near Farnborough
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Seward House, Badsey

May 27th 1915

My own dear Cyril

Your letter actually reached me this afternoon, and you only posted it yesterday at 9 pm!  I notice the postmark is Blackdown Camp, Aldershot, so presume the postal service from there is better than from Farnborough.  I wonder if you will really go next week.  I shall be anxious to know if you are or not.  In some ways you will be glad to go and get it over as it were, you must hate this uncertainty.  I am writing very frequently because I want you to hear pretty often just the last few days you may be in England, one never knows once we both get to work how easy or difficult it may be for us to write frequently.  Personally I shall write whenever I get the opportunity but it will not always be easy to write as often as I am doing at present.

We went to the weekly Intercession Service this evening.  Your Father was kept back by the Vicar and when he came in he told us the reason.  The Organ Fund collecting box has been stolen.  Evidently the thief went into the vestry to see if there were other boxes because he had taken the Silence Card out of the vestry and had hung it up over the place from which he took the box.  Isn’t it a shame that not even our churches can be left along by thieves?

Your Father is reading out some speeches from The Times; I have already read these so I needn’t listen.  They are all very strung up today and May and Ethel have several times come to words today.  Even at this moment at intervals they are still arguing about nothing in particular and everything in general!

I’m afraid this war is telling very hardly on the nerves of the family in general.  It is only natural that it should but it seems a pity that people of your Mother’s and Father’s age should be worried when they should be able to spend peaceful days.  I am trying my little best to make things a little happier for them all but it is difficult to know the best way to do this.  I think your Father is the most eaten up, as it were, with the war, and I cannot keep thinking it is making him very jumpy.  Also not hearing from George is worrying him very much.  I think he is writing to Arthur tonight to ask him to make enquiries at the Convalescent Camp at Rouen to see if they know anything about his movements.

I am glad you saw that piece of poetry in The Times.  I should have liked to have cut it out but I think the papers are kept so I didn’t like to do so; if you can get hold of it, cut it out for me, darling, and send it to me.  If I were going to the front and you were staying at home, I should feel as you do and the writer does, it would be the fact that you would be unhappy if anything happened to me that would be the hardest thing to bear.

I should not mind dying as far as I, myself, am concerned, but would wish to live for your sake.  You will always remember, I feel sure, that whatever happens to you, you must make a fight for your life, for my sake.  I want you, of course, never to fail in your duty, but I also want you to remember that your life is of more value to your country and to me than your death.

Ethel and I went to tea with Mrs Ashwin this afternoon.  Mrs Watson said that the boat her husband is on is held up at Port Said and will be a week late.  She told us that even when she came home there were soldiers on either side of the canal and the passengers could speak to them and throw things to them.  Some friends wrote and told her some of their experiences on their way home.  Their boat received no warning so they came up the canal and slap dash into an action.  Fortunately for them the Turks, never dreaming a passenger boat would return there, mistook their boat and another for part of the Navy and turned tail and fled!

Do you remember the Turks retreating after action near the Suez Canal and across it?  I remember reading something to this effect, and wonder if the above incident took place then.

Mrs Ashwin gave us The Sketch and The Tatler to read.  I see there is a picture of Lady Carew, walking in the park.  You’ll wonder why I allude to this but I think you may be interested to know there is a little romance about her and Uncle Harry in his youth, or rather when he was about 30 years of age.  Before her marriage, she was a Miss Lethbridge, my Grandmother’s sister’s daughter, and a cousin of Uncle Harry’s.  She was a beautiful girl, and was engaged to Uncle Harry for a bit and then her present husband came along and she threw her more humble suitor over.  I believe he still goes to see her occasionally and I don’t believe her marriage has been a very happy one.  Grandma’s sister was a match-making mama, and all her 3 daughters made good marriages in a worldly sense.  (Preserve me from such a marriage!)

Your Mother has just remarked that she must buy Eustace Miles’ vegetarian cookery book now that meat is so expensive.  Fancy, Wheatley says he has to pay 1s 3d a pound for mutton when buying a whole sheep, so makes nothing but rather loses when people complain it is dear at 1/- a pound!  Warmington has sent his youngest son to Campden Grammar School as a boarder!

Betty said in her last letter home that she now sleeps on the roof.  What about Zeppelins?!  Mrs Watson said she must wear a pretty night-cap in case one should arrive – and then if they spot her through their glasses they may spare the fair maiden!  I think the more beautiful the maiden the more pleasure they would have in blowing her up.

Goodnight, dear Heart.  God bless and keep you.  Isn’t it difficult to keep close in touch with God sometimes.  Sometimes when I am praying my hardest He seems such a long way off.

In tearing up old letters I came across two from Mr Durnford about Confession and about leaving the Sturges-Jones.  I have torn them up but reading them made me think of those awful days.  I cannot understand how they could have kept me on through August and part September without giving me anything extra beyond my money for two terms - £20 for 8½ months instead of for 6 months!  If you look at it from this point of view it was extraordinary.  But what is the use of thinking about it now.  Night-night, old fellow.

All my best love

From your devoted


May 28th

I left your letter open in case I should get further news from Matron today and wished to let you know.

I will try and make out a code of sorts for use in case you are a prisoner of war and will send you a copy.

Have you received “Malice in Kulturland”?

I have just finished off a little bonnet I have been making for Hope’s baby and have packed it up read for tonight’s post.

Isn’t the news fearful about the Princess Irene and the Majestic in today’s papers?  One gets quite dazed with all the awful disasters coming one on top of another.

PS – I’ve just heard “Malice in Kulturland” is out of print for the moment.  Ethel is sending you the home copy – please send it back when you’ve read it.

Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 5 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference