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June 4th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

4th June 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Sisters' Quarters, University House, Edgbaston Park Road, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Cyril E Sladden Esq, 9th Worcesters, Officers' Mess, Blackdown Camp, near Farnborough
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Sisters' Quarters, University House, Birmingham

June 4th 1915

My own dear Cyril

I was so glad to hear from you this morning and as I think it is high time I sent you a letter of decent length I am not going into the town but am lazily ensconced in a long lounge chair under the trees in the garden.  It is perfectly delightful out here, warm with a slight cool breeze.  I will send you some picture postcards soon showing the house and grounds.  Just at present we are not very busy in our wards and there are times during the day that I get positively bored as I am not used to hanging about waiting for work to turn up!  This state of affairs is only temporary I think, as I hear that some of the Orderly Sisters are being made Charge Sisters in other smaller military hospitals in the neighbourhood, and some of the VADs to be sent on with them.

We always have to wear outdoor uniform here, unless we get special permission to wear mufti on our days off.  We get 3 hours off every day, a half day a week and a whole day a month, and we come off at 8 every evening, an hour earlier than at the General.  So we do not work much more than 8 hours a day counting the time off for meals.  These are our ordinary hours during an ordinary busy time, but if there is a big rush of work we may get our time off shortened occasionally and as there is only a small staff for night work, if a large convoy of soldiers comes in for your ward, the Night Sister in Charge has power to call you up in the night.

I find my outdoor uniform very hot and heavy in this weather.  When my ship comes home I must try and get a cloak made of lighter material.

The only unusual thing about my life here is that it is difficult to realize our engagement.  I feel so part and parcel of the whole concern that any other life I have led seems miles away.  Now and again I get a sudden thrill when I remember that this is only a “side show” as it were, and a preparation I hope for a life of love and joy in the future.  Last night, as I was dropping off to sleep, a kind of sharp longing woke me up for the moment, and I had the sensation that I was slipping back into the old life, as it were, as I dropped asleep.  This made me remember something you said to me not long ago, that you tried to feel me with you, and that you felt if you could only make this realistic to yourself, that perhaps I might feel it too.  Last night I went to sleep in your arms as really as if it had been fact and not imagination.

Mother sent me two very interesting letters from Cecil and Wilfred.  I sent them to your Mother to read yesterday as I know they like letters from the Front and Cecil’s is so cheerily written, in spite of being entrenched, he says, between two fires, enemy on two sides of them, that I think it will cheer them up.  I’ve asked your Mother to send them on to you.

A good many of the “gas” cases are being sent to big Civil Hospitals as they can remain in them longer than they can here and also there are more appliances and better skill as a rule.  The men are all of them of an opinion that we must use an even stronger gas in return, I think they suggested carbon monoxide because it kills outright.

I will not harass you with descriptions of wounds etc.  You’ll see plenty of that sort of thing soon.

Best love, dear fellow.  Write soon again if you can.  You seem so far away sometimes.

Ever your own


Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference