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June 7th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Cyril E Sladden Esq

7th 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


My dear Love

I have had a half day today and when I came in at 7.45 I found your pc and letter awaiting me.  I have almost expected this news from remarks passed by patients in reference to troops going abroad.  Just for a bit I felt a bit stunned, but on looking at the matter squarely and fairly I can see it in a better light than at first.  For instance I am told that letters may be posted at Marseilles and Malta and that the mail goes out every day from the Dardanelles and only takes 11 days to England.  Nurse Holtom, who comes from Cleeve, has friends who heard from their son every day for a week once, from the Dardanelles.

So once we established a correspondence we need not wait much longer for letters than we should if you were in Flanders.  There is one great drawback that if you were seriously ill I should not be allowed to go out to you – unless I managed to get taken as a nurse in a hospital, say at Alexandria, where you would probably be sent!  If you are not dangerously wounded or ill you could still apply to be sent here as we have heaps of men from out there.

I feel sure that we were successful the other night in establishing a mental connection.  The time I felt it was about 11.10 or 11.15.  On Thursday night, and as you mention “soon after eleven”, I think this proves it was Thursday night with you, too, as you said you went to bed early that night.

I had been chatting to the others and had got sleepy in consequence and there was no effort on my part to try and feel you with me – the feeling came quite suddenly, it was of intense joy, a thrill radiating my whole being, and of a kind I imagine only marriage as a rule gives – at any rate, it was a new experience to me.  There was nothing to make me feel I ought to put the feeling away from me, it was just the divinest (use in the real sense) ecstasy, lasting for a moment and then I seemed to slip gently and quietly to sleep as though in your arms.  I will be sure and let you know when this occurs again.  I purposely say when and not if.  I don’t think I am likely to imagine it because as there are 3 of us in a room we nearly always chatter until we go to sleep.  I haven’t time to imagine things like this, and when it happened the other night it was quite sudden.

I know an old gentleman, at least I knew him, he is dead now, and he used to tell me that after his wife’s death, she used to walk with him every summer evening in the garden, and he used to come in looking so happy.  He was an old man with all his faculties so that I used to feel that he was sincere in what he said.

I went to see Mrs Jarvis today but found her out, but she had evidently left instructions that in the event of my calling that I was to be made at home, because the maid insisted on giving me tea in the garden and making me very comfortable with books etc.  Oh, but sitting there so quiet and peaceful made me long for you so much.  There were two deck-chairs side by side.

There is a rumour that we senior nurses, after we’ve served our month’s trial, are to have a special uniform of our own, and rumour says, our cotton frocks are to be pale pink which will suit me all right, as pink nearly always does.  A great number of sisters are being sent abroad, both to France and to the Dardanelles, so it looks like quick promotion for some.

Yes, darling, I feel pretty certain that you can rest assured that I shall keep well here, we get plenty of fresh air, and sleep right under wide open windows and have good food and good “off duty” so that would have to be great weaklings to break down, unless perhaps the sad sights strain our nerves too much.

I am told that other regiments going to the Dardanelles have had 5 days’ leave before going – I don’t really think you’ll get it but only just wondered whether you will.

I could write much more but haven’t the time before getting into bed.

We are very “Army” here – nearly everything is run on the lines, “the War Office will refund it to you”.  One pays for one’s washing on this system and we rather wonder if we have to wait until the war is over before being refunded!

Goodnight, dear husband-to-be.  I pray daily and hourly for your safety and well-being and feel you will come back to me if it is to be for the best.  If you don’t, I shall try and realize that in death we shall not be divided, it will only mean a long wait before we shall be together again.  I cannot think that Love like ours is doomed to be cut off never to be fulfilled.  All my love, you dear man of mine.

Ever your devoted


PS – Nurse Holtom went for a motor drive with Mr Mills who was at the General with Arthur.  He told her Arthur was the best fellow the General had had.  I said what a splendid actor he was too for amateur theatricals.

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 4 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference