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August 4th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her future mother-in-law, Eugénie Sladden

4th August 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable
Correspondence To
Eugénie Sladden, Seward House, Badsey
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Future daughter-in-law
Text of Letter

Aug  4th 1915

My dear Mrs Sladden

I had three letters from Cyril today, written the 8th, 12th and 18th.  The first letter contained some news which you had in yours but I’ll quote what I think you did not have.

“It is to be presumed from the character of the proceedings over here that very vigorous action will be taken soon as the necessary preparations are complete.  The whole point of the thing is to get a move on and clear the enemy out at the earliest possible date - so I anticipate some vigorous action will be taken as soon as the necessary preparations are complete, and before we have been here very long, and if we are successful as we mean to be, things are likely to be smoother.  I hope after the real nut is cracked.

“We all seem very cheerful and ordinary with the near proximity of fighting; somehow I suppose 11 months’ thinking of it screws one up to it so that one is perfectly ready when the time comes.”

July 18th

“At last I have leisure to write and conditions that make me feel ready to write – we came over here on Tuesday evening, and landed in the small hours of Wednesday, and there had several miles’ march very heavily loaded with equipment and all feeling pretty tired – we settled down by the sea shore and had breakfast as soon as possible and then a bit of rest and then at short notice paraded to go into the trenches, leaving packs and blankets stacked behind.  Another march of some miles in the heat of the day and in horrible dust, and we finally arrived in our trenches - they were pretty good ones as trenches go, though I can’t say I should recommend them as an ideal habitation for anything much higher in the scale of animal life than rabbits.  There I have been until yesterday evening when Neave and I moved out with our platoons to act as battalion reserve.  We are in a position covered from rifle fire but exposed a little to shrapnel, I think.  I expect to move back tonight to the sea shore for a day or two.  It is much pleasanter here than in the beastly limited space of trenches.

“By comparison we have had a picnic so far, much more so than the other companies who have been right in the firing line and so have had more anxiety, less rest and more casualties.

“There have however been practically nothing doing, so we haven’t suffered much.  In our support trenches we do no firing at all because we should damage our own men more than the enemy probably – very little fire is directed at us, though plenty of bullets skim over the top at all sorts of heights, but the risk is small even to watch-men at night who have to keep their heads up all the time.  Nobody enjoys this at first, but they soon get used to it after finding that nothing happens. We were never shelled at all so were very lucky in that respect.

“But altogether apart from risks there is no doubt that war at the best is perfectly foul and vile.  Every sense is offended almost all the time and by sheer necessity one becomes amazingly callous at an incredible rate.

“A year ago this must have been a pleasant spot – it shows very few signs of habitation and consists of hilly ground covered with a green scrub, chiefly of a thorny nature, as one soon discovers when crawling about in it.  There is a sort of gorse, and a dwarf holly which seems very common.  There are deep ravines cut by the streams which result from the rains which are heavy I believe when they do come.  At present rain is the last thing one would think of.  And now the whole of the ground we have occupied is covered with trenches, mostly knocked half to pieces, with barbed wire entanglement, all broken, refuse, old equipment, clothes etc, lying all over the place, as hideous a disfigurement as one could imagine.  And then by way of contrast one catches glimpses from the trenches at points here and there of beautiful views set off by deep blue of the Med Sea.

“Our greatest pest is flies which surpasses the limits of ordinary imagination in their number and are a hopeless nuisance from 4.30am to 7pm ……  Water is scarce and all has to pass through the water carts for purification.  I got a wash this morning, the first proper one since Tuesday.  I hope for a dip in the sea this evening which will be a great luxury.

“Among various visitors from our old regular battalion here, was Cecil Crane of Badsey, with whom I had a talk.  He told me Jeffries was rather nastily wounded only the day before; a sniper got him in the neck.

“The impression prevails among the men who have been out here some time that the Turks have had most of the spirit knocked out of them.”

No time to write more.

Ever your affectionate


Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service
Record Office Reference