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September 29th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

29th September 1915
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Sisters' Quarters, University House, Edgbaston Park Road, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 39th Brigade, 13th Division, British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Sisters’ Quarters, University House

Edgbaston Park Road, Birmingham


Sept 29th 1915


My own dear Cyril


To my intense joy, this evening, before coming on duty I received your nice long letter from Alexandria.


It was all the more delightful to have it because I was not expecting to hear for at least another week. I am so glad you received Sammy’s letter, she and I were out together this evening and she asked me then if you had had it.


On night duty we may either go out from 8 to 11.00 am or from 4 to 7 pm I met Sammy at 4.40 today. She happened to have a half day or else she could not have managed to meet. Her evening pass would be from 7 to 9. and her morning from 10 to 12.30 – so the times off do not fit in very well.


I have been writing to you c/o Cox & Co, but have often thought it must be time to be addressing my letters direct to your regiment. However I knew Cox would forward all letters so sent them there until I heard to the contrary from you.


What a good thing you are getting nearly all your back letters. I can tell from the dates you mention that you have not received all mine. I have never allowed so much as a week to pass between letters so one or two must have gone astray. But it is marvellous to think how many do reach their destination safely.


I am very glad you stayed on at the hotel at Alexandria and not roughed it in barracks. Make hay while the sun shines is my motto for you at the present time. I knew you would be ordered massage for your arm, that is why I was so surprised you had been sent away from Malta so soon – you had not mentioned having massage so I calculated you would be in hospital longer than you were.


Isn’t it wonderful what massage does? It seems so simple – did you have electrical treatment or just by hand?


You have been able to get to more services than I do. We have services here but are not all able to get to them. We have to take it in turns. The services we hear are not inspiring and one’s mind or rather soul stagnates for want of spiritual counsel.


PAUSE. Filled in by going the round of my patients to see if they are all right. They are all sleeping – poor fellows, they are tired out. Those who came in last night were in the big British advance, most of them are from the neighbourhood of the Bassée, Vermelle, Hooge and so. They are from five regiments, the Cameron Highlanders, Highland Light Infantry, and others. The Camerons were fighting side by side with the London Scots at Vermelle.


I am longing to hear if Cecil came through all right – they were simply caked in mud when they came in at 3.45 am yesterday morning and when they had had baths or been washed they looked different men. Their wounds were very dirty and had to be soaked at once in iodine baths to get the earth out of them.


They are wonderfully patient. I’m sure if I’d come here straight through from Flanders I’d want to tumble straight into bed and not be interfered with. But these men never question anything you say to them. I marvel at their patience and cheerfulness the more wounded I get to nurse.


I hope Mr Mosson will get sent home for a rest. It must be wretched to be in the thick of things feeling as ill as he does. Has he had any news of his brother yet?


I heard from Mother today. She and Bar are at Folkestone awaiting the permission from the Provost Marshall at Boulogne to enter the war zone. Mother is very anxious about Cecil. He was safe up to Friday last. She had a field Service pc from him.


Is the weather any cooler on the Peninsula now? And do the flies and pests of a like character become less troublesome as winter comes on?


Your letter has only been 8 days on the way, which is excellent. Sometimes the mails are 14 days from Alexandria.


The men we’ve had in from Malta have been a month at sea.


I am feeling better now that I am becoming accustomed to night duty. At first I felt rotten. At certain times one feels just about done but one picks up again.


It worries me if I begin to run down, not so much on my own account as on yours. I do so want to be well when you come back. The very thought of you coming back takes my breath away. Oh – darling I have written so often lately that there is not much news to give you. Considering everything this is a fairly lengthy epistle!


Goodbye for the present. I wonder if you too are doing night work. I often think of those words in Stamers’ “Crucifixion”, when feeling the strain of the war and work – when I feel tempted to give up – “Could ye not watch with me one brief hour”. This world is going through its Gethsemane and we must not be found asleep at our posts, but must watch and pray.


God bless you, dearest One, I long to see you but must possess my soul to patience.


All my love and prayers are yours.


Your own ever devoted



Just found I hadn’t posted last night’s letter – so sorry.

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