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

4th October 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


Oct 4th 1915


My own dear Cyril


I’m afraid I’ve broken my record of writing every night since I’ve been on night duty.


We have been and are very busy, convoys coming in day and night. Last night we had 300 in but had to send go elsewhere, we couldn’t house them all.


This constant stream of convoys means the patients are in here only a few days and then transferred to smaller and even to the Civil hospitals. One just begins to take an interest in a case when it is moved on.


I have only 2 patients in now that came in 2 nights after I came on night work and none of the original lot, having had at least six changes and I’ve only been on the nights.


I’ve not heard that we are to expect a convoy in tonight so feel I can sit down for a bit and write to you, not that there is much outside news to give you but still you’ll doubtless like a few lines all the same.


I got up at 4.15 pm yesterday and after having some tea with the day nurses I went down to the General Hospital to see Fanny. She was brimming over with the fact that she had heard from you. I teased her a good bit about it, until she hardly knew whether I was serious or not. I told her I expected better things of a chum than to try and cut me out and a lot of silly nonsense of that sort!


Nevertheless, I’m awfully pleased you wrote to her. She has been and is a good friend to me and I like to feel you know her a little. Perhaps some day you’ll know her a lot. We must have her to stay with us after we are married. Not just at first, perhaps, because I think we shall be pretty contented to be alone for a bit! I dont mean alone exactly, I mean together, with no one else!


I heard from the little Mother tonight. She tells me Mrs Ashwin is looking out for another companion and that Muriel will stay with her until she gets one, and then go to Folkestone to live with her cousin, Mrs Church, until her husband comes back from the Front.


Mary and little Dorothy will be at Seward House some time this month before joining Kath and Jack at Sydenham.


I expect Mrs Horsman will like having a child in the house. I can just hear her holding forth to Mary about the way she considers a baby ought to be brought up! I expect her remarks will be delightful. I must ask Kath to retail them to me.


I had a pc from Cecil today saying he was quite well, Oct: 2nd, so those London Scottish men must have made a mistake. It will be a marvel if he continues to go through unwounded in the terrible fighting which is taking place.


We are advancing but at what a tremendous cost.


The situation in Bulgaria is causing the greatest anxiety at home. Russia has just issued an ultimatum giving the Bulgarians 24 hours in which to choose their fate. I wonder what the result will be.


My mind feels very jumbled up tonight. I feel I want you here to help sort my ideas out. I seem to be suffering from a kind of spiritual muddle. My soul stagnates for want of nourishment. I say my prayers and read my Bible but that does not seem to satisfy. I feel like a blind man groping in the dark, I know the light is there but cannot see it. Everything seems so material, except the heroic way the wounded men bear pain and suffering.


I am not exactly depressed or morbid but feel so unsatisfied, not dissatisfied, with the conditions under which I am forced to live and it is starvation to one’s mind.


You can understand how I feel having gone through much the same thing in the Russian Sea.

The library books have been a great boon but one wants congenial companionship as well. All day long one is up against people whose upbringing is such that they offend one’s sense of refinement at every turn, their very voices jar on one. I do not mean the patients. They are the one great saving clause – heroes every one.


While on night duty I share a room with a girl who is certainly awfully nice to me and is a lady by birth and quite nice in many ways, but she takes a very cynical view of life, which becomes annoying in time. She has no belief in happiness in married life unless one makes up one’s mind that all men are unfaithful and resigns oneself to the inevitable, and she thinks even engagements are not particularly happy because men are so inconstant etc. etc. This view of life gets on my nerves to such an extent that it worries me.


Not that it affects my opinion of you at all – but it seems to make one’s outlook on life so depressing. I know you used to think I had not a very high opinion of men in general but I never had such a low opinion as she has – mine was only superficial in comparison to hers.


I must stop this scribble now – dear. God bless you and have you in His All Holy Keeping. I am with you in thought all the time – dear Love. Even if you cannot, owing to the hardships by which you are surrounded, realize it, nevertheless I am there just the same.


All my love, dear Heart.



Your ever devoted


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