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October 18th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

18th 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 18th 1915


My dear Sweetheart,


Two nights have passed without a letter written but you know how sometimes one feels unable to write.


I think it is the news about Serbia which upset me, I’ve felt anxious that your regiment might be sent there. Altogether the outlook seems so muddled and hopeless that it is difficult to keep an even balance of mind and look things squarely in the face in order to take an all round view of the war.


Sometimes the only thing I can grasp is my own little bit which of course to myself seems large.


The unbearable longing to see you becomes intense and it is often followed by a reaction, which is even more ghastly when I look back on it, namely that nothing matters, neither life nor death neither love, nor hate – joy nor sorrow. I get over it but while it last it is like the bitterness of hell – if you’ll forgive me using such a strong expression.


I feel in a softer mood tonight – but feel very homesick.


Ethel came to see me reminding me vividly of you and yours and I feel rotten when I saw the train steaming out of the station with her in it. We could not have long together as I had to sleep until nearly four and the only train she could catch went at 5.55. The others have been taken off.


Ethel said your Father and Mother are well and very much enjoy the society of their grandchild. Little Dorothy is small made but not short, and quite perfectly formed. Her chief point of beauty being her eyes, very large and blue – not dark blue like Mary’s but china blue like your Mother’s and Arthur’s. The lower part of the face is like Mary. She is very observant and already takes an interest in life.


She is the joy of Wipers’ heart. If she whimpers in her cradle (the old cradle has been done up for the occasion), he rushes round like one possessed until he finds someone to come to Baby.


Mary is looking very well and Ethel’s words were “She is immensely improved in every way, in looks and character”. It sounds rather patronising but I know what Ethel meant. She means she has opened out as it were, become more broadminded and more interested in other people. Your sisters used to say that her great failing, hardly that, but you know what I mean, was her utter lack of interest in other people’s lives – especially with poor people. But I believe now her character has expanded, as it were.


George is still well. They have had a good many casualties in the ranks of the C.S.I. but not among the officers.


Muriel is leaving Mrs Ashwin at the end of this month. Her husband has taken a commission and so will not be sent to the Front yet as he will have to go through a certain amount of training.


Mrs Ashwin has engaged another companion, a more elderly one. It doesn’t do to have an attractive companion, she leaves you to get married!


Mr Gaukroger has been given a commission. I am so glad. Cecil Crane has been killed, and George Crisp was wounded a second time badly I think, abdominally Ethel thought, and also contracted dysentery.


I talked over with Ethel as to whether to sign on afresh here for six months, and we decided that it would be wise to do so.


Mother wrote yesterday saying that I shall be welcome home if I want to go there at the end of November. I am told the first month’s trial counts in our six months so my agreement is up on November 31st instead of December 31st.


If I went to Boulogne, it is more than likely I could get a job there, but then if I did that, you might be sent home to England, only to find I was tied down in France and unable to see you.


If the War Office sends me abroad I’ll have to go and I shall be quite willing but the demand for nurses at home is very great, as the fully trained nurses are now few and far between in England – so that it is quite probable I shall be needed at home.


Ethel brought my furs and rug over. The furs I can only wear on my day off but I like to have them with me. They remind me of you - and you know how necessary it is that I should have something that will bring you to mind! ! !


I saw two men of the 9th Worcesters the other night. Privates Wells and Moseley, the latter from your platoon. I sent him two big bunches of grapes and a book “The Quinneys” to read. He was ever so pleased. Wells was rather depressing. He first of all told me you had been killed. I had the presence of mind to ask what date, and he said August 10th! As I knew you were alive and well on October 1st I did not distress myself. His mind seemed to be a bit affected by all he’d been through I suppose, because he was most gloomy, and quite refused to believe you were alive, and even went so far as to suggest was I sure that my letters were really from you!


I must close now, dear One, hoping I shall soon get news of you and from you again.


I hope life is a little more tolerable than your first experience of the Peninsula.


Take care of yourself, spiritually and bodily. Remember I’m waiting here at home for you and praying for you always. Au revoir.


All my love, darling.



Your ever devoted


Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 5 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference