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November 22nd 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

22nd November 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


Nov 22nd 1915


My own dear Cyril,


My letters of late have been very untidy and badly and hastily written.


I have a morning pass today and am staying in in order to send you a letter worth reading when it reaches you.


I often think my untidy scrawls must seem very careless and slap-dash when you receive them.


The nurses are rather badly off for a place quiet enough to write in where it is also warm enough. The Silence Room no longer exists for that purpose. It is now a sitting room for the Charge Sisters, the Nursing Sisters have the Library, and the poor nurses have now only a piece of the dining Hall screened off. We can hear the maids talking, and clattering of crockery all the time as there is always a meal either being cleared away or one being prepared. This makes it almost impossible to write in any comfort. Our bedrooms are too cold to sit in now.


The winter is exceptionally cold this year.


I’m afraid my letters on night duty will have spoilt you for my scrawls written now.


Darling, I was so delighted to hear from you yesterday. Especially as it seemed like old times to get a Sunday letter. Your pc containing news of your embarking for the Peninsula once more filled me with somewhat mixed feelings. I want you to be at your post doing your “bit” but I dread the danger to which you will be exposed.


This last remark brings back to me a remark of yours in one of your first letters from the Peninsula, in which you wonder whether it is selfish to wish that you will be unscathed. I feel just the same.


Even when I am praying most earnestly for your safety, the thought is always at the back of my mind. “Why would I expect to be chosen to suffer less than other people”. And then I finish up with “not my will but Thine be done”. We can only leave the future in God’s Hands but the time seems so long that it is only natural one should wish that one could see into the future.


I am very glad you are beginning to get letters again. There are still heaps of mine following you round of even earlier date than those you mention. Some containing snapshots have never reached you.


The day I posted the parcel from Boots’ I also sent a parcel of groceries from Barrows’. I am sorry if they have not reached you as there were some really nice things in it, barring the fact that the cake would be too stale for anything by now!


We are having days off next week and then again at the end of December. As I am nursing “mumps” and have done recently also the commencement of scarlet fever, I don’t think it would be wise to go to Badsey for it, especially as “Dolly Molly” and Mary will still be there.


Elsie Jarvis does not mind risking infection and has asked me to spend the day with her. She has no children and it is to houses where there are children I have been advised not to go. I will go to Badsey for my December day off.


Diphtheria has also broken out amongst the orderlies so we have to be careful not to spread it.


I think it is marvellous how you are able to read such deep books. I know the literature which is being sent out to the men in the trenches in France comprises very few novels. I suppose the men have become more serious minded. Even here we notice they prefer good reading to trashy literature.


I can just imagine you and Captain Attlee “putting the world right” during your walks at Lemnos! You have always had ideas on that subject haven’t you?! When you come home you must try and recall some of your conversations with him and tell me about them.


Perhaps I shall prove even less tractable than the world to put right! Let’s hope not!


This hospital is not very full and yet we have had orders to provide 200 more beds. So I suppose the authorities are expecting heavier casualty lists. These will make the total number of beds 1400. We had a convoy in from France the other day – a number of men had frostbitten feet. It is early days to begin frost bites.


Isn’t it sad about Hope? I forget whether I told you in my last letter that she is in hospital with curvature of the spine, the result of the motor accident she had when leaving Antwerp for Dunkirk. I feel so sorry for her being ill while her husband is at the Front. Also it will be an anxiety for him too.


Wilfred’s fiancée is in England. She came over with the last South African contingent. Wilfred is coming home next year to go to the Front.


I read quite a good novel the other day, called “The Never-Never Land” by Mrs Campbell Praed. Her description of Australian bush life is very good, so is her character drawing. I knew Mrs C Praed’s son in India – he was in the 5th Bengal Light Infantry.


I’ve enjoyed having a library subscription immensely and must try and renew it for next year. I shall sign on for another 6 months.


This letter has not proved as nice a one as I intended it should be. There is such a noise going on that I cannot collect my thoughts. Yes, I agree with you in thinking that had you come home, the wrench of parting again would have been simply dreadful. But at the time I’d have given ten years of my life to have had you home for a bit. But the cost would have had to be counted when you had to go back again.


God bless you, dear Love. I hate to think off you being in the trenches, while I am comfortable at home. But I know it makes you happier to know I am safe and well.


With fondest love and a kiss from


Your ever devoted


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