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December 10th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

10th December 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


Dec 10th 1915


My own dear Sweetheart.


This is my evening off duty so I have retired to bed early to write letters. I’ve just finished writing to May and also sent old Mr Mustoe a note to ask him if he and some of his friends in the village would be so kind as to send some evergreens for the decoration of our ward at Christmas.


I told him we had a number of Worcesters of different battalions and that it would be a nice opportunity for the people of Badsey to show their appreciation for their comrades who have sacrificed so much for their country.


I am not taking part in the fancy dress dance which the nurses are getting up amongst themselves. For one thing a dance with no men for partners does not appeal to me very much and also I could not enjoy nursing when my loved ones are exposed to danger every minute. The last dance I went to we were together, darling, and I am not going to another until you come home again.


I’ll help with anything which goes towards making Christmas Day happier for the patients. We are getting up quite a good carol choir of male and female voices amongst the nurses and orderlies who sing in our chapel choir. I dont sing in the choir but all the others do.


Soon after Nurse Holton and I came up to bed this evening, all the lights went out quite suddenly both in the Hostel and the hospital! We don’t yet know if it was a practise or whether any enemy air craft were about. There was no panic at all. We all drew our blinds and lit a candle in each room, which had been provided for an emergency of this kind!


Matron was sure that when the time came we should all of us have mislaid our candles, but she was mistaken! She came over from the Hospital to inspect and found us “all serene”!


Wilfred has sent me a large photo of himself for Xmas, in which he looks a very determined young man indeed! I find I am mistaken in thinking his fiancée is in England. It is one of her sisters who has come over with the South African contingent. I believe Mary or Loll as Wilfred calls her is coming over later on.


I heard there was a London Scottish man in B1. Left ward, so went to see him.


He is Corporal Creighton, Cecil’s bomb Corporal, who would have been made his bomb Sergeant only that he was wounded so another fellow got the promotion instead.


Private Yates of the 9th is marked on his board for a Convalescent Home. He has two little children, a girl of six and a boy of 8. I am going to send them a little Xmas present each.


I must write to Wilfred now so will stop short here and continue another time. I do want to see you so badly, dearest.


I find that a nurse who is married gets 3 week’s leave if her husband comes home from the Front, and a week’s leave is granted to those whose fiancé’s come home. Since we knew this we’ve all decided we’d better get married at once!


Goodbye for the present, darling – it is weary waiting for news but I must try and be brave – more worthy of my soldier Sweetheart.


Dec 12th


You would love to see England now. The country is covered in snow – nice, hard snow, not the slushy sort. Some of the Australians we have in had never seen snow before and say it is the grandest sight they’ve seen.


When I came over just now by moonlight and a clear starry sky I just longed to be able to go for a long, long- walk with you, and you would tell me the names and positions of all the stars. The same moon looks down even now on you and me.


I went to parade Service this morning. The Bishop of Birmingham preached. He contrasted the character of St. John the Baptist and Our Lord.


The Hermit Life was an illustration of the ascetic life required to be led by some characters. The Life of Our Lord was the common every day life which can be led by each of us – human life in its best and highest form – the life which appeals to the majority and which tells in the long run. The Bishop summed up Christ’s character and life in the word “Influence”. He said Our Lord never forces Himself or His Teaching on us. He simply influences us.


Dec 14th. At this point Sampson turned up to see me. I shall be writing again soon.


One of the VADs is very excited. She is leaving to be married, in spite of the fact that she signed for 12 months. We are now told that marriage breaks all contracts. I never knew that before.


In haste – with lots of love – may a letter come soon.


Ever your devoted


Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 23rd January 1916 at Alexandria.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference