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December 27th 1915 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

27th 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 27th 1915


My own dear Cyril


I wanted to write to you on Christmas Day but had not a moment to myself.


We have had no off duty for 3 days so you can guess letter writing was out of the question. But all the time my thoughts were with you although to all appearances I was the gayest of the gay.


I got up at 5.15a.m. in order to go to the Early Service and if I had done all the things the others did I should not have been in bed until 12 o’clock but I slipped away after dinner about 8.30 to my own room. I had lots of odd jobs to do and started to write to you but was too tired. I spent about half an hour trying to collect my thoughts in order to realize the real and true meaning of Christmas and all it means to the world. Then I prayed and tried to imagine you with me and I felt as though God was listening to us both. It was just as well, darling that I had plenty to do, for all the previous week I had been living our week together a year ago and I was just longing for you.


Your dear thought for me in sending me such a lovely present made me realize how much you must be thinking of me in the midst of all you are going through, and it comforted me to know that I am still uppermost in your thoughts.


Of course, in my heart of hearts I know you love me just as dearly as ever, but woman-like I am always glad to hear the same thing over again, only this time I saw instead of hearing!


After attending the 6 o’clock celebration I came back to a hurried breakfast for we were supposed to be on duty at 7 am. We rushed through our work in order to be ready for the various items on the programme for the day. Father Xmas (Lieutenant Benison, the Quartermaster) came round about 9 am with a present, chocs, and cigarettes for each patient – then all day long various notable people paid visits, such as the Lord Mayor, and the MP for the Division.


In the afternoon and evening the patients who could get up, visited all the wards, and there were also concerts got up for those who liked to attend them. The wards were all beautifully decorated. Ours had red lampshades, holly and evergreens and flags of the Allies, and red and white flowers.


Many of the other wards were more beautiful, but ours was the most homey, especially to me, as the people of Badsey provided all the evergreens and fruit - and I could imagine every apple tree and so on. We had our Xmas dinner at 7 pm and a very good one it was - and at 9 pm – there was an entertainment got up by some of the Sisters and Nurses, but I was naughty and sneaked off to my room.


Yesterday, Sunday was a fairly peaceful day, but today we have been busier than ever, as in what was supposed to be our off duty time we had to do the washing up of our own meals and that of the maids, as they were given a big dinner and a half holiday. Those who had not taken part in the acting were supposed to do this but not very many turned up at the time and about 8 of us washed up for 200 people and laid the tea and made it for those coming off duty at 5, when we returned to the wards, then they cleared away tea and got supper ready.


It is now getting late but I felt I must write tonight as tomorrow I shall not have time having been invited to see the theatricals at the General Hospital.


I had a letter from Rosie Lintott which I enclose for you to read. It is a most carefully constructed letter but gives little clue to her character. I wrote her a hurried, breezy, happy letter. I’m afraid she must have been rather shocked! The home people had a photo of her at Xmas, so when I go there next time I shall see it.


I had a sad letter from Wilfred, telling me his engagement is broken off. He does not say whether it was mutual or whether she threw him over or whether he broke it off, but he speaks of it as a great blow and that he would like to be in the thick of the fighting, and would rather have been wounded ten times over and so on, so I deduce that Mary Campbell broke the engagement.


Poor laddie, how my heart aches for him. I wish he had some kith or kin to be with him just now. Not knowing the circumstances I cannot pass an opinion, and I ought not to judge others, but naturally I feel very sore about it. After all Wilfred went through in West Africa, to come back only to receive a blow from which it will take him a long time to recover.


It was cruel of Mary Campbell - and yet if she found she did not care for him I suppose she was right not to go through with it. He thought the world of her and said so often in his letters that she was far too good for him and so on. He is very loyal to her and says not a word to her disparagement but I cannot help thinking he has a rude awakening of some kind.


I must write to him this mail. I am so glad he will try and come home in the Spring. We, at home, must try and help him to forget.


He sent me some pocket money for a Xmas present, with which I am going to buy myself a new trunk, mine is literally falling to pieces. The trunk will prove useful later on as well as now.


I must close, now, dear Heart, hoping all is well with you. God bless you, best Beloved.


Ever your devoted


Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 2nd February 1916 at Port Said.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference