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January 12th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

12th January 1916
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, c/o Cox & Co, Agents, Alexandria
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Sisters’ Quarters
University Road
Edgbaston Park Rd

Jan 12th 1916

My own dear Sweetheart

If you received my last letter safely you will know that at the time I wrote it the question about my signing on or not, had arisen.

Matron sent for me on the 8th, having forgotten to send for me on the 1st, and asked me if I were willing to sign on. I told her that I would be willing to sign on. I told her that I would be willing to do so, provided the doctor would pass me as physically fit when he examined me. She then wanted to know why I wanted to be examined. I told her that my legs had been more than usually tired and painful as well, due I imagine to varicose veins.

The next morning Major Russell examined me and without a moment’s hesitation he told me it would be very unwise to go on with the work here, as my legs are bound to get very much worse if I have any long standing to do. Added to which, as for soldiers, nurses with varicose veins are rejected as physically unfit. So I have to go.

In my last letter I told you that May and Kath advised me to mention the pain in my legs to Matron, as they thought it unwise to go on, as I am not training, if the veins were likely to get much worse.

Since the 9th I have written to Aunt Martha and am going to visit her after I've been to Badsey first. Your people are most insistent that I should go there first. May told Dr Leslie that I am leaving here, and he said that it is quite probable that he will be able to give me private cases of his to nurse, when I've had a holiday.

May and Kath want me to make Badsey my home and go out nursing cases now and again. At present nothing is arranged with Dr Leslie, so don't build on this – but it will be very nice if our plans come off – won't it?

So, dearest, in case you can't remember the address, ahem !!! address my letters:

c/o Mrs Sladden, Seward House, Badsey, Evesham !!!

In The Times of the 10th I read that all British troops have left the Peninsula, so I suppose I must believe that you really have left that God-forsaken spot. I've had a feeling that your regiment did not leave Gallipoli altogether when Anzac and Suvla Bay were evacuated – but that you left with the last lot from Cape Helles.

I have been addressing your letters c/o Cox & Co, Alexandria, in case you'd left Anzac or Suvla or wherever you were, so am hoping you will get these eventually – I'm dying to know where you are now. The latest news I have of you is in a letter dated Dec 5th, in which of course there is no mention of a move. One of your letters was in a green envelope, which made me think there was some plan on, which you were all pledged not to divulge. Of course you may have been short of envelopes, and just used a green one because you had no other!

I do not yet know the date of my departure – my papers have to go through the War Office and then the Principal Matron, Miss Musson, will let the Matron know what date I am to go. I hope these red-tape formalities will not take long as I am feeling very tired and longing for a rest. I feel I want someone to love me, it is such a hard, formal life here, it will be such change to be home again.

I cannot go to Boulogne, because I cannot get a passport into the war zone, unless I am going on active service, except via Dieppe, a matter of £5 to £6 which fare is of course out of the question for me. It will be good to hear from you again, it is so weary waiting for news. You know, yourself, what it is like to be without letters, but at any rate you know we are not in danger which is something whereas I never know what the day will bring forth.

I must go round to the General now to say goodbye to Sammie – she is heartbroken because I am going, so must see if I can cheer her up.

God bless you, dear love, and keep you from all harm and danger.

I often wonder how much this war has changed the boy I used to know in you into a man older than his years. Come back to me, never to leave me, when your duty to God and your country is accomplished.

All my love from
Your ever 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