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January 14th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

14th 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

University House
Edgbaston Pk Rd

Jan 14th 1916

My own dear Cyril

News from you at last! A letter dated Dec 10th and a pc enclosed in an envelope dated Dec 20th. You wicked bad man to tantalize me by writing “As this is not a letter but only a message to report progress I refrain from mentioning a cheery bit of news I have for your next letter.”

Curiosity! Thy name is woman!

I confess I am dying with curiosity – whatever can it be. If it is a change of work I shall be awfully glad – and a change of scene must have taken place according to the papers. It is great to know you keep so awfully fit and well, I’m glad to know. I’ve such a strong future husband – the worst of it is that if it ever came to a stand-up fight, I’d come off rather badly! I think I must learn ju-jitsu!

It was very sweet to read your wholesale contradiction of my suggestion in my letter dated Nov 10th. I am a worm to worry you with all my little fears and fancies – it is so difficult to imagine you in your surroundings that I have sometimes wondered if you can possibly feel the same. It only shows how strong your love is that you do feel the same in spite of altered circumstances. You must think me a cynical girl to be so doubting. I do not really doubt your love, it is only just now and again I wonder if it is only the background of your life, “a thing apart”. But I won’t think these things any more. You are so dear to be so patient with me – and you contradict me so nicely that it will be quite a temptation to try and get you to contradict me again! I think, dear, you took me a little too seriously, but that is much better than not taking me seriously enough. We generally manage to have little misunderstandings on paper but good comes out of evil for we end in understanding one another all the better after.

I am going to Matron tomorrow to know further particulars as to the date of my departure. I sincerely hope to get away early in next week as my legs really are very troublesome and ache very much. They make me feel like an old lady. All the VADs are very surprised I am leaving and say they never dreamt I had anything the matter with me. To prove to them I had I showed them and then they were surprised how I had managed to keep about so long. The veins are badly varicosed behind the knee and extend upwards and down the back of the leg, the night being the worst.

I suppose it is not quite proper of me to discuss these matters with you but I think we know each other well enough now! Somehow it seldom strikes me to keep anything back from you any more than if we were married.

Isn’t it grand to think that the prospect of our marriage seems less remote. In your letter of Dec 10th you are naughty enough to write “Perhaps your next birthday may find us married at last if things turn out well (this isn’t the naught part!). And if that makes you as much happier as it will me it will have done a lot!”

Why if? Who is the doubter this time?! I don’t think it is I this time!

Thank you very much, dear, for the cheque you are sending for my birthday present. I have a little in the bank and if I had not been leaving should have put some more in this month, but as I have to return to mufti, it has been necessary to invest in one or two things. I may possibly invest in a real fountain pen for my present part of the cheque or I may get a despatch case or perhaps add a little money to it and invest in a new travelling trunk.

Aunt Jessie has written me such a loving letter asking me to make my home with them until I am married. The doctor has forbidden Uncle Ben to return to the Congo, so Sir William Lever has given him an appointment at Headquarters in Liverpool, and they are moving there in March. Auntie says they will be taking rather a large house and she will be very glad of my help in running it – and housekeeping will be a nice experience for me.

At present my plans are Badsey for 3 or 4 weeks, Folkestone ditto and then join Aunt Jessie in March, but of course as time goes on it will be easier to form plans.

Then when you come home, I shall be free to come and see you or you to come to see me. I nearly scream with joy when I try to imagine that meeting.

I shall be rather frightened of you when I think of you having used your machine gun with such deadly effect! I cannot realize that you’ve really shot anyone but I shall also be suffering from a swollen head to know you’ve sacrificed all for your country and for me – a hero! God bless you, darling – He has been very merciful to us. We must strive so to live that we may be worthy of His loving kindness.

All my love from
Your ever devoted

Letter Images
Mela wrote 1915 but it should be 1916. 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