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January 20th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

20th January 1916
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Seward House, Badsey
Correspondence To
Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 39th Brigade, 13th Division, British Meditteranean Expeditionary Force
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Seward House

Jan 20th 1916

My own dear Sweetheart

I began a letter to you on the 18th but I tore it up as I had got tied up as it were, I think because I was tired, and so did not begin another one until I felt in a clearer frame of mind. If my letters have gone astray by any chance, you will be wondering how I happen to be at Badsey. I’d better explain again in case you do not already know.

On the advice of Major Russell, one of the doctors on the staff of the 1st Southern General, I did not sign on again. A little while before this, I met Kath and May at Leamington and happened to complain of my legs being tired and painful and they told me to speak about them to Matron before signing on again. The pain and tiredness is due to varicose veins, and Major Russell, after examining me, said it would be unwise to go on in hospital if I wished my legs to get better. So here I am, having a rest. I may go on to Folkestone from here and then on to Aunt Jessie’s, I am not sure yet how things will plan out.

Dr Leslie told May he could probably give me a little private nursing to do later on, which will not entail standing like nursing in a hospital. He said he would come and see me when he heard I had arrived, and see if we could come to any arrangement. This is one plan.

Then another plan is to go and help Aunt Jessie with housekeeping so that I can get an insight into household affairs before we marry. Aunt Jessie has asked me to make her house my home until we are married and says that I should be most useful to her in helping in the house, especially as now Uncle has an appointment at Headquarters in Liverpool. The Walls are moving up there and are taking a much larger house.

I wish letters did not take so long reaching you as I would like to have your help in deciding which of the above plans to follow out.

At present I am trying to take things easily, but you know what an old fidget I am if I do not know my plans for the future. I cannot rest my mind until I arrive at a definite decision.

I came here on the 17th, very glad to be back in the old home. Your baby niece is getting quite big and is such a pretty little girl. You’ll love her, she often smiles at me. The others say because I have such a funny face! I suppose you’d agree with them having made a similar remark at dinner the night we were engaged!

George has a month’s leave and is bringing his fiancée to see us this weekend – she cannot get longer leave. We don’t yet know if George himself will spend a longer time than that here or not, but we hope if he returns to London with Rosie, he will come down here again later on. They will arrive by the train reaching Evesham at 4.17 pm tomorrow. Lucky things that they are! But I must not begrudge them their happiness – we have had some very lengthy times together in our time, haven’t we.

We are very interested in the papers recently, in the accounts of the evacuation of Anzac and afterwards of Helles. We could imagine you safe and sound in Egypt or some other spot, had we not heard of two casualties in your regiment, the last one being on Jan 6th, killed in action with the BMEF, 2nd Lieutenant Austin, attached 9th Worcesters (12th Worcesters). Where could you have been by Jan 6th to be in action?

Your Mother and Father are both well. They love having Dolly Molly and will miss her very much when she goes.

Please excuse pencil – I am writing with my feet up on the couch and I’m afraid of spilling the ink if I write with it lying down.

Mother wants me to go home very much but it would not be very wise owing to the many difficulties in the matter of passports etc. I hate disappointing her when we’ve just become good friends again but I cannot see my way to crossing, now that I know I am not entitled to a military passport, unless on Active Service. It would mean going round via Dieppe which would be very expensive and also I should have to be personally interviewed in London before being allowed any kind of a passport, which would all mean more expense.

Mary keeps pretty well but to my mind she might look better. She will not go out unless forced and so gets no exercise, the consequence being rather a white face. Baby keeps her awake a good bit at night too so she hardly ever gets a good night’s rest. Ethel sometimes has the baby for a night so as to enable Mary to get some real rest.

May is busy as usual with her school and she says she has not quite so many pupils this term.

I saw Mrs Ashwin yesterday and her companion, Miss Allen, who seems very nice. No one hears very much from Muriel who is at Bexhill still with her husband.

I am simply dying for your next letter. It is awfully tantalizing seeing Mary getting one and sometimes two every day!

I am going to practice while I am here, for your sake as well as my own. It is so nice to have the time again. I wish my darling Boo could be here with me, but as he cannot be here, I must try and do as he would wish me to do, were he here. Don’t you think so?”!

As you mention having received a letter from your Mother dated the night George was expected, we expect to hear in your next letter that you know of his engagement. He is looking forward to getting a letter from you such as his “soul desireth”, he told me in a letter.

This time tomorrow, Rosie and he will be arriving. Poor Rosie – it will be rather an ordeal for her – but still she won’t find any of us very formidable. Will she?! Again, I wish you were here – still we couldn’t have the drawing-room, could we? Especially their first visit!

I must close now, dear. Everyone sends love. I wish so often to have you with me; it is just like one big aching void which no one else can fill. It seems a hundred years since you kissed me.

All my love, Sweetheart, God bless you.

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