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February 26th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

26th February 1916
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Seward House, Badsey
Correspondence To
Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division (please forward)
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Seward House

Feb 26th 1916

My own dearest Cyril

You must forgive odd scraps of writing paper for the next few mails. I have one or two unfinished pads which I have not been to match with envelopes. Paper is getting very expensive so I feel I must use up old scraps before buying new. I wonder if you have come to your journey’s end and how long it will be before my letters reach you. The last two I wrote were not very inspiriting ones so I hope they won’t reach you at a moment when you most need a loving, cheerful one.

Kathleen is down here for the weekend. A wire came from her yesterday morning saying she would arrive by the 4.55 from Paddington. The snow was so thick that we could not persuade anyone with a trap to meet the train, so May and Ethel went on foot to meet her. It is very nice having her here, she is such a fresh breezy person, she blows all the cobwebs away. I moved into the spare room yesterday so that Kath could sleep with May – they like to have a good old gossip together after they are in bed. You already know my preference for having a room to myself – it is so nice to have some place where you can be alone with your thoughts and where you can say your prayers undisturbed. If you are a little longer on your knees one night than another no comments are made. Often, although I may be on my knees a long time, I am not praying the whole time, I just think out the little problems of daily life and put its difficulties honestly before me, and try to see where I have failed and where I have succeeded. Last night I faced myself with the question of whether your rebuke was justified or not. I got as far as seeing that from your point of view I may occasionally allow my joy in an event over-ride my judgement, but that in the above case it was not applicable as I saw no reason to withhold the fact that there was a cheery piece of news coming. A doleful piece of news would have been another matter!

Anyhow the result of my self-examination on that point was that I made a resolve to use my judgement more than I have done in the past, and try not to let my heart govern my head. You mustn’t expect me to be perfect in this respect too quickly, it takes time to eradicate a natural failing.

My bedroom reminds me of you because so many of my possessions were given me by you. On the table by my bedside is the Bible you gave me. In the window is a large card table covered with a cloth and on it are 2 photos of you, my leather jewel case, my watch in a case when I am not wearing it, a small leather (brown) writing pad bought with some money you sent me for my birthday when I was at the General Hospital; a book of Matthew Arnold’s poems; and Shelley. In the middle of all these is a vase of fragrant violets. On the chest of drawers I have a photo of Mother and one of Wilfred and Cecil and Sammy on the mantel piece. Although I may go away some times, still when I come back I shall arrange the room in this way, so if you try hard you can imagine it. I couldn’t keep thinking, dear love, of what we had hoped had you come home, how that after a short honeymoon we should have returned here and probably have been together in this room. I could feel your presence, so strongly was the thought in my imagination.

The snow still falls – this is the third day and there looks as if there was more to come. At Sandwich they have had 2 feet of snow. I think we have only had about 6 inches so far, although of course where the snow has drifted it is many feet deep.

What kind of climate are you experiencing now? I hope the campaign in which you are taking part will be short. Our Allies seem to have struck terror further north.

I showed Mrs Ashwin several stamps that you’ve sent me. She has not any of them. I have duplicates of them so will give her them. If ever you get the opportunity you might get me the following to use as swops:-

Egypt Postage

  • 3 Milliemes – used as 2 Mill or as a 3 Mill, picture of public buildings, yellow.
  • 1 Millieme – grey brown, picture of sailing boat.
  • 2 Milliemes – green, woman bearing native pitcher on head.
  • 4 Milliemes – vermilion, pyramids.
  • 6 Milliems – crimson, Sphinx.

Don’t go to any special trouble to get them.

Your Mother had a letter from George yesterday. He tells the story of how he and 3 others got into their present billet. All the cream of billets had been taken by a regiment who got there before them. At last they came to a house inhabited by an old lady. Before I go on I must tell you that he says the Civil Service Rifles are noted for their good behaviour!

At first glance the old lady said, “Pas de logement ici.” Then she intimated she would have no truck with soldiers. Suddenly she recognised the badge of CSR and said she had “Une petite place pour des soldats très gentils”! So they entered upon their abode. George says she is most awfully good to them and will not take payment for anything, so he thinks they must be “très gentils”.

I heard from Eva Money this afternoon saying it is high time I paid them a visit, and as you are not coming home will I go along to them soon.

I talked it over with your Mother and we decided Wednesday the 1st will be a good day. She is so much better now and comes down for middle day dinner that by then she will not need me to look after her. Ethel’s gathered finger prevents her doing anything like hair dressing etc.

I shall travel via Reading to Folkestone to save the London crossing from station to station. On the return journey, probably 10 days hence after Wednesday, I shall take a morning train, lunch at Uncle Harry’s on the way up, and take an evening train up to town. I will then spend a week with Kathleen before returning to Badsey. I feel rather sad at having to draw on my little store of savings, but I will make it up when I take some more cases. Dr Leslie says work is slack at present so it is a good opportunity to take a change. I will go and see Aunt Lottie while I am down there.

Kath and I went for a walk this afternoon. She doesn’t cheer up a bit about Rosie. I wish she could, she’d be so much happier.

Not knowing when mails go out to you or really even where you are I do not know the best day to post my letters. I post them any time and trust to luck!

I must remember to write to Mary tomorrow to enquire how your little niece is getting on. This snowy weather prevents her from getting out much I expect. It is difficult to push a pram through the snow.

I’ll give you news of Aunt Lottie and any Folkestone items of interest when I write from there.

Best love Sweetheart, God bless and keep you safe. Try not to let any distrust creep into your mind about me – try to see that circumstances alter cases and that I will do my best to be discreet.

Ever your devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 7th April 1916 at Felahick.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference