Skip to main content

March 25th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden

25th March 1916
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, 1 Kingsnorth Gardens, Folkestone
Correspondence To
Lieutenant Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Indian Expeditionary Force
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

1 Kingsnorth Gardens

March 25th 1916

My own dear Cyril

This is Lady Day and Kath’s birthday. I wrote to her yesterday and hope the letter will reach her in time. Posts are very erratic these days.

I went over to Birmingham last Wednesday, to do shopping and to see Sammy. The latter was looking very white and pinched so I took her out to tea and made a good meal of it. She says the food at the General goes from bad to worse. She was also in an agitated frame of mind because the next exam comes off on Monday and she feels wobbly about it. While I was waiting to see her, Miss Musson came into the room. She asked if I had come to see her and I said “No”, which struck me afterwards as being a tactlessly blunt reply. She enquired after you told me her nephew, Lieutenant Musson, is in Mesopotamia. I think he would be either in the Warwickshire or Worcesters.

I came down here on Thursday, the day before yesterday, and am very glad of a real rest. I have a nasty cough and sore throat and feel generally used up – so Auntie does not let me get up until I’ve had breakfast, and until, as she terms it, the house is warm enough.

I had a letter from Ethel today asking me if I would go over to Deal and take her place in looking after Norah, until Marian comes home for the school holidays. I am sorry to say I had to write and say I could not come. You see, dear, although I was supposed to take a rest after leaving hospital, I have not done so and now I intend to take one, willy nilly. My mind seems more fagged out than my body and I do not feel up to taking an interest in anything.

I know you will understand that as far as inclination goes, I’d love to help Aunt Edith, but doubt I’d be much help. For one thing, on account of the break in the railways, one has to go most of the way by motor, which is not advisable with a throat and cough, and another thing Norah in her weak state might catch my cold, and that would not be doing her a kindness.

I met Aunt Lottie this morning and tried to explain to her I couldn’t go, but she didn’t seem to understand. She said something about spring cleaning, as if intending to convey that she was too busy to go over herself.

I am sorry if I give offence to any of your relatives by my seeming callousness, but there comes a time where one must consider one’s own health. I feel in a way that would not wish me to go if you were here yourself, to be asked your opinion.

I do want to be really fit if you get leave at any time, and also I have to earn my living and must feel well in order to be able to do so satisfactorily.

Folkestone is a very interesting place to be in in war time, but I cannot tell you much about the interest, in case I might unwittingly reveal what are national secrets. The number of different uniforms nearly turn my head! Smart Belgian officers, bonny Scots, quiet Englishmen, each have their fascinations.

I travelled from Guildford with a number of well-groomed air-men of the RFC who, to my relief, went fast asleep every one of them!

I am just longing to hear from you again. Eva Gaukroger told me her letters from her husband take six weeks coming over. Her little boys are such fine little chaps. Jim, the elder one, has had his curls cut off, but the Baby’s head is just a mass of curls. When they are a bit older, Eva is going to move to Evesham and send them to May’s school.

Eva asked all sorts of questions about you and as usual thinks it a pity we’re not married! She is a regular matchmaker. I notice what numbers of pretty nursemaids there are about – I also notice the soldiers share my opinion!

I’ll write again soon, dearest – I do want you home again.

On Auntie’s Shakespeare Calendar, over the table at which I am writing, are these words from Hamlet:

“Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear;
Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.”

With all my heart’s love, sweetheart – God bless you.

Ever your devoted

PS – Wilfred sails for England at the end of this month.

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 10th May 1916 at Poona.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference