Skip to main content

September 18th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

18th September 1916
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Sisters' Quarters, University House, Edgbaston Park Road, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Captain Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force D
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Sisters’ Quarters
University House
Edgbaston Pk Rd

Sept 18th 1916

My own dear Cyril

I purposely put off beginning my letter until today because I wanted to wait until my day off visit to Badsey was accomplished, so that I could give you news of Arthur and all of them at home.

I left here by the 5.56 pm train from Snow Hill reaching Badsey about 7.30. Arthur and Mary met me – the latter looking absolutely radiant and Arthur one great smile! He looks better than when I saw him last, more than 2 years ago at the flat, having lost the pallor London generally gave him. He was looking very smart and professional as well as military. He and I talked a good deal of “shop” on the way up from the station, until at last Mary could stand it no longer! She burst in with, “I think you will find baby has changed even though you've only been away a fortnight!” Arthur thinks the world of his little girl but is quite aware than she cannot be perfect! It was a picture to see them all three together. Just before we reached the top of the road by Kerrs' your father met us. He struck me as looking older – he cannot concentrate on one subject for long at a time now – it seems all effort to him.

Ethel was frightfully busy making flags for French flag day, and we were all commandeered for service! I shared May's room but was fast asleep long before she came up.

Betty is doing a certain amount of “maths” every day and also helps a good deal with baby. Just while Arthur is at home Mary has a nurse all day, Eva Stanford. The happy pair are away from home this week on their third honeymoon. I don't know where they have gone. I wonder when we shall get a chance of even one honeymoon! It may not be long now – the papers are very hopeful, as you will read if The Times I am posting to you reaches you by this mail. Great things are in prospect. We get convoys in every day, nearly all stretcher cases. It is terribly sad to see them being brought in, and each time I see them my heart is full of thanksgiving that you are not on the Western Front.

I went over to the Grave on Saturday morning for a few moments by myself, and thought of Her and of you. In the afternoon I helped to put some fresh flowers on, gladioli and asparagus fern, and just one tiny bunch of white roses off Her own tree.

May was very busy cooking on Saturday morning but came and sat out on the lawn with me in the afternoon, and she and Arthur came to the station in the evening.

Arthur said you are often in his thoughts although you do not write to each other often, and he sent you his love.

I saw Mrs Hands out with her grandchildren. She told me Harold's “Board” comes off in October – I wonder if he'll go back to the 9th Warks. One of the patients, a Mr Mattock, lent me a most amusing book of short stories to read in the train called “Literary Lapses by Stephen Leacock”. They are awfully funny and cleverly written. Arthur read some of them and enjoyed them immensely. Mr Mattock, who is in the 1st Northants, and I are quite good pals. He is rather like Cecil in many ways.

I'm hardly expecting to hear from you this week because your Bushire letter came last mail, and if you write from Basra, I imagine that letter will have to go back to India, and so a week will be missed.

Nurse Sampson has gone for her holidays which she was needing very badly as she has not had any for 13 months. She is looking a good deal better though than when I saw her last. She is in a ward where she is happy which makes all the difference. The papers have taken up the cause of the “nurses”. There will be a revolution in the nursing world methinks! Some are advocating that nurses like myself should be able to gain promotion as time goes on both in work and in salary, which at present is not the case, owing to professional jealousy and rivalry on the part of fully trained nurses.

Did you find many new faces when you returned to your regiment? Which company are you in command of? I suppose Major Faviell is in command in place of Colonel ___ who was invalided to India with a sprained knee.

It is weary waiting for your return, Sweetheart, but just now and again I can imagine you with me. In the words of Somerset's song, you “Come to me in the silence of the night”, you “come in the speaking silence of a dream” - “Speak low, breathe low – so long ago – my love, how long ago”. There have been exquisite moments which I can never forget and which live again in my imagination. But oh. dear Heart, these are nothing in comparison to the Reality. God grant we may live through them all again together, and grant me strength to submit if it be His will that we shall never do so. But I feel He is merciful. In the meantime we must watch and pray - until that joyful day of reunion.

God bless you dear Love. All my heart's love.

Your ever devoted

PS - Since I've worked in the officers' wards I've realised your worth even more than I did before. Men are weak things in many ways and one sees their failings so much in hospital. Some of them are “fine” men of course.

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 23rd October 1916 at Amara.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference