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October 17th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

17th October 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

Oct 17th 1916

My own dear Cyril.

Mother has made me a present of a fountain pen which I am very thankful to have and yours is the first letter of any importance I have written with it.

Mother has been staying in Birmingham since Friday and I saw her off to Evesham by the 5.30 train this afternoon. As you know, Wilfred and she spent two or three days together in London, then on Thursday he went to Felixstowe to join his regiment, the 3rd Essexs. On Friday morning I had a letter from Mother saying she was in B'ham. On Thursday, Kath and Juliet had tea with her at the Charing X Hotel and suggested she should go and see them all at Badsey while she was in the neighbourhood. Personally I had mixed feelings about it because of all that took place that Xmas in London, but when she said to me, “I want to make friends with Mr Sladden” I felt it would not be right to put obstacles in the way or patching up the “rift within the lute”, so let matters take their own course. I feel it is most awfully generous of your people to act as though there had never been any friction about our engagement – they have been bricks all the way through and never let it influence their words or their actions towards me or mine.

I got rather a shock when I saw Mother with her hat off on Friday. The front part of her hair has gone almost white. I think it must be due to the news about Cecil. She tried to find out information in London last week about him but failed to get any more definite news than the fact that he is wounded and missing still. It is on the cards that she will go on to see Uncle Ben after leaving Badsey. She enquired after you and I think she has grasped the fact now that we are intending to marry at the termination of our engagement!

On Friday I have a night off so Ethel wrote to Mother and asked her to stay over that date so that I could go over and see her there. I've only seen her for an hour each day since Friday – it is difficult to arrange meetings when one is on night duty, also the trains have not been running continuously all day lately, owing to the shortage of coal to feed the electricity, so one often has to walk into B'ham which takes the best part of an hour.

Mother is very upset about Uncle Harry's will – he has left all his money and his affairs in Uncle Fred's hands and (according to Mother) he has provided for everyone in the family except us. She feels it is hard luck, because Cecil was nearer being the heir than Uncle Fred, because the latter is Father's younger brother. I always expected this would happen so it does not trouble me much. In a letter from Uncle Fred to Mother, he tells Mother that he will provide for Father and in the event of his death he will provide instructions for his provision. The money as far as I can see is in the hands of a Public Trustee but Uncle Fred can handle it. Of course it is a great help to know Father is provided for, but Mother says that this part of the will does not interest her because she has lost all interest and affection for Father. She wants her children provided for more than anything. I think myself that there must be some other reason for the line Uncle Harry took, other than the supposition that he did not like Mother and therefore left his money away from her children.

I am writing this while the patients are sleeping. One poor fellow though is not sleeping much. He only came in yesterday – Lieutenant Willmott, Durham Light Infantry. His right leg is amputated a good way above the knee and his right forearm is fractured badly, both bones, and nasty wounds. He told me he was very surprised when he was told his leg would have to come off, because after he was wounded he walked quite a long way, but then gas gangrene set in and spread very quickly. He is quite young, only 20 years of age. It makes me unhappy to see him suffering so terribly.

I have been feeling very rotten the past two of three days – night duty is the limit when you don't feel well. We, poor women, seem handicapped in all directions - and the war does not make life any easier for us – because life is one continual rush. (I can hear that boy moaning now - it goes to my heart.)

I hope, darling, the mail will come in before I post this letter and that you will have had some letters from me so that you will have replied to them. Last week your letter was very dull, owing to circumstances and you had had no letters to answer. Poor old fellow, it must be horribly dull in your part of the world, it is marvellous that you can scrape together any news at all - and then of course there is the censors to be considered too, although I don't think they worry their heads very much unless they suspect anyone of giving away news, the private parts of a letter don't interest them.

I will continue this another time – I must write Wilfred a few lines tonight.

As the despatch about Kut fills up this envelope – I will write another letter this week.

Best love, dearest.

Ever your own.

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 21st November 1916.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference