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November 13th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

13th November 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, Birmingham

Nov 13th 1916, 1 am

My own dear Sweetheart

Any Censor, opening this letter and by chance noticing the time at which I am writing and not realising my “vocation” as Rosie called it in a letter to me, would think I must be very much in love to be scribing to you in the small hours of the morning!!!  Of course his diagnosis would be very wide of the mark!

The reason I did not begin my budget earlier this week is because I have been busy.  The nurses take it in turns to get meals for the rest of the staff and as they are done in relays, three meals in the middle of the night and two in the Early morning, a large slice about 5 hours is taken out of the night.  The orderly has to look after the ward while I am away.  I rather like the job really because the night simply flies.

I am feeling so mad to know that two mails from Mesopotamia the 16th and 24th of October are now reposing at the bottom of the sea – sunk in the P & O Arabia.  How delighted a Hun would be if this letter fell into his hands!

To think some fascinating mermaid received your letters instead of me is enough to make my blood boil!  No really darling I feel awfully wretched about it.  I have so much looked forward to receiving letters saying you had at last got some from me and now I shall have to wait weeks.

I am thinking of asking for my January day off and my December night off together, and spend them both at Badsey.  My November night off I shall possibly spend with the Jarvis!  A night off spent any distance away is more tiring than restful.  For one comes off night duty in the morning and spends a good part of the day travelling, and then the following day you are up and about and travel again only to go on again for that same night.

I have not been sleeping awfully well so think it is wiser to spend a quiet time this month.  I get such awful dreams about dear old Cecil – such as the Germans giving no quarter to prisoners and then seeing how they ill treat prisoners etc.

I may hear this week if you caught a mail about the 8th.  Your last letter was dated the 1st so that it is just possible.

I am feeling better tonight but had a rotten time last week – felt absolutely done.  Nothing unusual the matter but I had an awful fit of depression.  I managed to get through my work somehow but it was a great effort to be cheerful with the patients. I think that night duty makes one less able to resist this sort of thing.

Mother crossed to France last Thursday.  I am glad she got over safely.  One never knows what tricks the Wily Hun is up to these days.  This is one of the reasons Mother did not bring Bar over with her.  She felt she might be risking her life.

Unless this week happens to bring me an acknowledgement of a certain important letter of mine in reply to one of the same nature written by you at Simla, I’m afraid it will be one of the letters which the fascinating mermaid has received which is vexing to say the least of it.  Not that I think you will have been able to reply fully to it now that you are back at the front but I would just like to know that you received it.

You describe the Postal Service babus in one of your recent letters.  I remember the type only too well – a most annoying and insincere and untruthful type.

I think other government clerks (natives) are very similar – those in banks being particularly oily in their speech and very unreliable.

Did I tell you that Wilfred met Mother in town and then took her to Felixstowe with him for a day or two.  I am so glad he could be with her for it was rotten for her being alone when she got Cecil’s kit.  She has sent it to Uncle Ben’s for the time being.  I must ask her if she will give me something of his that he used on Active Service – poor old laddie – it is so difficult to realise he has gone.   I will continue this another night dear – God bless you my Own.

Nov 14th

Nothing exciting or of much interest has happened to tell you about.  I hope my next letter may be more interesting.  It is awfully dull for you just getting these scraps of letters.  We are both situated in much the same way as far as exciting events go!

I had a few lines from Mary asking me to forward a letter to Mother from her thanking Mother for the socks she knitted for Baby Dorothy.

Mary and Baby leave Badsey next week.  Ethel has gone or is about to go to Sydenham to stay with Kath to help her with household duties as her stop gap housekeeper has failed.

Mrs Horsman appears to have pulled through her second operation as far as the operation itself is concerned – but I imagine if it is cancer the growth will occur again.

I shall be going to the Jarvis’ for the 29th.  I had such a nice letter from her fixing it up.  I am to go directly I get off duty in the morning and Elsie says I am to go straight to bed when I get there and rest until tea time then get up for a cosy homey evening and then a lovely long night in bed.  You cannot imagine how much I am looking forward to it.  Fancy looking forward a fortnight ahead to a good night’s rest!

I have one more visit to the dentist.  I went to have the fourth tooth stopped this morning and the next visit is for polishing all four.  Sounds nice but I’ve never had it done before!

I went to the Early Service again last Sunday.  I have been able to go each Sunday for 3 weeks now – am so glad.

I hope a merman won’t get this letter and if he does he won’t find much to interest him!

I wonder if I shall hear from you this mail.

All my very best love, dearest.

Things continues to progress on the Western Front which brings our re-union ever closer.

God bless you – Sweetheart mine.

Ever your devoted


Cyril received the letter on 31st December 1916.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 5 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference