Skip to main content

December 3rd 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

3rd December 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 Hous
Edgbaston Pk Rd

Dec 3rd 1916

My own dear Cyril,

No mail from you last week but doubtless I shall get two letters from you this week to make up.

You will be glad to hear I am on day duty once more – we will all change sooner than we anticipated. I am now be what is known as the “jaw bones”, that is we take nothing but jaw cases except in the side wards which are kept for tetanus cases, erysepelas and similar cases. It is quite interesting work and one gets a fair amount of cooking of invalid foods for of course the men can eat very few solids! But now-a-days everything is simplified to such an extent that half the interest is taken away. For instance in the old days it was a science to make decent calves’ foot jelly, now one simply pours boiling water on a prepared powder!

It is awfully sad to see how disfigured these poor fellows are but it is wonderful how they are patched up so as to be able to speak and eat. Today is your Mother’s birthday. Her name and Cecil’s were mentioned together at the early service. I wish I could have been there.

Dec 4th
I am having a great struggle to get my letter finished for this mail. Yesterday I was prevented finishing it because one of the nurses in my room was feeling awfully ill and depressed so I had to attend to her and see she had all she wanted. It is miserable to be ill here if no-one will bother to give you a helping hand. She had gone off duty today and is over in the sick room.

I thought of you a great deal yesterday and knew you were probably thinking a great deal about us all at home. Especially of your Father, who must have suffered great mental strain keeping up his spirits. I had a very dear letter from Betty waiting me that your dear Mother’s name and Cecil’s were being mentioned together at the Holy Communion service. Betty commented on Wilfred’s remark that “Cecil and Uncle Ben were the two most truly moral” men he had ever known excluding parsons. She says with real sisterly pride, “He has yet to meet Boo, hasn’t he, Mela?” I tell you this because I know it will give you pleasure.

What do you think of these cheap photos of Barrow and me taken on night duty after we had been up over 14 hours?! We look like right owls, don’t we?! It is very bad of Barrow, she is really quite a pretty girl! I am in my new uniform – navy blue hat, navy blue coat with red pieces let in to the corners of the collar. I expect you’ll recognise the muff?!

The war news is difficult to follow just at present. Actual facts seem depressing but one can never tell how many of the apparent failures are due to strategy and will turn out to be victorious in the end.

I feel very much in the dark about the future movements of your division but must wait patiently until the papers begin to be communicative.

Mesopotamia is hardly mentioned in the papers. Darling, I am so tired of it all. I feel I am getting ancient and that I shall be too old and worn out a wife for you. I know you won’t be thinking this yourself – but really if the war doesn’t end soon or if you don’t come home I shall feel terribly aged when you do come back! I do hope I hear from you this week.

The Bishop treated us all to the theatre on his birthday Nov 30th and also on Dec 1st. His choice of play was rather unfortunate. It was “Hindle Wakes”. Have you ever seen it? As a piece of character acting it is very clever. The plot is distasteful but true to life. It is a play with a moral – but to bring the moral out it was necessary to call a spade a spade on several occasions. It is a very human piece but hardly one that a Bishop would take his daughters to see. It is not immoral really because the idea is to “show up” immorality – but I felt very hot all over once or twice. The curious thing was the Bishop seemed to be enjoying it as much as anyone!

I am sorry this is such a scrawl this week. I have no ink and very little time.

God bless you sweetheart. All my love is yours now and ever. Do come home soon.

Ever your devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 7th January 1917.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 4 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference