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December 11th 1916 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

11th 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 House
Edgbaston Pk Rd

Dec 11th 1916

My darling Cyril

Hurrah! Two letters from you today after 2 weeks of patient waiting or rather impatient waiting!

It is like taking on a new lease of life to get letters from you and although you can only tell me events of the daily round of existence yet now and again I can read between the lines that the life you are leading now is but a prelude to the life we hope to lead in the future, if God wills.

Last week the only mail I got was one of my own letters to you returned. I dated it Aug 13th and I think it is one of the missing letters to which you refer this mail. I have just finished reading it through and as it seems to be a fairly chatty, newsy epistle - I am sending it to you now. I wish I could discover whether you have had that letter of mine in answer to one of yours from Simla which you asked me to destroy.

By now you must have heard from me that our dear Cecil is dead. We have had details this week from Private Cooke of his regiment, a prisoner of war, as to how he met his death. With Private Cooke is a Private Robertson who has lost his right arm and so he asked Cooke to send the information. He says Cecil was at the head of his men and just going over the parapet when he turned to call his men, and was then shot dead, through the head. He fell right into Robertson who was behind him. Robertson laid his body in a shell hole and when the others were taken prisoners the Germans covered in the shell hole and so buried him. It is good to think Private Robertson was able to prevent his body being trampled on in the mad rush of that awful day. Robertson, himself, is coming home as an exchanged prisoner of war, and Cooke’s father wrote and told Mother he was going to see him and would let us know if he got any further information. This letter from Cooke proves fairly conclusively that we cannot hope to see Cecil again. I still cannot realize it although I have thought he was dead for most of the time, just now and again I felt there was a chance.

Thank you ever so much darling for the cheque with which to buy my Xmas present. I have not quite decided yet but I think one of the things will be a nice leather despatch case for letters. I will tell you all about what I buy in another letter. It is awfully good of you to give me such a generous present, but you always do, you naughty funny old thing.

I’d give anything just to be able to throw my arms round your neck and give you a big hug and perhaps a big kiss - the latter if you asked for it of course!!!

Since last mail I have been ‘’specialling’’ a case of tetanus. It is most interesting work and the patient is recovering. He is an Australian, or more accurately, an Englishman in the Australian Army. I am most awfully pleased to have been given the case – it is such good experience. At first he had the anti-tetanus serum injected intra-thecally – that is into the spine after the spinal fluid had been drawn out, and then he had to have an anaesthetic, ether and chloroform. Now he has had the injections into the muscles, and only requires the area to be frozen, with a local anaesthetic. He has had these injections every day but starts them every other day from tomorrow.

I should love to be one of the nurses at Amarah. But if I were to volunteer for work in Mesopotamia, it would be the signal for your division to be sent home, sure as fate!

It is snowing hard tonight. We’ve had foggy, damp weather lately, making the walk to and fro to the hospital very unpleasant.

I went out to tea with a Mrs Naniby?, a friend of Miss Allan’s, last Thursday. She is very nice and lives in a cosy little house, which would just suit us, not far from here. She told me some interesting facts about the sinking of the Hampshire, which can be proved to be true, but which I cannot tell in a letter.

You speak of having changed in some respects, dearest, in the last 2 years. You are bound to have done so but so long as your love for me does not change, nothing else matters. The greatest change you will see in me is that I am much more patient, less apt to flare up at a moment’s notice! I should probably be more patient if I were living with Mother, than I used to be. I always used to speak out what was in my mind without bothering to consider the best way of putting it. I think I’ve sometimes done the same with you, but being a man you’ve made allowances for my weaknesses!

It was most interesting reading about the presentation of the VCs. For what act of gallantry did Capt Myles get his VC?

Mother’s letter to you is a very nice one and I think we can consider that the chapter of our life which began in Holland Rd, W Kensington is closed. Don’t you?

I must away to supper, dear - if possible I’ll write again this week but if you don’t get a second letter you’ll know I haven‘t had time to get it done.

Wilfred is at present at Aldershot taking a musketry and physical training course, he says it is a very stiff course. He feels the cold intensely and gets laid up with it every now and again.

With heaps and heaps of love – sweetheart. God bless you – I just long to see you again.

Ever your devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 20th January 1917.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 4 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference