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March 25th 1917 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Major Cyril E Sladden

25th March 1917
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Kent House, Oxton, Birkenhead, Cheshire
Correspondence To
Major Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, c/o Messrs Cox & Co, Army Agents, Bombay, India (redirected to 13th Division, Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force, c/o PPM, Bombay)
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

at Kent House, Oxton, Birkenhead, Cheshire

March 25th 1917

My own dear Cyril

Your Father cabled or rather wired me the contents of a War Office telegram received by him on Thursday morning, reporting that you had been wounded on March 10th. My own dear One, how I wish I were with you and how I hope you will cable for me to come out as soon as you see your way clear to make plans. This life of separation becomes insupportable and when I know you are ill and needing me, it is maddening to have to wait another moment before joining you. When you are with your regiment, I know it is not possible for me to be with you, and I quiet myself with this reflection. But when you are away from it then my soul becomes rebellious.

The War Office say that we can get particulars about passports by the 30th. Irene is going to London on Friday and will call and make all enquiries.

Uncle says I shall have to produce a cable from you as an authority to show why I wish to leave England. When Passports are given, they cannot be used until 3 days before sailing.

In the War Office telegram they reported that Major C E Sladden was wounded. I could hardly believe my eyes. And fancy the War Office being so up-to-date! I feel you are getting your promotion so quickly that after we are married people will say of me that it must be very dull for me to be tied to a fat old major! Joking apart, dear, I am awfully proud of you and hardly know how to express it in words. It will have to be one of those things that I shall tell you after we are married. These things are easier to be expressed by words and actions than on paper.

I am hoping you will get sent home to England this time to convalesce. All at Badsey are wanting to see you again and I am sure you are longing to see them again too. I shall have to try and spare you to them as much as I can, but I’m afraid I shall be very greedy after not seeing you for 2 years. I can hardly realize what our meeting will be like. I mean when we meet alone for the first time. I am very anxious for further news as to the nature of your wound. I do hope it is not a very painful one.

March 27th – It is awfully difficult to write letters away from home – because of never being alone. I had hoped we might have had a week end cable from you today, but none has come.

Maud and I have been going through Cecil’s things. We all think it would be nice if you had his silver backed hair brushes, which are marked “C”. You’d like to have them, wouldn’t you? Dearest – although I’ve often wondered whether Cecil and Maud cared for each other, it was not until this visit that anyone ever told me so. They were both very much in love, but the sad part was that they were first cousins, and Auntie and Uncle naturally felt they would rather it had been otherwise. Poor dear Maud – has felt his death terribly and that is why she is being sent to India. The doctor says she must have change. It is awfully sad for her, isn’t it?

Irene too has suffered, her engagement was to have been made public, and the news came that the man she loved was killed. It was in the early days of the war. I feel awful sometimes when I realize the suffering I have been spared.

I had a nice letter from Mother who says that she thinks it a good plan for me to join you, should you not come home. She says I can have £50 towards my trousseau and expenses on the journey but that she does not think we shall be able to pay the full passage out. Cecil took out a loan on his life insurance …. but my best plan will be to quote from Mother’s letter. She says:

“The money question is a consideration. As far as I know, I should say that the expense of going out would devolve on Cyril, because I don’t think with Wilfred’s expenses over Indian Army etc, that any relative would be able to defray it. I am or will be in a position to give you a certain sum of money from Cecil’s estate - and originally my intention was to buy you a good piano for £50, but that will be unnecessary if you are setting up a home to begin with, in India. I don’t yet know what Cecil’s estate will realize. Uncle Ben has mentioned figures to me, but by the time deductions are made for the loan on his policy and solicitors expenses etc, I do not expect to be “too flush” for with all three children starting in life afresh – expenses are heavy. Uncle Ben wishes me to invest the money in mine shares - and it is an excellent idea – but does he realize that money is needed for your wedding – for Wilfred to start life in India and for Bar and myself to create a home. You must talk the matter over with him. You can calculate on £50 my child for your wedding, and more if “there is more to spare”.

So I must broach the subject to him and then I’ll get a clearer idea of how things stand. I am so sorry dear that I cannot say straightaway that my passage will be paid by my own people – it may be that you will want me to come out in a hurry and if it should be after you receive this letter, perhaps when you cable come, you could cable the passage money too. P&O first class is £48 and if Maud and I travel together it would be nicer for me to go first because she will be going first.

Uncle says the P&O are the best escorted boats and therefore safer than those going via Africa.

Best love, Sweetheart mine. I do hope and pray you are not suffering great pain.

God bless you and prosper our plans for reunion.

Ever your devoted

PS – Wilfred is sure to look you up or arrange a meeting when he goes out.

Letter Images
"Wounded, please forward" written on envelope. Cyril received the letter on 28th May 1917.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference