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April 26th 1917 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Major Cyril E Sladden

26th April 1917
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Kent House, Oxton, Birkenhead, Cheshire
Correspondence To
Major Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force D
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

at Kent House, Oxton, Cheshire

April 26th 1917

My own dear Cyril

At last a mail from you posted somewhere near Azizieh. I am so thankful to have news of you again as it is more than 3 weeks since I heard.

The Foreign Office have not yet answered my letter in which I offer my services as a nurse on board any ship going to India – which makes me wonder whether they are giving my case special consideration. But I do not want to raise up your hopes because there is really very little ground for hope that I shall be granted a passport.

Mother has had the news officially from the War Office that the boat W was on, was sunk by the enemy. Most of the men, officers, and ship’s men and officers were saved and landed at Malta. They could not give her the name of the boat as they have strict orders not to do so. They also told her that the stranded men will continue the voyage as soon as another boat can reach Malta to take them on. What a ghastly experience for a boy of Wilfred’s temperament. I hope he will not suffer from after effects.

I am so sorry you lost your nice horse – and I am very thankful that you dismounted when you did, for at the very least you would have had a very nasty fall.

Evidently Kut fell to our troops automatically for you barely mention anything more than leaving it behind you. It seems ancient history now to you, doesn’t it?

I see that Samarra is now in the hands of the British. I cannot help admiring the tenacity of the Turks. I should have thought they would have surrendered before now. The papers say they offered very stubborn resistance which makes our Samarra victory all the more glorious.

The news from the Western Front too is very splendid, and if only we can, with America’s help, put an end to submarine dangers, then I think the German nation will be brought to its knees. Their great hope now is that they can starve us out by sinking our grain ships – time will see. But England is making a tremendous effort to meet the difficulties of the food situation and very little white flour is being used – maize, rye, barley, oatmeal and rice are taking its place and they are quite palatable substances.

Mock chicken cutlets are made from walnuts and mock fish cutlets from chestnuts. These are supposed to be as nourishing too. Lentils, dried peas and beans, and boiled rice take the place of potatoes. I expect you would be awfully surprised at the change of food since you left England.

It is quite amusing in a restaurant because one invariably chooses something one must not have! For instance if you have bread with your first course, you may not have a boiled pudding, pastries or tart after it, as you have had your ration of flour per meal, you have stewed fruit or milk pudding. If you go without bread you may have any of the above. There is very little hardship attached to it. It is the difficulty to remember which lands one into amusing and intensely interesting talks with the waitress, who is trained to tastefully point out one’s mistakes!

Don’t forget our Persian carpets!

All my love - dear Sweetheart – may all this soon be over. You must be heartily sick of your moving life and long for a respite. I promise you that that respite shall be such as your heart desires when I am with you. We will just live every moment of our lives.

Ever your devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 14th June 1917.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference