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June 4th 1917 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Acting Major Cyril E Sladden

4th June 1917
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Kent House, Oxton, Birkenhead, Cheshire
Correspondence To
Acting Major Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force D
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

at Kent House, Oxton, Cheshire

June 4th 1917

My own dear Cyril

A letter from you, dated April 6th, came by this mail, also your cable sent from Basra, May 20th. I was delighted to get both; delighted because they both show you want me; sad, because I know there is practically no hope of my being able to cable back that I am coming to you.

I have written to the Foreign Office once again to see if the regulations have become less strict. For the last 2 or 3 weeks, less boats have been sunk, and the papers tell us that Marconi has invented some means for destroying enemy submarines. So perhaps there is the faintest chance that passports may be given in exceptional cases.

Long before this reaches you, you will have received my cable which I will despatch when I have had a reply from the Foreign Office.

I have not had any further particulars from the Ministry of Munitions as regards what I wrote to you about last week. All Government jobs are of a slow and lengthy nature, which is irritating but can’t be helped.

Before I forget I will reply to your request for information as to who built the Arch of Ctesiphon. There is nothing actually about this but I will give you the information about the town etc. The town of Ctesiphon was built by the Parthians. There is a man named Ctesiphon (in the Encyclopedia) who is described as a “famous architect”, who made the designs for the celebrated temple of Ephesus. He invented a machine, which he used to transport the columns of the temple from the quarries to Ephesus. It looks as though this same man may have designed the Arch, as it was apparently named after him.

I heard from May the other day. She says the garden is looking very pretty, and your Father put the first rose on your Mother’s grave last Sunday. As you know, he always gave her the first rose.

Kath and Jack have nearly settled on a house in Bedford Park, and move in July. I rather hope I may be able to get a job in London so that I could go and see them at weekends.

June 5th

Kath forwarded me your letter to your Father. I received it this morning. It is dated April 2nd and describes the fall of Kut, or rather the events leading up to it. I am always interested in the very different style of your letters to your Father and those to me! I suppose they would hardly be likely to be in the same style. Those to him are like small histories – mine are much simpler?

Maud heard from Irene today. She says matters are moving in connection with that post for me, but that everything is rather at a standstill, owing to Dr Addison, having been promoted to another post, leaving the Ministry of Munitions in new hands. So I must be patient.

I am spending this week learning the methods of the Labour Exchange. I go from 10-5 to the Central Office at Liverpool – spend the morning at clerical work and seeing girls being interviewed, and in the afternoon I visit various girls for the Exchange.

From your letter this week I see that your spell of quiet work on the banks of the river, was of short duration.

I heard from Aunt Lottie yesterday. She is sending you quite a lot of reading matter; I mentioned you had said you thought you might have time for reading during the hot months.

I am looking forward to your letters from India when you go on furlough. You write much more naturally when you feel that military censors critical eye will not read what you feel to be sacred.

I wonder if you’ve any idea how starved my soul feels for your sympathy. Two long years and more we’ve had to be little more than ordinary friends, on paper at any rate. Just now and again I wonder if your feelings have altered at all and when you see me again, whether you’ll see me with different eyes. Don’t think I doubt you – I only mean I wonder if this war and knocking about will have altered your tastes and so on.

I am not going to put on paper how sad at heart I feel at not being able to get out to India. I am doing all I can not to lose control of my feelings and if I write about them, I shall probably break down. This is why I am not getting along very quickly with this letter. I hardly know how to address your letters. The War Office telegrams said Major, so we naturally copied them.

The Times gazette said you were to be Major while 2nd in command of a battalion. Unless I hear from you to the contrary I shall continue to address you as acting Major, until the Gazette notifies that you are to revert to your former rank.

May hopes to move into her school house in July. The roof is being repaired and furniture has been bought. She has two boarders now. I am sorry this letter is smudged. People keep throwing open the door causing a terrific draught, and my letter sheets blow one over the other.

I would re-write this only that I haven’t time. Please excuse the untidiness.

All my heart’s love dear is yours.

Ever your devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 31st July 1917.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference