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July 24th 1917 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

24th July 1917
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Riverwoods House, Marlow-on-Thames
Correspondence To
Captain Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force D
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Riverwoods House, Marlow-on-Thames

July 24th 1917

My dear Cyril

I very nearly missed writing this mail, partly because I’ve been so busy, partly because still no mail appears for me and I keep putting off writing in case the morrow will bring a letter to reply etc.

I had a pc from May this morning saying she had had a letter from you by this mail, dated May 29th, which referred to your having wired to me to join you if possible. So I suppose I must wait yet another week before hearing – I wonder why you haven’t written. The week before last there was a mail in and no letter for me and now again there is a mail and nothing for me.

There is not much news this week. It has been rather a trying week – Mother seems to have lost control of her temper temporarily and we have been catching it hot all round. You know how this sort of thing unnerves me, so you must forgive me if my letter is not of an exciting interesting nature.

Last Friday Barbara and I walked to Bovingdon Green to see Edith Orchard. She is leaving this neighbourhood for good on Thursday. She is going to her Mother’s people at Wolverhampton. Her little boy John is just like a little elf. He is not good-looking but is a manly little chap and has lovely grey eyes, which are like his Father’s, Edith tells me.

Harold Orchard [sic, Editor’s note – Mela has written Orchard, but it should be Idiens which was Edith Orchard’s maiden name] is back at the Front, after having had trench fever – Stanley too is in France. He belongs to that section of motor machine guns which are used to shoot at aeroplanes. Bert is still in Richmond but may go back to the Front at any time.

Cyril is in Canada keeping the home going but if conscription comes in over there, he may have to join up too. Daisy's husband is in the Army too now, so they’ve given all they have, haven’t they? Daisy has two children, a boy and a girl. She looks very happy in the snapshots I saw of her and of her family – her husband is an insignificant looking man, not at all the type I should have thought Daisy would have married.

I am going to Badsey on Saturday the 28th. I was to have gone on Thursday – but the Borlase School sports are being held on Friday and I would like to go there for the sake of old times. Cecil used to be Head Boy and Captain of the cricket and his name is all over the place and Wilfred’s too – just as there is a Sladden board at Brecon.

Last Thursday we had tea at the Vicarage. Mr Spearing is a bachelor. He has his sister and an aunt living with him. He was out in Persia for a year before taking this living a few months ago. He is a fine looking man and personal goodness is I should say his chief characteristic as a clergyman – which to my mind makes a greater appeal to a congregation than any amount of things, such as bullying in the pulpit. He is a good preacher, earnest and sincere, and has a good delivery. His sister seems a nice woman, rather stiff but I should say a very good sort underneath a somewhat chilling exterior. There was another clergyman there; a Mr Wright, from of one of the churches at Wycombe. He seemed to find Barbara and me very entertaining, I don’t know why I’m sure! He laughed very heartily at the interest we displayed in the world in general.

The appointment I went up to London about last week was not quite what I wanted and I was not quite what was wanted either. This firm wanted a permanent night Supervisor, one who could say she would be willing to remain on after the War.

I pity the poor woman who has to spend her life on night work. The post had its advantages however. The night shift only worked five nights a week – Monday night until Friday night – I should have been free all Saturday, Sunday, until Monday night. The hours were good too – 8pm until 6am with 2 hours break (at intervals of 1 hour and 2 halves) for meals. However I could not honestly take the job without saying I could only remain for the duration of the war so it fell through.

I expect you will be rather glad as you would not really care for me to take permanent night work – I feel sure. Although I’d have been naughty enough to take the job had it been a little more possible! The weekend off was such an attraction!

With all my love, dearest, God bless you.

Ever your devoted

PS – Fighting on the Euphrates has been reported. When is it all going to stop? The Russians are in a bad way at present and things are at a standstill elsewhere.

This is very bad notepaper – ink goes right through it.

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 8th September 1917.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference