Skip to main content

December 5th 1917 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

5th December 1917
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Somerfield Hostel WAAC, Manor Hill, attached Southern Command Depot Camp, Sutton Coldfield
Correspondence To
Captain Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force D
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Somerfield Hostel WAAC
Manor Hill
attached Command Depôt Camp
Sutton Coldfield

Dec 5th 1917

My own dear Cyril

It is so difficult to collect one’s thoughts amidst the turmoil of camp life. I realize more fully how difficult you must have often found it to write to me.

I shall be able to shake this numbness of imagination off in time – it is simply having to adjust my mind to an entirely new routine which for the time being has numbed all feelings. There are moments of intense feeling, all the deeper and keener for having been so long in abeyance – but as time goes on – I dread getting my feelings stirred into life – because the suspense of our long engagement and all the renunciation this entails is sapping my strength as it were. Being in the Army as I am now teaches one great self-control in many directions, but underneath a kind of volcano is ready to burst to the surface.

My Unit is in fairly good working order now. I have 2 companies – but at present possess only one Company Officer, who also acts as a Messing Officer.

So I run a company as well as being Commandant of the WAAC Unit. We do not have as many grades of officers as in the Men’s Army.

I am very much wondering when I am going to be sent to France. I rather hope it will be soon, so that if next spring you should get a chance of leave, leave from France would also be due to me about then. I would rather like the experience of commanding a unit in France. It would be something to look back upon when we are Darby and Joan, to remember we both went on Foreign Service.

In one of your 3 letters I received this mail you say you wonder why I imagined you were possibly on leave in India, when you had not wired to say so. I understood that you would only wire if you wanted me to join you. As far as I remember now this is what I took to be the gist of your letters at the time; I have not your letters here, as far back as that, to refer to. Any how all those months of uncertainty were torture to me and it is a wonder I did not think and act more strangely than I did.

Last Sunday, an Army Chaplain preached. I don’t know his name, but he was out in Gallipoli, and described the officers, men following, who went over the top that day. He is a man of medium height, of strong build, dark, with a determined face, clean shaven, and a forcible preacher. I wonder if you ever met him.

I am sorry I forgot to tell you how I spent your last present. At first I sort of lent it to myself for travelling expenses etc last summer – but I am gradually paying it back. I’ve bought myself a set of washstand crockery for my bedroom, and a serge tablecloth for my sitting room. Some of it went towards my expenses when in training at Connaught Club as an officer in the WAAC.

Life has been one mad whirl the last 2 or 3 months that I hardly know where I am. I also bought some pretty tea cups and plates for my own private use, in place of army crockery.

In your third letter of this mail, dated Sept 30th, you ask me how the watch you gave me is getting on. It keeps splendid time and is on my wrist at the present moment. I can see the time at night by it, shining in the darkness, and this often reminds me of the fact that you gave me the watch, and consequently sets me thinking of you. Oh, darling, do come home soon. I just long to see you, feel you, hear you. One cannot help wondering why we are forced to be separated like this. It isn’t natural, and so we suffer.

God bless you, my own dear man. He has been good in sparing you. I must not murmur – but oh – it is hard sometimes. All the love of my heart is yours.

Ever your devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 30th January 1918.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Record Office Reference