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January 16th 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

16th January 1918
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

WAAC Hostel
Attached S Command Depôt Camp
Sutton Coldfield


Dear Man of Mine

I sent a wire to you today acknowledging the receipt of 2 letters from you, dated Nov 4th and 12th, and in which I tried to show you I am sorry to have distressed you so sorely in my letter of Sept 15th 1917. I know that saying one is sorry cannot atone for a fault, but you will feel it is something towards reparation for the fault, from me. I do not find it easy to ask forgiveness even from you, who loves me – neither should I have wired had I not felt it was due to you from me. I could not have gone through the day’s work and got it done had I not wired you. I must not excuse myself – I behaved abominably.

You have no conception of the complexities in my nature. Apparently, even people who know me well, are surprised if I am horrid, unjust and unreasonable.

Darling, you simply don’t know what it is to be the child of erratic parents, neither of them well balanced or self-controlled – to inherit from them these same tendencies but with a desire not to give way to them. I think you will bear me out when I say, I don’t often give way to them and there is no real excuse this time for me.

You know, Sweetheart, from previous letters of mine, that everyone at Badsey but ourselves thought I was mad to attempt to go out to you even. This atmosphere worked on me to such an extent that there were moments, as my horrid letter proved, when their, muttered but plainly shown and felt, attitude influenced my trend of thought. Their relief was so evident when it was made an impossibility. I had seen Kath in London at the time I wrote the letter and I even tackled her about it.

I also verily believe inoculation produced a funny effect on me in some ways. I know I used to feel “boiled” pointing to the fact that I had a temperature but I did not take it, to verify this. My arm was awfully sore from vaccination too. Irritation of body and irritation of mind produced by circumstances may help to throw light on my unpardonable letter to you – but it is not offered as an excuse.

The original letter in which I used the expression “1000 to one” was written from Oxton, wasn’t it? As far as I remember, it was my idea then to comfort you with reflection, that anyhow it was perhaps better to have me alive on terra ferma, than holding tête-à-têtes with mer-men at the bottom of the sea! However whatever was the origin of all this, I will try and be calmer and control these uncalled for bursts of temper.

You love me, therefore you must know that this continued separation is not the best thing in the world to improve one physically or mentally.

It irritates me beyond bearing some times to think that if this war continues, some of our hopes may never be realized, owing to the fact that past the thirties, a woman is no longer in her first youth. I am so afraid I may fail to give you what you desire above all things, sons and daughters. So, dear, you see this irritation is the outcome of my love for you, if one searches deep, deep down in the deepest excesses of one’s nature. Forgive me for this reason, if for no other.

Yesterday, the Unit Administrator from Saltley, Draft Finding Depôt Hostel, lunched with me. She mentioned she had lived in Cape Town, and as she reminded me a bit of Marion, I asked her if she happened to know a Marion Sladden. And it turned out, they both taught in the same school in Cape Town, and she is going to stay with Marion quite soon at Greenhill School! She then said she was wondering where she had heard my name before.

Her man is in the wilds of East Africa. She hears about once in 3 months – the last time she heard was in November. So we are lucky, aren’t we, compared to her?

I am writing to a very old established firm of goldsmiths in Liverpool for my signet ring from you. Uncle Ben gets things there. I haven’t spent nearly all my Xmas present yet, and will let you know if I have to exceed it. I will have our initials interwoven on it – thank you very much, dear for it.

I do hope my telegram will reach you quickly. I sent it the quickest way I could. I don’t begrudge the extravagance in the least – so don’t scold me about it!

Lots of love, and a long, long kiss of forgiveness given by you and returned by me – such as we can remember – when heaven comes to earth and soul reaches soul.

God bless you.

Ever your affectionate and devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 18th March 1918.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Record Office Reference