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January 27th 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

27th January 1918
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, WAAC Depot Hostel, Handsworth, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Captain Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force D
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Unit Administrator.
WAAC Depôt Hostel
Handsworth, Birmingham

Jan 27th 1918

My own dear Cyril

My reign at Sutton Coldfield is over and in a sense I have had promotion, at any rate a rise in pay – to £175 from £150. I am now in command of the Handsworth Draft Finding Depôt Hostel, which is also a training school for administrators and I am not attached to any camp, so am absolutely in command. The next step from this is an Area Controllership.

This hostel accommodates over 300 girls and 30 administrators. A new batch, my first lot, come tomorrow. We have an Army officer, Lieutenant Rigby, Durham Light Infantry, attached to us for lecturing to the administrators. I also have to lecture. We have a lovely lecture room.

This used to be a Wesleyan Training College and the Principal still has a house in the grounds.

I sleep in a house in the grounds, and some of the probationary administrators. It is a master’s house and very nicely furnished. The company officers, and my adjutant sleep in the college and the Forewomen and the 2 Mistress. My messing officer sleeps in my house. Then I have a Drafting Officer as well – so my staff is a large one.

I miss camp life very much, but everyone here is very nice to me. Neighbouring administrators seem very jealous because, I, who am young in comparison, should have got this job! I smilingly assure them I never asked for it and had I had a choice I would have refused it. These appointments are made by AG.X1 and not by me!

Miss Eastgate, from Saltley, the UA there was lunching with me today. I think I told you she is a friend of your cousin Marion. Her job is only £150 and it does seem odd that she wasn’t offered this post, because she is a month my senior in service (a lot in the Wacks!) and an experienced capable woman, used to teaching in colleges. Still one cannot account for the movements of AG.X1 – so it is no use worrying. Here I am and here I must stay until further orders.

This continual uprooting is not conducive to letter writing, as you know from experience -my letters will improve when I have been here a bit longer and also when I have heard from you again.

I wonder if you’ve had my wire about my horrid letter. I hope it reached you. The worst of sending that wire was that when I wanted to wire you my change of address here, I felt I ought not to spend the money.
This is a pretty expensive job because one is bound to be smart – one’s shoes alone cost a fortune and shoemakers ask 5/6 to 6/- for soling and heeling, and then laundries are so awful now – they destroy one’s things – their old experienced hands have taken up other work, war work, and the amateurs are very amateurish and constant uprootings always bring extra incidental expenses in their train.

Jan 29th – I was up to my eyes in work yesterday, busy interviewing the fresh probationary administrators, quite interesting but it took several hours.

Two short letters from you this mail – Nov 20th and Nov 26th. You had strained your back – a horrid uncomfortable thing to do – but really clear you are getting too old to try tying yourself up in ‘knots’! You must remember you are engaged to a very old Wack UA - and this unseemly youthfulness on your part detracts from her dignity! I do hope you soon get right again – it must have been painful at the time.

I have bought a very nice signet ring as you suggested – 18 carat gold, £2. I am very proud of it and it looks so nice with uniform. I got it from 2 Castle Street, Liverpool, by post. Uncle Ben deals there and I know it is a reliable and old established firm, Robert Jones & Sons.

Yes, General Maude’s death was a great blow but for once A.G.X1 used some discretion in appointing a man in his place who knew the country.

It is getting so late, Sweetheart, I must stop …..

Jan 30th – There was a big air raid on London the day before yesterday. I’ve not seen how much damage was done but I hear it was a pretty bad one. Sweetheart, do hurry up and come home.

I like my work but it is simply awful being in full command. One is bound to be a Being apart! I do hate this sort of isolation and yet one has to keep it up for the sake of discipline. I’d much prefer dancing round with the women and taking part in their lives. I cannot think why I was not made a Company Officer. I am much more fitted for it than for a Commandant. It wasn’t so bad in camp – one roughed it more - and only having the one assistant we could not live an isolated life. We worked together like friends. However if this is my “bit” I suppose I must not shirk my responsibilities but oh – darling I do want you so. It is cruel the way we have suffered – when it is coming to an end.

God bless you and watch over you. All my love – now and ever.

Your devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 15th May 1918.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Record Office Reference