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March 12th 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

12th March 1918
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, WAAC Depot Hostel, Handsworth College, Birmingham
Correspondence To
Captain Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force D
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

WAAC Depôt Hostel
Handsworth College

My own dear Cyril

The days slip by one way and another and here is another mail day.

I would like you to see my office at the present moment. Bowls of flowers and someone has just put two bowls with daffodils growing in them. My favourite flowers are those kind of coloured anemones, which come from the South of France. Someone has discovered this and sends me bunches of them. The colours are so beautiful, deep purple, dark reds, and deep blue. I’m afraid you’ll find I have been very spoilt in your absence!

Last night I was taken to the theatre, to see the Southern Maid, a new play by Oscar Asche. It is being toured in the provinces before being brought out in London. The music is very pretty and Grace Sinclair makes a beautiful Dolores, a South American Spaniard.

I had a letter from Mrs Becker today, wife of the GOC at Sutton Coldfield, when I was there. She tells me her husband has been put on the unemployed list on account of his health and that a Colonel Smith has been given the command. She is coming to lunch with me soon. They were very good friends to me at Sutton Coldfield and I missed his advice and help very much when I first came here.

The papers are publishing all kinds of letters from private individuals, about and against the WAAC. Believe me that the statements made are not true. The organization does not pretend to be flawless or its members perfect but at any rate the women in it are doing their bit for their country whatever their faults may be as individuals. I think it is dastardly of people to run down women – instead of holding up an ideal to them which they could be inspired to follow. However none of us worry about it very much because the people who start these stories know very little about us really.

The papers show there has been activity out your way, mentioning the capture of Hit. I wonder if you are out in that direction. Some people talk quite seriously that the war will be over this year and your letters too sound hopeful. I don’t wish to appear pessimistic but I really cannot see how it can end this year, if we are to make the right kind of peace.

I heard such a sad story from a probationary administrator today. She tells me her brother has been killed, her fiancé has been killed, also her second sister’s fiancé and her third sister’s fiancé has been so badly wounded that he can never marry. And now the girls are joining up to do their bit. Isn’t it terrible how some families suffer so much more than others.

14/3/18 – I had a letter from you this morning dated Dec 2nd! It has not taken long coming, has it? It is a dear letter, showing how much you are counting on getting home soon. I simply dare not dwell on the thought – for fear that we may be disappointed, if this war should carry on much longer.

We have an Army Instructor here to lecture to the administrators in training. I will ask him if he knows anything about scientific jobs in connection with the Army. You mentioned in one of your letters that if you knew for a fact that there was very little likelihood of activity your way, if it simply meant troops were to be kept there, vegetating so to speak, that you would perhaps have a shot to get a scientific job and so get into touch with your old line of work again. I think I will write to Dr Baker and ask him for a few details. He is quite likely to know something about the subject.

A special training school and camp has been opened for training administrators, at Bostall Heath, near Woolwich – so this will relieve the Depôt Hostels of a lot of work. They have quite enough to do without these classes.

We are having a Sports day tomorrow – there are heaps of entries for the Events. 2d is charged for each entry and the proceeds are to go towards our Games Fund. Miss Kettlefold, the Recruiting Controller, is going to give away the prizes.

We are trying to make the women keen on games. They used to play football but I am very much against it as a game for women – not from the propriety point of view but because the action of kicking at a ball hard is apt to be injurious to women – so I am getting them to play basketball instead. We are also having cricket and tennis as the weather gets warmer. We are getting into touch with different people who organize concerts etc so that most evenings we have something or other going for them.

The most exciting event for next week is the Khaki Concert Party from Sutton Coldfield – twenty in number. These will be very good I know, because I have seen them at Sutton.

In a short time I have several intending and would-be administrators to interview so I shall have to stop scribbling now. It does me good to get a letter from you showing you want me – one is so apt to become a machine in this life that the human need of companionship is apt to become stunted. In our case, it is there, strong and deep – but the feeling does not always come to the surface. I want you and need you and love you just as much as ever I did - and more if that be possible.

All the love of my heart, dear Man of Mine - and a kiss …..!

Ever your devoted
Mela Brown Constable

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