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March 26th 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

26th 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

I was so glad to get a letter from you a couple of days ago, dated Jan 21st 1918, acknowledging a cable from me from Sutton Coldfield. I am so glad I sent it for it seems to have had the effect that I hoped it would have – namely to ease the pain I caused you by that horrid letter I wrote.

You know, dear, out of evil comes good sometimes. The good, in this instance being, that I realize how much I am to you and that you cannot bear me to think ill of you. This latter fact shows me that you would never do anything which would cause me to think ill of you – which makes me feel even more ashamed of my outburst.

This has bound me even closer to you and your letter of the 21st Jan has opened once more the chords of feeling. You know how one becomes dead to all feeling sometimes. These last few days I have been awake to life’s meaning once more and just longing for your return. Let us trust that the severe fighting now going on in France is the beginning of the end. England is calm and resolute despite the fact that the Huns have driven us back at some points more than 15 miles.

I can thank God, dearest, that you are spared being on the Western Front at this juncture. It is simply wholesale slaughter and the mothers and sweethearts at home are steadfast and calm outwardly but know that at any moment the blow may fall.

I know the agony of it because I’ve been through it myself during the Gallipoli Campaign and other battles in Mesopotamia.

You say “From your cable I learn you are still at Sutton Coldfield, welcome news” - !!

Well, by now, dear Heart, you know that the day you wrote those words I was on my way to Handsworth College to take up my duties here! I had just got things into order there and it nearly broke my heart to leave it all. Still the call of duty – you know …..!

I am so glad you are getting some form of exercise. I am going to begin tennis as soon as ever I can. I find this a somewhat sedentary life after camp.

I am going on a week’s official leave from the 6th of April. I shall probably leave here for Marlow on the 5th and return here after the 2nd weekend from that date. I am badly in need of a change of thought, more than anything else.

It is hopeless to describe my work here. If I began I should never leave off. It is exactly the same as that of a CO of troops only more complicated as women are not so easily looked after as men – one is bound to treat them individually to a certain extent.

If the Fates are kind this should reach you just about the time of your birthday. Many happy and happier returns, dear. I think that perhaps in a year’s time I may be able to wake you with a kiss on your birthday morn or else perhaps you’ll wake me and ask me if I have forgotten it is your birthday!

Oh, darling, what a rest it will be when those days come. The strain of these years has been intolerable, and yet perhaps we shall realize the benefit of them in years to come.

I don’t think I have yet acknowledged your letters of Jan 6th and 13th. I am so glad you got my little Xmas gift, and glad to hear it was stuffed with notes! Sounds promising!

I have bought some more needlework with the money you send at Xmas.

I am enclosing two letters for you to read just to give you an insight into some of the side issues of my work here. The Crucifix referred to was given to me in order that we might have one for our Early Celebrations.
The Chaplain comes twice a month. We have bought 2 brass candlesticks and have been lent 2 brass vases so we feel happier now about our services. It seemed so bare and cold before.

These letters are from a probationary administrator who was given a second chance and sent here to train. She is the wife of a Chaplain in Egypt.

You will be thinking of the home folks particularly dear just now. This being so near the time of your dear Mother’s death. I am ordering some flowers to be sent for the Grave for Easter Sunday, from you and from me – Narcissi – in memory of her name. She was like the flower too – sweet, white and pure, and gentle. You were blessed in your Mother, dear Heart.

I wonder if my photographs have reached you safely. Everyone tells me they are very good.

I went to see the “Arcadians” yesterday and enjoyed the music very much. Some of the life play was rather vulgar but taking it all round it is a pretty play.

With heaps of love and a great big birthday kiss. God bless you and bring you back to me.

Ever your devoted
Mela Brown Constable
Unit Administrator WAAC

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 29th May 1918.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Record Office Reference