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April 9th 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

9th April 1918
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, Riverwoods House, Marlow-on-Thames
Correspondence To
Captain Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force D
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Riverwoods House


My own dear Cyril

Mother heard from Wilfred this morning which shows the mail is in. He writes from on board just beyond Quernah and remarks that he cannot think what on earth Adam and Eve lived on in the Garden of Eden! Everyone seems very struck with the barrenness of the one-time Garden of Eden.

It is nice to have a rest but work will not come amiss after it is over. One gets very restless these days of war and frustrating news when one has nothing special to do.

Mother has let the house furnished, from the 24th April, for 3 months, and is getting enough for it to pay the year’s rent – quite a good let – nice people and a small family.

I came down here on Friday and do not return until next Monday – that is a week’s official leave and an ordinary weekend, French leave, tacked on.

One of my officers, Company Commander, Mrs Bryant, is also away on leave and is staying down at Weymouth with her husband, who is in command of an ML and is now Divisional Leader, Mrs B tells me with great pride in her letter today. I don’t know quite what a Divisonal Leader is, not being familiar with naval ranks.

Mrs Bryant, who is only 25, and I are becoming great friends, through a very odd chance. Quite casually, the night before Easter Sunday, I said to her, “I shall be going to the Early Service tomorrow. Shall you be coming along too? She replied “No” - and then quite casually I said “Why not. I shall think much more of you if you do.” “Oh, I only go to church when I am in the mood – why should I go just because it is Easter Day.” So I said “putting it on the lowest grounds, you should go as a matter of discipline, spiritually.”

Well, I took it for granted that she would not be going. Lo and behold, when I got to Church the next morning, she was kneeling there, before me. We neither of us said anything to each other about it – but since I’ve been on leave she has written and told me how that casual remark of mine had influenced her. It just shows how unconsciously one influences people about one, even if one is not conscious at the moment of wishing to do so.

Her husband was abroad for 20 months at sea after their marriage. He has now been given a command at Portland and is at sea 2 days and ashore 2 days. Mrs Bryant has been rather run down so I got sick leave granted her and she has gone to Weymouth to be near her husband. She is awfully fond of him and he is such a funny little man. I think she ought to go out of the Wacks now that her husband is stationed in England – but she won’t. I think it is on the score of £ s d. I believe he helps to keep his Mother and Father as well as his wife. He has no religion I believe, and his wife feels she is up against a blank wall sometimes. It only amuses him if she shows any keenness in this direction. I have met the little man and liked him.

Perhaps Barbara will be coming to stay with me for a little while after April 24th. She is very keen to join up and is torn between staying with Mother and joining the Wacks.

You’ll find a chorus for the Wacks composed by a Wack, enclosed, also a French adaptation of the same by Barbara. Don’t be shocked!

I feel rather like a monkey in the zoo – so many people call just to see what I look like in khaki! It happens to suit me so they go away quite “jay”!

Mother had a postcard from Ethel and Betty today thanking her for her letter of sympathy about Aunt Lottie’s death.

May is evidently still at Folkestone. I expect she would have a good deal to do settling things up, closing the house etc. I have not heard when the funeral is to be or if it has been.

Ethel mentioned that they had at last heard from George – who had had a narrow escape from being captured by the Germans. He wrote on Easter Day. Your Father will be very relieved, as he was getting anxious not having heard for more than a month.

10/4/18 – A large post for me this morning – a letter from each of the officers on my staff also one from you, which I was delighted to get; also an official “nark” as we call them – which I am becoming an adept at answering.

You wrote as though there is a chance of you getting home on furlough this year. Except that the Mesopotamian troops are again in action – it certainly looks highly probable that you will get a chance of leave – especially as someone we know in Marlow actually knows a man from Mesopotamia who has been home on 3 weeks furlough.

My shortest cable address is: Redepstal, Handsworth, Birmingham.

This is the procedure we should have to follow if you came home. Directly I knew you were on the way I should make application for special leave to get married and it would not then be necessary to apply for discharge or anything like that. After we knew our fate better, you would have to claim me, so to speak, that is, make application through the Senior Area Controller, S Command, Salisbury to the Chief Controller, Devonshire House, London, for my discharge. I should also have to apply for the same and I should then be released on what is called “compassionate” grounds. But the funny part would be you would have to pass your application through me, by attaching a memo: to the UA Handsworth College, to the effect that the attached letter is submitted to her to pass to the Chief Controller, through the proper channels!

It will all work out right in the end and we will get married even if I have to desert! I expect the Censor will delete the last sentence.

Heaps of love, Sweetheart, hurry up and reach Aleppo and then come home and rest on your laurels for a bit.

I simply daren’t dwell on the possible realization of our dreams. God bless you.

Ever your devoted

UA WAAC Handsworth, B’ham.

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 6th June 1918.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Record Office Reference