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April 29th 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

29th April 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

Handsworth College


My own dear Cyril

Two letters came for me yesterday from you. I found them waiting for me when I got back from the Early Service. They are dated Feb 25th 1918 and March 3rd. The former telling that you had heard from Wilfred again and that you thought he was getting nearer your way. The latter telling me that you had received my Xmas letter and replying to the same.

I have read and re-read your letter and it has been a great help to me. It makes me wish more than ever that you could come home. Your letter makes me realize how much happiness we have been denied all these years of separation – but I also feel that we have grown to know each other very well and so when we are married there will be no feeling of shyness or restraint. I am sure we shall feel perfectly happy and natural with each other – the outcome of perfect trust in each other.

Barbara is staying here with me on a short visit and Mother is coming on a visit tomorrow but is going to stay in rooms, and Bar will join her later on. It is jolly having Bar as I find it fairly lonely in a way, being the Senior of all the other officers – it is also a relief to get away from “shop” sometimes.

The officer I like best is a Mrs Bryant, who is a Company Commander – she is awfully nice but I have to walk warily because some of the others are so jealous of her. Isn’t it silly?!

We went to see “The Little Brother” played last week. It is a very good play – showing the feeling between the Jewish and the Greek Church and how the war is drawing men of all creeds together. There was some strong character acting in it. The Rabbi being played by Ben Nathan - and the Greek Priest by Fisher White. He, of course, is a splendid elocutionist.

I have been reading a novel by Lindsey Russell called The Gates of Kut – about Townshend and then the story of the troops from Gallipoli going to the rescue. The “iron 13th Division” is spoken of in glowing terms.

May tells me in a letter I had a few days ago that Mary has taken an unfurnished house at Port Talbot and is having her furniture brought there from London. Some work in these days of shortage of labour!

People round here are very nice and call in shoals! But I nearly always happen to be out when they come and they happen to be out when I return the call, so we don’t get much forwarder!

A new uniform hat has been authorized for the Wacks. It is a peak cap like a man’s but made in rather a more feminine style! I haven’t got one yet but I tried one on and looked very cheeky in one! I don’t know that I quite like them!

May 1st – Mother arrived in Birmingham yesterday and is staying in rooms in Edgbaston. She came here to tea yesterday afternoon but has just rung up to say she cannot get over again today.

Mother had heard from Wilfred – he has jumped from 2nd Lieutenant to Acting Captain – not bad for the regular army – promotion used to be so slow in the Indian Army. Wilfred says the other subs are wild! Still nowadays promotion does not necessary go by seniority.

We had the new Unit Administrator from Saltley College, to dinner last night. She used to be Deputy at the Connaught Club so I had met her before.

Miss Eastgate (who is a friend of Marion’s) has been sent as UA to Connaught Club and the Deputy from there sent to Saltley. Miss Chapman was looking very ill and thin – evidently the result of living in the air raid zone.

A Corporal from the Southern Command came to lecture and drill the women in fire drill, this morning. It is quite necessary even here in the Midlands, now – to be smart at air-raid discipline etc.

There was a nice account in The Times today about the irrigation of the land in Mesopotamia and how the Arabs are being taught to fertilize the soil. Cecil would have been so interested in all this. I remember a conversation we all had on this very subject, the day he called on Kath at Sydenham. This was before war broke out. He said how he would love to be an engineer out that way and be allowed to irrigate the land round about the Garden of Eden.

The war does not look like ending just at present! Even the most optimistic being could not say he can see the end in sight! Many more men are being roped in by degrees. The clergy are very indignant that they are not being allowed to be called up in the same way as lay-men.

The Women’s Land Army is the body which is requiring most recruits at present. The pay is very small, only 18/6 a week and out of this 15/6 goes for board – so that it means a girl must have private means to enable her to live even in the Land Army.

Five Mays ago! I hope a 6th May will see us married!

All my love, dear Man of Mine. God bless you.

Ever your devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 6th July 1918.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 4 sheets of notepaper
Record Office Reference