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May 11th 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

11th May 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
Depôt Hostel WAAC


My own dear Cyril

I wanted ever so badly to write to you on your birthday but was prevented at every turn. An officer came from Chiseldon Camp, unexpectedly, on business in connection with the Wacks in his camp and he took up a good part of my working day - and things I would have done ordinarily had to be held over until he had gone - and so the day passed.

It was Ascension Day – a very nice day for your birthday to fall on. Barbara and I went to the Early Service at a little church, St Andrews, near here. The service was held in the Lady Chapel and was so reverent and quiet and helpful. My soul tried to commune with yours. I wonder if you were conscious of it.

Mother came in to tea, and as it was Bar’s last day here I felt I must give up the last hour or two to her – so dear Heart – the uppermost wish of my heart had to be put on one side.

Yesterday two dear letters came for me from you, enclosing 2 photos of you taken standing by your tent. In their way they are very good of you and it did my heart good to see how well “set-up” you are. All you’ve gone through has made you look a bit older perhaps but you look none the worse for wear so to speak!

I am so glad to have the photos, dear. I’ve just longed to have one more up to date. The one with your topee on makes you look as though you are giving me a very naughty wink with your right eye, as much as to say, “I can still see a joke – despite my martial and war-like appearance.”

Your letters are dated March 11th and 18th. The former one enclosed photos and told of the fact that as leave was only to be granted on “urgent grounds” that you felt powerless to convince others that your grounds are really urgent! I can quite see your point of view – I should feel just the same about it in your place!

I have put off ordering a new uniform until today in case I should hear you were coming home and then I thought I’d wait to see what you said when you got home, before I got a new uniform. The one I’ve got has worn splendidly but I need a thinner one for the summer.

The latter letter was in answer to mine written just after you received it. I mean the letter I wrote after I cabled to you and said I was sorry about a letter I’d written you.

That episode in our lives – or life – is now wiped out and I must try hard to let it be the last time I so far forget myself again. Don’t expect too much of me, Cyril dear, after all I am only human – and very human at that.

It was very jolly having Bar to stay with me. I think she was very impressed, and Mother too – although of course the latter said she always expects her children to shine! Up to date Mother has been very tactful and sweet and it has been a great pleasure when she has dropped in to see me.

I forgot to tell you that your Father sent me such a sweet lot of flowers on your birthday. Apple blossom, pansies, forget-me-nots, primulas, and some first lilies of the valley. Wasn’t it sweet of him? I am hoping to get over to Evesham for Whitsun but am not quite sure if I shall be able to manage it.

I had instructions from the Chief Controller today that I am to speak at a Recruiting Rally to be held at Walsall on Thursday next. I hate speaking in public but an order is an order so I must do so – but oh – I shall be glad when it is over.

The Senior Chaplain to the Forces, Revnd C F Price (Colonel) is coming here to hold a Celebration and a Parade Service tomorrow. Every other Sunday we have services in the Hostel but this is Mr Price’s first visit to us. He served in Gallipoli. I dare say you may remember I told you about having heard him preach when I was at Sutton Coldfield.

By the way, General Becher’s wife came to lunch with me last Wednesday. She made me rather sad because she tells me the Wacks are quite out of control there now in comparison to what they were. Her husband has had to retire on account of his heart and they are leaving Sutton Coldfield and going to Bridport to live. This was a farewell visit to me. I thought it was so nice of her to come.

Mrs Bryant and I went to Stratford today. I have made it a rule that I have a half day on Saturday! We went on the river and lazed. It was perfectly heavenly. The wild flowers are gorgeous this year – primroses, violets, cowslips etc everywhere. I brought back some lovely wallflowers with me. A day like this does one no end of good.

All my heart’s love, Sweetheart. God bless you, dear Man of Mine.

Ever your devoted

We are getting up a play “Bluebeard”! I am to be Fatima! Bluebeard’s “latest” wife!!

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