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May 21st 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

21st 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


My own dear Cyril

If there were any chance of you being able to get home this summer I am sure I should have heard ‘ere this. The papers tell of activities on the Baghdad Mosul Road, which points to the fact that you are not likely to get home just yet.

I have tried not to count on it too much but it was only natural that I should have day-dreamed some times. Still we must continue to live in hope and do the bit that’s nearest, though its dull at whiles!

I should not be a bit surprised if I am not moved soon – there are all sorts of rumours afloat - and the other day two army officers came and inspected the building, took all sorts of measurements and so on, and they told me that it was possible that this building was going to be taken over by the Air Board.

Birmingham has been drained of recruits and I think it is possible that another Hostel will be opened elsewhere and that the permanent staff will be moved together. But mind you – take all I say with a grain of salt – for it is only supposition founded on rumour!

We are having the most gorgeous weather almost too warm for May. It seems so terrible to think that our men are away amongst scenes of bloodshed, when everything at home is so peaceful and beautiful.

I am reading a book called “Life in the Moslem East” by Pouafidini who was once Russian Ambassador. It is beautifully illustrated with views of Baghdad and different parts of Mesopotamia and among the views is one of the Turkish Civil Hospital at Baghdad. Isn’t this where you were sent on March 14th the year the British entered Baghdad? I am finding it very interesting reading.

How do you like these snapshots? Mrs Bryant took three – when Bar was staying here – Bar borrowed someone’s uniform for an hour just for a lark. You can see that Bryant snapped us when we least expected it – on two or three occasions!

We have got our tennis net and racquets now and tennis goes with a swing. As our staff of officers has been duplicated for purposes of training we find time hangs heavily some days and are glad of a game to while away an evening when perhaps there is nothing special to do and yet one must be somewhere on the premises.

There was a big air raid on London on Whitsunday – 192 casualties. We are having what the Huns would call ideal nights for raiding by air. We practise air and fire drills assiduously just in case the Hun visited us.
The other afternoon, a knock came at my study door and I said “come in presently when I have finished interviewing this girl, will you please”. The knocking became more persistent and then a little man walked in and gravely saluting said, “I am the Garrison Adjutant, B’ham and I have come to tell you that there is a fire at the other end of the building.” I got up and gave the warning, not knowing whether there was really a fire or not! It turned out that he had been sent to see what we would do in case of fire, and whether we had done anything in the way of fire drill etc. Luckily we had and were able to show something for it. I was very glad he came because I’ve been trying hard for some time past to get all the fire apparatus put in order. At present it is little more than useless.

I wonder if Wilfred and you have managed to meet yet – and how you got on when you did meet. You are both so totally different.

I must close now, dear Heart, God bless you. All my love as ever.

Your ever devoted

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 25th July 1918.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Record Office Reference