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May 28th 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

28th 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 QMAAC


My own dear Cyril

The rumours I mentioned in last mail’s letter have materialized into fact! Handsworth and Saltley Depôt Hostels are both to be evacuated by June 10th. As the women’s army increases so recruiting lessens, and it appears that the numbers of depots in each command is excessive to requirements and so in each command some are being closed down.

An officer from the Southern Command came to see me yesterday to talk over the evacuation, and he told me unofficially that I am going as Unit Administrator, Bulford Camp. There are several camps at Bulford where women are employed, and they all come under one UA It will be a stiff job he tells me as the administration has been faulty. Still, it is far nicer to be up against odds and try to overcome them.
I believe it is possible that I and one or two others may be here a little longer than the 10th of June, in order to hand over. The Hostel is going to be used as a Hospital after we leave.

Thank you, dear very much for the music you asked Betty to choose for you, to give me for the anniversary of our engagement. She chose the Black Iris Suite by Gustav Lind, and Hendel. I shall be able to play the former quite soon, but Hendel is rather too difficult to learn when one has not much opportunity to practice.

At Bulford we shall be in huts – I do hope we have a piano. It will be much more realistic working on the plain – amongst so many thousands of soldiers.

Mother and Barbara left Birmingham today for Cheltenham. Mother has gone there on business in connection with Cecil’s death.

Two letters came from you this mail dated Feb 25th and March 26th. In the letter received the mail before, you had heard from Jack about my appointment here, but up to date you had not had my first letters from here. And now lo and behold – I am on the move again!

You’ll be pleased to know that the officer who came from the Southern Command said that the authorities at Southern Command Headquarters wished to retain my services in the S Command – hence my appointment to Bulford.

Last night we had a dance. Most of the men visitors, 70 in all, belonged to the Tank Corps. Such a very nice type of man and they all danced well.

May 30th – I have just come across 2 cuttings in The Times, which I thought might interest you, and enclose them.

We are busy drafting out the women and packing things up – a move of this kind is no joke.

I enclose Bar’s letter for you to read, from Cheltenham – it is only a chatty letter, of no particular interest and yet gives one an idea of sleepy Cheltenham.

Through that officer from the Southern Command I have applied for 3 of the officers here to be with me where I am going. This does not mean of course that my application will be granted! They are: Mrs Bryant, Miss Sterndale and Miss Stiebel. They are 3 loyal souls – which is more than can be said of the others. It is extraordinary how lacking the majority of women are in this attribute. I don’t wish to appear mean to my own sex – it is only what I find to be a fact from experience.

We are having lovely weather. The horse chestnut and May are exceptionally lovely this year. It seems such a sin to think of war, amidst all that is lovely.

The news is not good just now. Soissons has fallen to the enemy. English and French people are taking the news quietly but we realize that there are tough days ahead.

You wonder in your letter whether I shall be willing to leave the Wacks when you come home to marry me.  I shall be quite willing to grant your heart’s desire, which is mine too if God sees fit to bless us in this way.  When I know you are on your way I shall either write to or go to Headquarters, state the circumstances and see what they suggest. I think they will quite likely grant me unpaid leave to be with you all the time you are at home and then, if necessary, I can apply for my discharge on what is known as compassionate grounds.

In the list of Wacks mentioned in despatches is that of Mrs Faviell, wife of your CO, I think (Unit Administrator abroad somewhere).

With all my heart’s love, dear One, and a great big kiss.

God bless you.

Ever your devoted

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