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June 26th 1918 - Letter from Mela Brown Constable to her fiancé, Captain Cyril E Sladden

26th June 1918
Correspondence From
Mela Brown Constable, QMAAC, Bulford Camp, Salisbury Plain
Correspondence To
Captain Cyril E Sladden, 9th Worcesters, 13th Division, Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force D
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

Bulford Camp


My own dear Cyril

Two letters from you this mail dated April 21st and May 3rd. Both written from a mysterious unknown place when you were in command of some special expedition the nature of which you were not at liberty to tell.

I expect you know Bulford fairly well if ever you came over from Tidworth. The women occupy the stone houses which used to be the married quarters in pre-war times – also huts in other parts of the camp.
This is a very difficult camp. Major General MacGrigor i/c of Administration, Southern Command, says it is the one blot in the history of the WAACs of the Southern Command. So you can guess there is some work ahead of me!

To put the top on everything, an epidemic of the new type of influenza, brought over from Spain, has broken out, both amongst the men and the women. We have 85 women down with it and get on an average 6-9 fresh cases every day. I’ve got it myself now! Temp yesterday 101°, this came down to 97°. I don’t know what it is at this moment 2.30 pm – but I feel much warmer than I did this morning! However I am in bed and being properly looked after.

Mrs Bryant was sent here with me and since she came here she has been promoted to Deputy Administrator, which makes her a kind of 2nd-in-command and adjutant combined. She is carrying on while I lay low.

We have 500 women here and as our ranks go by the numbers of women, I’ve gone a step higher than when I was at Handsworth where I was in command of 300.

The women work with the Mechanical Transport, the MTASC, the ASC, the RHA, and RTA. So this is an interesting and varied unit of which to be in command.

I was very interested to hear that I am to keep my “weather eye” on the Gazette. You must be awfully pleased having a little show of your own – I feel awfully proud, too.

I heard from your Father yesterday. He says the garden is perfectly lovely – roses all abloom. I have asked him to send me some. Flowers are such a treat out here on the plain. One can get wild flowers though – marguerites, poppies and a kind of wild orchid grow in abundance.

The [?] is in quarantine which makes it rather dull. The theatre, cinemas and even the church is closed.
Mother and Barbara are still at Cheltenham. They seem very happy there.

From my bedroom view I have a quite a pretty view. It reminds me of the song of Landon Ronald’s, “A little winding road runs over the hill to the plain” - and away in the distance one can see the camp at Larkhill. Handsworth seems like a dream – indeed every place except the plain seems like a dream. One soon becomes part and parcel of camp life.

A Colonel Graham is OC troops Bulford, Colonel Lindsey Lloyd OC MT, Lt-Colonel Maurice OC No 1 Centre WSASC, Colonel Holbrook ASC, Colonel Steabeyie Res, Major Bailey 636 Employment Company, are the only OCs I’ve met personally up to date. I believe there are eleven all together! Some work to keep in with them all!

Mrs Bryant and I have hired a piano between us – 15/- a month each it costs. It makes all the difference to life in a place like this, doesn’t it?

Besides a Deputy, I have a messing officer and two company commanders and any amount of Forewomen, I don’t yet know how many. Each MT store has a Forewoman besides those on my permanent staff.

The New Zealanders are at Sling – I often see some in camp here – I wonder if I shall come across anyone who knew Bernard. There are Australians here too and now a detachment of Portuguese have arrived.  From my window, when I sit up in bed I can see the gun carriages and horses on parade – so I’ve not got a dull outlook at all.

I can see there is no chance of you getting home this year. Never mind – I suppose we have each got to finish doing our “bit” before we can have our reward. In the years to come we may be able to see a purpose in all this.

We have a very nice SMO here who has taken over the women’s work here. He attends me and is so kind and gentle. He has been out in France and is so interesting to talk to. I should think he is over sixty – but active for his years. He certainly knows his job.

Writing makes me rather tired but I was determined I would get a letter off to you if I died for it! Lots and lots of love and a great big kiss – Sweetheart.

Your ever loving and devoted

Please return if this letter goes astray to: A Brown Constable, Unit Administrator, QMAAC, Bulford Camp, Salisbury.

Letter Images
Cyril received the letter on 27th November 1918.
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Record Office Reference