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September 18th 1917 - Letter from Arthur Sladden to his future sister-in-law, Mela Brown Constable

18th September 1917
Correspondence From
Arthur Sladden
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable, Assistant Administrator WAAC, c/o the Lady Superintendent, Woodcote Park Convalescent Camp, Epsom
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Future brother-in-law
Text of Letter



My dear Mela


Thanks very much for your last letter. I think it calls for an answer now, especially as you may be travelling about soon. I hope if you come to France you’ll be allowed to say where you are and then if it is a Bas town I might some time get an opportunity of meeting you. Are officers permitted to meet Assistant Administrators? There are I know rather stringent rules surrounding the WAAC, probably necessary though in all the circumstances.


Anyway I wish you the best of luck in your new job; it is necessarily “for the duration” but perhaps that won’t be so very long. 1 and a half to 4 years from now is my present estimate (Pessimist!).


Do you know the habits of the hibernating animal? After a summer of activity and bright life, as the cold weather comes on all their life processes slow down to the lowest ebb, and until the winter breaks everything lies latent, not dead or even dying, but just held up pro tem. Sometimes a few warm days come along and they stir before their time, but a fresh nip of cold sends them back to rest till the real spring gets there. Then at last they start real active life again.


You see what I am driving at? The war is the winter that has driven yours and Cyril’s love to hibernate, and it will lie latent till the real spring arrives. But it’s there all right and if I am any judge at all when at last you two get together all the days in between will drop out as it were and you and he will find no gap either of time or sentiment dividing you.


It is difficult to keep up correspondence under such conditions as yours, and all the more so for one of Cyril’s temperament, for he’s never so far as I know, a born letter-writer. But perhaps since you wrote last you’ve heard again from him and feel better about it. I agree that you had to sign for the duration, I don’t think my folks always look at things in broad lines. The result of living in the country with restricted outlook. Cyril may perhaps hardly realize conditions in England, he’s been away so long. But unless it turned out that your present job actually stood in the way I don’t think he’d worry. If it did of course he would and so would any man but don’t meet that possibility half-way. All the indications are that by the time he’s able to get home your contract will be terminable - or at least you could get leave. The WAAC is not a celibate body is it? And the present mood is not to make marriage difficult.


We of this generation are mostly sacrificing something for the country - from actual lives down to the loss of happy years of married companionship, down lower still to money or comforts or amusements, but afterwards we, or more likely those who follow, will say it was all worthwhile, and it will have been, too, however difficult one finds it at times.


I’m very glad you and Mary were able to meet again at Badsey. Baby is a great joy to us and it’s splendid for me out here to know how sensibly Mary is bringing her up. I hope very much to be able to get over while they are at Porthcawl this winter.


Take care of yourself and don’t get too much mixed up with Army Forms. Can you “put up” a memo yet in the approved official style?!


My address is No 3 Mobile Lab, First Army, BEF - and I’ll hope to hear some time that you’re well and happy in your work and other things.


With love

Yours affectionately

Arthur F Sladden


PS - Perhaps all correspondence ought to go through your CO! AFS

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 2 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference