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March 18th 1918 - Letter from Cyril Sladden to his fiancée, Mela Brown Constable

18th March 1918
Correspondence From
Cyril Sladden
Correspondence To
Mela Brown Constable, Unit Administrator WAAC, Somerfield (sic) Hostel WAAC, Manor Hill, Sutton Coldfield; redirected to Handsworth College, Birmingham
Relationship to Letter Addressee
Text of Letter

March 18th 1918

My own dear Girl

I have just finished reading your letter written after you had cabled to me.  I want to write now, at once, before I look at my other letters, and while my heart is just overflowing with gratitude and happiness at the dear loving letter you wrote.  It is more than I deserved because I am sure my letter must have hurt you.  My love, I had forgiven all there was to forgive long ago, but if I had not your dear letter – too penitent, but the sweeter for being so – must have cleared away for good and all any traces of resentment that might have been left.  It was my real own Mela at her very best, and I know nothing better.

Darling, it was an awful shadow across the light of our love for a little time, but it has gone right away leaving us with a fuller knowledge and experience of each other’s nature.  During this many months I have been able to realise dimly the nature of difficulties that you have written of so frankly.  Believe me when I assure you of my absolute faith that by God’s help (and may He use me partly as His instrument) the true woman in you – the Mela I love – will always be entirely victorious over the “black demon” that sometimes assails you.  You have made me very, very happy, my dearest girl; and I know you are even more splendid and strong than I had ever yet understood, because I knew not the terrible strength of an adversary that scarcely can gain a little passing advantage over you.

I wish I could hope more that I might come to you and make you my own soon.  It would be splendid to drive away the lurking fear that is liable to creep into your mind as time passes. Yet do not think too much of it, as it is but a little fear for a long time to come.  And at the worst remember it is you yourself I want, and with you my companion I can always be contented.

Only yesterday I had a brief wire to say that leave to the United Kingdom would be limited to “extremely urgent cases”.  So I wrote to point out to the Adjutant that I wanted the CO to consider whether he could support and forward a claim on my behalf.  I have heard nothing in reply, so I do not know whether he has turned it down, or whether he may decide to forward an application to brigade.  I know nothing of the conditions laid down, or the numbers it is hoped to send, but probably it is very few indeed.  My hopes of getting leave granted are slender almost to vanishing point; but I wrote about it because if one doesn’t apply one certainly does not get a look in at all.  I should scarcely dare even to refer to the matter if it were not that I know that long before you could get this letter I should have cabled to you if anything came of it.

It is queer how I cannot bear applying for any sort of favour on my own behalf.  I found it a terrible task making my informal application last night, and if it had not been for the thought of you I think I should have decided it was waste of time and not worth it.  Of course if it had not been for you I should have had no “extremely urgent cause” to urge!  I wish everybody out here felt it half as urgent as we do!!  Then I should get first place on the list.

I have a long letter from John, dated Jan 21st and therefore four days later than your last.  He mentions in a postscript that you have been “promoted to the headship of a hostel at Handsworth”.  He adds as a comment that you seem to have found your vocation in the WAAC, to which I would assent heartily with the reservation that I can think of one other yet more satisfactory vocation for you.  I suppose, as he says it is a promotion, the Handsworth unit is a larger one.  You are really doing splendidly, dear, and I am glad you are being found good jobs in England at present.  I see from a newspaper cutting I preserved for reference that you get £175 if you have more than 300 girls to look after so perhaps you may get a useful rise.  Referring to an older letter I see you dined one night with the Unit Administrator at Handsworth, so apparently it will not be a very distant move for you.  I must have just missed getting the next letter from you that would have told me more about it.  As there is still some more of the mail to come I may yet hear, though the officers mail bags get sent up with the first consignment, and so it is only a stray one that would turn up.

I am getting sleepy (the above having been written in sections, so that it is now after 10 pm) and so will to bed, wishing you were here for a long goodnight kiss.

March 19th.   It is a horrid wet day, and rained nearly all the morning without a stop, so that I began to wonder if it was fair to send anybody for half an hours walk through the mud to the brigade post office. However it looks a bit better now, about 2p.m., so I hope I shall not have to miss the mail.  One never knows of course for certain whether it will really make a difference or not now that boats are about fortnightly from India.

I wrote this morning to Father.  In his letter to me he described the deep fall of snow they had had there.  You don’t mention it, so I suppose you did not get it quite so heavily.

Thank you for the news of Sutton Coldfield, also the notes of your speech and the various newspaper cuttings.  I will return the latter which were very interesting in giving me more information of your organization than I had before.  I always read any and every article about the “Wacks” that I can get hold of.  I was sorry I missed seeing your name in the gazette; but I don’t often see English dailies and only occasionally the Pioneer the one Indian paper that prints the gazettes.

I had better close this letter and get it away to post in case the weather turns bad presently.

I hope you like being with your new unit.  I am so very proud of you, my dear girl, for getting along so well.  I am sure the WAAC Staff will always be in favour of me stopping in Mesopotamia indefinitely.  However I am not out to please them but Somebody Else, and incidentally myself.

God bless you, my own love.  You are always in my thoughts.

Ever your affectionate

Cyril E Sladden

Letter Images
Type of Correspondence
Envelope containing 3 sheets of notepaper
Location of Document
Imperial War Museum
Record Office Reference