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Barbara Evelyn Mia BROWN CONSTABLE (1895-1976)

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Biographical Details

Barbara Evelyn Mia Brown Constable (1895-1976), often known affectionately as Bar, was the sister of Mela Brown Constable who was the fiancée of Cyril Sladden.

Barbara was born at Pachmarhi, India, on 28th January 1895, the youngest of four children of Albert Edward Brown Constable, a chaplain to the Indian Forces, and his wife, Clara Emily (née Wall).  She was baptized at Pachmarhi on 14th February 1895.  Barbara spent her childhood partly in India and partly in England.  At the time of the 1901 census, Barbara was living at 18 Faraday Mansions, Fulham, with her mother and siblings whilst her father was still in India.  At the time of the 1911 census, she is thought to have been in India.

During the First World War, Barbara lived primarily with her mother.  Her parents were separated and her mother lived a fairly itinerant life, dividing her time between France and England.  Despite being close to the war zone, they spent much of the war in Boulogne-sur-Mer.

Barbara was very good singer and, whilst in France, visited hospitals and sang to the soldiers.  The tradition of glamorous singers going to battle zones to entertain the troops began during the First World War.  In a letter of 3rd January 1915, Mela mentioned Barbara going to Outreau Hospital near Boulogne.  Later in the year in a letter of 24th November 1915 Mela said that Barbara had been singing at a concert when someone remembered hearing her sing in India ten years previously; but it would have been Mela, who was seven years older, that she had heard sing.  Both sisters were accomplished singers, but Barbara had the finer voice of the two.  As indicated in a letter of 20th June 1917, Mela said:  “Wilfred is quite right in his judgement of Bar’s voice, it really is very lovely and she sings with expression and life too.”

From the summer of 1917, Barbara lived with her mother at Riverswood House, Marlow.  Following in the wake of her older sister, Barbara joined the Women's (later Queen Mary's) Army Auxiliary Corps.

Barbara never married.  At the time of the 1939 register, Barbara was living at 16 Philbeach Gardens, Kensington.  She was described as a Pensioner Indian Military and ex-Forewoman QMAAC.  A letter of 23rd April 1941 reveals that, during the Second World War, she joined the ATS and was expecting to be sent to Bournemouth to “Signals” to continue training as a teleprinter.  She lived in Great Missenden for about seven years but found the winters there “trying”, so went to France for a time, but then returned to England.

Barbara died, aged 80, on 15th January 1976 at Tudhope Cottage, Tudhope, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire.

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