Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula



Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula


Thanks her for letter and parcel. Mentions poor mail handling, Lists letters received and asks her to number subsequent ones. Mentions financial matters and requests she sends him some items. Mentions he is homesick but not looking forward to next few weeks training and duties. Describes daily activities and visit to barber. Concludes with family and domestic chat.



Temporal Coverage



Four pager handwritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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Start of transcription
[inserted] PS. Will you send some of those envelope economisers of yours. love John.
PPS Let me know your Mother address love squared John, [/inserted]
1251404 A/C [inserted] 2 [/inserted] Valentine JRM
Hut 40 Squad 25
E Flight
2 Squadron 2 Wing
RAF Station
Saturday 9-11-40
My Dearest Ursula
Your second parcel with its enclosed letter and your next letter arrived together on Thursday, thank you very much for everything, my dear. It is good of you to supply me with my needs so promptly. I have not too much faith in the R.A.F. methods of dealing with the incoming mail here and every time I move there are likely to be delays in my receiving letters if I am posted in a hurry before I have time to let you know. In order to keep a check on all the letters you send me especially if you should happen to be sending me any money, I think it would be good idea if you were to number all your letters. Would you start this with your next to me (if any??) So far as I am aware I have had the following [deleted] really [/deleted] letters from you – excluding little notes put in parcels or books.
Letter No 1. Sent the day I left home but not received until I got here (handwritten)
Letter No 2. Sent to me here after you had mine from Uxbridge & a P.C from here – giving my address (typed)
Letter No 3. Sent with your second parcel (typed)
Letter No 4 Sent 6th Nov. – Handwritten.
Unless you have written another to me before you get this, would you head your next “No 5”. Dont [sic] think I am being too fussy about this, but I was sent to collect the mail for our Flight the other day & I saw the state of the correspondence in the Wing Mail Office – it was just chaotic & when we started [deleted] sto [/deleted] sorting out the mail for our Flight we found any number of letters for other Flights as well as other Wings. I don’t think it is necessary for me to number my letters because here & at Uxbridge (at any rate) I have been able to post my letters in pukkah (? spelling) G.P.O. letter boxes.
My darling, I have loved all your letters – they give me a real treat every time I get one & each makes me long more than ever for the next. I will now read through them all again and see if there are any points that I wanted to answer or comment upon.
I don’t remember whether I mentioned it or not but Touches allowance of £153.6/8 is correct & as you suggest income tax has still to be deducted from each monthly instalment of £12.15.9 leaving you, roughly £10-10-6
[page break]
I would be glad if you would send me my green sleevless [sic] pullover – knitted by your Mother. I am now keeping my fountain pen in my tunic & have no watch so my [deleted] [indecipherable word] [/deleted] waistcoat is not really needed & I think a pullover would be more comfortable. Apart from that, I don’t really want any extra clothes. When I am fully logged up with greatcoat etc. I have so many clothes on that I feel quite stiff – just as if I were wearing a suit of armour.
I’m very sorry to hear of your renewed spells of sickness I had hoped that these turns had gone for good and I can do no more than pray that they will soon finally disappear.
I am more than pleased that you invited yourself to Barnet. I had a letter from my Father saying how much they appreciated it. He very much admired your pluck in staying until it was dark & undertaking that fearful journey alone on such an awful night. Your journey back sounds as if it might have been rather unpleasant if all the bus conductors had been like the first. I don’t suppose you will want to go over too often but if you should please be as discreet as possible with regard to the journey back. I think that travel after the blackout is a thing to be avoided especially for you in your condition.
Quite frankly I am not impressed by your arguments in favour of accepting £10 a month from your Mother for Barbaras [sic] keep. To begin with we had £8 per month for Peter i.e. £96 a year. Barbaras [sic] £2 per week comes to £104 per year – not a great difference I admit but a fair percentage ( 8 1/3%). I am willing to wager that the cost of “most ordinary commodities” has not risen by as great a percentage for only this last week there has been a lot of discussion on the subject. [inserted] in the press [/inserted] £10 per month for Ba. i.e. £120 per year represents an increase of 25% which to my mind is obviously not justified. Furthermore you must admit that Ba will be cheaper to keep than Peter; that there are vegetables of fair value in store & in the allotment; and lastly that when the R.A.F. pay starts going properly you will be getting 28/6 per week which with Ba’s £2 makes £3.8.6 wheras [sic] we two tried to live on £3. I know, of course, that you now have a gardener to pay for. However, my dear, you & I could discuss this subject until we were black & blue in the face & never agree – so please accept your Mother’s generous offer & let us hear no more about the matter. Do try not to touch her other £10 a month unless a really serious emergency arises – and if you love me – do pay the £41 back to her bank less the cost of the dining room curtains.
Finally don’t try too much economy on the question of domestic help. Do have all that you want.
[page break]
[underlined] 2 [/underlined] Until your letter came I was really very unhappy & homesick & longing for you terribly. I feel better now though but I am not looking forward to the next few weeks. In addition to all the training we have to take our turn at dish washing, floor scrubbing lavatory cleaning, guard duty, fire pickets & a multitude of other jobs so that we may not have a lot of spare time. We have another inoculation too & our teeth inspected and attending too if necessary.
I am still very constipated & wish that I could get rid of it. My mail is becoming very awkward because more & more of it is flopping about in the wind. This morning I got one of the fellows to cut quite a large hunk of it off so that it feels more comfortable but looks even more unsightly.
It is curious watching all the fellows in the room getting to know one another & getting together in little groups of similar character. They [sic] way they do this gives quite an insight into their various types for like attracts like without a doubt. We have one professional actor in our midst. He poses the whole time & talks in a very mincing & artificial tone of voice. He was in “The Lion has Wings” – one of the observers in one of the planes. His crony is that bleating kid whom we all despised at Uxbridge.
This morning I was one of a party of 8 chosen on account of our height to put 1000 chairs in place in the gym for Church parade tomorrow. The same 8 have to act as ushers, take the collection & then put away thee 1000 chairs. They have issued us with boiler suits for all dirty work including fatigues. Mine of course was made for a fellow 12 inches shorter & [underlined] I look just like a bunny at a panto [/underlined] in a tight fitting skin.
While at Uxbridge I was told to have a hair cut but I received a similar order here. However a haircut has to be a haircut – no musicians locks are allowed & they shoot at side boards. I had to go the Camp barber & you should see me now. The barber had electric shears & ran them from neck upwards stopping just short of the pati. Then with scissors he removed most of [deleted] much [/deleted] [inserted] the [/inserted] top hair and tried to even out the sharp line left where the shears had stopped. My head (God how cold it is) is [deleted] almost [/deleted] naked almost up to the top and on that is a little short cropped stubble. Unfortunately nothing less will satisfy the raging Warrant Officer & I had no option but to submit
[page break]
I am glad that you are going to have the dining room black out attended to. As to taking it out of your mothers money I don’t really object because there is quite a case for it.
Thanks for the [inserted] letter [/inserted] enclosed [deleted] letter [/deleted] with yours. I have attended to both & am trying to get the income tax liability reduced still more. The inspector made what I think is a mis statement in his letter & I have written to him from “Lido” taking advantage of it, so you should have a reply within a few weeks.,
I am very sorry to here [sic] of Mrs Mickley departure. When does she leave? Give her my very best wishes when she does go. I hope you will find someone suitable to take her place. I am afraid that you will miss her for she seemed to me to be an exceptionally nice woman for the job, and it will not be easy to replace her adequately.
I like the idea of your helping at the neals Church but for heavens sake my dear, do look after yourself. If the building is moderately safe[deleted]l[/deleted] & you don’t have to do anything very strenuous it seems to be a good way of spending the hours when you are by yourself.
Do you mind if I ask you to send me things when I want them? My income is so very small that it requires very careful handling not to become an outcast from the rest of the hut. In addition to the things I asked for in my last letter I would like a jar of jam or marmalade – we get none for breakfast & only one piece at tea time. Also a large tin of Silvo that is to say not too large but not one of the size on sale here about 2 inches high which lasts only a week. Do pop in a stamp whenever you remember & send me your chess move sometimes. In my last letter I asked you not to send cake but I would like some after all. We nearly always have a cup of tea at the NAAFI to try to maintain the circulation & something to eat would be very welcome. Don’t send money yet until I am really on the rocks.
When Barbara has her few days off it would be quite a good plan for you to come down here if she would like to do so. Normally we get off at 4.30 until 9.30 on weekdays & 12.30 on Saturdays & Sundays. During training we sometimes have a lecture at 5.30, though, & fatigues such as canteen & guard also break into spare time. However let me know if you think of it again & I may know a little more about our timetable.
In the meantime my darling I send you all my love. I enjoyed your letter so much that I am impatient for the next.



John Ross Mckenzie Valentine, “Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 27, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19094.

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