Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula



Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula


Replies to issues raised in her letters. Writes of receiving soap flakes and doing laundry. Happy that RAF allowance is going through. Discuses mail and other domestic matters. Goes on with brief description of daily activities and a hateful new Flight Sergeant. Describes upcoming leave and her visiting Bridgenorth.



Temporal Coverage



Five page handwritten letter


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[underlined] 15 [/underlined]
[underlined] 11 [/underlined]
1251404 AC 2 Valentine
Squad 25 Hut 40
E Flight
2 Squadron 2 Wing
R.A.F Station
My Dearest Ursula
I have been looking forward all week to an opportunity for sitting down quietly to write a few lines to you, and I have so much that I would like to say and so little time left this evening that I shall probably forget some of the things I want to mention. However, first let me run through all your letters and see if there is anything that I ought to reply to.
Richards bill of £1-7.6 for the tiles he mended some weeks ago does seem a bit steep but it seems that you have no option but to pay it and his second, bill, when it does come, out of the house a/c.
Thank you very much for the soap flakes. I felt very guilty when I saw the cost of the postage for them. I suppose the flakes themselves must have cost much less than that. I really ought to have bought them myself. I have now washed six pairs according to your instructions but I think that after all I shall have to send the future dirty pairs back to you because the last two I washed have been stolen while drying. There is a drying room here but the pipes in it are never more than luke warm so that it is a matter of a day or two before such things as socks are dry. I looked in the room today only to find it empty – my last two pairs which I had left having disappeared. One of the missing pairs was your first pair and I am terribly disappointed because they are my most comfortable ones from all points of view – size, style, wool. Many thanks too for the tobacco – it was sweet of you to include the tin and also the bar of chocolate. I haven’t touched the [deleted] latter [/deleted] former yet because I simply can’t taste a thing.
I am so glad that the RAF allowance is now coming through properly. It ought considerably to simplify your financial arrangements.
The new Statesman arrived safely & when I get a chance I am very glad to be able to turn to it. I will send it back as soon as I finish with it.
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It is a pity about Mrs Mickleys second nominee, coming after you had engaged the less prepossessing of the two. I hope that you are able to get rid of her and take on the other.
I have now reached your letter 9. I agree that you have been spoiling me with mail and parcels “Parcel for Valentine in Flight Office” is becoming quite a well known phrase in the hut. I love you for all your kind attention to me but agree that if you can’t keep it up you ought not to worry unduly. In fact I think it would be a good idea if we were each of us to await a letter from the other before sending off one of our own. If we had time to write before receipt of a letter from the other, we could always jot down a few lines & add to them when replying to the other’s letter. If you follow me, it would obviate doing what I am trying to do now i.e. writing in answer to about 4 letters & two or three parcels. So I won’t send [deleted] [indecipherable letter] [/deleted] another until I get a reply to this & thereafter you do likewise.
Your Mother’s pullover is very welcome & so too are the lovely socks. I will see that they are not lost & I like yours the best of any that I have worn and, as it happened, my feet were wet when your parcel arrived so I immediately took off those I was wearing & put on the new ones.
I haven’t had time yet to try to interpret your German but will do so this week end, I hope.
So glad your visit to the dentist was comparatively painless. What did he say about your “receding gums”.
Now your letter 10. What exactly has happened to our furniture. You see I am still in the dark for you only refer to Yeandious letter which I have not yet seen. By all means lickle him up a bit if he doesn’t send a cheque soon.
As regards the coke allocation, surely the reasoning it [sic] that in the quarter where delivery is most difficult you want anything but the big allocation so that if delivery is scaled down you have the smallest disappointment. However I imagine that our coke consumption is more or less steady throughout the year & I think your idea of 15 cwts. per quarter is the most sensible. As to coal, I think that we ought to maintain a high quota in the summer months when delivery should be least difficult. My suggested allocation would be 1 ton 5 cwt; 1 ton; 1 ton; 1 ton 5 cwt In the meantime I should see that your stocks are fully maintained.
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I would be very glad of my watch sometime. I hate having to ask the time of other fellows perpetually. Herewith Mrs Hughes letter – no comments nice of MRS Grimfeld to ring up. I hope you enjoy the night.
That, I think, disposes of all your mail to date no it isn’t – thank you dearest for the packet of cigarettes & for the 4/6 enclosed in the packet. How nice of you to send so much – it quite put me on my financial feet again and I shall do my utmost now to avoid having to ask for any more.
This has been a lousy week – I haven’t had a moment in which I have been warm enough to write. Monday evening was a fearful one – torrential rain & bitterly cold – And having been frozen all day I went down to the gym after tea to try to restore the circulation. After an hour with a medicine ball I felt better but had to spend the rest of the evening cleaning boots & polishing [inserted] buttons [/inserted] because we had been severely reprimanded for them. On Tuesday, we had a lecture after tea & then supper & again cleaning until bed time. Wednesday I had to do my fatigue after all & spent from 1 pm until evening washing dishes, dishes and dishes. Thursday we had another lecture after tea & having again been thoroughly ticked off about our ceremonial boots we spent the rest of the evening doing nothing else but putting boot polish on and rubbing it off. So I haven’t [inserted] been [/inserted] able really to sit down quietly since the week end.
Quite honestly, my dear, I simply loathe this place with all the vigour that I can. I have a [sic] long last fallen foul of the cold germs and am feeling rotten just now. My face feels very hot & flushed – eyes sore nose streaming, throat sore & thick & I have quite a useful cough. Of course I can’t taste anything & as I never seem warm I long more & more for you, your company & your kisses.
Added to this we now have a hateful Flight Sergeant in place of the rather pleasant man who was here when we arrived. The new man, who took over at the beginning of the week, is not new to the Flight. He is just a promoted Sergeant, utterly uneducated horribly irritable, given to drinking I am told, and just thoroughly spiteful. His first acts were to make his presence felt by inspecting our buttons & boots and not being satisfied with any. Under threats of dreadful punishment we now have
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to devote quite a large portion of each evening to polishing & repolishing our stupid ceremonial boots – blast them. Then the blighter comes down to the drill square where we poor fools spend much (too much) of our time in charge of P.T. Corporals. He wanders from squad to squad venting his spite on each in turn. If he takes a particular dislike to one squad he takes them over for a bit & either races them to the point of exhaustion or else swears at them & occasionally punishes one unfortunate with a cook house fatigue. On the day when I was already in the cook house (while my fellow sufferers were playing football) the old swab snooped round the hut looking at the boots & noting those that did not satisfy him. When the boys came back from ball 12 of them were sent to the cook house without delay. Several times every day we are treated to long harangues upon the undesirability of not crossing his path & the innumerable ways there are of doing so, most of which we find somehow or other. He is always swearing & threatening and is he unpopular? All this week we have been shouted at like a lot of little schoolboys & yet in our hut not a single fellow is not really trying. However, enough of that.
We have now been in the RAF for a month & fully three weeks of it have been utterly wasted. That is no exaggeration – we have been fed, housed & clothed at the public expense for 4 weeks and three of them have [deleted] been [/deleted] [inserted] consisted [/inserted] almost entirely of waiting, [inserted] & [/inserted] idleness. Had the idle hours been warm ones it wouldn’t have been so bad but I have told you roughly what the temperature is like.
Blast all the noise going on around me. I simply can’t think because of fellows chattering, swearing & telling stories. In addition I don’t feel so good so I must stop soon.
Now about this leave question. Next week end six of us will have passes from lunch on Friday till midnight on Sunday. We shall probably have to ballot for them so that I may or may not be [inserted] allowed [/inserted] off. Do you think that you could make arrangements to leave home early on Friday morning in the event of mine being [inserted] one of [/inserted] the lucky chances. Come on Thursday if you like – I could meet you after 5 pm in Bridgenorth – we could spend the evening together – say goodbye until Friday afternoon & thereafter we could be together until late on Sunday evening
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If I am one of the fortunate ones & you could & are willing to come up here on Thursday it would be lovely & might even restore my sanity for a while. I would enjoy it more than I can say. I will make enquiries tomorrow afternoon as to trains & accommodation just in case. The only other snag is the notice which I shall have of my good fortune or otherwise.
I must stop now dearest. The chater [sic] of the other fellows, the poor light & my rotten cold are combining to stifle any mental effort.
Do come to me if I am allowed out. With fondest love & much longing for you
Yours affectionately



John Ross Mckenzie Valentine, “Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 15, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19097.

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