Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula



Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula


Last letter from Grantham telling of daily activities, laundry, cinema, letters received, her recent birthday. Catches up with news of family and friends. Writes about pay, weather and that he will be glad to leave current location.



IBCC Digital Archive





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Four page handwritten lettter




Temporal Coverage


1251404 AC2 Valentine John
MQ44, 12 FTS
R.A.F. Station
Grantham, Lincs
Thursday 12/12/40

My Dearest Ursula,

This will be my last letter from Grantham and will be scribbled at any odd & spare moment during the afternoon. I am enclosing it with a little more washing, most of which I had intended to send to the R.A.F. laundry. Our sudden removal has interrupted this plan & there will be the usual delay when we arrive at our new station so once again I am chucking the job on to you. I hope you don’t object, my dear. When (or rather if) we ever get settled for any length of time at one station I hope to get most of my washing done by the R.A.F for I want to impose upon you as little unnecessary work as possible.

I had a modest “night out” on Monday when I saw the film “Rebecca”. I think that it is one of the most marvellous films I have ever seen. I was completely carried away but it and enjoyed it enormously. If you haven’t already seen it, you ought to do so whenever you can. I would love to see it again. The actor[?] in our party has already seen it four times. He says that in his opinion it is the best film ever produced. (By the way his Father has just been given a knighthood for work in connection with food under Lord Woolton) When watching Rebecca, a curious thought struck me several times. Allowing for the differences [deleted] in [/deleted] [inserted] between [/inserted] our circumstances and social standing and those of the hero & heroine, I often thought that in their more intimate moments they behaved towards one another [underlined] exactly [/underlined] as you and I do at times (when allowed by the R.A.F.).

Going back to the washing question[?] once again. As soon as you get my new address will you send me, post haste: socks, [inserted] shaving cream & handkerchiefs & collars – and a bit of soap. Those are my most urgent requirements although I would like the rest of the stuff as soon as you can manage it, without bursting any blood vessels in a violent hurry.

Your welcome letter posted on the ninth reached me yesterday, and I will just browse through it to see if it inspires any rude answers.

I am so glad that you like the slippers though I haven’t seen them myself. If you are not perfectly [deleted] ha [/deleted] satisfied with Mother’s choice, you ought to be bold enough to say so and to make an exchange. It has struck me that you might be imagining that I have asked you for money from time to time merely in order to buy you a present – but on my honour that

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is not so. When I left Uxbridge, I took with me a small sum which I intended at all cost to reserve and preserve for your birthday and that I managed to do through your supplements to my RAF pay which enabled me to [one indecipherable word] & to keep my little fund intact. I am bitterly disappointed that my people did not send you a birthday gift. It hurt me tremendously and I cannot see any reason for it. Thank you for all your details of your other gifts. I loved to have them and I have read & reread your letter several times.

Re your statement that “a wife belongs etc. … though one has to reconcile etc. …”. I quite agree with the first part and also with the probability that when baby comes travelling to meet or see me will be almost impossible and I am quite reconciled to that. My point is that until baby arrives you ought to come to see me whenever possible. My reasoning is not entirely selfish because you know as well as I that the wisest thing for you to do is to get away from London as soon as possible. As for “reconciling other family [one indecipherable word] “ surely we have been doing this ever since 6th Jan last for we had Peter with us for the first six months of our married life, subsequently we lived by ourselves it is true but not in our own home & of course since 17th Oct you have not seen me except for those precious 40 hours wheras [sic] all the married chaps in my party have had there wives with them for at least several days. We have only just over three months available, darling, until our own precious little infant comes along after which you must of necessity be considerably more tied than at present. So please dear I implore you, that if any opportunity of our being near to one another should turn up, to do your best to take the fullest possible advantage of it. In common with many thousands of other newly married couples we embarked upon our new life with many horrible disadvantages [one deleted word] owing to the war & in addition have been denied the privilege of being completely on our own for 8 out of the 11 months since we took the plunge.

It was extremely nice and quite typical of Barbara to do her best to make your birthday as exciting as possible. Please thank her, from me, for her efforts to give you an extra little bit of happiness.

I was very relieved to hear that the biggest recent raid on London had not troubled you too much. I have read of it in the press and seen the German claims as to the amount of H.E. & Fire bombs dropped and was quite worried until your letter arrived. These lovely moonlit nights give me the shivers for I know from my own experience what bright moonlight can bring with it. I have just had a letter from Gus Cole who was

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in the recent heavy raid on Dusseldorf. I enclose his letter in which you might be interested. Please return it as soon as you can so that I can answer it.

I intended sending off those few [inserted] Xmas [/inserted] cards from Mr & Mrs [one indecipherable letter] & I thought that you would do[?] likewise to those of your friends whom I know. However, as you don’t want any R.A.F. cards I don’t think I will bother because one has to purchase a certain number before one can get any of the special type. I shall write to the [one indecipherable word] & to the office staff c/o Bill Pullen & that will do me for Xmas wishes. Any presents you send, please dispatch from both of us.

You needn’t bother drawing the chess board if & when you send a move. I keep a record of all moves so that it doesn’t take long to re set the board should I use it in [deleted] the [plus one letter] [/deleted] between our moves.

You asked sometime about your dress allowance. I believe that there was about £1 left over but it went into a pool with my dress allowance & other unwanted reserves to provide approximately £50 which stands at present in my P.O. book, available for confinement and expenses incidental[?] thereto. I hoped that sundries a/c would provide for your clothes.

I think that your letter is now exhausted & as we have to go on a pay parade in a few moments I will shut down for an hour or two.

Look after yourself dear
Lots of love. John.

My Darling,
I have just returned with my pay for one whole fortnight viz £1. It took an hour to get even that & I have [deleted] just [/deleted] only a few minutes left until tea time after which I must [one indecipherable word] to the town to send this off.

Today is a glorious one. It was clear and bitterly cold last night (I was off duty) & there was a wonderful sunrise. Since then the sun has shone steadily from a perfect sky but one has to keep moving in order to avoid getting cold. The country around here is pleasant but not so beautiful as that near Bridgnorth. Grantham lies several hundred feet below us in a distinct hollow, while all around it the country arises gently but hardly picturesquely. It has a naked look about it for there are relatively few trees and the fields are large. Nevertheless, had you been able to come here for a day or two I think you would [have] enjoyed a few strolls especially if the weather too had been as lovely as it is today. The town itself is definitely dull. The houses are uninteresting & monotonous while the few large factories give the place a depressing appearance. It has had several bombings & signs of damage are much

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in evidence.

I shan’t be sorry to get away from the camp. It is so shockingly slack & so badly organised that Bowack & I became very much ashamed to belong to the R.A.F. if we start criticising it. The billets are fairly satisfactory at last although we still have to scrounge for most of our fuel. Some of the fellows have complained that they are cold & draughty but I usually manage to fell quite warm enough when sitting huddled close to the fire. The weather has been fairly chilly all the time & my hands & lips have become badly chapped through washing in cold water and going out into the wind. Last night I bought a little Vaseline to put on the sore parts so that in a day or two they should be better. What I have appreciated so much here has been the quiet. Being in a room with 2 other & both of them likeable has made an extremely pleasant change from the noise of 30 fellows in one hut at Bridgnorth. I hope for similar luck at Stratford on Avon but I bitterly regret leaving Grant & Bowack behind. The job of Ground Defence is one of the most depressing that I can imagine but Ground Defence at Grantham station would be completely soul destroying after a few weeks. I am sure that we can’t do worse so I am looking forward to Stratford on that account alone apart from the possibility that we might be able to see something of one another.

Despite the glory of todays[sic] weather, I am feeling very sorry for myself, not a little homesick, and longing for you tremendously. I don’t know why I should feel it any worse today than at any other time, but you know how these moods steal upon one without any warning & even less reason. However, being down in the dumps doesn’t help one at all so I must try to comfort myself with the knowledge that you are my wife & that we both love one another.

I can’t think of anything more to say just now. I hope the washing doesn’t annoy you too much. You have no idea how much I appreciate your doing it for me – perhaps I take too much advantage of your good nature and willingness.

These billets are about ½ mile from the canteen so that they don’t send the meals over. That being so we are forced to go to the cook house ourselves & as tea is now being served (slung at one) I must wend my way.

Good bye dearest – the worst of these changes is that I never get any news from & of you. I have had only two real letters from you during my two weeks here so that you will have to start on overtime to make up your arrears.

With all my love & longing
Yours ever John.

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J M Valentine, “Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 12, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19154.

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