Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula



Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula


Thanks her for letter, parcel and gas mask. Latter useful as stores have run out of respirators. Her Christmas present really useful helping to keep kit organised in strict tidiness regime. List thing she is sending back to her. Pleased to receive parcel from friend forwarded from previous location. Describes some current activity, situation and course mates. Mentions his barrack room has good inspection. Says he is sending her chocolate as it is difficult to get. Has read her remarks on maternity matters. Mentions good weather for last few days.



Temporal Coverage



Six page handwritten letter


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Ac2 1251404 Valentine John
D Flight, 1 Squadron
Queens Hotel,

Friday 3/1/41

My Darling, Your very welcome letter arrived today followed by the parcel. Many thanks for the tin gas mask holder which was a little bent in the post. It will be useful after all, for the stores here have run out of Service Respirators much to the disgust of our officers who like everything uniform & detest all our makeshift devices. I am finding your Christmas presents exceedingly useful, every one of them. The bags are 100% successful because at this place such is the craze for tidiness of rooms that every single article of our kit – bar boots, towel or spare trousers MUST be kept in the kit bag. The confusion I should be in had I not these handy additions to my equipment does not bear thinking about. You see I know where to look for anything when I want it instead of having to turn the kit bag upside down & running amongst the hundred & one articles thus deposited on the floor. The mirror has been invaluable owing to the complete absence of such luxuries from the barrack room equipment. I do appreciate not having continually to borrow from my mates. The writing outfit is extremely useful & being flat I can secrete it between my blankets during the day where it is very getatable. The ink too is a boon – the post office being some minutes walk from here & containing the usual poor quality ink.
I am returning your cake tin & as much of Mother's parcel as I can get in it – to say nothing of a few articles of dirty washing. I also enclose Irene's gift token which I was unable to use at Boots here, for a tobacco pouch since they have shut down their fancy goods department. You are more than welcome to it if you want it, but if not see if you can get a pouch with it somewhere but don't waste any extra money on it. In the foolscap envelope you will find two documents (one with your peep-O message). Would you file these? I had a small but pleasant surprise yesterday when a largish envelope arrived addressed in Leslie's handwriting to me at Grantham & forwarded via Stratford. Upon opening it I discovered three very chaste white handkerchiefs with blue RAF badges & an Xmas card. At first I didn't bother to look at the card but assumed that Leslie in a moment of aberration & possibly conscience stricken by your gift to him, had sent me a most welcome addition to my nasal refuse bins. However, before throwing it away I looked inside the card to find that the present was from Jean Leuchars. It was extraordinarily nice of her to think of me & to send me something so useful. Would you mind phoning my folk to ask for her address so that I can write my thanks? If they haven't got her present whereabouts would you ask for the latest that they have? Don't bother making another cake. I am sufficiently fed & I dislike sharing your manufactures with my room mates, four out of five of whom I dislike (in varying degrees, of course). One of them I shall hit one day I know. He is a spoilt, noisy boy named Gardener who always knows everything & tells everyone at the top of his voice. His accents are so broad & almost uncouth that they grate on my ears every time he opens his mouth. He has nice fair hair & a very pretty pink complexion which two features have earned him the nickname of Angel. He is secretly (but an open secret) very flattered by this & is incredibly conceited about his nice clean boyish appearance. His nasty spoilt & discontented mouth make me loathe him apart from his voice & general presence.
My complaints against this place are few though. Room mates is or are one. Frigidity is another & inadequate time for swotting & wife writing also ranking. Yesterday was unique in one way. I had 2 compliments from my superior officers. Our Corporal had made a surreptitious but very thorough inspection of our rooms. As a result 8 fellows were on all night guard duty for dirty or untidy fireplaces (devoid of fires, of course) while every other room, bar ours, had several criticisms. Ours was described as the one bright spot & no faults could be found with it. After our rooms had been scrutinised, our persons were inspected by our Flight Commander who described my buttons as 'very good brass' meaning of course well polished. At this inspection Angel Gardener had his name taken for wearing an officers collar – similar to those you sent me. He had to go before the CO afterwards on a charge of being improperly dressed but was let off with a caution.
On Wednesday 11 fellows had a spell of all night guard duty for being 5 minutes late on parade. They had misunderstood instructions & really thought that they were on time but no excuse was admitted & they had to do their time. You will thus see how extremely strict things are here but the atmosphere is so different from Bridgnorth in that it is just that even defaulters have no valid grouse. I am enclosing a few bars of chocolate for you, knowing how difficult it is for you to get it. We have a small but well stocked NAAFI for our hotel only & to avoid being accused of buying for hoarding I have been buying a bar a day for you. I have read all your remarks about maternity matters but won't reply to them until I have your opinion of my suggestion re your coming down here. By all means try Fulmer Chase though. Many thanks for adding to your Mother's socks. May I have them as soon as you can deal with them. Her offer of a pram is typically generous & I would love to accept it. The last few days here have been gorgeous but incredibly cold. We parade in darkness before 8 every day & have had several degrees of frost to endure. I wish you could be here. The beautiful clear atmosphere, smooth sea & high lovely hills have appeared at their best. It would do you a lot of good & give you ample time to work for baby.
I must stop now darling. In a few days our first wedding anniversary will be here. May we enjoy together the second & all its successors. My very best wishes & all my love to you, darling for the occasion and always. John



John Ross Mckenzie Valentine, “Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 3, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19165.

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