Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula



Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula


Wonders about her reaction to his argument for her to come to stay in Aberystwyth. Notes essay on Initial Training Wing and remustering to pilot which he does not want to do. Writes he is still sleeping badly and that the RAF has run out of marmalade and jam. Glad for the honey, cake and biscuits his mum send. No weekly letter from his dad, could she intercede. Continues on 10/1/41. Says he slept better and relates long commercial traveller joke. mentions new training schedule and concluded with chat and domestic/family chat.



Temporal Coverage



Six page handwritten letter


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1251404 AC2 Valentine John
D flight 1 Squadron
Queens Hotel,

Thursday 9/1/41

Darling Ursula, By now you will have had my letter with my suggestions for you immediate future. I am wondering what your reactions were but I expect that I shall have to wait until Saturday before your reply comes along. I have no further information on the subject to pass on to you. After a few days of moderate cold during which little thawing took place, it has again become quite icy. Today has been glorious though. Clear sky & sunshine have combined to produce an atmosphere of invigoration outside, but unrelieved frigidity inside. My hand is so cold writing this that I can hardly grip the pen. Today we had to write an exam on impressions of this J.T.W. & I managed to fill the stipulated sheet of foolscap – both sides with unmitigated bilge. What the object was I don't know but the CO said that he hoped to get an insight into our character from our written words. The chance of re-mustering as Pilots has come along at last. Our medical papers have arrived here & tomorrow all of us are to have an additional medical examination. I have told the CO that I don't want to change but he isn't certain yet whether we have the choice or the RAF has it. Of course the rest of the fellows are very pleased for most of them tried as Pilots in the first place & for some reason or other were refused. I am looking forward to your coming here – if you should do so. Should you come, I hope you will be willing to put up with my swotting in your company in the evenings. You might even be interested in my subjects & if you promise never to divulge any of the secrets we could do quite a lot together & you could be of enormous help to me.
I had another very broken nights sleep last night. I was very restless & managed somehow to throw off some of my blankets. Foolishly we had left the windows up & my bed being right under one of them I was very cold. We have had only 1 warning since we came here & that was quite a local event. I don't think they have reached double figures yet. So do come down & get a lot of undisturbed nights sleep. I finished off the last piece of wedding cake after tea this evening. Try (if it is not too late) to have a small piece for us to eat together if & when you come to Welsh Wales.
The RAF has run out of jam & marmalade (the latter soon after we arrived) so that breakfast & tea are rather dry meals. I still have Mother's large jar of honey intact but I somehow don't feel inclined to use it. You might like it – let me know if you would. In addition I have a fixed table for meals now & my companions are my room-mates. Obviously I cannot use the stuff without offering it to them & they would fairly lap it up just as they did to your cake & Mother's cake & biscuits. They never have anything to return & they are all much better off financially than I am & I don't like them so I would sooner go without than waste 5/6ths of anything I get.
I am still without my father's usual weekly letter. I am baffled to find a reason for his previous one must have been written & sent after you had broken the news to them. Also I cannot remember saying anything in my last letter which would have caused offence. I wonder if it would have been better after all for me to have written instead of your phoning. You see, I might have been able to produce some tactful reason whereas I gather that you merely made a bald statement of fact. If you can remember your conversation with Mother, could you send me a verbatim report of it. I am not worried by the silence but I would like to try to find out how the land lies between us.
Friday 10/1/41 (During Maths) Good morning to you, my darling. I had a glorious nights sleep last night, for a change. So heavy was it that I am still half asleep although I have been awake for 2 hours. Could you please send me 1) Another box of cigarettes; 2) Clean tea cloth; 3) Yourself as soon as possible; 4) Rubber for Maths exam. I haven't seen a paper for three days now & have no idea if London is being raided very often or if you are getting a fair amount of respite. Even if it is fairly quiet, this watch party will disturb you frequently – which is a bad thing don't you know?
I am slowly absorbing small details with regard to aircraft Recognition. If you ever see any pictures of aircraft in the sky or on the ground do cut them out & let me have them. You have sent me no news of your negotiations with the gardener about the shelter. What is the exact state of affairs? Did you hear the story of the Commercial Traveller who when passing through a certain town, called at his customary hotel & asked for his usual room . The hotel was very full but as the proprietor knew the traveller well he said that if he (the traveller) liked he could share a room with his small son. The Traveller consented to this & was shown into the small boy's bedroom only to find the child kneeling at the side of his bed apparently praying. Not wishing to make the small boy shy in any way, the Traveller immediately fell on his knees at the other side of the bed. Whereupon the small boy said “You won't 'arf cop it from Pa in the morning. There isn't one that side.”
Our new programme comes into force on Monday. The prospect of Wakey Wakey at 6 am does not excite me. When we finish our course, we get issued with flying clothing here. Quite a number of fellows in the Queens have already got theirs & spend an hour or two each evening proudly prancing up & down the corridors looking like advertisements for Michelin tyres. They are handsome looking suits though. I have not written to your Mother about the socks yet. My letter to her had gone before you told me of the arrival of her parcel. Since we started work properly here I have written only to one person apart from you ie. My Father. All my spare moments have been devoted to swotting. I have been at it every evening not once have I flicked or drunk, so will you explain to her that I shall write probably fairly soon & that I am very grateful for the socks which as you know will be extremely useful.
I wonder if you could find a well equipped newsagent/magazine store & have a scout around for a good publication on Aeroplane Recognition. Most of the fellows have either one or two more or less standard booklets, & I can always borrow one or the other. I will let you know the names of the two in question & when I have done so, would you see if you can get anything different. The shops here stock only these two. Don't do anything yet until I send you the names of the books which I don't want. The Maths lecture is waking up a bit & we are now to start Scale Drawing whatever that may mean & so I will bid you goodbye for the time being. I am looking forward to a letter from you about your coming here. Until we meet again or write again, all my love, John



John Ross Mckenzie Valentine, “Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 14, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19169.

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