Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula



Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula


Thanks her for card and arrival date. Hopes she can come a day earlier as he has next afternoon off. Mentions her parcel had not turned up and he had seen Chaplin film. Writes there has been outbreak of flu on his flight and hopes he will not catch it. Worried that she will not find digs congenial and will be bored. Details some activities and progress. Notes some issues with room mates. Mentions delays in observer training. Writes that five men got extra guard duty for feeding seagulls.



Temporal Coverage



Six page handwritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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1251404 AC2 Valentine
D Flight, 1 Sqdn.

Saturday 25/1/41

My Darling Ursula, Many thanks for your card which put me out of the misery of wondering exactly which day you were coming. Am delighted to know that you will come a day earlier & am looking forward to your arrival tremendously. What about coming even a day earlier still, Thursday 30th. Friday being games afternoon I might have a free hour or two which would be lovely if we were together. If you think you can possibly manage Thursday, send a card by return & I will advise Mrs Jones. You might let me know if you have sent on any luggage so that I could warn the good lady. I am not sending any socks this weekend. I have been very careful all week & have worn only two pairs which I still have on my feet. I really didn't want to impose any extra work on you during your last few days which will be hectic enough without my contribution.
Your parcel hasn't turned up yet. I gather that it contained soap, lanoline & 2/6d. I hope there was nothing more for if that is all, we can stand it. There was a letter in it too, containing amongst other things I understand something about the piano. I saw the Chaplin film yesterday but wasn't greatly impressed. It is funny, of course, but so unreal that I was never able to forget that it was just a collection of actors, earning their daily bread - & possibly a bit of jam. There has been an outbreak of flu in our Flight & we have seven fellows in hospital with it. I am feeling rather rotten this afternoon & am praying that I am not going to sicken just when you are about to come here. One of the victims came from the room I am sleeping in. Another had to be carted off by ambulance at 11pm. Last night. I have managed to get out of the hateful dormitory which was allotted to me when I arrived. You may remember my saying how much I disliked some of my room mates. With the passage of time, my dislike grew into absolute loathing & then the blighters started the habit of talking & arguing until long after lights out. Our nights are all too short in any case & to be deprived of further sleep was most exasperating. At the beginning of the week, one of our fellows was moved into another Flight, since he had been in hospital with food poisoning & had missed his Maths exam & a lot of lectures. He occupied a bed in a room of four – but an infinitely better room than mine, being free from draughts, overlooking the sea & having a wash basin in it. I applied to be allowed to change my bed & am now much happier in a more comfortable room & much more congenial company. My three new mates may not occupy such high positions in society but in every way they are preferable to the loud & selfish snobs with whom I used to cohabit.
Every day that passes, I spend quite a lot of time thinking of the pleasure I shall have when you come here. My only doubts are that you will not find the digs congenial & that you might be bored by so many hours of your own company. If you have a lot to do, the latter may not be such a serious problem, while the former can only be solved by trial (without – I hope – any error). The period of waiting until the moment for the train to steam into the station with my own darling wife on board is agonising. I do not seem to get the feeling that each evening marks the passage of another day. Although the waiting period is now less than a week it still seems so long as when we first contemplated the idea of your coming.
Another change in our programme has been given us – unofficially. It is that upon the completion of our exams in our 8th week, we have our week's leave & then return for a further two to concentrate particularly on Morse, Navigation & Armaments. That means that I shall certainly be here until Mid March before I even become available for posting. A delay of a few weeks after that point is much more common than immediate despatch, while with Observers a delay of months has been the rule. By allowing so many to re-muster as Pilots, the Observer training may be speeded up for the remainder, but I now think that I shall be here until the beginning of April at the very least, probably for longer. This station (RAF) is being inspected early next week by some big bug from high up in the ranks. We are therefore spending a certain amount of time scrubbing out our rooms & passages, having our hair cut & generally smartening things up a lot.
Five fellows in the Flight have been put on extra guard duty for feeding sea gulls from their window on the top floor of the hotel. Apparently the CO of the Station was passing underneath at the time when something fell on his hat. He looked up, saw a concentration of sea gulls around a certain window, drew his own conclusions as to the nature of the missile that hit him & marked the particular room down for a spot of punishment. When the sentence was announced & the five offenders called to account for their actions, two of them were in hospital with 'flu, one was on light duties with a severe cold & another was also on light duties as a result of trying to wash his feet in a basin which broke under the strain & almost split one of his feet in half. The remaining poor blighter therefore had to do a guard but the funny thing is that he has never fed a sea gull in his life. Despite his protests & those of the fellows who actually committed the mean despicable crime, he had to serve his sentence like a man & an airman.
I might go to a flick tonight. The 'Morlat Storm' is on & I have heard good reports of it. I must say that I don't feel a bit like work. I will stop now to catch the afternoon post. Hurry here, dearest, & let me know at once if you can possibly manage Thursday. Don't forget not to overdo things before you leave. Lots & lots of love, John



John Ross Mckenzie Valentine, “Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 26, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19178.

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