Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula



Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula


Number 29. Mentions he has had no recent letters from her. Writes of health issues effecting his activities but he is keeping on with violin. Mentions camp duties and difficulties organising other prisoners, Goes on to explain that life in camp is difficult and busy with responsibilities.



Temporal Coverage



Two page handwritten letter


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From Sgt JRM Valentine
POW No 450

To Mrs U M Valentine
Tenterden Gardens,
London NW 4

No. 29 20-11-42
Darling Ursula: No further letter from you since the arrival of the flood liberated by the lifting of the mail ban. My only mail has been one from Mrs Howie, whom please thank for remembering me. I haven’t been feeling too fit for the last week or more having had a nasty spell of diarrhoea. Fortunately, it is abating but I’m afraid that my studies have been neglected for I have had no inclination to exert myself. However my efforts on the fiddle were not interrupted despite the difficulties of finding suitable room for practice. I’m afraid progress is terribly slow & if I am here for any length of time & do not allow my enthusiasm to abate you will be extremely disappointed at my standard when I return. However if it does nothing else it passes many hours in a more or less congenial manner. A musical expert here is running an informal class of 1 hr per week on “Rudiments of Music” which I attend & find most fascinating. The various barracks of this camp take turns in acting as “Duty Block” for 1 week when they do all the jobs of work necessary for the maintenance of the camp & we are in the middle of our turn now. It is a wretched week for me because I have to supply the men as/when called for by our hosts. A POW loses all incentive to work even for his own benefit & I have no real authority over my men being of the same rank as most & junior to some (F/Sgts & W.O.S). Consequently I have to exercise the maximum of tact & curb my temper for often they adopt a most offensive attitude to my call for labourers. Its most trying & uphill work for which no bouquets are awarded. I shall soon have completed my 1st 6 months as a POW & I can honestly say I hate the life - hate every single minute of it. Of course most of the fellows here have been prisoners for much longer & I admire immensely their fortitude. You might imagine it to be a pleasant indolent existence with nothing to do all day long but be on a bed & read a book or sleep. But it's quite different from that. The sense of confinement, lack of comfort, loss of freedom, separation from kith & kin & ignorance as to day of liberation are ever in ones thoughts. This seems to be a gloomy letter which is not what I intended for I feel no worse than usual or anyone else. I think of you constantly & am always remembering the things we have done together – a constant source of joy. What date in May was the end of my last leave i.e. when did I see you last? Give Frances a kiss from me & my love to Ba Always yours John



John Ross Mckenzie Valentine, “Letter from John Valentine to his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 1, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19231.

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