Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine



Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine


She writes a long family history about her involvement with German friend Mrs Stenzel who was on her way to the united States through the UK but was interned in Holloway and then the Isle of Man as she had a son still living in Germany. She was then reclassified after a tribunal as a friendly alien and released. Writes about photographs and baby Frances.



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Five page handwritten letter


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August 18th
Darling Johnnie,
I was duly enraged, as I suppose you wanted me to be, to receive your two VR badges. My only consolation is that when you get your commission you’ll [underlined] have [/underlined] to wear the brass VR’s – [underlined] & [/underlined] polish them!
Today at long last I had a letter from Mrs Stenzel. She is hoping to arrive on Friday of this week, & will send me a wire if all goes well.
As regards her history it is as follows:- Wife of Dr Julius Stenzel, rather famous professor of Kiel, Halle & sundry other universities in classics, & author of various erudite books chiefly on Plato which Mrs S. helped to write. She is a Dr in her own right too (also classics) & is the sister of Dr Mugden, now deceased (1919) the father of the Mugden family with whom I had an exchange after I left school. The second son Klaus [inserted] Mugden [/inserted] came here for 3 months & then I went there in the summer of 1934 before proceeding to India. Otto Stenzel, Mrs S eldest son, used to visit the Mugden's, & the two daughters Anna & Marie were in London at that time & I got to know them too. They are now in U.S.A. and so is Jochem, the younger son, whom I first got to know in Italy.
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It was actually thro’ Otto that I went to Italy. I was wanting to learn another language & was thinking of a Scandinavian one for a change but had no connection or means of getting there, when Otto suggested Italian & said his brother was there & would doubtless help me to get a job. So I went & he did. That Christmas (1937) I went from Italy to Berlin to stay with the Stenzels (the father by the way died some years ago) for a fortnight, a nasty drear city it is too, good job if the RAF does knock it down, tho’ the lakes & woods round about are lovely. Mrs Stenzel also came to stay with us here once when Mother was here & when she (Mrs S.) was on her way over to America to visit her children, or at least Anna, I believe Maria was still in England then. Now she is once again on her way to America, but it is taking a jolly long time to get here. She came over, leaving Germany for the last & final time, shortly before the war, 1939 I believe – you remember I had some bother with my MP to get her application attended to. Her name is on the list for a visa to USA but I’m not sure how soon she’s likely to get it, or whether she can get a passage if she does. When she can, she’ll go of course. Her other guarantor over here is Dr Harold Balme, of Harley Street, who knows her because his son David Balme went over to stay with the Stenzels while
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Dr Julius Stenzel was still alive for coaching in Classics, & Maria also stayed with them when she was over here. David Balme is a classics don at Cambridge & now in RAF as pilot.
When you write to your people you might as well harp on her children in USA, specially Jochem who has volunteered for USA army. Otto is presumably still in Germany, but of course she has no news of him. It was on his account that she was interred, because I suppose the authorities thought that with one son in neutral America & the other in the enemy’s camp she might be a potential danger. However she is heart & soul with us, in spite of her treatment over here. Her stay with me may quite well be short, all too short for my liking, if there is any chance for her to get over to U.S.A. & now that she is free naturally her children over there will do everything they can to get her over. She is about 60 I should think, very intelligent with a serene philosophy which has brought her without any bitterness thro’ a very unpleasant & sad time. I’m sure you’ll like her.
I’m sending you the cake today in spite of your protests, because I made 2, & am keeping one for us. I’m sure you’ll manage to consume it somehow.
By the way, since Mrs S. has been over here her
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story is as follows. Tho’ you needn’t recount it all to your people. She went to live with David Balme & his wife who had a small baby, & stayed till David joined up when they couldn’t afford her, so she went to Mrs Balme senior, & while there had to fill up some form about her antecedents & on the advice of Mrs B & against her own judgement she didn’t mention Otto. Later in conversation with some friend of Mrs B. she mentioned Otto, & this woman asked if the police knew she had a son in Germany & when she said “no” & explained why, this woman informed the police & she was clapped into Holloway forthwith. After a time she went to Isle of Man & was eventually released without explanation. She then applied for & got a job in some family but when she went to the police for the necessary permit to work, they looked up her records, found she had been interned, & promptly arrested her again, once more with no explanation. She was again in Holloway for a time, then Isle of Man, & has now at last been before a tribunal again & definitely reclassified as Friendly Alien, so that she should be alright this time. Never once has she been charged with any crime or infringement of rules & regulations, in fact she has never been able to get out of the authorities exactly what she is detained for. It is the usual muddle & prejudice. However we hope its over now. At Port Enis she has been giving classes in classics & philosophy & generally making herself useful.
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My photos are ready at last but are a dismal set of failures. Luckily the one of you holding Frances is good of both of you, & I’m going to get it trimmed & enlarged. I enclose the only ones that are worth looking at. Please return them sometime.
I seem to have written quite a screed for a change. Frances is lying out in her pram cooing adorably as a gentle reminder that its almost time for her lunch. I must take her down to be weighed again today. You’ll get quite a shock when you see her if she goes on growing at this rate.
When you’ve written to your people about Mrs S. let me know what you’ve said, will you? I haven’t heard from them for weeks, but the phone is hopelessly out of order so maybe they have rung up in vain.
All my love to you darling one. I’ll send off the Left Done Club book sometime soon.
Yours always
[underlined] Ursula [/underlined]
Apparently Grindleys told Mother she’s over £100 overdrawn so something seems to have gone wrong. However she’s fixed it now, according to her last cable.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter from Ursula Valentine to her husband John Valentine,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19607.

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