Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes of her daily activities with savings group, family/friends and their daughter. She asks about his mail allowance and continues with domestic news and mentions local Red Cross is organising meetings for next of kin of prisoners of war. Concludes with plans to send photographs to him.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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To Sergeant J.R. M. Valentine, 1251404
British Prisoner of War,
Stammlager Luft III

From Mrs J. R. M. Valentine,
Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, London N. W. 4
July 25th 1942, Saturday
No. 8
My darling Johnnie,
I feel rather guilty about this letter because I wanted to write it originally on Wednesday, but I had rather a backache so as Barbara was at home I stayed in bed, and had to do the Savings Group in the evening, so the letter did not get written. Since then there hasn’t been a moment, believe it or not.
I posted No. 7 to you on Monday, and next day I went over to Colindale to see about the pushchair I mentioned in my last letter. It was in good condition, though rather larger than I should have liked, but anyway I paid over the 25/- and brought it away. I was able to fold it up and have it on my knee in the bus, so you can tell it fairly compact. We haven’t actually made an expedition with it yet but that is because there has been no opportunity.
In the afternoon I took Frances up to the Clinic to have her weighed and inspected. I saw Dr Leitch, and she seemed to think that Francis was doing well. In the evening I was present at the Annual General Meeting of the Savings Group Secretaries, at Golders Green. It was quite amusing, the Mayor presided, and we passed quantities of resolutions and amendments, amid much argument. The whole business is going to be organised into innumerable committees and subcommittees, and there was endless discussion as to the composition of these various committees, but nobody made it clear what all the committees were going to do. Perhaps that isn’t important!
On Thursday Leslie rang to say he was on 14 days leave and could he come to tea. It was good to see him again, looking fit and brawny as ever. I expect he will go on a voyage soon. He came to tea and played with Frances, and afterwards while I was bathing and feeding her he mowed and trimmed both lawns, making them look highly respectable. He stayed to supper, and later in the evening the Hazards came over, by previous arrangement, to have their photos taken prior to David’s being reft from the bosom of the family. Barbara took one of Leslie as well, a very jolly one which your family probably won’t like, but anyway I am going to send you a copy with one of my next letters. The portraits of the Hazards are good too, though of course Barbara isn’t satisfied with them, but Mrs Hazard saw them today and seemed genuinely pleased. Poor Barbara had a harassing time of it because Mrs Hazard kept up a running fire of comments and instructions to the sitter, specially when it was David, constantly telling him to sit up, or smile, or turn one way or the other, so that Barbara’s instructions could hardly be got in at all! However it all went off with great good humour and chaffing, and as I say the results are pretty good. Mrs. Hazard has gone crazy on tomatoes this year and has got no less than 200 plants in her garden, so that if they only bear even an average amout [sic] of fruit she ought to have 700 or 800 lbs, and what she proposes to do with that lot, heaven knows! Most of the plants she grew from seed, which accounts for the vast number. My modest dozen are coming on slowly, I have bought some fertiliser to put on them today.
[page break]
[Hand written] Can you only write one letter per week or can you send a postcard too? If it is only one I shall grudge it when you have to start answering outsiders! Perhaps you could send messages through me? [/handwritten]
The other day I saw some quite large clematis at Cater’s so I invested in one, at a cost of 3/-, and have planted it by the drawing room window by that disused clothes line post, with a view to training it up there. It seems to have taken satisfactorily, and will be a sort of wedding present for your Mother, since we can’t send her anything she would like.
Yesterday little Jill from next door came round with another lovely toy for Frances. It is a little cart full of wooden bricks, and drawn by a painted wooden fawn. I’m very glad that she has got some bricks now, though she hasn’t yet mastered the whole art of building. She spends a lot of her time now climbing up and down chairs and steps, and today she mastered the steps up and down from the kitchen door to the garden. The other day she was upstairs by herself and started to cry, and on investigation I found she had climbed on to the nursery chair and couldn’t getdown, [sic] so she had made a pool there and was sitting in it, much to her discomfort! I nearly always take her out of the pram at the corner of the Grove now and let her walk the last bit home by herself. She enjoys it and it is a considerable help to me to have the pram lightened up the slope.
Last evening Eileen Johnson came over to bring me back the vest for Frances that she had been finishing and to collect some more wool to make another. It is a great help to me to have these things knitted up for me, and she says she has spent all her coupons and so has nothing she can knit for herself, and she likes to have something on hand because she gets idle time at her work. She hasn’t yet had any news of Frank but is very hopeful. What a joke if he were with you!
I wrote to Mr. Floyd quoting your first letter and had a very nice reply from him, from which I rather gather that he already knew the worst. He asked if you would care for a postcard portrait of Philip, I am writing to say yes, since it is only polite to do so, and maybe you would actually like one. Of course I’ll keep it here for you.
The local Red Cross are organising meetings every few months for the next of kin of prisoners of war, to compare notes, I suppose, and photographs if any. I missed the last meeting because I didn’t know about it but have put my name down to be informed of future ones. I have already got the coupons and labels for your next parcel, which must not be sent off before 30th September, and your Mother has offered to knit three pairs of socks, so I am going to buy the wool and send it to her this afternoon. She has gone back to the country now, to stay for a couple of months and Ann has gone too. I invited Ann over here last weekend but as your Mother was still up in town she thought she ought not to come.
Next weekend Eileen Johnson proposes to bring Brighteyes’ girl-friend Peggy over to meet me. Brighteyes is nearly through his job but doesn’t expect to get home. Eileen always treats me with the utmost deference, brought me some lovely red and pink carnations when she came yesterday, never refers to me or you by our Christian names and is altogether very humble. It is really quite funny!
I have several photos to send you now, so will enclose one with each letter to spread them out a bit. I haven’t heard from Heath about those six films, I do hope he has hasn’t gone for a burden. [sic]
[handwritten]With all my love to you, dearest, I’m longing for your next letter, no 3. Yours always Ursula.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 6, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19962.

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