Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Reports arrival of his letters and postcards and that she has at last received his prisoner of war number. Writes of results of her efforts to recruit friends and acquaintances at home and abroad to send him food parcels. Mentions arrival of heavily censored letter and is thrilled to hear about his beard. Reports visiting the Red Cross prisoner of war department to enquire what was being done about conditions in his camp and problems with clothing. Writes of what she will include in future parcels and of plans for moving to new house. Catches up with news of family, acquaintances and baby Frances.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with handwritten annotation


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.





To Sergt. J.R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, London, N.W.4.
Wednesday August 12th 1942
[Inserted] Rubber Stamp GEPRÜFT [/inserted] [inserted] 6/9 [/inserted]
[deleted] undecipherable word [/deleted]
My darling Johnnie,
Today I received your letter No. 10 and Postcard No.9, and on Monday I got letter No. 8 and postcard No. 7. I am afraid I am going to pay for this lovely profusion of correspondence from you by a blank of several weeks! Your letter No. 10 is dated 14.7.42, so it has been pretty quick, and it at last has your p-o-w number. Pity I didn’t get it in time to give to all the people we have got in touch with over parcels for you. I received your letter No. 4 appealing for food parcels just over a week ago, and as I told you in my last letter, immediately got busy on the problem. In your subsequent letters and postcards you have mentioned several people I might apply to, and in every case I had already written to them! The results are as follows:-1) Grunfeld has written to Krakenberger in Switzerland, but is not too hopeful, as food is restricted there. However, Frances and I are going to stay with him this coming weekend, and maybe she will lure him into doing more. 2) V.Z. doesn’t seem to think he can do anything, chiefly because he can’t send money out of the country. He doesn’t appear to have friends abroad that he could ask to pay for the parcels themselves. He wrote a very friendly letter, and I think would have helped if he could. Maybe he is chary of transgressing the law again! 3) Tait has written to the partners in New York and hopes they will send regularly. 4) Aunt Bertha has written to her daughter Anna to send monthly consignments if possible. I shall pay Aunt Bertha. 5) Mrs. Hillman has produced a friend in New York whom she thinks will help, and we have both written. 6) Ba’s friend Saz has a friend in New York whom she thinks she can rely on to send regularly, she is a big noise in the American Red Cross, or something. 7) I have written to my first boss, now in New York. 8) Mrs. Novelle and Mr. Turner are getting in touch with friends. But the main hope seems to be your father, who as usual has influential friends in all the key spots. He will doubtless tell you about what he has done himself.
The only gap in your correspondence so far is No. 6. I hope it turns up. No. 8 (letter) was heavily censored; part I could gather from the context, but another sentence, a request for something I think, was blacked right out. Better put your requests more obliquely. I am thrilled to hear about your beard – I shall never forget how distinguished you looked when you came back from the Pyrenees! I imagined you had a razor, since you asked for shaving soap but not for the razor. However I will send a safety razor in the September parcel.
I went up to the HQ of the Red Cross Prisoners of War Department yesterday to ask what was being doen [sic] about conditions in your camp. They seem to have it well in hand, and one lady whose husband is with you said he reported he was then (14.7.42) receiving Red Cross food parcels, so I hope you get some too. I told them about the sorry state of your uniform, and was told that supplies will eventually get there. I cannot send you suits of clothing, and have none of your uniform here, as it was apparently removed, together with all other RAF property, from your kit before it was sent back here. However I will send walking shoes in the Sept. 30th parcel, though you should be able to get boots through the Red Cross. There are so many things I could send in your parcel that I grudge enclosing anything that could possibly be got to you by any other means! Any deficieny [sic] in weight (10 lbs) can be made up in chocolate, so that is another reason for not sending non-essentials! In your next
[page break]
parcel I am sending 2 tablets of antiseptic soap, that stuff you used to have for your feet. I am not able to send any medical supplies, but am anxious you should have some sort of antiseptic in case of infection, specially skin diseases. So keep this soap carefully and use it in case of need. I’ll try to get more to send later.
I loved the suggestion on our p.c. 9 that I should acquire a rural residence for our own. Of course I could not move out of here till Mother and Daddy come back, but I shall begin to make tentative enquiries in the Hertfordshire Essex districts. I had thought you would not want me to do anything till you are back, and am honoured that you would entrust me with such an important enterprise. Even if I did not actually move in on my own, there would doubtless be endless work to do preparing the place and getting it furnished. It is quite a thrilling thought, and I do hope that something suitable may turn up. Have you any ideas as to price or acreage?
I’m so glad that at last you are getting mail from home. I write regularly twice a week, sometimes two letters, and sometimes one letter and one airmail letter card or postcard. On Monday Barbara sent off a batch of good prints of her latest efforts on Frances and me, I do hope they arrive in good condition and that you like them. By the way, you need not waste your limited letter space asking for photos! We are straining every nerve to get films and paper, and send everything to you as a matter of course. Most of them are taken specially for you.
Yesterday I sent off a couple of novels to you through the Times Book Club, viz “Kristinlavransdatta” by Undset, a Norwegian story which I very much enjoyed when I read it, and “Gone with the Wind”, both calculated to take your mind out of the present. I wanted to send “War and Peace” but couldn’t get a copy. You ask for German grammar and dic. I had already written to the Red Cross Educational Books Section about this, but haven’t had a reply yet. I can’t sent [sic] books straight from home but only through a shop. I haven’t yet managed to get a copy of Watson & More’s “Agriculture” for you but have written to the Education Officer at your unit and await reply. The man Harvey whom I have often mentioned is a F/O at your unit who did all the letterwriting [sic] to me about your kit etc. His letters sounded nice always. It was he who sent on the letter you had deposited for such an emergency, and I’m afraid he read it first – it had been opened anyway. I suppose he had to censor it. Thank goodness I am not likely ever to meet the man, I should blush for him to see how far short I fall of all the wonderful things you wrote about me.
I’m sorry there is so little chance for Norman. I am not going to tell Vera, though I rather think she has given up hope by now. Her baby son seems to be doing well and she writes very happily of him.
Frances has recently taken to pointing up at you picture [inserted] which [/inserted] stand [sic] on the canteen cupboard, and smiling and saying “Da-da”. I always take the photo to her then and let her understand that I love that person too – she really seems to know that there is something special about it. We went to tea with Mrs. Lowe yesterday, in the pouring rain, and tried out the folding pram for the first time. It is a very handy thing for such trips. Today we went to tea with Mary and David Simmonds, tomorrow two of Ba’s friends are coming here, and on Saturday we are off to Wimbledon for the weekend. Gay life! I dug the first lot of potatoes for lunch today, only 3 roots but the potatoes are lovely and big and taste really grand. They are Epicures, and Mr. Howie is right about them. have been gardening this evening, weeding the front and planting out wallflowers.
By way of a photo this time I am sending an old favourite that came back with your kit. I look forward to wearing that dress again at our coming reunion celebration! It is almost 11 p.m. now and you will be thinking of me, as I am of you I love you tremendously, my darling.
Your for ever Ursula.
[inserted] Chess P – K4. [/inserted]
[inserted] I’m so happy to hear you are a ‘good boy’. Keep it up! And I’m very glad you go to the church service regularly. Don’t worry that nothing shattering happens, faith has to grow. I pray for you always.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 19, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19968.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.