Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes about sending him socks and other items as well as about the activities of daughter Frances. Mentions she has been appointed fire-fighting group leader and been asked to do some secretarial work. Continues writing of fruit bottling, jam making and catches up with news of friends. Mentions problems of house hunting on her own that there is a Red Cross meeting of prisoner next of kin coming up. Concludes with statement that daughter Frances seems to recognise him in photograph.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with handwritten annotation


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To Sergt J.R.M. Valentine
British Prisoner of War No. 450
No. 19
[ink stamp]
From Mrs. J. R. M. Valentine, Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, N. W. 4. London
August 31st, Monday 1942
My Darling Johnnie, I felt I ought to have received another letter from you this morning, but the postman stubbornly refused to hand one over. Instead he brought a parcel from your Mother containing the three pairs of socks she has knitted for you out of some wool I sent her, and I have sewn names on them and now they lie ready to be incorporated in your nest parcel, due to be sent off on September 30th. I have already assembled a massive pile of things I hope to send in this parcel, and I am afraid quite a lot are going to get left behind. However, I think it is wisest to put everything out as I think of it.- I keep them in the wardrobe in the back bedroom, and the things that are unlucky just have to wait for the next parcel.
Your Mother also sent a rag doll for Frances, which she bought at a local sale. It is very well made, has brilliant red hair and wears a snappy outfit, vest, knickers, jumper, skirt, hat and shoes in pale green wool. I am putting it aside for the moment, because Frances is still too young to appreciate the joy of dressing and undressing her dolls, and this one is well constructed for that purpose. So it will probably appear on the Christmas Tree, and meanwhile she is still fond of her teddy and two dogs, and is beginning to enjoy playing with some of the bricks and wooden toys which Jill, from next door has given her at various times. Jill often comes in to play with Frances, and although there is too much differences in their ages for them to play together properly , they play independently quite satisfactorily and seem to enjoy themselves. Frances gets quite as much pleasure out of putting things away as out of getting them out, and I am trying to teach her to help tidy up the various messes she makes. Yesterday she twice got hold of my box of pins and spilt them all, and each time dutifully picked up about 5% of them while I cleared up the rest. One bad trick of hers is to pop anything that happens to be handy into one orr other of the coal scuttles in the kitchen, so that when we come to make the fire we have to be careful to remove such items as the best silver spoons or the kitchen scissors before putting the coke on.
I have this evening been appointed Fire-fighting group leader’s secretary, an honorary and not very arduous post. Mr. Greenish came in to say that as things are getting more and more organised and involved in the customary forms and red tape, he would be grateful if I would occasionally take down his letters from dictation and type them for him, which of course I am glad to do – it will help to keep me in practice, for one thing. He has managed to get unofficial permission for watching now, we must sit up actually dressed and awake all night when fire watching now, we must be dressed but can sleep so long as we can turn out at a moment’s notice, which is much more reasonable. I am supposed to be on until 2 a.m. tonight. It is 11 p.m. now and I want to write to Mother afterwards too, so I don’t suppose I shall be ready for bed till pretty late.
These last few days I have been bust bottling fruit and making jam. I made a strange concoction yesterday out of orange and apple peels, cooked together, strained and made into jelly with strips of orange peel added to make it look like Golden Shred. It tastes good.
[random text in margin] Received warrant for £113.10 interest on my defence bonds today, which is better then the proverbial poke in the eye with a burnt stick! [/random text in margin]
[page break]
I had a letter from Olga B-P this morning, Jack has been grounded for a while with a perforated er drum, but is back on ops. Now, and she only hears irregularly from him. Vera Bowack wrote to say that the Red Cross now presume Norman to have been killed, so I am afraid it really is hopeless. I’m so sorry for her, but I hope she will marry again some day, she is young and attractive. She has gone back to Lady Cottage now, and is coping with her small son Michael on her own
Sue Eldred, Mrs. Sansom’s sister, came to supper again yesterday and brought me some soap and chocolate . the day before Clare, Catherine Mairs’s friend, suggested we should go swimming and Barbara said she would look after Frances, but when we got down to the swimming pool we found a long queue waiting to get in, so we called it off and came back. I have never known of a queue there before, but it was exceptionally warm weather.
There was a particularly maddening, know-all article of Joad’s in the NS&N this week on religion, a subject on which he can hardly claim to have first-hand knowledge. He lays it down that there are two alternative ways for the church to canalise the re-awakening religious feeling now becoming evident; either to enter the political field, back up regardless of their belief or unbelief; or to raise its standard higher, insist on its dogma, tighten up its discipline, and generally become more mystical and other-worldly. Personally I don’t agree that these two mutually exclusive. It would obviously be fatal for the Church to renounce its fundamental beliefs and say it didn’t matter whether you believe in them or not – it would be nothing but a sham charitable institution if it did – but I don’t see why it should not insist entirely on its creed and super natural authority, and yet come out strongly in defence of a social programme which is the logical interpretation of its ethical teachings. Do you?
I am rather doubtful about the wisdom of my going house hunting on my own. Just supposing I should come across a suitable house, I couldn’t move in, as I explained in my last letter, till my parents are home, which seems likely to be about the same time you get back (blissful day!) and supposing I were able to find tenants for it in the meantime it would probably involve us in a good bit of money for repairs and maintenance, because their rent would presumably go towards paying off the building society, or whoever puts up the cash. Of course it would be a great advantage to have a real house so that I could start getting furnishings for it. Shall I really plunge into the whole business and put it into the hands of a house agent, or do you think it will involve us in unreasonable risks? if I got a house but couldn’t get tenants for it, how on earth should I be able to pay off the mortgage then? Please think the matter over in detail and tell me what you think – I won’t start on it until I hear more precisely from you.
The local Red Cross have arranged a meeting of next-of-kin of prisoners-of-war from their district to take place tomorrow week, so I think I shall trot along and see if there is anyone else in your camp from Hendon, besides your room-mate. I believe the next-of-kin wear labels bearing the name of their prisoner’s camp, so that they can get together
I am positive that Frances really does recognise you from the photograph standing in the dining-room. Nearly every time she is put up in her high chair she points at the photo and smiles and says Dad-dad, and then I get it down and let her touch your face, and we agree that you are the nicest man we know. I rather hope you will have got rid of your beard before she sees you, so that she can recognise you and give you a real welcome. I love you so much, Johnnie my darling. God bless you & bring you back home safely! I am yours for always - Ursula
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Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 22, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19973.

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