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 activities and domestic matters including making chutney and marmalade as well as going to Red Cross meeting to receive mementos her for work done on penny a week club. Continues with description of church service arranged for next of kin of prisoners of war. Catches up with family news and still hoping that Frances will not get measles.



Temporal Coverage



Tow page typewritten letter


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To Sergeant 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.
October 19th, 1942
[inserted] R&A 11/11/42 Rubber Stamp GEPRÜFT 32 [/inserted]
My dearest Johnnie,
My time seems to have been occupied since I last wrote to you with things directly or indirectly connected with you. On Friday we all three went to tea with Bish – who counts as connected with you I think. It took us an awful long time to get there and back compared with the short time we were there, and I really think that in future he will have to come to us – because he doesn’t have to hurry to bath and bed at 5 p.m.! however it was probably worth while from Frances’s point of view because he presented her with a woolly ball and an amazing woolly duck. It is about a foot long and ten inches high, knitted in two incredible shades of yellow and purple; it had a red cardboard beak too, but of course that didn’t last long in Frances’s hands. However it is soft and cuddly, and Frances seems to take it quite as a matter of course – not having studied a real duck, I suppose.
On Saturday I had a particularly hectic morning, doing the washing making chutney with 4 lbs of our own green tomatoes and some apples, also making marmalade from the skins of the above apples and skins of three of Frances’s oranges and at the same time and at frequent intervals going out to the garden to try to persuade Frances to take her morning snooze – which she stubbornly refused to do. With the result that in the afternoon when we went, with Mrs. Greenish, down to Brent Bridge hotel to a Red Cross meeting, she was tired out and dozed through most of the speeches, which was perhaps wise of her. This meeting was called to present mementos from the Duke of Gloucester to those who collect regularly for the Penny-a-Week fund, which I have been doing since June. It is not much extra bother for me because I work it in with the savings group. The memento consists of a rather pop-eyed photo of the duke with the inscription: “H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester wishes to record his grateful thanks to Mrs. U. Valentine for help so generously being given to the Penny-a-week Fund for the Red Cross & St. John” – the name being typed in, of course. We each had to go up separately to receive our memento, and Frances came with me and the County Organiser for the Red Cross said a few kind words about your being a prisoner. Afterwards tea was served and while I was trying to have mine Frances escaped, disappeared for a time and was then perceived making a flank attack on the platform, with the Red Cross big-shots waving her on. She was pretty good on the whole, as it was hardly the sort of entertainment to appeal to her. In the evening Mrs. Hazard came round, as her husband was fire-watching again, and we had a pleasant chat and she spent the night here.
Yesterday, Sunday, I was present at a big meeting and church service specially arranged for next-of-kin of prisoners of war. It was held – the service was – at St. Martin’s in the Fields, and the church was absolutely packed out. The Bishop of Southampton conducted the service and gave the address; he was a prisoner in the last war so he knows something about it. Afterwards we all went over to the Coliseum, where we were seated according to the camps of our prisoners, so that I was surrounded by
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mothers and an aunt of chaps you probably know. The meeting was addressed at some length by Christine Knowles, founder of the Books and Games fund, and by Lord Elton, a prisoner of the last war, Dame Sybil Thorndike, the Bishop of Southampton and an R.C. prelate. A lot of it was interesting, and somehow it does one good to get together with others who are going through the same troubles. Apparently an enormous number of people applied for tickets and had to be refused, so I was lucky to get one. I felt a bit chewed up afterwards. Some film company was constantly taking photos, so maybe I shall appear on the screen! The whole thing was broadcast to the Empire too, so it was quite an affair.
I actually remembered to send your Mother a telegram from you, me and Frances on her birthday, and she rang up to thank me and seemed really pleased. I hope you agree that that was sufficient, I will try to give them all some little thing at Christmas, but really with almost everything rationed and with so many better causes to support, it doesn’t seem right to give presents to grown-ups. Your people are going down to the country, probably till Christmas as your father is taking a holiday – I gather he is feeling pretty run-down. Ann will be boarding and will probably come to me for the weekends, which I shall enjoy. Talking of better causes to support, there is going to be a special Prisoners of War Week at the beginning of December, and I have decided to raise a fund in aid of this. The only way I can think of at the moment is to make a couple of Christmas cakes and raffle them and perhaps one of the Christmas puddings too, people are sure to want to buy those! The local Red Cross are getting up a number of functions but I don’t suppose I shall be able to attend many of them because of Frances.
Frances hasn’t come out in spots yet though she still has a cold and cough, so I am hoping very much that she will not get measles. She certainly doesn’t look ill. I have just knitted her a jumper in grey and emerald green out of scraps of wool and it suits her very well, specially with her red corduroy skirt – the same material with which we upholstered her high-chair – remember? She has now been harnessed to the war-effort in the capacity pf picker-up of acorns which are useful for supplementing pig and hen diet. she certainly doesn’t stick at the job for very long, but on the other hand she doesn’t pick up anything but acorns, which is rather intelligent of her. I have recently taken to letting her play alone in the nursery in the mornings before I take her to town and she has accepted this arrangement gracefully. I find it less work to clear up an unholy mess in one room than a series of messes all through the house! Also I can keep the nursery a bit warm for her while the rest of the house is being cleaned and is chilly. Florence is still with me, thank heavens, though her aged aunt is constantly being “took queer”, and I am afraid that if the old lady finally pegs out and Florence inherits all that she expects to, she will leave me at once and start to squander her inheritance on her idea of riotous living. She is quite good with Frances, puts up good-humouredly with having her brushes and dusters pinched and hidden and doesn’t fuss her about or attempt to spoil her.
I have got my coupons and label for your next parcel, to be sent on 30.12.42, so I hope you will let me know just what you want and don’t want. God bless you and keep you safe, my darling.
With all my love, as always.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 4, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19984.

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