Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes of making cakes for prisoner of war raffle and collecting contributions round the neighbourhood. Catches up with friends news and mentions offer from chartered accountants library to supply professional material. Writes of other organisations that help prisoners of war. Continues with descriptions of daily activities and that she is planning to make a political scrapbook to cover events that censors do not allow in her letters to him. Concludes with domestics, news of daughter and Christmas greetings in case this letter was delayed until then.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with handwritten additions


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To Sergeant J.R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No 434,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
From Mrs Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, London, N.W. 4.
Friday 6th November 1942
My dearest Johnnie,
It is nearly a week since I wrote to you now, in which things in general have been looking up. On Monday Mrs. Hazard came over and helped me ice the two Christmas cakes I have made to raffle for the Prisoner of War Week – they look very jolly and professional now, and I have been touting one of them round and selling tickets – I have got about 30/- in one day and am by no means at the end of my acquaintance yet. I was doing it yesterday, a beastly wet afternoon, and collected savings at the same time. First I called on Mrs. Thorsfield, the Canadian who lives near the Homers; she was most affable, not to say gushing, and I think she must have been half seas over, though it was only 3.30p.m. Anyway she gave Frances an apple to keep her quiet in her pram and dragged me indoors to regale me with rum punch, talking very volubly all the time. However, I got some money out of her and then proceeded to the Turners, where Frances brazenly Frances asked for “Bickie, bickie”, and it was all I could do to stop Mrs. Turner pressing a whole half pound on her! Then we went on to the Noyelles, and Mrs. N was just having a cup of tea, so we were invited in there and Frances made a hearty meal off a slice of chocolate cake while I had cups of tea – I then we had to hurry home as it was nearly 5 p.m! You see what an arduous job it is! Today Barbara has taken the books of tickets with her to the ambulance station, so I am hoping she will have sold a few tickets for me by tomorrow. Stanley Lee, the drapers shop, are raffling a really gorgeous doll for the same cause, and of course I have taken a ticket in that too – I should really like to win the doll for Frances, it is most sumptuously dressed.
Roy Freeman rang up the other night for a chat but hadn’t much news of your friends. I had a letter from Vera Bowack, who is probably going to move into Cheltenham, where she has many friends and will be better off for the winter than at Notgrove. She didn’t mention Norman, so I suppose there is no hope. Jack B-P and his friends seem to have been doing wonders and won’t be wanted there much longer by the look of things. I have also had a letter from Herbert G, who has written to his Swedish friends on your behalf. Mr. Tait wrote this week too saying he had had a letter from the secretary of the Chartered ‘Accountants’ Library in Edinburgh asking if any of their members in prison camps would like to be supplied with professional literature. I promised to pass on this offer to you and let him know when I have your reply. I thought it might be possible that you would like it in order in to coach others who are interested in accountancy. So let me know if you would like any professional books of this sort. He mentioned that Niven had sent off a parcel to you but was having difficulty in getting the necessary licence to send others. Saz Gunn’s friend seems to have got over these difficulties as I believe I told you in my last letter, and hopes to send five monthly parcels.
Last Tuesday Dame Myra Hess, no less, rang me up and said she had been talking with a big noise in the Prisoner of War Department and had told this lady about you and the thin time you went through. She gave me the name and number, and I duly got in touch with her, she was
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very kind and sympathetic but naturally being of the organisation she cannot send extras to individuals. She read me a number of letters from fellow prisoners of yours, and asked me to get in touch with her if any future difficulties should arise, and she would do all she could. It may well be useful to have a good connection there, so I am very grateful to Dame Myra. Wasn’t it sweet of her to remember us? I also asked the lady if I could send you a quilted sleeping bag, as you asked, but she says it is against the regulations to send anything padded, so I will hope the warm rug I sent in your September parcel will meet your needs. I am hoping I shall get a letter soon with another list of wants, otherwise I shall probably fill up your December parcel with all the wrong things too! It is so difficult to know what is useful to you. However, I will send shoes this time.
On Tuesday I popped up to the West End, primarily to look for the above mentioned quilted sleeping bag, which I couldn’t get, luckily as it turns out. At the same time I sent off an order for 1/2lb Cut Golden Bar and 200 Players through Selfridges; this is a present from my Aunt Margaret, mother of my cousin killed in the Fleet Air Arm and the wife of the uncle who gave me away at the wedding; she tried to send off a consignment but wasn’t able in the country where she lives, so sent me a cheque to do it with. I do hope it arrives. While I was there I gravitated to the toy department and saw a dear little wheelbarrow which Barbara had wanted to get for Frances’s Christmas present, so I got it for her. I think she will have great fun with it.
It suddenly occurred to me with considerable force yesterday that when you come back you will of course know nothing about what has been happening all these months in the realms of history and politics which I am not allowed to write about. So I have decided to make you a political scrapbook, chiefly with newspaper cuttings, to give you a birdseye view of recent history. I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it sooner, but fortunately I had a great sack of waste paper outside which had been patiently waiting for months to be called for by the Red Cross. So last night we got this thing in and proceeded to burrow through it for interesting news. The thing that thrilled me most was to find the full reports of your raid, which I was too harassed at the time to cut out, for I am sure they will interest you and our grandchildren. So the scrapbook will start from then, will be pretty sketchy for the intervening months because I have missed some important things and will, I hope, be duly kept up to date for the duration. If you think it is too school-marm-ish idea, let me know and I will drop it!
Did I tell you that I have now at last finished my woollen dress from the material mother gave me? Last Tuesday Irene G. and her fiancé, the physicist Ba does photography with, came to dinner, so I plucked up courage and wore the dress for the first time – always a trying occasion with a garment you have made yourself. However it seems to be generally approved of, and I feel happy in it, which is the main thing.
Frances is looking very bonny now, she has thrown off her cold at last and has lovely pink cheeks again. So I took her to the Clinic this afternoon to have her weighed – over 28 lbs now. Dr Leitch told me that Felicity now has another wee daughter, born a week or so ago. I do so envy her, I long for another baby now. Than k goodness for Frances, anyway.
[hand written around the letter margins]
Just in case this should reach you at Christmas time you know I’ll be thinking of you very specially and wishing you as jolly a time as possible. To our next Xmas together! With all my love Ursula.
The address is Mr. A.P. Cliff 7 Hatherdon Nr Andover.
Saturday morning. Just received your 20 of 20-9-42 Many thanks. Will [?] detail next time.
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Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 26, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19988.

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