Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes about his sister's upcoming wedding and getting an enlargement of his photograph from Red Cross headquarters. Continues with news of her and daughters activities along with other gossip. Continues with news of progress collecting for prisoner of war raffle, gardening matters and how much she misses him.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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To Sergeant John R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No. 437,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
London, N.W.4.
Thursday, November 26th.
[inserted] 31/12 A 4/1 [/inserted]
My darling Johnnie,
The main item of news this week is of Irene’s wedding. Writing about something else, your Father mentioned that they were busy over preparations for the wedding, and I was surprised because I had understood that the wedding was off and that she had got engaged by cable to the Australian whom she met at the beginning of the war, and would have to wait till after the war to get married. But next day an official invitation came, and lo and behold, the lucky bridegroom is yet a third candidate, a quite new one on me, one F/O William Birnie, M.B., B.Ch., an M.O., presumably at her station. Anyway he is not letting grass grow under his feet, and the wedding is fixed for December 12th, at Crown Court, luncheon afterwards at the Waldorf, and I have made myself a new hat for the occasion. However, I am taking the precaution of not sending our gift until a little nearer the day, in case the whole thing is cancelled again. I have written a letter of congratulations to Irene, asking whether she would rather have something for her future home, or hard cash, but needless to say, she hasn’t replied, and so I shall send her a cheque for £3, as you suggested for one of the earlier betrothals, which will come nicely out of House Account this month without shipwrecking our finances. How I wish you could be there to meet our new brother-in-law! But I will do my best to describe him after the event. Do you remember how you always said she would marry an RAF officer, and I couldn’t see why an RAF officer shouldn’t have as much sense as anyone else? How right you were.
Yesterday I took the morning off and went up to town to the Red Cross headquarters, and had a chat about various matters with the very charming lady there whose husband is in your camp. I told her I had had a photo and she offered to have it enlarged for me, so I have reluctantly parted with it for the second time, and am looking forward to having it back again with the enlargement. It may not be particularly good of you, but my goodness, how I treasure it! Afterwards I chose some rather snappy feathers to trim the hat I have made (see above), and when it was finished was greeted with howls of derision, of course, from Barbara. However, I think it is a nice hat, and propose to wear it tomorrow to go to the bazaar at her ambulance station which is being opened by Dame Myra Hess and at which Frances is apparently to be one of the main side-shows. While up in town, I also bought a couple of coloured picture books for Frances. Lately she has been marauding a great deal in the bookcase in the dining-room, taking for choice either Liam O’Flaherty’s “Black Soul”, or a commentary on Nietschze’s “Zarathustra”, so I decided it was time she had a book of her own, in the hope she might leave ours alone. So I got a book of nursery rhymes, illustrated, and a dog story called “Ginger’s Adventures”. I meant to give them to her for Christmas, but when I got home I couldn’t resist showing her Ginger, since she is so passionately interested in all and sundry dogs, though I hardly thought she would recognise the drawings as [deleted] pr [/deleted] representing the “Wo-wos” which interest her so much when we meet them in the street. However, after a moment or two’s investigation, she gave a shout of joy and came running to me to show me the “Wo-wo”; she was thrilled to death – and so was I – and has spent a good many minutes on end since then sitting quietly poring over the pictures. Later on I shall be able to
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read her the text as well – I simply longing for that time because there are such lovely children’s books to be had, and I shall enjoy reading to her as much as I hope she will enjoy being read to. However, we must give her a chance, she isn’t 20 months yet. This afternoon I was working in the garden and she went indoors and after some time emerged with the brush belonging to the crumb tray, and started sweeping up leaves with it. I removed it, and after another pause she came staggering out again, this time with the ceiling brush, a large brush on the end of a 7ft bamboo. She certainly gets ideas! You would have laughed to have seen her the other day when Barbara launched an attack against half-a-dozen bluebottles which had been annoying us in the dining-room. She started whacking them with a newspaper rolled up, so I took another and helped, whereupon Frances, cheering wildly, seized a weapon of her own and started lashing out round the room like a baby dervish. She always enters into the spirit of whatever is going on, particularly music. How is the violin going? I do so hope you are sticking to it and are beginning to get some enjoyment out of it now. I am just longing for the day when we can play together.
There hasn’t been much doing this week worthy of report. I have been to my factory on four nights, doing various jobs, some quite interesting. The free nights are well occupied with sewing and mending. I bought a certificate out of my last pay, and hope to do so each week. Today Dudley dropped in after lunch when I was looking particularly dishevelled after doing a large wash and cooking for Frances. However, it was nice to see him again. Do you remember the last time, when he came just before lunch and nearly spoiled my cooking, and then went swimming with us? It seems simply centuries ago to me, almost in another world. He enquired all about you and asked to be remembered to you. He is a full Lt. now but still stuck in the same place.
My private fund in aid of Prisoners of War week now stands at £7.3. I don’t think I shall get much more, I have been round pretty well everyone I know. Still, I am quite pleased with the result, every little helps.
I have come to the conclusion that it is no earthly use trying to grow anything in the way of vegetables near the tree. The greens I put there have not come to anything, so I am going to use that patch for another compost heap. We have had some cauliflowers, though not very large ones, and I have harvested the artichokes too, which are not nearly so worm-eaten this time, probably thanks to the naphthalene which I dug in last autumn. My fruit bushes still haven’t come, though the nurseryman assures me they are on the way.
Do you find that the longing to be together again comes over you in waves, so that sometimes you feel pretty tough and at others you feel you just can’t stick it much longer? I am feeling at the latter, low ebb just now, and the only thing to do is to go to bed and sleep it off. I love you so much, my darling, and only wish I could demonstrate it to you somehow. I do hope some of the warm clothing I have sent will arrive in time for the winter, and that you will be able to get a good fug up in your huts. I hope you may receive a parcel or two from Mother, she mentioned that she had sent one, though the contents is very limited. Our game of chess doesn’t seem to be getting on very fast, this mail ration business may wreck it finally for us!
With all my love for always, & a big kiss from Frances, Ursula.
[inserted] I have set the rather cumbersome machinery in motion for getting your P.O.S.B book returned to me, & should receive it in a few weeks. [/inserted]



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19992.

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