Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes about photographs of daughter and describes weeks events, including her birthday. Mentions looking at furniture for future home and buying a tray for Christmas present. Continues with description of her other activities and news of daughter's doings.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
To Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, London, N.W.4.
Thursday, 10th December 1942
[censored word] [inserted] 39 [/inserted]
[inserted] R & A 1/2/43 [/inserted]
My darling Johnnie,
I seem to have had a very hectic week since last I wrote to you. Barbara has been having a week’s holiday, and as you will see from the enclosed photos, has not been entirely idle. I think the big head, printed on the cream paper, is one of the loveliest pictures we have of her, and it is an extremely good likeness. All four were taken in the bath, under worse difficulties than usual owing to the cramped space but they seem to be none the worse for that. In the one in which she is standing up, she was actually dancing one of her hula-hula dances for us. I do so hope they arrive safely, for I am sure you will be glad to have some photos again after this rather long pause caused by the camera breakdown.
I suppose the outstanding event of the week was my birthday - for me, anyway. All my presents came from Barbara, except a 2/6 gift token from the faithful Auntie Con, and a year’s subscription to “Housewife” from Peter (besides the jars which he financed for me some time ago). Barbara produced an imposing array of gaily wrapped parcels, chief among which was some very lovely hand-made note-paper (I would use it in writing to you only the sheets are smaller than these!), a copy of the Bressey-Lutyens report on the replanning [sic] of London, which is extremely interesting and exciting; one or two things from her bazaar, notably a very striking pair of crocheted slippers in puce and green, big enough for a polar bear but beautifully warm, a china ashtray, a filigree brooch and two little clips, and a garden table-cloth; some nice sealing-wax from Frances, and, purporting to come from you, a most beautiful and expensive book, “A World History of Art”, which will be a valued addition to our library and a source of endless pleasure to me, and to you too I hope. Apparently Ba wrote to you some weeks ago to ask if she should give me something in your name but hasn’t had time for a reply yet. Now she has decided that this lovely book is to be her present to you for your birthday and Christmas (it cost 30/-!!), and in the meantime I have got it. It seems a lot of jiggery-pokery to me, but whosoever present it turns out to be, I am certainly thrilled to have it.
I had my present on Monday the 7th, because that evening a friend of Ba’s was coming to stay for a few days so we thought we would get the presents out of the way. She duly arrived in the evening, a girl of about 20 whom Ba used to know up in the north and who is now in the WRNS. On Tuesday she and Ba went up to the West End to spend some record tokens, have lunch and go to a show, and yesterday, Wednesday, was my day off, when Ba and Betty took charge of Frances. I went up to town with the idea of getting you and me a Christmas present from us both, and started off at Heal’s. It had to be something for our future home, of course, so I started wandering through the chair department, and was absolutely horrified to discover that the price of ordinary decent easy chairs is now anything from £25 each upwards! Worse still, there are not going to be any more made with proper springing and upholstery, so I really felt I ought to see about getting some. There was nothing much to be had in Heal’s, so I wandered disconsolately down to another department, and there
[inserted] Have now got your P.O.S.B. safely locked away. [/inserted]
[page break]
I fell in love with a tray which after some hesitation I bought for our Christmas present to each other. It is a lot more than a tray, because it consists of a wooden frame which will match well with our English walnut furniture, holding six hand-painted tiles, white with very lovely little pastel scenes on them. As I said, I fell in love with it, and I do hope you will like it too. It set us back 7/-, but I think will be a real decoration for our home.
After that bagatelle, I went on the greater things. The problem of chairs was really worrying me, so I went into one or two other shops in Tottenham Court Road, and in one called Wm. Spriggs & Co. Ltd. found two smallish occasional chairs, second-hand but remade and upholstered by the firm themselves in a brown and cream cloth. They have wooden arms, and properly sprung and upholstered seats and backs, one is more upright than the other, nice for me when knitting and sewing. In short I have bought them, the smaller for £5.15.6 and the larger £7.12.6. It seems an awful lot compared with pre-war prices, but they are bargains now. They are being stored and insured free of charge for 6 months, and I am hoping that when that is over I may possibly have a house in view to put them into. I am looking forward eagerly to your letter about buying our future home, and now that my parents are definitely expecting to come home in the spring, I hope I may be able to set about the business in earnest. If I come across a bargain in big easy chairs, I think I ought to buy them, although the problem of storage is a real headache. I am proposing to finance the two chairs I’ve already got out of Inc. Tax account, since there is a surplus there now. Is that O.K.?
Afterwards I met Mary Simmonds for lunch at the Leicester Square Quality Inn, and then we went to see Jack Hulbert and Cicely Courtneidge in “Full Swing”. We got central seats in the gallery, and thoroughly enjoyed it, it is killingly funny in parts. In the evening we both had to turn up at our factory and do a solid 5 hours work, so that by midnight I was pretty weary, but pleased with my day’s work.
This afternoon we have been to tea with Mrs. Lowe. I told you about Frazer having his right leg amputated above the knee, didn’t I? He has made an amazingly quick recovery and today for the first time went out alone in the car and seemed to manage quite alright with only one foot.
We have had a young friend of Ba’s staying here this week, and last Sunday Eileen Johnson came over for one of her afternoon and evening sessions – we went out for a walk in the afternoon and worked at our various jobs in the evening. She still has no news. The fruit bushes have arrived at last and I have planted them in the top patch beyond the ramblers. They look nice sturdy bushes, 4 gooseberries, 4 red and 4 black currants, and I have told my parents that they are our birthday present to them.
Perhaps this letter will arrive in time to bring you my love and best wishes – you know what I wish for most! – for our third wedding anniversary. What a marvellous day that was for us! – and how I am looking forward to our second honeymoon, quite as much as you are.
You will be sorry to hear that your daughter has started making up already! The other day I found her in front of my dressing-table, powdering her face with a very professional air with the puff from my empty powder-bowl, and then to my amazement she took the little red shovel which I use for filling powder-compacts and proceeded to rub it over her lips like a lipstick! She doesn’t often see [underlined] me [/underlined] do that, so she must be pretty quick in the uptake.
All my love to you, my darling, and may the New Year make all our dreams come true. Yours Always / Ursula.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 19, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19995.

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