Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes long account about his sister's wedding, describes his new brother in law and mentions many people she met. Catches up with other family news and tells of her other activities. Mentions letters received from Switzerland and Sweden about parcels sent from there to him.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
To Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine,
British P.o.W No. 450.
Stalag Luft III, Germany
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
[inserted] 17.12.42 Just received 2 letters & pc 22,23 & 25!! Will answer next time [/inserted]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
London, N.W.4.
Wednesday 16th December 1942
No. 40.
My darling Johnnie,
The great event this week as, of course, Irene’s wedding, which took place according to plan last Saturday, 12th December, at Crown Court, with lunch afterwards at the Waldorf – very much like Bunty’s wedding, in fact, though probably not so large. Irene was dressed in white, rather to my surprise, I had thought it would be a uniform wedding. However, she had the traditional gown and veil, and a bouquet of pink roses, and looked very nice. The bridegroom was in uniform, of course, and though on an occasion like this one doesn’t have time to form close personal friendships with one’s new brother-in-law, he struck me as a mild and aimiable [sic] sort of chap, easy to get on with. He is 32, I am told, about 5’ 10” or 11”, ordinary build, and going very bald back from his forehead, about which he is said to be very sensitive. He comes from Aberdeen and speaks with a marked Scottish accent, and told a long funny story against himself after lunch about how he found a halfpenny in the mud coming out of Barnet tube to meet his parents-in-law for the first time, which he keeps as a lucky omen. His [deleted] a [/deleted] face creases up rather nicely when he smiles – otherwise there is not much I can say about him, for I didn’t get time to speak to him much. I gather that he has not got [missing word] practice but intends to buy one after the war. I don’t know anything about his finances of course. Still a doctor is assured of some [missing word] a living. His parents were not there, but he was backed up by a small brother in naval ratings uniform and a sister, also small and dark. I liked his best man the best of them all – he is also a doctor from Aberdeen in practice in London, in H.G. uniform, a very decent chap.
It was a lovely day for the wedding; I wore my new woollen dress and hat (home-made) – of which a photo will arrive in due course I hope, adorned with the silver necklace and marcasite bracelet and ear-rings which you gave me. Strange to say, I arrived early, and met good old Stewart, who had got the day off and travelled down all night and was then engaged in ushing. [sic] He is a captain now, and full of beans and elaborate funny stories, as usual. It was nice to see him again, and he was very friendly with me. I was put about 3 pews from the front, but when your mother arrived she graciously waved me forward into her pew and there presented me to Mrs. Kerridge, alias Jean Valentine, now the proud mother of a 5 months’ daughter called Inga. We got on very well together I think she is a charming girl. Bunty rushed in at the last moment, looking very harassed and I soon saw why, when Ann and Muriel appeared as bridesmaids. They were dressed in ordinary frocks and carried posies, and Muriel behaved herself with a gravity and decorum beyond her years. She is not quite such a little tub as when last we saw her. Mr. Moffat took the service, and a woman with a very powerful contralto sang two solos. Half a dozen WAAFS formed a guard of honour down the aisle. Afterwards we trooped round to the Waldorf and had a pretty good lunch, limited as to courses naturally, but not as to wines, since there was sherry, white wine, champagne, brandy and Kummel constantly flowing. The first toast after the loyal toast was to “Absent Friends”, rightly enough considering that besides you and Leslie several other prisoners and men overseas were being drunk to. Mr. Shearer (? Spelt right?) proposed the happy couple’s health, and Bill replied with the aforementioned funny story. Irene wasn’t forced to speak, as I was; and
[inserted] Thank you so much for your dear card of 29-10-42, No 24.
[page break]
was altogether let off rather easily, I thought. While they went off to be photographed afterwards, I was introduced to various people, including the Shearers, who agreed to have a binge to celebrate when you and their boy come back, the Calders, Mrs. Selley, Mrs. David Balfour, Mr. & Mrs Brown from somewhere in the Highlands, and that insufferable man Colin something or other whom you met up in Stratford and who used to take Irene and Jean Crichton out. I have often heard you speak of him, but never imagined anything so toad-like! Pat Fullerton was there too, and of course all these people inquired after you in detail and sent you their good wishes. I had a copy of that nice photo of Frances in the bath which I sent you with my last letter, and showed it to those who seemed interested. Your Mother tells me that Ann has got a boy-friend, a youth of 17 now at Edinburgh Academy, and his mother and sister were there. This boy writes to Ann every week, and Grandma was twitting his mother about being Ann’s future mother-in-law – so it looks as though there will be no maiden aunts on that side of the family! Ann looked very sweet, but I didn’t get much opportunity of speaking to her. Of course there was no mention made of the theatre ticket episode. Frances and I are to go to tea at Barnet next Sunday, and I shall then take over the Christmas cake which I have made and iced for a combined Christmas present for them. Irene took an interminable time to change into her uniform after the photographing, and the proceedings dragged rather, though enlived [sic] by cups of tea all round, and it was about 4.30 p.m. when we eventually waved them good-bye and the party broke up. they have gone up to Scotland for their honeymoon, and are lucky to have a fortnight’s leave [censored words] so they are really very lucky indeed. I sent them a cheque for £3, as you suggested, and had a very short acknowledgment from Bill – I expect they had an awful lot to do in the short time they were in London before the wedding. Altogether I class Bill as a very harmless brother-in-law, whom we doubtless shall never see very much of for I should think Irene has got him very much where she wants him. She didn’t show any marked signs of being in love, but then I suppose she never would. Anyway, if they are anything like as happy in their marriage as we are, they will indeed be fortunate.
The rest of my activities have been very domestic. I painted the doll’s pram outside and inside with black stove enamel and it now looks pretty smart and almost as good as new. Mrs. Greenish is keeping it in her box-room till Frances’s birthday. I have also dismantled your bike, taken the wheels off and stowed it away neatly in the workshop so that there is actually room to turn round in there now. On Monday I had a session in the garden; I had promised myself that I would get a man to prune the blackberry and loganberry, because they are such thorny brutes, but nobody seemed to have time, so I pitched into it myself, dressed up in macintosh, gumboots and gauntlets, and found it not nearly so complicated as I had feared. You just cut out the old wood as with raspberries, and it all looks much [deleted] d [/deleted] tidier now At the same time I am gaining valuable experience in pruning on Mother’s bushes and ought to know something about it when at last we get our own!
I have had two letters from Herbert G. recently telling me of parcels dispatched to you from Switzerland and Sweden. They sound jolly good, I do hope they arrive safely. He and his friends are really being extremely good to us – I count it quite as much a favour to me as to you, since it relieves my mind tremendously when you report receipt of these parcels. There should be another on its way from New York too. Unfortunately Nilson was not able to find any trace of young Frank in Sweden, so it looks rather black for Eileen. It is nearly 6 months now since he was missing. The Red Cross have enlarged the snap you sent of yourself and Frank Pepper, it is not a very good photo, still I am very glad to have it.
With all my love & a big kiss from Frances, Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 19, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19999.

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