Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Acknowledges receipt of a number of his letters. Pleased her clothing parcel to him has arrived and will try and send his requirements in next parcel. Details chess moves and talks of violin strings he has asked for. Gives advice on washing socks and mentions his new more positive philosophical view of his captivity and hopes she can follow it. Writes a long description of all their many Christmas activities, listing presents and mentioning that she received a postcard from him on Christmas day.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
To Sergeant John R.M. Valentine,
British P.o.W. No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
No. 41
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, London, N.W.4.
Boxing Day, 26.12.42
[inserted] R & A 3/2/43 [/inserted]
My darling Johnnie,
I’ve got a terrible lot to tell you about since my last letter but first of all I must acknowledge more fully yours 22, 23 and 25 which arrived after I had finished my last letter. I’m so thankful the first clothing parcel has arrived intact, and will try to [deleted] [indecipherable word] [/deleted] supply the things you still need in the parcel due to go next week. List will follow. The chess moves are: Game I, me – W, you – B; W P – Q4, B P – Q4, W P – K4, B PxP (Q5 – I think it should be K5) W P – KB 3. Your move. The second Game, you: W, me B, W P – K4, B P – K4. So far, so good, but it is not very far! You asked for violin strings to be sent, 2-3 sets you hopefully said. I have arranged for 1 set to be sent off by Chappells but they cost 9/- a time, so I thought I would send another lot later on. As regards washing socks, the rules are warm water, good lather, plenty or rinsing in same temperature, and pull the feet to stretch them a bit while still wet. Try to avoid rubbing soap straight on to the sock, just squeeze the lather through them – but as you doubtless wont [sic] have soapflakes but only cakes of rather hard harsh soap, just do the best you can, pull them out well, dry as quickly as possible, then pass them on to a chap with smaller feet and I’ll send you some more! I believe Mother has sent you some, incidentally. I was most interested by your letter 23 and your very philosophic and wise view of your captivity. It makes me feel I shall have to turn over a lot of new leaves in the New Year to be worthy of you, my dearest. Sorry that Bad Boy has put in an appearance again but feel confident you will chuck him out. When I think of you so far away, and I so powerless to comfort you as I would wish, it makes it pretty hard for me to keep [underlined] my [/underlined] weakness in check sometimes! I’m glad the agriculture papers have arrived – do you still feel the same about our future plans, shall I really start looking for the house as we had imagined it in the country? You say in your letter you get swedes ad nauseam – I sympathise, for I hate the things myself, still if they had to concentrate on one vegetable, they could have hardly chosen a more valuable one from the dietetic point of view – so next time you want to spit them out, just think of the Vitamin C and swallow them down!
Now to our Christmas festivities. It started last Friday, 18.12., when Frances and I dutifully went over to Barnet to tea with Grandma and Ann; we took over the Christmas cake which I had made and iced for their family present and it was very well received, as they hadn’t another Christmas cake. We were given our present, savings stamps, 10/- for me and 5/- for Frances. We had quite a pleasant afternoon and Frances was on best Barnet behaviour. On Saturday I sent off 2/6 saving stamps each to Muriel and Robert and 5/- book token to Ann, as I thought you would like her to have an extra present. In due course Frances received 2/- stamps from M. and R, and 1/- from Ann. On Saturday took place the Christmas party given by the local Red Cross to children of prisoners of war. It was a terrific success, and Frances thoroughly enjoyed herself. There was a big Christmas Tree, a conjuror, music and dancing and games, an excellent tea and present for all, a whole bag of toys for each child. Frances got a picture book, a ball, a printed hankie, a Walt Disney doll, Sneezy, a piece of chocolate and a 3d bit! There must have been at least 50 children there just from this borough. Frances was also given a lovely green velvet dog, for no special reason except that they all love her. She did not join in the organised games of course, but danced by herself, at one time solo in the middle of the floor, perfectly oblivious of her surroundings. She ate a hearty tea, dipped her cracker in her milk, dyeing it pink and making an awful mess of her dress, and had her photo taken by Mrs. Greenish who had borrowed Barbara’s camera for the occasion. I’ll send you a copy as soon as possible. I think the Red Cross put up a marvellous show and all the children thoroughly enjoyed it.
[inserted] Had Xmas card from Heath, now F/Lt!! Jimy [sic] is back from Heal’s county & awaiting posting. Just received yours 26 – 27, many thanks. I’ve always numbered mine, see POW. No.
[page break]
Then last Wednesday Frances gave her tea-party here. The guests were Jill Lloyd, the girlie next door, David Simmonds and mother, Richard Chapman and mother, Anne Serpell and mother, and Barbara. I was very glad to see Jean Serpell again, her wee girl is 2 months younger than Frances and a very cheerful little soul. David had one of his fits of shyness and hid behind Mary most of the time, otherwise the party went well. There were presents off the tree in the drawing room, tea in the diningroom, [sic] including Xmas cake, Chocolate cake, jellies, biscuits, tarts and crackers. Ba took some photos which look quite nice in the negative, will send prints as soon as made.
For Christmas day we brought the tree into the diningroom, [sic] on the sideboard, and when I had finished piling the presents up on Christmas Eve, it certainly did not look very austere! Here are some of the larger toys Frances received: doll’s bed with beclothes [sic] (Eileen Johnson) wheelbarrow (Ba) truck with long handle (Mrs Lowe) painted wooden car with four movable passengers to pull along (Jill) painted beaker and plate, a pink pig, a monkey (eating a banana!!) a cream dog, a spotted dog, an elephant, a velvet inflatable pig, a rubber pig, a rag doll in full outfit, a hybrid animal we call Jo (Mrs. Neal) crackers (Auntie Mary and Mrs. Lowe) a rag book (Hazard) and 6 or 7 other picture books which I have put aside to deal out as required. She was thrilled with the doll’s bed and spent a lot of time putting various animals to bed and kissing them goodnight. She loves the truck and car too but can’t manage the wheelbarrow, so I am putting that aside for the spring. You can imagine how the house is littered with her menagerie at every turn – I forgot to mention the very smart golliwog which I gave her, home-made of course. It seems a small present but there were so many others I could not compete, and my big present, the doll’s pram, is for her birthday. Michael Bowack also sent a bib. I had a grand lot too, a red crocheted shopping bag, a diary for 1943 (I have been wondering on which page I shall write “Johnnie came home today”) a big bottle of Florida water (something like eau-de-cologne) a book of GDH Cole on postwar [sic] Britain, all these from Barbara plus a pair of woollen stockings which she is knitting me; three binders for my copies of Housewife from Peter, a book of prose and poetry about the country from Catharine Mair, a notebooklet [sic] from the Grunfelds, not to forget the lovely fur-backed gloves which Mother sent. Unfortunately Daddy’s presents for birthday and Christmas have not arrived as his letter of instructions to the bank went astray! Ba gave me some bathsalts [sic] too but as we had forgotten to get anything for Chris we hastily wrapped it up again and presented it to her when she and Peter came round to toast the season in ginger wine and mince-pies. Of course we didn’t go in for turkey, they cost anything from £2.10 upwards, but had a very nice roast veal and then Christmas pudding. I also had some notepaper from Auntie Mary, I forgot. I gave Ba mostly photographic things, Peter got a silver Eversharp pencil whjich I bought second-hand but undamaged for 5/-I
There were quite a lot of cards, one from Olga says Jack is coming home on sickleave [sic] having had a spell in hospital. Fred Don wrote asking for your address, I was glad to hear from him and hope he will write you now. I also had a photo of her small daughter from Ann Doxford (now Warren-Davies) do you remember her, very charming intelligent fair-haired girl whom I met in Italy, you met her here once before we were engaged. I was very pleased to hear from her again, her Charlotte Ann, now aged 2, looks sweet. Leslie by the way is about half way between Jack and Mother and I shouldn’t think he is at all busy just yet.
The best surprise of all on Christmas day was a postcard from you! No. 28 of 16.11. wishing us all a happy time. I was so thrilled, and I do hope one of my letters reached you on Christmas day, there must be plenty there. I will write to the Mr. Cole you mention, also Jean Leuchars. Today Frances and I have been to tea with the Hazards, just to round the festive season off. Had note from GAT saying allowance is now £7.4.11, (12.16.5 less HSA 1/9, Inc. Tax 5.9.9, rise in RAF child allowance 1/- weekly). So house a/c now gets 3.14.11.
With all my love, & may 1943 see our dreams fulfilled!
Yours for always. Ursula.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 16, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20000.

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