Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Describes photographs of Christmas celebrations she is sending and mentions suit she is making suit for daughter Frances. Continues with description of wedding anniversary present her sister has chosen from him and writes of her other activities, various news, the weather, gardening and asks for his ideas on house purchase.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with handwritten additions


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To Sergeant John. M. Valentine
British Prisoner of War No. 450
Stalag Luft III, Germany.
[ink stamp]
From Mrs. J. R. M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
London, N.W. 4.
Wednesday January 13th 1943
R4A 4/2/43
My dearest Johnnie,
Here are the photos of our Christmas celebrations, such as they are. I shouldn’t be surprised if you tear up the one of the Christmas tree, it is pretty rotten of us all, but first observe the golliwog in front of the tree, and also Frances’s fair-aisle jersey, made by Barbara. You can see that Frances has a will of her own, but she doesn’t often struggle wildly like that. Peter and Chris both look remarkably soft. However, I thought I might as well send it to you, you can always throw it away. The other two were taken at Frances’s party. In the one taken at the tea-table, Frances looks as though she is going to pinch whatever Jill has on her plate – do you know Jill, the little girl next door? The child in Frances’s high chair is Anne Virginia, the Serpell infant. I think she is like Christopher, but when your Mother saw the photo, she said she was every inch a Crichton! Anyway she is a jolly kid. In the third photo Frances takes the centre of the stage, Anne Serpell the foreground, Jill on the settee, the small boy is Richard Chapman and behind Frances is Jean Chapman, his mother, a rather ineffective person with a very dim personality, quite unable to cope with Richard when he is in a temper. Frances and I went to tea with her last Thursday, she has a flat across in Mulberry Close – but I told you about that in my last letter.
I have been very busy over the weekend making Frances an all-in-one suit with a pixie hood. I decided she must have something really warm at once, and didn’t want to rush at making up the nice material I bought last week into her best coat and leggings, it needs to be done carefully. So I seized upon my blue-green tweed divided skirt – do you remember, I wore it up in Scotland for our honeymoon when we were climbing? The moth [sic] had begun to get into it, and I saw no prospect of using it for climbing and hill-walking for a good long time to come - and anyway I never really liked it much – so I thought I could make it up for Frances. I had a considerable job wangling the suit out of the pieces when unpicked and washed, for I only had a pattern for a child of 6, however it all came out right in the end, and I got it finished on Sunday night, and on Monday off we went to town to show it off to whoever would look. Frances is very taken with it, can’t decide whether the hood is more becoming up or down and so constantly alters it. She wears the wee black gumboots with it and is really very snug. Barbara has taken some photos of her wearing the outfit, which may be printed and ready to send next time.
Barbara has chosen a most exciting present from you to me for our wedding anniversary. It is a necklace made of green and gold glass whatnots strung together and twisted up to make a very pretty and decorative necklace. It goes very well with my new woollen dress, for which it was primarily intended, but it is an asset to a lot of other dresses and jumpers as well. I’m afraid it cost nearly 30/- but I suppose that is for you and Barbara to settle, I am not supposed to worry about that! Barbara has taken a photo of that as well, which will be sent in due course. Two of her friends came to tea yesterday, brother and sister, to be photographed and I was wanted to help with the lights so of course Frances had to be present too, prancing about among the tripods and flexes, upsetting things and dashing across in front of the camera at the critical
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moment and making it all very difficult, however the results seem very satisfactory as far as I can see from the negatives.
Poor Mrs Neal is laid up with muscular rheumatism, and as both the children have gone back, I am helping her out by doing her shopping for her. Florence is away with a cold and the spring cleaning is due to start any time now, so things are looking up! I am going to do it in easy stages, for I cant possibly turn the whole place upside down at once while I have Frances on my hands. But I do want to have it finishes before Mother comes, that will be upheaval in itself! I am looking forward ever so to having them back, it will make things a lot easier for me in many ways. I should be able to go to the factory every night then.
Frances has added one or two new words to her vocabulary recently. One is “thweetie”, which she whistles like a little bird several times, and expects a sweet by return. Buttons she calls “bungs” and mittens ( which she wears on very cold days) are “mingys”. Do you remember that wooden box with holes in the lid and little wooden shapes to drop through them, which we got her the Christmas before? Brought it out the other day and she got the idea at once and spent quite a time popping the cubes and sticks through their appropriate holes.
I have been reading a book called “The Blood of the Martyrs” by Naomi Mitchison, about Rome in the 1st century and the early Christian martyrs. It is very well and vividly written, and I really enjoyed it. This evening, while I had my tea, I was looking through the book, World History of Art, which you gave me, via Barbara, for my Birthday. It really is a marvellous tome on a fascinating subject, and I think I shall start on that next. It is rather a forbidding size, similar to Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but that shan’t stop me.
The other day I had a charming letter from Heath Gatteys’s mother. I had written to thank her for sending the baby powder, and she had replied with this very nice Christmas letter. It is somehow very touching to get such kind letters from unknown friends at the other end of the world. Heath has come off ops, she tells me, but is due to start again soon. Imagine him a FL/Lt though, I can’t get over it! Cousin May has sent me a couple of pairs of wee green socks for Frances, and asks me to send you her love.
It has been like a real spring day today, though I expect we have a lot worse to come yet. One wallflower in the garden has mistakenly started to bloom! There were some lovely anemones and primroses in a shop today but a small bunch cost 3/- or 4/-, so I reluctantly passed them by. I saw a rather good thing in the local furniture shop the other day, where we bought the second-hand high chair; it was a small divan bed, for a child measuring 5’10” by about 2’6” or less; they are being made in the shop there and will cost complete with overlay between £4.10 and £5. Considering that ordinary divans now cost anything from £15 upwards, I thought it would be a good idea to get one of these when they are ready, specially if they will store it for us, for Frances to have when the cot at last becomes occupied with later editions. It would serve her well till she was 15 or so and not take up too much room in her bedroom which I would like to furnish as a play and work room for her as well. I shall have to go and see about it, I think.
[random text in side margin] Do give me your ides on house purchase – especially The [two indecipherable words [/random text in margin]
[random text in bottom margin] is seems [underlined] ages [/underlined] since I had a letter from you. I hope something comes soon, God bless you my darling. Keep fit & cheerful & work away at the fiddle! With all my love for always, Ursula
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Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20004.

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