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 letters and postcards from him. Mentions his health and that she had asked Red Cross to send violin strings to the camp. Mentions there would be no further private food parcels from the United States and some other countries as they were forbidden. Offers banter about domestic chores and suggests he needs to buy her an electric washing machine. Continues with description of her activities and news of family and friends.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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To Sergeant John R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Germany.
No 45
From Mrs JR.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, N.W. 4.
Saturday January 23rd 1943
[postmark] GEPRUFT 65 [/postmark]
My darling Johnnie,
I have two communications of yours to acknowledge, a letter No. 32 of 3.12 and postcard No. 34 of 11.12. 30, 31 and 33 haven’t arrived yet, so I live in hope of more. I gather from your postcard that my letters arrive out of order too, still it doesn’t matter so long as they all reach you in the end. Sorry to hear you had a streaming cold at the beginning of December, I hope you managed to throw it off quickly and didn’t get saddled with a cold for the whole winter. You mention using Argotone – is this some that the Red Cross sent at my request or did the camp supply it? I went up to Red Cross headquarters last Wednesday and while I was there I asked if they would send more sets of violin strings to the camp, since I suppose if the camp leader has a stock you can get replacements as necessary. I will send off another set to you personally as well soon (when my finances will stand it!) I will thank Grundfeld for the Swedish parcel, I understood it was a rather expensive one they were sending, so I am disappointed that you say it didn’t contain much. I am afraid that there are not going to be many more private food parcels, export from U.S.A. is now forbidden and from most other countries too and I don’t think there is anything I can do about it. I don’t think you will get any more from Mr. Clark either. However, as long as the official Red Cross parcels get through regularly I suppose yo [sic] will all manage to keep going but things are bound to get worse as the end approaches so cheer up!
When I read in your letter 32 the section bewailing the amount of time taken up by “dull domestic chores” in your day, I uttered a dry sardonic laugh. Well, now you know what it is like, now you know what I am up against, except that I have ten times as much to do and then Frances on top of that. I hope your experiences of the daily round, the common task, may inspire you to buy me an electricwashing machine, when such things become available at last! Talking of that, Frances and I went over to Church End to meet Grandma and Ann at the end of last week, and among other things your Mother mentioned that their old refrigerator (they have recen [missing text] bought a new one) is still at Moffats and she said she would ask Mr. Moffat if he could repair it and keep it for us. I wasn’t at all clear on what terms we should get it, buy it by instalment presumably, or what it would be likely to cost, still it would be marvellous to have a refrigerator, and I suppose they won’t come back on to the market immediately after the war. So I said enthusiastically that we certainly would be interested in the proposition, and it now remains to be seen whether anything comes of it or not. I have also contacted Mr. Hearn, the man who has our piano. He has written to say it is quite alright. And Frances and I are going to tea there tomorrow week to see for ourselves. I am trying to get hold of the piano tuner who said he would undertake to do the necessary repairs on it because I really do think Mr. Hearn ought to carry out his side of the arrangement since he has had the piano free of charge al this time. I shal [missing text] have to be very firm with him.
I’m so glad that you find the theory of music so fascinating. Mathematical brains usually do, though I must admit that the theory that I did when I was at school left no very lasing impression on my mind. You
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will be able to put me right on many tricky points now. I do hope the violin tutorial books have arrived by now so that you can find out for yourself some of the things that your teacher doesn’t teach you – I only wish I knew more about it and could help you.
Last Thursday was quite memorable in a minor way, for I played squash! It took about five years off my age (though not much off my weight I am afraid) and I thoroughly enjoyed it though it wasn’t a very brilliant game. I played with Mary Simmonds, and Frances went to tea with David in charge of Mary’s nanny (known as Lally). It is a very satisfactory arrangement, the children love it and are not difficult to look after together as they get on well with each other; Lally said Frances behaved very well, (except that she broke into the sweetie cupboard once or twice and also took a cigarette – “It’s alright, Lally, she’s not smoking it”, said David); while Mary and I very much enjoyed our freedom. Mary hasn’t played much, she and her husband started to learn against each other and neither has had lessons but she is quick and good at ball games in general and we had neither of us played any game for ages so that it was quite hectic enough. However, we hope to make it a regular thing, weekly if possible, and I am sure it would do me worlds of good if we could. One is so inclined to get buried under ones domestic duties when there is no husband or other comic relief!
David Hazard is home on leave just now; his foot is in plaster, he looks as though he has gout! Poor boy, he has been in hospital for five months now, and they still don’t seem to know what they are trying to do with him. I took Mrs. Hazard some sugar, raisins and a tin of butter to help the celebrations, and this evening Frances and I went over to tea there. We had to break all the rules for this once, for tea was at five; however we left soon after six and Frances was in bed and asleep at about half past, having eaten an enormous tea of chicken sandwiches, break and jam, chocolate cake and jellies. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and kept the company amused. The Hazards are coming over here tomorrow evening, to play some of David’s new records – he always buys Strauss’s waltzes!
I went to see a Ginger Rogers film last week, “The Major and the Minor”, very amusing; the other film with it was so awful I came out at 3p.m. so it didn’t take up much time. On Monday I cut my thumb and finger while opening a tin, not a very big cut but rather deep and when Ba had finished bandaging me up I could do very little with my hand so couldn’t go to the factory in the evening. I couldn’t sew or knit either, so I decided to make the best of it, put my feet up and spent the whole evening reading – heavenly The book you gave me for my birthday, all unwittingly, is really marvellous and fascinatingly interesting; it is a World History of Art, and will keep my leisure hours filled for a long time to come. The finger and thumb are healed now and I went to the factory on Wednesday and Friday. I had a seriou [sic] financial blow this week, my savings group kitty was short be a solid pound. I must have dropped it somewhere, in the P.O. probably, anyway there is nothing for it but to make it up myself. It is Peter’s birthday this week too, I am giving him savings stamps, so altogether I am in low water! This is where my earnings come in useful, though this is the first time I haven’t put them straight into savings. I have been doing a bit of springcleaning this week, particularly washing blankets while the weather is propitious. I have also bought a piece of real Irish tweed from Mr. Turner, similar to my costume, out of which I hope to wangle a coat for Frances. As a rule he has no short lengths to sell as all his stuff comes in suit or costume lengths, so this was just a lucky snip.
God bles you, my dearest. I send you all my love, as always. Ursula.
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Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 18, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20005.

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