Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Catches up with local news and that a number of acquaintances had passed away. Describes investigation of source of parcel he received from Sweden. Describes her and daughter's recent activities and that she had been able to get eggs recently. Concludes with family news.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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To Sergeant J.R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
No. 46
[postmark] GEPRUFT 32 [/postmark]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, London, N.W.4.
Saturday, 30th January 1943
My darling Johnnie,
No letters from you since last week, though several of them are still missing and I did so hope I should get a bunch of the all together. Perhaps I shall be luckier next week.
Things in general have been rather dull this week. The Popes next door have been having a bad time, both the old parents have been in bed seriously ill and three of the daughters are down with flu as well, including Eileen, the one who does the housekeeping, so that Madge, the one who took over the savings group while I was away, has been attempting to run the house and look after five invalids more or less on her own. I have been doing their shopping for them each day, but there wasn’t much else I could do. Little Jill has been sent away to stay with Mrs. Gabriel (I believe Mrs. Greenish took her down by train). Yesterday old Mr. Pope died, and Mrs. Pope is still very ill, though she seems to be recovering. Poor old soul, she will be lonely, it almost seems a pity that she doesn’t die now too – I know I could ask better end for us than that we should die together at the ripe old age of 75 or thereabouts with all our family grown up and established.
And now Mr. Tait has died too, this morning. I wrote to him about a week ago to thank him for his letter to you and had a reply from George Touche saying Jimmy had had a heart attack and was at home having complete rest. This afternoon Freeman rang up and told me that he had died this morning. Apparently he had a clot of blood near the heart and collapsed early today. I asked Roy guilelessly what on earth the firm were going to do, whether they would appoint another partner to take Mr. Tait’s place, but he didn’t seem to think it likely. I certainly hope they don’t – until you come home. I shouldn’t think there can be many suitable ones left. I think I had better write to Touche conveying our sympathy, just so that he doesn’t forget your existence.
In your last postcard you mentioned receiving a parcel from Direktor Hansson of Sweden, which you said didn’t contain much. I had just written a letter to Grunfeld to thank him for his help when it occurred to me that it might be a connection of your father’s and not of Grunfeld’s at all. So I rang him up, and so it turned out to be. I was surprised that Grunfeld’s friend should have sent such a small parcel! I hope that meanwhile this other one has also arrived intact, as well as the one form Switzerland. There are one or two on the way from USA, but I’m afraid that the new regulations forbid the despatch of any more, so you had better spin them out!
I have now finished Frances’s new tweed coat. It is similar to my costume (the tweed is, I mean) only in brown colourings instead of blue-grey. I have made a collar of that rust-coloured corduroy which we have had hanging around since I made myself a skirt out of it, and this evening I propose to make her a wee pair of gloves and a handbag out of the last remnants. She will be thrilled with the bag I’m sure, for she is always taking our handbags and rotting round the house looking very important with them, I’m hoping she will feel so posh that she won’t
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muck up her new coat too quickly. Yesterday Mary Simmonds and I played squash again, while Frances went to tea with David and Lally. They seem to have enjoyed themselves again, and so did we. We had a much better game, except that to end up with Mary hit the ball clean through the fanlight in the roof of the court! We have fixed up to play again next Friday and hope to make it a regular thing.
Frances and I generally spend a quarter of an hour or so before she goes up to her bath looking at one of her picture books. It is a particularly nice one which Peter and Chris gave her for Christmas, and contains large clear gaily coloured pictures of the belongings and surroundings of a small girl of her own age so that she readily recognises the objects and knows the names of them nearly all now. She also gives me spirited imitations of what the various animals, ducks, birds, dogs etc, say, points out where the letters are popped into the letter box, and demonstrates how to use a toothbrush, hairbrush etc. We have great fun over it, and I am amazed at the length of time she will concentrate on the book, generally you can’t get little children to look at anything for more than two minutes at a time. One of her favourite words jus now is “shoe” and she looks quite irresistible as she says it. I am always tempte [sic] to turn to the picture of the shoes more often than their turn!
We have been awfully lucky with eggs just recently. After a bare patch of a couple of months in which she had no fresh eggs, we have now had over a dozen, six from Priors Marston, several from the Butlers (the house on the corner of Tenterden Grove and Gardens), also our long awaited rration, and now to crown it I took some stamps to a woman at the factory whose small boy is starting to collect them and to my amazement she produced a fresh egg out of the recesses of her bag, laid by her chickens the day before. I suppose if I had forgotten to bring the stamps she would have taken her lovely egg home with her again! Last time at the factory I was working on the lathes again, which I quite enjoy but find it much more tiring than the work at the bench.
Next weekend Ann is coming to stay with me, from Friday till Tuesday. I suppose your people are going to be in the country again. I am fixing up to go to a concert with her on the Sunday, she never seems to go to any shows as she doubtless would have done at his age but for the war. There has been no more mention of the refrigerator which I mentioned in my last letter, so I suppose it won’t come to anything. Your father terrified me as much as ever when we spoke over the phone – he always gives me the impression that he is displeased with me or you or both, I hope he doesn’t feel as cross as he sounds. The Whetstone Congregational Church, who have apparently sent you two consignments of 500 cigarettes, were asking him if you wanted any special books, and he complained that you had never answered his queries on this subject, so I told him that the library was adequate at the camp and you had told me not to send books. I must ring up the Whetstone people and explain to them too – much better if they continue to send cigarettes, though your father doesn’t wish them to send too much since you are no longer a member there. You did enough work while they shouldn’t continue if they want to. Anyway I shan’t discourage them! Roy Freeman asked me to send you his best wishes and so on. He and Jackie are as busy as ever, he is still promising to come over and see us but I suggested he put it off till the evenings are lighter. It is decent of him to keep in touch with me.
Wish all my love to you & a big kiss from Frances, Ursula
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Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 24, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20007.

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