Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Continues to write about housing enquiries including options to rent or buy and possible locations and types of property. Mentions she is reading and old book about farming and goes on to describe her recent activities. Catches up with news of family and friends.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with handwritten notes


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.





Start of transcription
To Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine,
British P/W No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
[inserted] Happy birthday! If this should reach you on or near 15.4.43 [/inserted]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, N.W.4.
[inserted] R. 29/3 [indecipherable word] [/inserted]
Tuesday, March 2nd 1943
No. 51
My darling Johnnie,
I wrote you an airmail letter card [censored words] ) all about my housing enquiries last week, and intend to enlarge on theme [sic] tonight. As I said then, renting a house and 50 acres of land within daily reach of London is going to be pretty well impossible, as far as I can see. There is more hope of buying such a property, but it would cost about £4,000. It looks to me as though we shall definitely have to confine ourselves to something nearer 10 acres for a start, and even that would cost, to buy, about £2,500 or more. None of the agents seems to hold out much hope of renting. I have written to three local agents, one at Bishops Stortford, one at Hertford and the third in Ware. The Hertford one has already sent a printed card saying he has nothing but will put my name down in his books – which looks pretty blank. The others haven’t replied yet. There was a house advertised in the Times yesterday, a mile from the station somewhere near Hertford, I think, only 3 bedroom and 4 acres of land, price £3,600. You see what we are up against. Of course I shall keep up my enquiries, but I must say I hope “the very thing” doesn’t turn up before I get a reply from you, because it is bound to be more expensive than you have reckoned on, and then what shall I do? Even suppose, which is most unlikely, that I got hold of a suitable house with 10 acres or so to rent for, say £150 p.a., ought I to take it at once and if so, where on earth am I going to get the £150 p.a. from to pay for it? Moving out of here won’t save us anything appreciable, and the moving itself will cost a small fortune. Also I am not very keen on the idea of living by myself in a strange neighbourhood in the country – it is quite bad enough living alone here for half the time, you know what a goose I am for that. The other night when I came in at midnight from the factory and went into the sittingroom [sic] to lock up the Savings Group affairs I got a nasty shock – as I opened the door a pane of glass from the French windows fell out with a crash, just as though someone were making a hurried exit. I looked about and couldn’t see anything, so retired to bed with my head under the blankets (Ba hadn’t heard me come in or shout out “Who’s there”, she’s not much of a watchdog after she has been on night-duty!). I can’t imagine yet what broke the pane of glass, however nothing is missing (except the glass), so we carry on as before.
On to our future home. Please when you write your reply, consider the question of [missing words] problem of how to finance it. As I told you in my last epistle, building societies will advance up to 3/4 of the purchase price at 5% to be repaid in 20 years at the most. As far as I could work it out, if we paid for a house of £2,500 in 10 years it would cost us £300 p.a. – but I may be wrong. Anyway it is an awful lot. If only we knew whether you would get the junior partnership soon after you get back! I can’t decide whether Mr. Tate’s demise is a good thing in that respect or not. After all, you were his blue-eyed boy. It is all so hypothetical. Sometimes I feel I would like to leave the whole business till you get back, yet I feel things will be very much worse then and I [underlined] would [/underlined] like to have a home ready for you. I got in touch with the owner of the 13 acre farm near Lewes which I told you of before; he sounded very aimiable [sic] over the phone; I had told him we were interested but I must have your verdict before deciding and that would take 2-3 months, and he rightly pointed out that it was most unlikely that the farm would still be on the market then. They were only leaving because his wife couldn’t stand the hard work, he seemed very fond of the place. But I discovered that he doesn’t travel up daily, he lives here and goes down for weekends. He says
[inserted] Received your P.C. 40 of 4.1.43 this morning. Many thanks. Several letters both yours & mine seem to be missing. The factory work isn’t wearing me out – yet! Lots of love. Ursula
[page break]
it is 9 miles out of Lewes, which would be alright in a car suppose, but when are we likely to have a car again? Anyway he invited me to go down and see the place when I have your reply, if it is still available. I felt I simply couldn’t do anything else about it, since it was a case of buying, not renting as you said, cost £2,500 which is surely more than you are thinking of, and wasn’t in the counties we were thinking of either. Still, it would have had its points.
I have been reading a few odd books on farming while waiting for “Glory Hill Farm” from the library, and they all take great pains to point out that it takes years and years of experience to make a farmer and nothing but experience on the job will ever do it. This makes me wonder what age you and I are likely to be when we eventually reach that exalted estate and whether maybe we wouldn’t be wiser to confine our activities somewhat. The thing we want above all, I take it, is to live in and of the country, not the town, and to make sufficient money out of it to bring up our children decently and educate them well. I’m wondering if maybe we wouldn’t be wiser if we utilised your already specialised knowledge, accountancy, and turned it in the desired direction by your becoming a farm accountant. It seems to me that a man like you with knowledge both of the business and the purely agricultural sides (the latter you are now doubtless busy acquiring) ought to make a jolly good job of it and probably be earning more money during the years when the children will be costing most than we would ever do on a small mixed farm. Then we could live in the country, in much the sort of house we are considering now, we could keep animals and poultry, have a nice garden and orchard and altogether be thoroughly happy. What do you think of the suggestion? Or do you take a dim view of accountancy in any shape or form? One point that has worried me is this; suppose we get even as little as 10 acres, who is going to do the work while you are away at the office all day? I can’t do a great deal more than house, garden and children, since there doubtless won’t be any domestic help. If it means a farm labourer, can we possibly afford that? We can’t leave all the work till the weekends. If only we could have half an hours talk, in-stead of months and months of unsatisfactory correspondence, we could clear everything up and know what we want!
The main excitement this week has been a visit from Heath – I told you he is now Fl/Lt, didn’t I? He rang up on Friday, said he couldn’t get a room in a hotel and could he spend the night here. He rolled up at about 10.45 p.m. and we stayed up chatting till nearly 1 a.m.! He is as cheerful and irresponsible as ever, working very hard [censored words] Did he tell you about Sheila way back home who simply won’t come to heel and say she loves him? She still hasn’t and he says it gets him down though he doesn’t look depressed. In the morning Ba let off a film on him, as he has promised to send us some and took a couple of me too. The negatives look quite promising. Then Heath got all tangled up in his arrangements, for he had promised to look up another friend but wanted to have lunch with us because I’d promised him roast lamb and mint sauce and damson pie. He compromised by bringing the friend to lunch too and between them they just about polished off our week’s meat ration! However, I don’t suppose we shall starve. I only wish you could have been there! Heath sent you all good wishes and said something about writing but I don’t suppose anything will come of it, knowing him. He hasn’t written a bread-and-butter letter yet. I had an airgraph from Leslie this morning, life seems very uneventful in his part of the world he has written to you but heavens knows how or when you will get his letter We have had another parcel from Mother, she mentions several she has sent you, I [underlined] do [/underlined] hope they get through safely. There is no news of her departure yet, I’m longing for them to get home now, it seems like a step nearer your home-coming. With all my love dearest one, Ursula.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20014.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.