Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Acknowledges arrival of a batch of his letters and informs him that a friend is out of the service as she is expecting. Answers points that he raised in his letters and glad that he has accepted the money spent on new cabinet. Discusses his suggestion of renting rather than buying new house and talks of future plans. Mentions his concern that daughter is getting spoiled and states her own views on matter. Says he should not worry about her job and then goes on to describe recent activities.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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 455,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
From Mrs J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
London, N.W.4.
[inserted] R&A 20/15 [/inserted]
Sunday 4th April 1943
[inserted] rubber stamp [/inserted]
My dearest Johnnie,
Another gorgeous batch of mail from you this week, Nos. 49 to 53 and the card for Bill Birnie, which I have duly forwarded with a note of my own. The chief news from that quarter is that Rene is out of the service, for the one good and sufficient reason; which is scheduled to arrive sometime in October. I have written offering to lend her my Karrikot, bath etc, and I hope she will not be stiffnecked over it and go and buy all sorts of unnecessary stuff which Bunty and I could supply. Apparently Bill is likely to be going overseas in a few weeks.
Now to answer points from your letters. I am glad the music has arrived and I will of course see to the dispatch of a supply of manuscript as soon as I can get up to town. You can’t think how proud and honoured I feel that you are working so hard at the violin for my sake. I fully realise the difficulties you are up against, I know it is an extremely difficult instrument, and considering that you get no encouragement or assistance I think it is really grand of you to stick at it as you do. Please don’t give up, even though you feel disheartened sometimes You are such a darling.
You remark that in a snap of me in a black dress I seem to have some ”flowering shrubbery” over my head. I don’t know what this can be unless – oh unkind thought – you are referring to the photo of my new brown dress in which I am wearing MY NEW HOME-MADE HAT. If so, the above mentioned phenomenon would be the snappy blue feathers which adorn the said hat.
I am glad you have swallowed the £45 for our Queen Anne walnut cabinet. I am sure you will think it worth it when you see it, it will really be an adornment of our future home. I note what you say about renting and buying a house. It would certainly be safer to rent, only it seems so hard to find anything suitable. I don’t think it would be possibly [sic] to get anything approaching your specifications to buy for £1000. After all, this house cost nearly double that, and though ours needn’t be so big, it can’t be completely primitive and besides we want some land. You will have gathered from other letters of my mine [sic] what sort of prices are being asked. However, I am not going to take any active steps till my parents are home, when I shall be freer. I have I have begun reading “Glory Hill Farm”, which is certainly very interesting. But it seems to me that we can’t very well hope to do anything as ambitious as that. For one thing, the man had capital, and for another he had more time to devote to it that [sic] you will have, working ordinary office hours in the City, and the child was old enough to be off the mother’s hands so that she could be useful as well. And furthermore, we shall never find a bargain like that at this stage of the war. The more I think about it, the more I feel we shall have to be content, for some seven or eight years to come, with just a house in the country and a couple of acres, an orchard perhaps, a goat and some chickens. This won’t be much fun for you, I realise, still we have got to start be getting our family established and collecting some capital. you will doubtless be very busy at the office to start with, spcially [sic] if you are made a junior partner, as I very much hope, and I hope I shall be equally busy with the family. After that we shall be able to make up our minds with some knowledge of post-war possibilities. Do tell me what you feel and whether you really want me to stick for as much as 10 acres, which we certainly shan’t get £100 p.a. for £1000, and don’t
[page break]
forget the labour that it would take to work all that land.
You raise once again in your letters the question of Frances getting spoilt and I have been thinking about it hard. I realise of course that the danger may increase when my people are home, though heaven knows my mother is used to bringing up children and certainly never spoilt us (or do you think she did?). I think maybe we differ on what we mean by “spoiling”. Personally I think a child needs above all things to be loved, not fondled and caressed all the time but to be quite sure that her parents love is always there. Frances won’t stand for petting and really doesn’t get it, you can rest assured, but every now and then she shows her affection in the sweetest and most spontaneous way and then of course I kiss and hug her too. I am sure she needs this, and if I were always firm and unbending with her, the bond of sympathy and understanding between us which is the most important factor in family life would not develop as it should. The “spoiling” which I consider so harmful is to forbid a thing and then give way to tears or wheedling. I find it best to make as few rules as possible and those must be strictly reasonable, but once I have laid down the law I do stick to it and Frances has learnt already that she doesn’t get anywhere by tantrums. Several independent witnesses have told me that they find her very obedient. Personally I don’t count obedience so high up in the scale of virtues as initiative or intelligence or generosity, but it does make life easier for me. As for presents being lavished upon her, there is not much fear of that these days. Those she does get are mostly indirect, i.e. clothes from Mother or woollies which friends make up for me. At Christmas time I impounded most of her new toys and give them out gradually and shall do the same at her birthday if she gets too many. As for the “effusive terms of endearment” which you discourage, I must plead guilty to “Poppet” and “Cherub”, but considering how adorable she is, that’s not bad! still I will remember what you say and do my best to keep the atmosphere antiseptic when my parents are home.
You needn’t worry one bit about my job. There are very few accidents and anyway, I never work on the machines now but at the bench. I go 3 times a week, [censored words] and it is within walking distance. I really enjoy it and am thank-ful [sic] to have found some warwork [sic] to fit in with my timetable. All the same, it is lovely to know that you are concerned on my behalf and approve of me – most people are so busy here that there is no time for patting each other on the back.
As regards my activities this week, I have been to the dentist and had 2 of the 8 stoppings done. It is going to be quite an expensive item, still I must have it done. On Wednesday we had another of our discussion group meetings at Mrs. Boyd’s when the ex-mayor came and spoke to us about the workings of the borough. He was a bit long-winded but very jovial. We are thinking of calling ourselves Women Citizens of Hendon. The initials are a bit unfortunate, but no better suggestions were forthcoming. People seem keen on the idea and I hope the group will expand. On Thursday I took Frances up to Daniel Neals and bought her 2 pairs of shoes, one for best and a pair of sandals. They are big enough to last through the summer I hope, since they cost nearly 25/-! On Friday I played squash with Mary Simmonds and on Saturday we went to Nicolette Oppenheimer’s 1 st birthday party (you remember Clare, the friend of Catharine’s whom you met at the Mair’s, her husband David I mentioned once before, a most objectionable youth in my opinion). Today we have been to tea to Barnet and had a very cordial reception and a pleasant afternoon. Frances was on true Barnet Behaviour.
All my love to you my own darling. Don’t let your periods of depression get you down, it will all come right in the end.
Always yours Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 23, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20020.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.