Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Reports arrival of his letters and a postcard. Comments on his description of bailing out of his aircraft and looks forward to the end of the war but says not much hope this year. Glad he is receiving a few more parcels mentions some of the senders. Laments on his violin teacher but says she is still practicing. Writes about house painting and the weather as well as of her recent activities. Catches up with news of family and friends and talks of gardening.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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.





To Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No. 457,
Stalag Luft III, Germany

From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
London, N.W.4.

Monday, 19th April 1943.

My darling Johnnie,
Two lovely letters and a postcard from you this morning, written in the middle of February. In one letter you describe your truly remarkable escape when baling out – that ought to teach you not to pull the rip-cord too soon another time! Thank God there need never be another time. it seems almost too good to be true to think that when this war is over – and the Far East war! – we shall be able to live happily together without the constant fear and expectation of being torn apart at any moment – a sensation we have never yet enjoyed, for the cloud hung very definitely even over our first six months. I don’t think we shall run much risk of taking our happiness for granted. You ask for my guess as to the date of your return – I must admit that I haven’t much hope for this year, yet. If things start to happen, they may move fast, but I don’t see how if could possibly end this year. I just don’t date to look so far ahead, and yet how much worse it is for you. at least I have Frances and live in comfort. Yet there can’t be any real joy in life for me, even here in England in spring-time, without you. these last few days of glorious sunshine have reminded so often of your last leave; the lilac, the blossom and even the laburnum are all in bloom nearly a month earlier than last year, and the Grove is looking now very much as it did when you came home last May. What a lovely time we had then – may it come again soon.
I’m glad you have been receiving a few more parcels – is it a pity that the sender’s name isn’t on the tobacco parcels so that I could thank the donors. I think the Players and Gold Flake were from Ba and me respectively, though I think there ought to have been tobacco in them as well. The parcel of books from Sweden came from Nilson, Grunfeld’s friend so I will write to the latter, also about the Swiss friends.
It is a shame that your violin “teacher” is so uninspired. It is a devilish hard instrument to play and you do so need guidance at the beginning. Isn’t there anyone else who would help you? if there is a symphony orchestra, there must be a number of violinists. Anyway, I am glad that you are keeping on – I only wish I knew [indecipherable words] that I could help. I have been practicing a bit recently but can’t often make the time. But it would be lovely if we could play together some day and after all you can have proper lessons when you come home.
The house-painters have at long last got to work, and this of course was the signal for a break in the weather! Still we badly needed the rain for the seedlings and I hope there will be more fine days in the coming fortnight so that they can get through according to schedule. The foreman said the painting was being done only just in time, otherwise the woodwork would have suffered. Now there is every prospect of the house looking spick and span for my parents. Today a lovely birthday parcel for Frances arrived from them, containing two little smocked dresses and knickers, a cotton sleeping suit, a hand-knitted coat and leggings and a pair of white shoes which are fortunately just her size and should do all the summer. She really has got the most stupendous wardrobe, to which I have contributed only the duller necessities!
[page break]
Last Saturday I was invited to Catharine Mair’s wedding, which was to take place at 2 p.m. in Hampstead somewhere. This was an impossible early hour for me, for Frances is generally only waking up after her midday rest at that time, so I politely excused myself and said I would just go to the reception – other people’s weddings aren’t much fun anyway, although I wouldn’t mind being married to you again! It was Barbara’s day on duty, but fortunately I invited Eileen Johnson to lunch and she said she would love to look after Frances in the garden for me, so it all fitted in well. The reception was held in the Mair’s flat, and was rather a poor affair. I had so looked forward to getting a bit tipsy, but there was nothing but tea, and when the health of the bride and bridegroom was proposed, we had nothing to drink it in and it all fell rather flat, I thought. I met one or two old friends there and quite enjoyed myself, but it wasn’t a patch off [underlined] our [/underlined] wedding. The honeymoon is to be in the Lake District, and I must say I envy them that!
On Thursday I was summoned as a representative of our women’s organisation (to wit, Women Citizens, which I have told you of before) to a meeting at the Technical Institute on the subject of saving and repairing textiles. It was quite interesting, but a bit of a busman’s holiday, and anyway our group isn’t concerned with purely domestic things, indeed it is an attempt, for me at any rate, to get out of the narrow daily domestic circle into wider interests and political and public affairs. I suppose I shall have to report back at our next meeting on Wednesday, which is to be on Education, with the local Director of Education to address us.
Ba is going away for a week’s holiday in the middle of next week and I have today written to Vera Bowack to see if she would come and stay here with me for that time. I could look after Michael for her while she goes shopping, if she wants, and it would also mean that I could continue at the factory on my usual evenings. I doubt very much whether she will undertake the trip, for Michael is only 8 months old, but I hope she does. I can’t go away myself because the painters may not have finished till the weekend. It will be grand when my parents are home and I don’t have any more of these nights alone. It is ridiculous when you consider how overcrowded you are and how empty this place is, that some adjustment can’t be made!
Mary Simmonds and I played squash again on Friday while the children frolicked in the garden under the supervision of Lally. We shall have to exchange squash for tennis soon, but our trouble there is lack of balls, I’m afraid ours will be quite useless this year, they certainly weren’t much good last year, were they? I’m longing to inaugurate my new racquet, i.e. the one your bequeathed me, and I’m expecting a great improvement in my game from it.
I have been doing a good bit of gardening lately. The first lot of peas are through now, also onions, carrots and calabrese, but things have been awfully slow owing to the lack of rain. They should do better after today. I have sown vegetable marrows in a bed over a filled up compost heap, under the tree, and have planted our artichokes and sown the first lot of beans. The garden is looking pretty just now with wallflowers, primroses, bluebells under the tree, forgetmenots, arabis and those purple primroses and aubrietia. Frances is rather apt to pick the heads off flowers but is learning just to smell them now.
With all my love for always, Ursula.
[margin text] Frances always says goodnight Mummy goodnight Daddy” now before going to sleep – I haven’t got her as far as saying mother and father yet. [/margin text]



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 19, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20024.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.