Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Remembers their anniversary and commiserates over dreary year. Announces that her parents have arrived and writes of arrangements to accommodate them. Continues to describe her recent activities and financial matters. Reports arrival of many of his letters and catches up with other family news.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with handwritten addition


IBCC Digital Archive


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Start of transcription
Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine,
British PoW No. 463
Stalag Luft III, Germany
[stamp GEPRUFT 74]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
London, N.W.4.
30th May 1943.
[inserted] R & A 29/6 [/inserted]
My darling Johnnie,
It is just a year tonight – what an anniversary! I expect you will be remembering it too, but let’s hope that we may spend the next one together. It seems a terribly long and dreary year to me, but not half as long and dreary as it does to you, I expect. I should like to tell you how much I admire the way you have faced up to your captivity and the grand spirit and the cheerfulness you have shown. It is the sort of experience that shows up a man for what he is worth, and it has always been a real comfort to me to think that you, with your depth of character and general stamina, will come through this nightmare as well as anyone can. I do love you so much, my darling, and I love you more and more as time goes on so that if you don’t come home soon I shall simply [underlined] burst [/underlined] with unexpended affection! So hurry.
Terrific excitement this week – Mother and Daddy have arrived! On Wednesday evening I was peacefully working at the factory having left Ba and Frances tucked up in bed when suddenly Barbara appeared at the window waving widely, I thought at once of the parents and hurried out to hear that Mother had just telephoned from the port and that they were travelling here overnight. So I got permission to go home at once and set to work clearing all my belongings out of the front bedroom into the back, to leave room for them and all their things. The only way we can pack into the house is for them to occupy our room and the double bed, though both of them hate it, and if we can arrange for them to have singles, we shall. Personally I don’t see how it can be done. They much admire our bedroom furniture and are taking great care of it. But to return to the story. Their train was due in at 6.30 a.m. so Ba got up at a quarter to five to go and meet them and I got up at 5.30 to get the house ready. As it turned out the train was late and it was nearly 8 a.m. when they arrived home. What a homecoming! Somehow I kept thinking of it as a dress rehearsal for the great day when you come home – only then I shall be the one who goes to the station! Anyway it was grand to see them both looking so very well. Frances took to them like a duck to water, specially to Grandad of course, and needless to say they are both charmed with her. The last few days have been one vast muddle of unpacking. Boxes and cases seemed to be piled up wherever one trod and there were constant eruptions of excitement and squeals of joy as presents emerged and were handed over. Mummy had brought a jolly rag doll for Frances which she is very pleased with, besides numbers of clothes for her – which [underlined] I [/underlined] am very pleased with. These include 2 pairs of khaki dungarees big enough for next year or the year after (these will be even more useful for Little Brother in due course), a navy skisuit for next winter and shoes in various sizes as well as more little summer dresses. The piece de resistance (there are no accents on this typewriter so I can’t show off my French!) was the little white fur coat in which she looks simply adorable (only we don’t tell her so, of course). It is made of Indian lamb, a close cropped curly fur and will be plenty big enough for two winters I hope, and then hand down to younger sisters. Mother has also brought some lovely underclothes for Barbara and me, and I am putting all mine aside to bring out in triumph as a second trousseau for our second honeymoon – may it come soon. There were various things to eat and apparently more to come in the boxes which have not yet arrived, but I won’t make your mouth water with
[page break]
unnecessary descriptions of those.
This evening we have been settling our financial affairs. I have been handing over vast sums of Defence Bonds, Savings Certs and my Grindlays account, in fact the whole of the allowances – that is what you wanted, isn’t it? It breaks my heart, but I’ve done it. We have also decided that as far as our future housekeeping together is concerned the parents will continue to pay the rates etc., we will halve the expenses which I have been paying out of the bank House a/c (gas, light, telephone, coal, coke etc), and of the weekly running expenses (food etc) they will contribute 3 parts to 1 of mine, since they are now taking over Ba’s contribution. This should be a considerable relief to my budget and I hope to be able to save a bit more towards our future home as long as we are all living together here. In due course, when we have had a bit of time to settle down and get straight I shall have to start in again on our housing problem, but now that at last this long dreary period of living alone (for most of the time anyway) has come to an end, I am really not eager to get a house in the country and condemn myself to solitude again while waiting for your return. If only I could find the right place just a month or two before you come back, how convenient it would be! In the meantime, things will be much easier for me here, Daddy is helping me with the gardening and all the odd jobs of household repairs and carpentry which I had to struggle with before, and Mother helps with the housework and takes Frances off my hands when I am busy. I was hoping to go to the factory every night now, i.e. 5 nights a week, but they seemed much against it to start with so I am just going 3 times a week, and when we have got things going I could make it more later.
During the week I have received your letters 24, 26, 27 and 28 and also 11, limping in long after the others. There is nothing particular to answer in them – I do wish you received my letters more regularly, I am much luckier than you in that respect [censored words] but the card telling about them has not arrived, significantly. I do hope that they are not still continuing. I was sorry to hear about your Belgian friend too, poor boy, and I pray that he may be alright.
I rang up your people to tell them that my parents are here and hoped they might have come over this weekend but they had already arranged to go down to Gable End, and your Mother says she will get in touch again when she is back and arrange to come over. My father is naturally anxious to get a job over here and it might be that your father could give him useful advice on where to apply. Daddy still seems to be inventing things connected with his work, and recently he has been working on compost and fertiliser making. I hope he will get a job for he is full of life and ideas – he has hardly changed at all in the 7 years since I saw him. Mother is just the same too except that her hair is greyer. I have given them both a lecture on not spoiling Frances, and though of course she will get more companionship and more fun now that they are here than I was able to give her when I was busy, yet I don’t see that she need be spoilt, and you can be sure that I shall guard against it. She is talking more every day now and learning little bits of her nursery rhymes – she can also count up to six.
Thank you so much for all your loving letters, my dear, I do so look forward to them & enjoy getting them. I hope you don’t get moved after all.
Mother & Daddy both send you their love, so do Ba & Frances, but it’s nothing to the love I send you!
Yours always, Ursula.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 6, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20044.

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