Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Still unsure if he has moved, not according to Red Cross so still addressing letters to previous camp. Says she is enclosing colour photographs. Mentions gathering of both sets of their parents and other family news. Writes of completing a knitted rug for him and obtaining some skates from a RAF widow to send to him. She also mentions her Current Affairs Club meeting and visiting the Town Hall to discuss having a maternity home in the Borough. Reports arrival of letter and postcard from him and mentions reprisals.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with added handwritten notes


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Start of transcription
To Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
British Prisoner of War No. 465
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, London N.W. 4.
Sunday June 20th 1943
[inserted] R 30/7 A 5/8 [/inserted]
My darling Johnnie,
Last week I only wrote you an airmail letter card, or rather two, one to this address and one to Offlag 2lb, where your father had heard that you had been moved, but since then I have been up to the Red Cross H.Q. and they seemed to think that it was unlikely that you had gone there, so I am continuing to write to Stalag Luft III as before until I hear something definite from you. I am risking the first of the colour photos this time and I do hope it gets through to you safely, because it does show up Frances’s hair well. You should look through the transparencies in strong daylight to get the best effect. There are six altogether, taken in the garden, and I will send one per letter. Look after them, won’t you, because of course these can’t be replaced like ordinary prints. Barbara has taken several photos of me today, the negatives look alright but of course one can’t really judge until the prints are made. However I expect you will get copies even if they aren’t very flattering. Poor Ba, she does her best but I’m afraid I’m not a very helpful model – as I told her, you can’t get blood out of a stone!
We have had a busy weekend here. Yesterday your people came over to tea, it was rather an anxious occasion for me since it was the first time they had met since my parents’ return and the first time at all for Daddy. However, we had quite a pleasant afternoon, your father was more jovial than I have seen him for a long time, and Frances did her stuff pretty well. He and Daddy got off on to engineering topics and stayed there most of the time. I gather that there is no chance of your father helping mine to a job as there is a bit of a hiatus just now before the work of reconstruction can be started. My parents are actively looking round for a place in the country to retire to, and they want me to go with them, but I think I must try to find our future home and move into that instead. It’s not going to be too easy, I have written up for the addresses of the War Agric. Executive Officers in the counties we want but haven’t had a reply yet. It seems highly unlikely to me that they will find a house and I shall find our house and they find a purchaser for Lido all at about the same time, still that is what we have got to try to do.
Today we have had the whole family of Hillmans and Peter over to tea to meet my parents, and once again Daddy and Mr. Hillman wandered up the garden ostensibly to look at the strawberries (which incidentally are doing very well just now) and stood for most of the afternoon under the tree talking engineering, just as he and Grandpa had done! Frances uttered what is likely to be a family saying this afternoon; she was sitting on Mr. Hillman’s knee and put up her hand to touch his face, felt the slight stubble there, gave him a solemn look and said reprovingly “Teddy”.
When your Mother came she brought with her a large quantity of the knitted squares which we have all been knitting for your rug and which she has been crocheting round. I now have all the pieces and it only remains to crochet them all together to make the rug. It is going to be fairly big, about 7’ x 5’. The parcel is due to go in a week, so I shall
[page break]
[inserted] Frances’s vocabulary now includes boob = bib
apoob = apron
sanpip = sandpit [/inserted]
have to get cracking. I have also been trying by every means to get you some skates and have advertised locally at last in despair. But last Sunday I had a reply to my advertisement, a girl rang up and said she had a pair of skates, not clip-ons but complete with boots which she thought would fit; they had belonged to her husband who had been killed in the RAF and she would like you to have them. She wouldn’t consider letting me buy them, said they were not for sale but only to give to an RAF prisoner so I accepted them gratefully. On Monday she brought them round as she was coming this way, and a very handsome pair they are. I don’t suppose you will [underlined] mind [/underlined] having the complete thing, I have found it totally impossible to get clip-ons. She threw in an RAF shirt and a pair of slippers of her husband’s too, for good measure – I may send the shirt if there is room but I have already bought a pair of warm slippers for you and shall have to send those because I have spent coupons on them which I have to account for to the Red Cross. This girl has now joined the ATS, she seemed an awfully nice sort and I felt so sorry for her and realised more strongly than ever how very lucky I am that you are still alive and will some day come back to me.
We had our fortnightly meeting of the Current Affairs Club this week and the speaker was Miss Juanita Frances, the chairman of the Married Women’s Association, a sort of housewives trades union, formed largely to fight for a better legal position for married women, who have practically no status before the law at present and to change the all too widespread tradition whereby the husband doles out the weekly housekeeping money and the wife has no money she can really call her own for all her work. This lady laid down the law that the ideal way to arrange a married couple’s finances is to set aside whatever is over equally between husband and wife, as of right, for their pocket money. Which is, of course, exactly what you did, and that proves again that you are the ideal husband. Anyway it was quite a lively meeting with much indignation and argument, and a good time was had by all. The day after, Thursday, a deputation consisting of Mrs Boyd, Clare Oppenheimer, Ursula Muskett and me went up to the Town Hall to meet the Chairman of the Public Health Committee and the M.O.H. and the Sub-Committee appointed to deal with the question of a maternity home for the Borough. Unfortunately only two members of a deputation are allowed to speak, and Mrs. Boyd and Clare did it, pretty well on the whole. After they had said their bits the Chairman thanked us politely and that was all. I had hoped they would ask us more questions, but however it was their first meeting, so I suppose they hadn’t much to go on. Still, if they do not get on with the business they will doubtless hear from us again.
I have had your letter 32 and Post card 34 this week, for which many thanks. So glad the 3 envelopes of photos arrived safely though I can’t remember quite which they were. I now have yours complete up to 30 except 25 in which I believe you mentioned reprisals so maybe it is entirely blacked out – anyway it hasn’t arrived, and Nos. 32 and 34. I’m so sorry – and angry – that you have received so little mail from home, I heard from your father that it is the same elsewhere, and if it is deliberate, it is iniquitous. You mention in your letter 32 receiving a book parcel from the Christine Knowles organisation, it was probably from that friend of Aunt Con who subscribes to it. Talking of bibles, Roy Cowdry has had a breakdown from overwork and has been at home in bed for the past fortnight, I spoke to his father this morning. It’s not serious, I gather.
All my love to you, my darling. Yours always, Ursula
[inserted] Just received your No 31 – thanks very much dear. [/inserted]



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 24, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20046.

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