Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Still trying to decide whether to but a house or not. Mentions that parents are buying house in Salcombe. Describes visiting one prospective house and mentions another possibility and her continuing efforts including financial help from family. Supposes he is in new camp.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with added handwritten notes


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.





Start of transcription
To Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
[inserted] [underlined] 2/9 [/underlined] [/inserted]
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
From Mrs. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
Hendon, N.W. 4.
July 26th, 1943.
[inserted] A 5/9 [/inserted]
My darling Johnnie,
I’m in the throes of an acute crisis – the time has come when I have got to make up my mind. To buy or not to buy, that is the question – I’ll tell you what has happened since last I wrote.
To begin with, my parents went down to Devonshire a week ago yesterday to have another look at the house they are considering, at Salcombe, and they have decided in favour of it and bought it. So one thing at least is settled. They are free to move in at the end of this month, but I think they probably won’t leave Lido until they have a purchaser in view for otherwise it might easily be requisitioned. While they were away, on the Tuesday, I took Frances with me down to look at a house in Surrey; just to make sure I rang up the agent before I went to ask if it was still on the market and was told it was. However, when I got there I found the new owner proudly strutting round and examining his property, so I snapped the man’s head off, rather unjustly I suppose but I was somewhat mad, hustled Frances back the way we had come and caught the next train home. She enjoyed herself thoroughly, she loves joy-riding in trains and hasn’t yet stopped talking about the big t’ain, and the dirty ‘moke (a factory chimney we happened to see from the train and which made a lasting impression on her!) and demonstrating with much spitting just how a train puffs.
After that fruitless effort I received, on Thursday morning, the particulars of the house at Broomfield, outside Chelmsford, which I had seen the week before and mentioned to you in my last letter. It looked quite hopeful, so Mother and I went out together to look at it, handing Frances over to Mary Simmonds for lunch and to Daddy for the afternoon.
This is the house which may turn out to be your future home, for a time at least, or may not. The specification is as follows:- (according to the agents) [underlined] Ground floor [/underlined], small entrance lobby (telephone is here), dining-room with brick fireplace and deep cupboard for china above and bottles etc below. Door leading direct to the kitchen, which has fitted sink h & c (not very smart or deep and we should have to fix a plate rack) dresser with plate and cup shelves, and drawers and cupboard below, rather a nice larder, Triplax type of stove if that means anything to you, I gather it heats the water, and has a smallish oven above and trivet for kettle. There is also an electric cooker standing rather raffishly in the middle of the room – I can’t find out who it belongs to but I should certainly need it as well. The back door leads out into the garden. To go back to the entrance lobby, the right-hand door leads into the sitting-room, a lovely long room going the full length of the house. It is divided into two by a step and a square arch of old oak beams where a curtain would hang to separate the rooms when necessary. Each has a big brick fireplace and the lower room has a large built-in cupboard with hooks for hanging coats. The stairs start off opposite the back door and go up in one flight. The four rooms on the first floor are all more or less the same size, the front one has a large built in cupboard and a smaller one which would do for shoes, and one of the back bedrooms has been converted into the bathroom with bath, basin and the usual. The bath is in bad condition and in urgent need of a coat of enamel, but I suppose that could be done. I would have the linen chest standing in here. At present the hot tank stands naked behind the bath, and I would like a hot cupboard built round it, but such luxuries could wait. Then between the two front rooms another
[page break]
smaller staircase leads up to two quite large attics which could easily be used as extra bedrooms or make lovely playrooms for the family. I should like to have their windows enlarged later on. There is main water, drainage and electric light, though not enough power points about the house. It says that gas is available, I suppose that means it is in the village. All the walls are white, and with the dark old oak and red brick fireplaces the colouring is very pleasant and a good background for living.
The outside of the house is white too with black beams and an old red roof – it is very attractive. There is a timber garage standing separately and a small brick outbuilding which we should doubtless use for coal and tools. The garden is small, which is the chief snag, but could be made very pleasant. There is a large walnut tree and a greengage, with a plum and damson (I think) at the side near the garage. It is neglected at the moment, but has possibilities. Still, it isn’t more than 1/4 acre. The house stands rather near the road, on the south there is a cottage quite close, the end of the garden is a high hedge with somebody else’s garden beyond, and on the north is a cultivated field, which I should like to buy. It belongs to the owner of the large house which stands on the opposite side of the road and is let to a farmer and of course I don’t know if I could get it or what it would cost. The village of Broomfield is very pleasant with a nice church, village green, pub and a few attractive big houses and some cottages. There has been some newer building beyond but otherwise the country round is unspoilt agricultural land. The bus service into Chelmsford takes about 10 minutes and fast trains to Liverpool Street get in in 40 minutes, so that for your travelling to the City it is as good as could be hoped for,
On the Thursday evening I went over to Barnet to tell your people about my housing efforts and they seemed very interested and I think approved of my efforts to find something for when you come home. We went into the financial aspect – did I mention that the owner is asking £1400? I have offered £1250 and the agent has just rung to say she will take £1300 but not less. Your father volunteered at once to lend us £200 towards the deposit money and I think my people would be able to lend £100 though till they have sold Lido they are a bit tied up. Barbara says she would lend up to £100 too, so that is fine. The bank manager had previously refused to lend me anything as he could not accept your life insurance policies as security nor our joint P/O account without your authorisation. I was very impressed with your father [underlined] offering [/underlined] to lend me the money, for I should never have dared to ask him for it. The Abbey Road Building Society lends at the rate of 13/5 per £100 per month over 20 years, which I reckon would cost me about £7 per month. I should have to pay this out of my £4 per week from the RAF which doesn’t leave much to live on but still I think I could just manage. I haven’t yet heard from the RAF Accounts how much you have standing to your credit but if need be I expect you would make me an extra allotment. Oh how I wish I could ask your advice about it all! I have got an option only till tomorrow. Sometimes I feel it is worth anything to have a home for you to come to and to tide us over the next few years, at other times my heart fails me when I think of all our earthly possessions and a liability for years to come being destroyed by bombing. I really don’t think I could ever do better with as little as £1300, houses are scarce and prices are going up. I don’t much look forward to the prospect of living there alone with Frances this coming winter, but I might be able to get someone to share with me.
I now have your letters up to 48 with few exceptions – you will be in your new camp now, I do hope it is bearable, I’m longing to get your first letters from there. Oh Johnnie how I long for you, the responsibility of this house-hunting is just about getting me down but I feel pretty sure it wouldn’t be right for me to chuck it up and go to Devon.
[underlined] P.S. [/underlined] I have definitely decided to buy the house if the surveyor’s report is satisfactory about its condition. I [underlined] do [/underlined] hope you’ll approve.
[inserted] I’m sure we can make an unusually attractive house out of it.
Yours for always, Ursula [/inserted]



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 16, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20051.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.