Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


She writes about moving out of her parents’ home and of searching for a new home for her and Frances, without much success. She is now in Prior Marston for a few weeks and writes about her activities there in house and garden. Reports arrival of one of his letters assumed last from old camp and is longing for news of new camp.



Temporal Coverage



Two page handwritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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Start of transcription
To Sgt. JRM Valentine
British P/W No 4
Stalag Luft III (Luft VI)
[inserted] 18/10 [/inserted]
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
From Mrs JRM Valentine
Gable End
Prior Marston
Nr Rugby
Sunday Aug. 15th 1943.
My darling Johnnie,
For some time to come – I hope it won’t be very long – you will have to decipher handwritten letters from me, as the faithful typewriter has gone into store.
Well Lido has gone – actually I believe Mr Neal sold it to a Polish Jew, the deal wasn’t concluded when we left on Monday. Monday was an awful day altogether. By the first post I had a notice from one of the estate agents I pester, offering a house out at Fyfield, near Ongar Essex, for sale at £1300. It had 4 bedrooms & 2 maid’s coves, sitting room dining room & 2 small morning rooms, every mod-con apparently & an acre of garden. It sounded too good to be true, but as we were leaving that afternoon, meeting Bunty at Marylebone at 3 pm, there wasn’t much time to go & see it. I tried to get everything ready packed & rush away by 9 am but couldn’t do it. So I took the agent’s notice to Mr Neal & arranged that his brother could go out & see the house when convenient & I could try to get away from Gable End to see it too. That was all I could do. Roy Cowdry rang up in the morning & said he would come & see us off as he was free that afternoon. It was a beastly day, we all felt wretched & tempers were frayed. After lunch Ba Frances & I departed by taxi, took Ba’s luggage first to King’s X, then all went on to Marylebone. Ba’s train, to take her to her new job in Huntingdonshire with the YWCA looking after Waafs & so on, didn’t leave till 4.15 pm. At Marylebone Bunty & Roy met us & we all had a chat before our train left. We had quite a pleasant journey. Frances behaved passably & chummed up with the people in the carriage. Bunty had managed to get a car to meet us at Woodford, so it was all quite easy & we arrived at Gable End in good order & Frances was soon sound asleep. We are using Grandma’s room I in the double bed & Frances in her cot beside me. Your people have gone up to Scotland for a fortnight so we shan’t have to turn out in a great hurry! Frances is thoroughly enjoying herself down here, she & Robert get on pretty well. Muriel is much more grown-up & inclined to do the heavy sometimes, & of course there is a certain amount of bickering about boys, but on the whole
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they manage pretty well. I, of course, am thoroughly enjoying the rest & change from the rather nerve-wracking period we’ve been through. Unfortunately our housing problem hasn’t begun to solve itself yet, but I feel there is little I can do about it from here, so I’m trying to put it out of my mind for the time being, & enjoy myself.
The first day down here, Tuesday we worked around the house & garden, digging the early potatoes & so on. Bunty can’t do the heavy stuff now as her 3rd edition is due to appear in January or February, so I have taken over the potato digging, & I enjoy it. As the children seemed to be settling down well together, I decided to go up on Wednesday to look at the house at Fyfield. This involved getting up at 6 am to cycle in to Woodford to catch the 7.00 up to town. This arrived some time after 10 am, so I had a cup of coffee, proceeded to Liverpool Street caught the next train out to Epping, changed on to a bus to Ongar & from there hitch-hiked out to Fyfield, arriving about 1 pm. After some trouble & asking of strangers & deaf mutes I found the house & was bitterly disappointed. It was a great ugly barracks of a place – I had been warned that it had been requisitioned & used by the military & expected it to be knocked about a bit, but apart from that it was far too large & ungainly & very inconvenient – no proper kitchen or decent bathroom. The garden was neglected of course but even without that it wasn’t nice. Altogether it was a flop & I was awfully disappointed. It took me till nearly 9 pm to get back to Gable End, & so here I am with absolutely nothing in view. However I suppose something is [underlined] bound [/underlined] to turn up sometime.
The photos I’m sending this time are rather ancient, they were taken when Vera & Michael Bowack were staying with me in the spring. The group shows Michael, Niki Oppenheimer, Frances & David Simmonds. The other is just Niki & her amazing crawl! She got along at a terrific speed like that.
I was awfully pleased to get your 49 of 9th June 2 days ago. It has taken much longer than usual to arrive & is presumably the last from the old camp. So I am still waiting with tongue hanging out for news from the new camp. The mails certainly have slowed up! Frances often talks of how her “[underlined] own [/underlined] father” will come home one day & we discuss whether you will come by bus, train or motorcar. She’s still mad about travelling. Today we went for a walk together & were watching some cows over a gate when the nearest one did “potty”. Frances was staggered, & accosted the first stranger we met to explain all about it & how the cow had got dirty feet. Luckily she doesn’t talk very distinctly yet & I was able to turn it off. She’s very fond of the two kittens here. I see we shall have to have one when we get settled.
God bless you darling & bring you safely home soon. With a big kiss from Frances & all my love. Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed January 29, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20054.

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