Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes of the saga of getting permission to move into new house, going to Chalfont St Giles and all pubs being full. Writes of friendly neighbour putting her up and paying some of house purchase fee, Goes on to describe her activities the next day in the new house and arrival of their furniture. Continues with description of other activities and news that daughter Frances was unwell and other family gossip.



Temporal Coverage



Two page handwritten letter


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Start of transcription
To Sgt J.R.M. Valentine
British P/W 485
Stalag Luft III (VI)
[stamp GEPRUFT 25]
[inserted] [underlined] A [/underlined] 6/1 [/inserted]
From Mrs Valentine,
Little Close, Devon Road
Salcombe, Devon.
Monday 22nd November
My darling Johnnie,
This has been a very eventful week for me. On Monday I set off up to London, altho’ there was no news from our solicitor as to whether I could have possession of the house on the Tuesday. I just hoped for the best. I got up to town at 5 pm & rang up the solicitor who said he’d had no news, so I went out to the Hillman’s to spend the night & from there rang up Mr Horswell, the Vendor, at his home to ask if he’d mind my moving in next day if I paid up £475 & interest at 5%. He said he didn’t care only I must conform to what his solicitors stipulated. They turned out to be a firm in Bristol, not inaccessible. Next day I went up to Walter Burgis’s office, & Mr Blackman, who’s handling it, was very helpful, tried ringing up the other solicitor in Bristol who was out (he [underlined] would [/underlined] be!), so I rang Horswell, who was also out but eventually we got him, persuaded him to ring his solicitor & instruct him to accept the £475 instead of the whole of the balance (£1350) which of course I couldn’t pay down since the Building Soc. is lending us most of it, by about 4 p.m the whole thing was settled. In the intervals of doing all this I went across to your office & had a long chat with George T. and also saw Freeman who took me out to lunch. Both his cousin & Kennedy (now F/O) are in Stalag Luft III now. At 4 p.m I set out for Chalfont St Giles, had to wait for slow train & when I got there at 6.30 pm it was dark & cold, & I tried at one pub after another for a night’s lodging & to my horror they were all full. I was in despair & I almost resigned myself to sleeping on the bare boards in the dark – unblacked-out – of our new home when I nearly collided with a man on a bike turning in at his gate. On the spur of the moment I asked him if he’d got a bed to spare & it turned out that he had, & he & his wife took me in & were most kind. Their name is Sharpe & they live only a few doors from us. He breeds cocker & other spaniels & they have 4 children the youngest aged 3. They gave me bed & breakfast for the 4 nights I was there
[page break]
so I was awfully lucky, as usual. Later in the evening I went to the Horswell’s to deliver the cheque, & they said they would have put me up, but I’m glad I didn’t have to appeal to them, all the same. They are most kind & friendly, Mr Horswell is a constructional engineer in London, guess what his hobby is? – [underlined] farming [/underlined]! he rents several fields round about Chalfont & has quantities of live-stock & horses, so it looks as tho’ he might help us to start that way too, after all, if we want to when you come. Next day, Wednesday, I got to work on our house, gave the sittingroom, which was an awful orange colour, 2 coats of cream distemper, & stained the kitchen & dining room floors with solignum where there had been carpets or lino before. The paint etc I’d had sent up from Devon. Next day, Thursday, the furniture arrived – gosh I was thrilled to see it & know we’d got it out of London safely! The dining-room is even lovelier than I’d remembered, simply gorgeous wood, & the sideboard beautifully fitted out. Nothing had been damaged in transit at all! In the midst of the unpacking who should walk in but Barbara! She had 2 days off & badly needed some of the winter clothes which were stored with mine, so came to collect them. On Friday I got more unpacking done & measured up all the windows & bought the necessary curtain rods from a very good ironmonger in the village. I’ve brought the curtains back here with me & am making the blackout on Mother’s machine. I travelled down on Saturday, first ringing up your Mother, giving her the gen & arranging for Frances & me to spend the night there when we go back. When I got back here I found Frances in bed with a temperature of 1030! She’d got flu, poor kiddy, & all thro’ the night kept asking for drinks of water. However she’s much better now, will probably get up a bit tomorrow, but now Mother has gone down with it & I’ve had a hectic day with Frances convalescent & Mother in a high fever! I wrote to the Red Cross & told them your violin was in a bad state, & they’ve written to say they’ve sent you a good one with extra strings, but it may take 4 or 5 months to arrive. Do you want me to draw £100 from our joint P/O a/c, if I can, to pay back your father or shall he wait? June & Bill now have a son, I’ve sent him some pants in your name. All my love, Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20070.

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