Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula

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Title

Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula

Description

She explains what she is doing for Christmas, details the work she has done to their new house and garden and includes a sketch map . She mentions their daughter, Frances, who is helping in the garden. Describes other activities around the new local area, town and village. She hopes this Christmas will be the last Christmas they spend apart.

Date

1943-12-19

Temporal Coverage

Language

Format

Two page typewritten letter with hand drawn diagram

Rights

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.

Contributor

Identifier

EValentineUMValentineJRM431219

Transcription

Start of transcription
To Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine,
British Prisoner of War No. 489,
Stalag Luft III, Germany

[ink stamp] GEPRÜFT 25 [/ink stamp]

From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, BottrellsLane, [sic]
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.

Sunday December 19th

My darling Johnnie,

Somewhere there must be a terrific pile of letters from you accumulating for me, I have only had one postcard dated July for about a month now. All the sweeter when I do get them. I believe the censors here do their best to release plenty of letters for Christmas Day. Frances and I are leaving for Salcombe on Tuesday, and shall probably stay down there for a fortnight or so. I just hate leaving our house so soon! But it will be nice to be in the bosom of the family for Christmas, and my parents are very keen for us to go. This week I have spent most of my time waiting for things to arrive (though I kept busy meanwhile, of course) So far none of the things I bought up in town last Thursday and Friday week have arrived, including the bed, so that I haven't been able to have Ann to stay this weekend. The delay is partly accounted for by flu and partly by Christmas, no doubt. Other non-arrivals are our Christmas cards, which I have had printed this year to notify all friends and relations of the new address, and the fruit trees which I ordered at the beginning of November! I have now heard that these have been sent off last Thursday, so I'm hoping they may arrive tomorrow. If not, I shall have to get our neighbour Mr. Palmer, who is a retired head gardener, to put them in for me after we've gone. I have also been waiting for nearly a fortnight for the local plumber and handyman to come and fix the Cozystove for me. He swears he has been to the house seven times without finding me at home, whereas it seems to me I have hardly left the premises that number of times. However in the end we made an appointment, which both kept, so now the Cozystove is fixed in the sitting room and burning satisfactorily. This man, Hatchett by name, is also a decorator and is going to do the outside paint of the house sometime after Christmas. It needs it badly, and then it will be all spick and span waiting for you. Frances seems to expect you to arrive from day to day, she talks a lot about you, asks me questions, and is going to show you all her books and toys and tell you endless stories when you come. Yesterday she was particularly touching, she asked to have your photo down on the carpet and then started holding up her favourite picturebooks in front of the photo and explaining to you what it was all about. Tonight I told her I was going to write to you and asked if she wanted to send any message. Her reply was "God bless Father", so I send her message on.

I have been busy in the garden again this week, taking advantage of the good weather. I have got all the vacant ground in the vegetable garden dug over, and was pleased to find that the soil is much better than I had expected. There is quite a lot of greenstuff standing so that really only about half of the digging is done, still it looks tidier. First of all Frances and I toiled for some time removing stones from the surface, I carrying them off in a bucket and she in her wheelbarrow. I love to see her solemly [sic] wielding the big rake or hoe, which she does with the utmost gravity. She runs and fetches them out of the workshop for me too and knows which is which.

[diagram of garden layout]

[page break]

The sketchmap over the page is not in good proportion but it may give you some idea of the layout of the garden. The paths are decently paved with crazy paving with brick edges and the lawn is in quite good condition too. Most of the fruit trees are newly put in by me except the one marked in ink, and the raspberries were already in too, three rows of nice looking canes. This week I have added two loganberries and three climbing roses to the collection. The roses are American Pillar, Excelso (a crimson rambler) and Gailand (white) and they are planted along the fence dividing us from the Horswells. I should like to make this fence higher in due course, it is only about 4ft now and the roses could with advantage go up to 6ft. The roses dividing off the lawn from the vegetables are mostly Dorothy Perkins, and I had a high old time pruning them, they were in an awful mess. They look very chastened now! Here too the posts and wires ought to be raised another couple of feet, but there are more urgent tasks for the present.

You remember I bought an old washstand with marble top for our kitchen table, for £1? It has now had its legs and drawers painted, and yesterday I tackled the tiled splashback in wooden frame which was fitted on to the marble taking up unnecessary space and making it difficult to clean. It came off fairly easily, leaving a plain marble surface, and to my joy I found the tiles in their frame fitted nicely into the recess where the other kitchen shelves are, so I put it up as an additional shelf, which I thought highly economical. Today I have been measuring up some other bits of timber from old packing cases and staining them with Solignum to make shelves in the nursery for Frances's toys. I'll leave them to dry thoroughly till we return. This will be an awkward job, because the recess is so narrow that you can't get in a decent blow with the hammer.

I have taken to reading Scott in my old age and have sat up late over Ivanhoe to the neglect of my knitting and sewing. I was driven to try the Waverley Novels by the fact that all our other books are packed away in their crate still awaiting the arrival of the bookcase, and I find that they suit my present mood, so perhaps I shall catch up on my misspent youth. On Friday evening Mother rang up Mr. Horswell from Devonshire to enquire if I was down with flu as she hadn't heard from me for a week (my letter must have arrived next day). I was fetched in to speak to her, and afterwards stayed chatting with them till after 11 p.m. They are most friendly and kind, nice neighbours to have.

On Thursday Frances and I went in to Gerrards Cross to do some shopping and make the acquaintance of the bank manager. It is only a small town but has some quite useful shops. I took with me a mirror we were given for a wedding present, an unframed and unmounted one, supposed to be used as a table centre I should think. We are not likely to want it for that, and we do badly need a mirror of some sort in the hall, so I am having it framed in a plain dark oak frame, and then it will hang in the hall. Today Frances and I went out for our first walk into the surrounding countryside. There is going to be plenty of exploring to do when time and weather permit, for the country round about is really beautiful, rolling hills and plenty of woods and copses, and a number of people have spoken of the lovely wild flowers in the neighbourhood. The more I see of it, the more certain I am that we shall enjoy living here. The village itself is charming (though there are unattractive newer roads off it), the countryside is beautiful, and our little house and garden are attractive and convenient. Incidentally we are about 1,000 ft up here, so it ought to be healthy too. I want to get a good map of the district, and when you come back we can get to know it properly. The Blaikleys live only about 5 miles away, connected up by bus, so we shall have to go over and see them one day. Their little Fiona and Frances got on well together last time they met.

I shall be thinking of you more than ever this Christmas time - may it be our last one apart from each other! With all my love to you my darling husband, Yours always Ursula.

End of transcription

Collection

Citation

Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 22, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20074.

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