Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes that he has been promoted to flight sergeant and warrant officer and change in RAF allowances and other financial details. Continues with news of work on new house and catches up with news of family and friends. Mentions she dreams of him coming home and describes her, daughters and other family recent activities. Concludes with more financial matters.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
To W/O Valentine,
British P/W no 450,
Stalag Luft III, Lager A,
[inserted] 6/4 [/inserted]
[stamp GEPRUFT 25]
From Mrs. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday 16th January 1944
My darling Johnnie,
I only had space in my last letter to mention very shortly that I had that morning received a letter from the RAF stating that you had been promoted to Flight Sergeant on 1.5.43, and to Warrant Officer on 1.8.43. My allowance is increased by 2/6 for F/Sgt, and 4/- for W/O, making 6/6 weekly in all, and they have issued a new order book for this amount, and also sent me a warrant for £9.6.0 for the arrears in this increase. I reluctantly wrote and informed Touche’s of this change in our estate, so I suppose I shall get a corresponding amount deducted from my allowance from them and so have put this £9.6. into house account. I suppose that your RAF pay has also gone up, which is a pleasant thought, though I suppose the back-lash of income tax will spoil most of that. But I am very glad indeed about the promotion for your sake on your return, for I suppose you won’t get out of the RAF right away. Warrant Officers have rather a pansy uniform, haven’t they?
I have now received an estimate from Mr. Hatchett for the painting of the outside woodwork of the house, amounting to £21. It seems an awful lot, but as far as I remember it about what was paid for Lido. Anyway I have accepted it, because the work does need doing urgently and I don’t know if there is any [deleted] thing [/deleted] one else who would do it now. Besides I have confidence in this young Mr. Hatchett, he gives the impression of being a good workman, and he has pre-war paint, which is a major consideration. So the next few months will be made hideous with ladders and pots of paint and faces at the window – Frances had some narrow escapes when Lido was being painted, she was found dabbling in pots of black paint and swarming half way up to the roof on ladders, so I can see I shall have a busy time ahead of me.
An airmail letter card from Leslie arrived this week, written just after Christmas. He says they had a remarkably good Christmas dinner served right up in the front line – he seems to be in the thick of it just now. I had a card from you dated 20th September this week too, in which you talk of your disappointment over High House. I feel I want to shout very loud from the roof top to you to tell you it’s alright now, we have a much better house! The delay in the mail is specially maddening just now I do so want to know what you think about the new house, and doubtless you are eager for news about it too. Never mind, perhaps you will be seeing it soon. I often dream about your home-coming and wonder just how it will be, whether I shall know in time to be able to meet you at the port or even in London, or Gerrards Cross or at the bus stop at the Pheasant, or just on the doorstep. Just in case you should have to find your way alone here, I’d better give you directions. You come to Gerrards Cross by train either from Marylebone or Paddington, at G. Cross you turn left on leaving the station approach and you’ll see a bus-stop within a few yards. Buses come 3 times an hour for Chalfont St. Giles, where you alight at The Pheasant, turn left down the hill into the village, first right at The Crown up another hill, forking left at the signpost Bottrell’s Lane, and our house is the second half of the first house on the left past the cross-roads. But I very much hope that I shall accompany you. You know the Horswell’s telephone number is Chalfont St Giles 294.
[page break]
Frances and I went on another exploratory walk this afternoon. Everything was white with hoar frost and the sun was only just breaking through a heavy ground mist, which gave the landscape a fairy-like, almost Chinese quality. The young birches and the bracken and the dead brown leaves on the beeches seemed to crackle under the frost, but we found a spray of hazel catkins, fat little lamb’s-tails, that made me think more of primroses and violets. Further on we came upon s [sic] flock of ewes with their wee lambs, some born only yesterday, and we watched them frisking unsteadily about. The shepherd came up just then to feed the ewes, and took us into the field and let Frances stroke the day-old lambs – she was very thrilled with them and they were most friendly.
I had invited Ann to come and spend this weekend with us, but she wrote saying she couldn’t and would invite herself later on. She has just started at the Polytechnic, where she is doing a 6 months course of housewifery – it does seem to me a pity that she didn’t spend this interval before starting her domestic science course in earnest in studying something other than domestic science. A short course in art or music or literature or almost anything would have been more interesting, I should have thought. Better still, do the 6-month course of domestic science, and then train seriously in something else – Ann is domesticated enough and has brains enough, I am sure, to take a more academic training. However, far be it from me to say so. Irene and her baby Gordon are staying at Barnet just now, indefinitely I believe, as Bill has a resident job in a hospital so that there is no point in Irene living in digs nearby. There seems to be a certain amount of hard feeling because Rene feels it is her turn for an innings at Gable End, whereas Bunty of course cannot possibly move with three children (the third is due this month), and it is felt that Stewart ought to have fixed something else for her instead of going off and leaving her literally with the baby. Grandpa and Grandma also feel that Gable End will hardly be a rest cure from them with another infant there. Altogether I am extremely thankful that we have an independent abode now. If Rene and I didn’t suffer from incompatibility of temperaments, she might have come to stay here with her infant, but as it is I am not suggesting it, as I should doubtless only be snubbed. I think Rene must have taken a vow never to write to me, for she hasn’t acknowledged the leggings I sent for Gordon nor sent a Christmas greeting. However, I shall survive that.
I have been busy making up the new curtains for the sitting-room. The material is hessian dyed brick-red (no coupons, that’s why), and I intend to embroider them in wool to make them look a bit more expensive. They ought to look quite nice then.
I mentioned in my last letter that the Power of Attorney and POSB warrant had arrived. I have sent in the latter and will pay back the £100 to your father; the power of attorney means, I suppose that I could sell your shares, but I won’t do that unless some very unforeseen need arises. At the moment I am very solvent and saving the supplementary RAF allowances each week. 17.1.44. Your letter 15th October received this morning. I gather you want me to repay the £200 to my people without delay as well as [inserted] £100 [/inserted] to ASV, so I will get into touch with Freeman about the shares as you suggest. We have over £50 in Establishment a/c after allowing the £21 for house-painting (the £50 you sent from your RAF a/c) but I want to keep some reserve for emergencies so won’t pay this to my parents yet. They don’t expect it anyway.
Sorry to hear about further troubles with your fiddle, but glad that a decent one is on its way to you via Red Cross. [underlined] Of course [/underlined] you must [underlined not [/underlined] give up practising!
All my love darling & a big kiss from Frances,



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 25, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20182.

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