Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Lists item sent in recent parcel and writes of financial matters. Writes of first visitor to new house and work completed on house and garden. Concludes with description of recent activities and mention of letter and news received from friend.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with handwritten addition


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Start of transcription
To W/O Valentine
British P/W No. 450.
Stalag Luft III, Lager A.
[inserted] Writing soon John. All the very best to you. Roy. [/inserted]
[inserted] 6/4 [/inserted]
[stamp GEPRUFT 25]
From Mrs. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks
Sunday 23rd January 1944
My darling Johnnie,
On Friday I sent off your seventh parcel, which contained the following items:- one pair of brown walking shoes with two pairs of laces, I do hope they fit you, I took one of your old shoes to the shop with me and got the nearest fitting, so trust they will be alright. 4 khaki handkerchiefs, 2 pairs of socks, (hand-knitted but not by me, I bought them from the local Red Cross depot, an excellent scheme for hard-pressed wives of P/W’s!); one pair of navy gloves, which for some unknown reason Mrs. Hazard had given to your Mother for Leslie and your Mother had decided that you had better have them instead, so I put them in the parcel as they don’t take up much weight and might be useful. 2 tablets of Neko soap, shaving soap, toothbrush, toothpowder, black shoe polish and also a small tin of brown shoe polish, which I had begun to use but sacrificed to you – for some reason brown shoe polish is very hard to come by just now, so as I couldn’t get any for you I sent this tin of mine, only just begun. One hussif, with needles and so on, 2 razor blades and a canvas bag which the local Red Cross sent with the various items I bought from them – it may be useful to help you organise your storage. Also 17 2oz blocks of chocolate, the history of which I told you before, and 2 1/2 lbs of chocolate from the Red Cross. Not a very thrilling parcel but I trust that the chocolate at least will be welcome. I wonder very much whether it will ever reach you, I shouldn’t be surprised if you were on the move six months from now. I have also ordered six A strings for the violin to be sent to you from Chappell’s, via Miss Knowles.
I had a letter from Touche’s yesterday in reply to mine telling them of my increased allowance. They have duly docked me of 6/6 a week, but apparently haven’t made it retrospective, so that the warrant for £9.6. which the RAF sent me is pure gain. I’ll have to check up on that when I go to the bank. Touche’s say that the gross allowance of £13.11.7 is now reduced to £12.3.5, and after deduction of Income Tax £2.16.10 and H.S.A. 1/9, comes to £9.4.10. The last I heard of it, it was £8.3.3, so I just give it up, and take thankfully whatever comes. They also say “We are not sure whether the promotion will have an effect on your husband’s service pay but, in any case, we suggest that no adjustment be made for this in the meantime and that it be left over until his return.” So I shall have to save up for that too! Incidentally I want to tell you, darling, how very touched and thrilled I have been by the tremendous confidence you have placed in me in all these financial matters, by sending the Power of Attorney and so on. You know I am no good at arithmetic! However I will certainly do my best to deserve your trust and hope you will find our finances in a fairly healthy condition when you return even if my book-keeping isn’t all it should be. My account of petty cash is still kept up to date, that is nearly a fortnight altogether, so I am coming on. The other little bank account book I have always kept up, solemnly entering things twice on opposite pages, and it quite frequently balances, though it is an awful effort to have to do it. I note that you are not taking a book-keeping class, let’s hope the boys over there are better pupils.
[page break]
This weekend we have entertained our first visitor, Peter. He came over on Friday evening and left after lunch today, and in the interval did a great deal of electrical work for me. First of all he connected up the wireless and got it into working order after it’s travels, then he ran an electric wire from the meter upstairs to my bedroom and fixed a plug so that I can at last have the electric alarm clock on, a thing I have missed sorely all this time. There is a second point for bedside lamp, too, as soon as I can get one. He also fixed up the chiming electric clock which had got out of phase and was striking all wrong. So things are gradually getting straightened out. He also helped me to put the trunks away in the loft. I have executed another of my inimitable pieces of carpentry, this time a corner hanging cupboard for the spare room. The trouble was that I didn’t want to knock the wall about because some day we shall doubtless have a proper wardrobe. So I fixed this contraption on to the picture rail and as that was too high to be convenient had to lower the actual rod for the coathangers 6” or 7”. I will say this much for it, it does serve the purpose intended, and I have hung a curtain in front so that my carpentry is not exposed to view. It will take down without leaving any permanent mark. The bed also has arrived, what we chiefly need in the room now is a chair and a bedside table, but they will just have to wait. Tomorrow Roy Cowdry is due to visit us for the day, on Tuesday Frances attends her first dancing class, and on Saturday Eileen Johnson is coming out for the day, so we have quite a full programme.
I have bought two more fruit trees. You will think that fruit-tree-buying is becoming a real vice with me, but this is really the end of it. There were two pieces of blank wall in a good sunny position that simply asked for a fruit tree to be trained there, and since the sooner we plant them the sooner we shall get fruit, I thought I might as well do it now. So I have bought a fan-trained Ribston Pippin apple, and a peach tree for the south wall. My chief trouble now is to procure stakes and wire for training them on the wall, the bricks and mortar are so hard I can’t get nails in, so the best way really is to rig up a wire framework behind the tree, so that you can tie in the branches each year. I have been busy this afternoon digging a compost pit, I can’t buy manure any where so must see that we get some decent compost.
Last Wednesday Frances and I went up to town, chiefly to buy the brown shoes to be sent in your parcel. We had arranged to meet Barbara up in town but at the last moment she had to cry off. So we went on our own, bought your shoes and a pair from Daniel Neal’s for Frances, (size 10 1/2, we certainly seem to have produced an outsize daughter, the little girl next door who is past 3 only wears 7 1/2 shoes!). Frances had some fun riding on the rocking horse there. Then I bought a book for Mother’s birthday present, an account by Eve Curie of her travels as war correspondent, a most interesting book which I am hastening to read before I send it off. We also got a design for embroidering on to the hessian curtains, and I have now started on that Herculean labour – I doubt very much if they will be finished before you arrive! We had lunch in the Regent Street Fullers, and came home early in the afternoon.
I had a letter from Charles Swindall’s mother in reply to the Xmas card I sent him. [censored sentence] His sister has had a second daughter and her husband is at an Octu. All my love to you, my darling, look after yourself. I do hope this winter hasn’t been too terrible.
Yours always, Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 18, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20183.

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