Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Reports arrival of his letter and postcard from previous November and comments on his description his fellows and camp conditions. Mentions his violin practice, that she is sending music and strings as well as asking Red Cross to send medicine. Announces that she is finally completing all the paperwork for new house. Continues with description of work on house, catches up with friends news, daughter's first dance lesson and writes of family news.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter with handwritten note


IBCC Digital Archive


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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. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday January 30th 1944
My darling Johnnie,
I have two communications of yours to acknowledge this week, a letter of 15th Nov. and postcard of 20th. The earlier November ones are not yet to hand. Thank you so much for these two. In the letter you describe the crowd of fellows you are with, I’m so glad they are a good lot, it must make just all the difference. Do the Dutchmen help you with your Dutch now or still leave you to struggle alone? I am perturbed when you mention that you sometimes feel like giving up the fiddle, though considering all the difficulties and the impossible conditions for practice, I can only wonder and admire that you have carried on so long. I suppose the weather may defeat you for the worst winter months, obviously you can’t practise if you’re frozen stiff. But oh I do so hope that you will take it up again when it is a bit warmer. You may actually find that a bit of a rest does you good, it is easy enough to go stale with any instrument and you have put in such a terrific amount of practice. Only, as I say, I do so hope you will take it up again as soon as conditions are easier. I have sent off 6 A strings via Chappell’s, and will send you some more music too if you could give me any idea what sort of thing you’d like. I should think some Haydn and Handel would be nice, and I must send you the Mozart piano and violin sonatas too, for I have got a copy here and we could play those together. How I wish I could get the piano repaired so that I could start practising too. At the moment there is no pleasure in playing it at all, even the pedals don’t work, so I really must have it done and it was supposed to be taken for repair this month. I must write and remind them again. I hope the good fiddle which the Red Cross are sending you will arrive soon. I am writing tonight to ask them so [sic] send you more Argotone, I should think you must nearly have finished your supply now. Do you remember that shocking catarrh in the head I got when we were up in Monkton? I’ve been having another dose of it, but it is almost gone now, thank goodness. You will have noticed that I am not numbering my letters now, any reference to the numbers in your letters is always carefully blotted out, so I write regularly once a week, and you can tell from the date if any are missing.
I have actually signed the agreement for the house! It has taken five solid months to get that far! Now I have to go up to town to sign the Mortgage to the Building Society, and the Horswell’s have to sign the Agreement, and then the house is legally ours. How glad I am that I didn’t wait down in Devon till the deal had gone through. Mother has kindly sent me a pair of blue cotton curtains she had brought home with her, and I have used one of these to cover the corner hanging cupboard in the spare room because it goes rather well with the blue stripey curtains from the kitchen into the bedroom and the bedroom ones downstairs which has effected a general improvement all round. Mother also sent me the wooden bathrack we had at Lido, which I have repainted , so that now we don’t have to perch the soap on the edge of the bath. Incidentally I saw an unpainted bathrack like this in a shop recently for 9/6, which seemed a shocking price, so I didn’t buy it, and now of course I’m glad.
[page break]
Last Monday Roy came out for the day as arranged, it was very nice to see him again. I hope he has written to you to give you his impression of your house. He has volunteered for a chaplaincy, I gather he is very unhappy with the new vicar recently planted on him and simply must get away. He doesn’t know which service he’ll go into – can you imagine him a Sq/Ld? Yesterday Eileen Johnson came for the day, she brought Frances a lovely book and a bunch of snowdrops for me, to put by your photo. I always used to keep a little vase of flowers there, but since we’ve been in this house there just haven’t been any flowers, till these snowdrops. She has no news of Frank, I’m afraid he must certainly be written off, and now, poor girl, her young brother has gone the same way, about a fortnight ago, so of course there is still hope she may hear from him. Brighteyes is still abroad, he hasn’t been home at all, but apparently has been able to console himself for he has written to Peggy announcing he doesn’t love her any more, so she’s very cut up too. He is the type of boy who will find it very difficult to settle down after the war, I should think, he has had a pretty easy time and probably his commission has gone to his head. He says he doesn’t intend to return to this country at all.
Last Tuesday was a momentous occasion for both Frances and me – her first dancing class! She had been looking forward to it most eagerly, and I felt it was a solemn moment, the threshold between a dependent baby and toddler, and a very independent schoolgirl. She may not be quite a schoolgirl yet, but she feels like one! Anyway there was no trace of shyness at the dancing class, no clinging to Mother’s knee, she boldly marched into the middle of the hall with the others, (all somewhat older than she) and thoroughly enjoyed herself. At first she just stood and gazed at the teacher and the other girls (and one small boy) but soon she got the idea and tried to copy them. Of course it was all very elementary, but apparently thrilling to Frances. The crowning glory was when they sang and mimed “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep”. At “3 bags full” they had to hold up 3 fingers, and Frances was so absorbed in making her thumb hold her little finger down that she missed most of the rest! However she mastered her little finger in the end. She also had an argument with the teacher as to whether it was “none for the little boy who lives down the lane”. She compromised in the end by saying that the little boy would have had one if he hadn’t cried. Ever since then she has been pestering me to know if it’s time for the dancing class again. I consider it a good 2/6 worth, since it gives her such pleasure and introduces her into more juvenile society.
You may have heard from your parents that Leslie has got his commission at last. You remember that it was offered him and he would have had to go back to base for 6 months to train, and he turned it down flat. So now he has been given his commission in the field, a jolly good show. He has been wounded in the knee but I gather it is not serious. I have sent the £100 to your father with a kind, polite letter but have not had his acknowledgement yet, it will probably come tomorrow. Freeman has replied to my letter saying he will look into the matter of your shares but doesn’t seem to think there will be much market except for Aspro. I will ask Burgis whether anything has to be done to the Power of Attorney when I go up next week.
Monday morning.
No mail from you. A brief acknowledgement from ASV for the £100. So goodbye till next week, darling, and God bless you.
Yours for always,



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 9, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20186.

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