Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes of rush of people enquiring whether they could rent rooms in their house but turned them down as she decided that expectant mothers had priority. Writes of her sister's recent visit and other domestic activities. Mentions plans to get piano fixed and goes on with financial matters. Concludes with mention of recent correspondence, mortgage payments and daughters saying prayers.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
To W/O Valentine,
British P/W 450,
Stalag Luft III, Lager A
[stamp GEPRUFT 25]
[inserted] 13/5 [/inserted]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday, February 27th 1944
My darling Johnnie,
It is the queerest thing how Frances and I have managed to live here quietly and undisturbed for three solid months, and now all in a single week we have been besieged from all sides by people wanting to come and live with us! First Our Expectant Mother, Mrs. Kay, then Barbara came for four nights, during which time Mrs. Kay had to be farmed out somewhere else in the village, and in addition no less than four people have come asking for rooms! Our neighbours had apparently noticed that Frances and I appeared to live alone in the house and deduced therefrom that there must be room to spare. One came and asked me if I would take in an officer and his wife, another was a middle aged business man and his wife, then came a man enquiring for rooms for a friend with wife and six year old daughter, and yesterday a girl looking for rooms for her aged mother and father. This is mostly owing to our vicinity to London, of course, and I regretfully had to turn all the applicants down. For one thing I have neither bed nor bedding for more than one – the Utility bed which I have on order will not come for several months yet, and even then I shall have to buy another mattress. And until we get ourselves some eiderdowns we haven’t enough blankets either. Anyway I am quite satisfied with my one E.M. at a time, and consider her a priority case. All the same, it is rather funny how they all came in a rush. Probably when Mrs. Kay goes into Fulmer Chase, there will be no more applications. However, her baby isn’t due for another 10 days, and knowing how unreliable first babies are, I can’t make any arrangements in advance.
It was lovely having Barbara here for a few days. Poor girl, she is in a pretty low state. For one thing she was very tired when her holiday started, but the chief trouble is that she had apparently fallen quite seriously in love with a fellow called Jock, who went missing five weeks ago. Poor Barbara, I know what it feels like, let’s only hope she may be as lucky as I was, though somehow I feel she won’t be. I feel so desperately sorry for her, if only there was any mortal thing one could do.
Anyway we had a pleasant time together. On Tuesday (she arrived on Monday evening) we went together to the dancing class, and she was enchanted with the infants’ antics. Frances was on top of her form. Afterwards we had tea in Gerrards Cross and did a bit of shopping. Nothing special happened on the other days – I did as little housework as possible and we went out for walks, but the weather was pretty chilly. Barbara left early on Friday morning, and Mrs. Kay arrived back for lunch, and now the household has resumed its routine; Mrs. Kay gets up pretty late, 9.30 or so, which is really an advantage because I can get a lot of the cleaning done beforehand, she potters round in the morning, we have lunch at 12.30 and afterwards both she and Frances retire for their rest, then get up and we go for a walk or shopping together. Tea at 5, when that’s cleared away I read to Frances till her bedtime; Mrs. Kay retires soon after 9 p.m. and peace is restored.
[page break]
Do you remember I told you I had written to a local pianotuner to see if he could possibly repair our piano. Yesterday he turned up, and had a look at the instrument. He said he couldn’t do the major repair, all the refelting and so on, but he took the action out, adjusted it a bit, repaired the pedals which had ceased to function altogether, and tuned it, and found out that the chief cause of the awful rattling and reverberating which I had suffered from was the fact that the action was only loosely screwed into the frame, or perhaps had come loose in transport. Anyway, when he tightened it all up, it sounded far better, in fact quite bearable, so I have decided not to have anything done to it for the time being. The cost of repairs is up about 300%, so if we can carry on till after the war we can get it done probably better and certainly much cheaper. And now it is at least possible to play it with pleasure and that is the main thing. So I was let off with 10/- instead of £10, and feel very relieved.
I have now had a reply from Freeman about the shares. It is as you thought, they are none of them looking very bright. The 5/- Aspros are quoted at 20/- Philips are 1/3. Roy says these prices more or less reflect the position of the companies, they are all suffering from war conditions and ought to improve after the war. He says if they were his he would hang on to them, and this is what I shall do. If the money is only needed to pay off our debt to my people, they are in no hurry and we may as well wait and get the best price for them. Incidentally Burgis has not yet returned the Power of Attorney which I left with him to be stamped over a month ago. I have never known such a hustler! Roy says in his letter that Bill Clark now has a daughter, and that John Nicolson was in the office and asked after you. As usual he says he will come and see us soon – this is now a standing joke, he has been promising to come any day for about two years! Of course the poor boy is desperately busy, and I certainly don’t expect to see him out here till you are back.
I had a nice letter from Mrs. Boyd this week, did I tell you that they are now down in Bournemouth and apparently happily settled in, and she gave us a hearty invitation to go down there any time. I should like to keep in touch with her, she is a grand woman.
The book of words has now arrived from the Building Society, and I shall take it into Gerrards Cross on Tuesday and arrange for a Bankers Order to pay the monthly amount of £6.16.8. The interest charged is, I believe, 5%, though I can’t find it stated on these papers. I will write to Touche’s about the income tax rebate.
Frances now says her prayers at night kneeling beside me while I sit on a chair and “hear” her. When Ba was here she performed this office, and one evening was wearing a dress with buttons down the front. Frances’s attention is apt to wander a bit, and she said “God bless Mother, God bless Father, God bless Grannie, God bless button, God bless another button, God bless another …” and had to be hastily recalled to the business in hand. She also confuses Heaven with Hendon, and we get into rather deep theological water sometimes. I think Roy ought to come forward and do his stuff, but when he was here he did nothing about it at all! I told you, didn’t I, that he had been turned down for a chaplaincy by his medical, according to which his heart is not up to scratch, and is going to a parish in Ealing instead. He is very disappointed about it, I think.
Lots of love to you, my darling.
Yours always, Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 19, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20204.

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