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 heavily censored letter posted in November and commiserates over missing parcel. Catches up with news of acquaintances and hopes that a new violin from the Red Cross will arrive soon. Mentions that his mail is really slow, she now has most letters up to previous November and worries that her birthday greetings to him will also be delayed. Continues with decision to board mother and young baby as this paralleled her own experiences. Concludes with mention of weather, gardening and other recent activities.



Temporal Coverage



Two paged typewritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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Start of transcription
To W/O Valentine,
British P/W No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Lager A.
From Mrs. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chafont St. Giles, Bucks
Sunday, March 5th 1944
[inserted] 13/5 [/inserted]
My dearest Johnnie,
I have had one postcard from you this week dated 25th November, in which you say that my June parcel arrived at the last camp and was forwarded, then the rest is blacked out. I gather that it is missing, but I hope not for good, I can’t bear to think of all the work that went into that rug, and the warmth you would have derived from it, being lost. The slippers too were nice ones. I do hope it will turn up eventually, but can’t tell from your mutilated postcard what has happened to it. I have had an acknowledgement of my letter from Miss N. Savage, in which she thanks you for your message and sends best wished. I have also gathered from cuttings from the times which Mother sent me that a schoolfriend of mine, Hilary Curtis, through whose family I got to know the Van Zwanenbergs, has just had a baby son, and also that David and Nancy Blaikley have had a second daughter. Nancy is in a nursing home between here and Gerrards Cross and I rang her up yesterday and hada [sic] chat, and Frances and I are going over to see her sometime this week if possible. She has had rather a bad time before the birth with phlebitis and thrombosis and so on, and has to stay in bed for three weeks and then take things easy for six months. She is worried because her nanny is leaving and she simply must find another which won’t be too easy. They have also moved house, into another furnished cottage nearer to Gerrards Cross, larger than the one at Fulmer. Nancy complained that the rent was high, I know that they paid £185 for the other one with only two bedrooms, so heaven knows what this one costs! I was so glad to see from your card that your fiddle is repaired and hanging together, and I do hope the better one from the Red Cross will arrive soon in good condition. I wonder if you will be allowed to bring it home with you? I have got most of your letters up to the end of November now, but considering we are well into March, it can hardly be considered fast going. I wonder if mine are taking as long. If so, I am afraid I shall be late with my birthday wishes to you, my darling husband, but I shall be thinking of you on that auspicious day with even more passionate longing than usual. I hope I may be able to have a wee party for Frances’s birthday – when you are back we shall have to have a mammoth joint celebration. As soon as I possibly can, I want to go into Windsor and have a Polyfoto taken of Frances – rather a come-down after Barbara’s exclusive portraits, but the best I can manage now. I was hoping to have been able to get one of the pictures to you for your birthday, but fate has been against me with expectant mothers and so on and I just haven’t been able to manage it. However, I hope to go soon.
Now I have done another thing against everybody’s advice and my better judgment, viz, I have agreed to take in a young mother with baby, instead of sticking to expectant mothers. The latter are far less trouble of course, since they are not ill and rest a lot of the time and there is no extra work entailed. But last Tuesday when we got back from the dancing class (Mrs. Kay came with us this week) I found a letter waiting for me on the mat from a Mrs. Hodson, a young New Zealander [censored] who had just had her baby daughter in the Fulmer Chase Maternity home and had spend [sic] a fortnight in the post-natal home Fircroft and was due to go back to London to her in-laws, neither aspects of which she looked forward to. She wanted a home in the country indefinitely with her small baby and was rather desperate since she has no friends in this country.
[page break]
Altogether I felt sorry for her, knowing what it is like to come out of a nursing home and find people not too anxious to take in a young mother with baby – remember your frantic searchings for digs [censored] So I rang her up, and the next day we went over to Fircroft, the post-natal home, with Mrs. Kay who is hoping to go there herself and wanted to see it, and met Mrs. Hodson and her baby. She is a charming girl, about my age I should say, and sensible, wide-awake and intelligent, as far as one can judge from an afternoon’s acquaintance. In short, I agreed to have her, and now of course I am looking forward ever so much to having a wee baby in the house again. There is a lot to be said for E.M.’s, the fact that they are so temporary and no trouble and so on, but on the other hand for these very reasons it is much easier for them to find a home in the country for a week or two than it is for a mother with baby, and since I am willing, in fact glad, to have a mother and baby, I think it is better I should and leave the E.M.s to others, who are better equipped with telephone and car. So my Mrs. Hodson is coming as soon as Mrs. Kay goes, or sooner if it gets too noisy in town, in which case she would have to sleep in the double bed so I’m hoping Mrs. Kay won’t delay too long. She is due tomorrow, but you know what babies are like! There are advantages in having Mrs. Hodson too, being more permanent the income will be steadier (I suggested £2.10 a week, Mrs. Clarkson Webb was horrified at so low a figure, But Mrs. Hodson will doubtless think it too high, so we shall have to thrash it out when she comes), and I shan’t be terrified of leaving her alone for ten minutes together while I go out shopping, as I am with Mrs. Kay, lest she should pop. I do hope the arrangement will work out well, if not, of course, we can always terminate it. It was very interesting going over to Fircroft, which is a lovely country house, and we went up to the nursery and saw the rows of thriving infants peacefully asleep. In fact I seem to be surrounded just now with babies and rumours of babies, and I’m getting really jealous!
We have had some lovely sunshine this week, alternating with flurries of snow, and I have at last got some gardening done. The ground was beautifully friable, and raked down to a fine tilth. I have forked in some of my Hop Manure, and sown parsnips, broad beans, early carrots, leeks and brussels in the seed bed, and a short row of early peas. The garden is looking nice and tidy just now, the crocuses are out but nothing else so far, though quite a lot of other bulbs are showing. I am just longing for the leaves to break out this year, some how I seem to have been waiting for it longer than other years. but the cold snap will have kept things back. We went for another delightful walk this afternoon, with Mrs. Kay – Frances insists that we are the three bears, Big Bear, Middle-sized Bear and the wee, wee Bear, (Mrs. Kay being only about 5!3” [sic]). I don’t bother to take the push-chair now, Frances walks quite as far as we do and arrives if anything fresher.
I have arranged with the Bank to pay the Building Society by bankers order, and our first payment will go through tomorrow – solemn moment! I had a kind letter from Mr. Neal offering further help if need should arise. He hasn’t yet sent in his bill for surveying this house and the one at Chelmsford for me, I’m wondering nervously what it is going to be. I have paid the various insurances as they fell due, otherwise nothing very striking has happened this past week [inserted] + Monday. [/inserted]
No mail from you this morning. So Goodbye darling, God bless you. I love you always A big kiss from Frances.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 23, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20205.

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