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 some of his letters and says she will track down source of books he received. Writes of her activities and plans to go to Devon for 10 days. Mentions buying things for house and future commuting to London. Continues with comment on vising post natal home progress of mothers. Writes of daughters activities and progress. Concluded with other gossip.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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W/O Valentine,
British P/W No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Lager A.
[stamp GEPRUFT 25]
[inserted] 6/9 [/inserted]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Saturday, April 1st, 1944.
Darling Johnnie, I have had two letters from you this week, dated 5th October and 6th January! In the earlier one you mention receiving some books from a man in Sweden, and I will in due course write and thank him, perhaps this [inserted] written! [/inserted] evening, if I get the time. Some-how time seems to fly faster than ever now that Pat Hodson and her baby are here. The daylight hours are so full with children and chores, and when we at last relax in the evenings there is so much to talk about and discuss, that the days fly past. On Monday Frances and I are going down to Devon for 10 days, leaving Mrs. Hodson here. She is going to have a friend to stay for Easter weekend, so she won’t be quite alone, and doesn’t seem to mind a bit. We have both been busy dressmaking this week (in the evenings that is), she has made herself a coat and I have made Frances two white blouses and a pair of summer shorts. I have also been doing some gardening, have got the early potatoes in, and more peas, lettuce and spinach. Things are very slow germinating this year, not enough rain I suppose, though the sunshine has been lovely recently. I expect I shall see a great change when we return after Easter, I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing the garden in full bloom. We have got a lovely bed of white violets anyway, I have picked several big bunches of them, they have a most delicate scent. There are quite a lot of bulbs about, and the rockery is beginning to produce pleasant surprises.
I have been buying things for the house again. Each time I think we are all complete and my future savings can go towards paying off my people, behold something else turns up! This time it is the second bed. You may remember I ordered a Utility bedstead last December and was told it wouldn’t come for five months. Yesterday I had a letter from Waring and Gillow saying it had arrived already and is being sent out her next Tuesday. I hadn’t bothered about getting a mattress for it but now that it is actually here I had to do something about it. Warings had only Utility mattresses which, as the man admitted himself, are really awful and not worth buying (price nearly £4), so I rang up Maples, who still seem able to remake bedding with real hair in it, like our double mattress, and I have bought a mattress for the new 3’ bed from them. It will cost over £7, which seems really a lot, but on the other hand I don’t feel it is worth while getting a mattress that won’t last and do good service. The bedstead itself, being Utility, costs about £3 as far as I remember, as against the £8 I had to pay for the other single bed which was not Utility. I do hope the Utility one will be alright, one cannot inspect them before buying but just has to order them according to the catalogue. The Utility furniture which I have seen in shops before looked quite reasonable. But thank goodness we had [missing words] [inserted] the MAIN [/inserted] furniture for our house before! There have been a lot of discussions and talks on postwar [sic] housing recently, and the more I hear about the dim prospects, the more thankful I am that we have a house of our own. You ask in your letter whether the 2 1/2 hours I mentioned I took from the City here is the normal time. Most certainly not. You can get up to Marylebone or Paddington under the hour, and from there on the District or Met or whatever it is to Liverpool street wouldn’t take longer than 10 – 15 minutes I should think. Before the war travel was much easier and quicker, there was the Green Line for one thing direct to
[page break]
Oxford Circus, and presumably after the war these and even better facilities will be restored. Plenty of people do travel up daily from here. You may find it convenient to cycle in to Gerrards Cross in decent weather.
Last Friday I went over to Fircroft, which is the post-natal home attached to Fulmer Chase, to visit Mrs. Kay, who has now produced a daughter, and also to see Ruth Allenby (now Mrs. Marshall, do you remember we went to their wedding and had nothing but lemonade to drink?). I had only discovered by chance that she was there through meeting her mother (who recognised me, though I didn’t know her) when we went over to Fulmer the week before. She told me that Ruth had just had a son, and I felt I must try to get across to see her again. So I took Frances over, and we had quite a chat. This is her second child, she already has a daughter, Gillian Frances, of 18 months. Her husband is still in this country, and she is living down in Wiltshire sharing a cottage with her sister and her two children. Do you remember Hilda Miller, whom we met at Ruth’s wedding too? She is married now as well, Ruth told me. It was awfully nice to see her again, looking definitely older I thought. I had an airgraph from Leslie last week, cheerful as usual, though of course he can’t give any information when he writes.
I laughed a lot at your description of yourself as “musically a clod” and your “harmonic amnesia”. You can’t think how I am looking forward to playing with you (and not only that, of course!) Frances has now taken to composing song and dance. She announces that she is now going to perform a song called “Children’s Hours,”, or “Snowwhite”, [sic] or anything else that comes into her mind; then she proceeds to skip and prance round the rug in the kitchen, chanting the wildest strains until she is out of breath, which brings the performance to a close. The other night we were saying prayers and had just finished when she said “I ‘gotten to say Bless Grandpa”. “Alright, say it now”. “Oh no, I can’t be boddered” and she proceeded to bed. She strings her sentences together in a very grownup way now, but still can’t manage “th” and mispronounces or chops up lots of words, which gets a very funny effect sometimes. Now that Pat is here it is often harder to keep a straight face than when I was alone with Frances, but on the other hand it is awfully nice to have someone to laugh with over her funny sayings and doings. Pat and I get on very well together. We laugh at the same things, quote or misquote the same books and generally understand each other’s language. I wasn’t really conscious of being lonely before, except when assailed with longing for you which of course no one but you can ever assuage, but I am sure I should miss Pat very much now if she were to leave. I don’t think there is any immediate prospect of that. Her husband [censored words] hopes to get leave soon and spend it here; by her accounts of him I think you and he would get on well together too, wouldn’t it be jolly if we could all meet after the war. I am glad we shall have two spare beds in the house when you are back, so that we can have people to stay. For now the bed will stand in the nursery, eventually I suppose Frances will be promoted to sleep in it, but we could put two single beds in the spareroom [sic] if necessary. I have also arranged to have our front gates mended, they are very disreputable at the moment, but Mr. Hatchett’s father is going o [sic] repair them for £3 which is quite cheap (new ones cost about £11!). The house-painting is going on well, if not very fast, Mr. Hatchett suits himself about when and how long he works. I hope it will all be done before your people come out after Easter. I’m dreading that day!
All my love to you, my dearest, I shall be thinking of you specially on your birthday, Yours always, Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 4, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20212.

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