Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Begins with weather and wishing for rain and continues with description of recent activities including visit to Windsor to get photographs of daughter taken, going to the cinema, shopping, visitors, second hand furniture shopping, re-stowing garage and gardening. List items assembled for his next clothing parcel and concludes with news or arrival of a postcard from him.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
W/O J.R.M. Valentine,
British P/W 450,
Stalag Luft III, Lager “A”,
[inserted] 2/9 [/inserted]
[stamp GEPRUFT 125]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday, April 30th 1944
My darling Johnnie,
Another week of glorious weather – how I wish it would rain! The ground is awfully dry and all the seedlings are so very slow in coming on. I do so want to get some moderately good results out of our first season in the garden, but it doesn’t look as though I shall unless things get moving soon.
On Wednesday of this week Frances and I went into Windsor with Gwen Milliner (Horswell’s daughter) and her little girl Pemma, and her friend Mary Mogy and [underlined] her [/underlined] small daughter Leila, in order to have the three small girls photographed. It is only about 3/4 hour by bus into Windsor, a very pleasant ride, so that it is quite easy to have a day on the river now and then, and we hope to do this some time this summer. Last Wednesday there wasn’t really time, for we had appointments with the Polyfoto place at 3.30, then we had tea and caught a bus back soon after 5 p.m. The photos of Frances won’t be ready for 3 weeks, but I have great hopes that they will be good, for she looked very pleasant and cheerful all the while they were being taken, and in fact thoroughly enjoyed the whole business. Afterwards we went for a walk by the river and wished there were time to take out a boat, but anyway we hope to go again sometime and have a real picnic.
On Thursday another notable event occurred – I went to the pictures! I haven’t been for simply ages, but they were showing Jane Eyre at Gerrards Cross, with Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles, which both Pat and I wanted to see, so I went on Thursday and she on Friday. It is a great advantage being together so that we can sometimes arrange an outing for one or the other. On Monday Pat was going into Gerrards Cross for some shopping, and took Frances with her, while I looked after the baby, also quite a nice change. I am getting quite practised at handling a little one again and shan’t feel quite so strange if ever my turn comes again (may it be soon!). On Saturday Irene Galitzenstein and her fiance, a physicist whom Ba used to work with at one time, came out for the day. After a bad start, because I told them to take a bus which we afterwards discovered didn’t run on Saturdays, we had a very pleasant day together, and went for a walk in the afternoon to show them the beauties of our countryside. The orchards and gardens are just full of bloom and blossom, and the woods are carpeted with bluebells, so that it really all looked beautiful. Afterwards Irene tried your new violin, and seemed to think it is quite a good one, specially when the bow is repaired, so I do hope you will be satisfied with it. However, if you get the chance to bring home the fiddle the Red Cross are sending you, which I hope may have arrived by now, do so by all means.
On Friday Pat went to see some second hand furniture which was on sale in the village, and we went with her, for she seems to imagine that I know something about furniture – quite erroneously. Anyway we saw a three piece sitting room suite, couch and two chairs, in good condition, for 30 guineas, and she bought it. The trouble is that she has no real prospect of setting up house – she hasn’t a house for one thing, but then if you wait to get a house before getting any
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furniture, you’d find you couldn’t get any, so you have to start somewhere. This suite is a sound investment anyway, for she could always sell if [sic] for at least that price. Meantime, storage is the problem, so we have this afternoon re-stowed the garage and now there is plenty of room for it in there. I have slung up your bicycle on the roof, which I ought to have done long ago only I couldn’t manage it on my own, and it all looks quite neat and tidy. I have done a good bit of gardening today too (besides going to church this morning), and have planted out all the maincrop potatoes now. The vegetable garden now contains the following, starting from the end nearest the house: one row each of artichokes, shallots and parsnips, two rows each early and second early potatoes then five rows maincrop dittos. 3 rows onions, 2 carrots, 1 beetroot, 2 salsafy, 1 seakale beet, 1 late onions, then a gap, then early carrots, cauliflower seedlings, then double row broad beans. All these run from side to side, ie. E and W. The next patch is devoted to peas, interplanted with lettuce and spinach, and goes North and South. After that come the currant and gooseberry bushes, which are going to be interplanted with dwarf beans, then come the raspberry canes (which look very flourishing), then the new apple trees and then the fence, against which I have this evening erected the bean poles for the runners, and I hope to grow more dwarf beans in front. The vegetable garden is all on the right of the path, looking from the house, on the left is a herbaceous border for two thirds of the distance, then comes the old established bush apple tree, now covered with blossom, then the seedbed, with a young damson tree, and logans and blackberries round the edge and rhubarb, then the compost heap and last the future marrow bed which Ann helped me to build when she was here, a rectangular wall of turves filled in with compost and I hope some manure if I can get it. I have got six little tomatoe [sic] plants of a new kind in pots, seedlings which Daddy gave me, also 3 cucumber plants. These tomatoes grow in bush form, you don’t have to stake them, and extravagant claims are made for the amount they yield. They are due to be planted (if they live so long) in the bed in the angle of the house between dining-room and garage, where the fruit trees are being trained against the wall, for this is the sunniest and most sheltered spot. I have also got a packet of sweet corn which I thought I would try to grow there. I cut the lawns the other evening, after struggling with our mower for a bit I went across to old Mr. Wallace who lives opposite and asked him for a spanner to try to adjust the thing. It ended up with him bringing his own good mower across and cutting half the lawn for me! It really looks quite nice now, only I haven’t been able to trim the edges for lack of a pair of shears!
Your clothing parcel is now assembled and due to go off next Wednesday. It contains the following: blanket, 2 vests, 2 pants, 3 socks, 4 handkerchiefs, usual toilet requisites, with chocolate ad [sic] 10 lbs. I didn’t know what to do about the vests and pants, for they will be too late for the summer, but thought I had better send them if your others are worn out. The blanket is to replace the rug which went astray, and I do hope it will arrive safely, though I wish you could have left long before that. However the future is very obscure still, so I thought I would be on the safe side and send it. As soon as the parcel is despatched I suppose I shall get a letter from you saying what you really want – it is annoying that mail takes so long that your requests just miss the parcel each time.
[underlined] Monday [/underlined]
Your P.C. of [underlined] 19th March [/underlined] received! That must be a record for speed of transit, I’m [underlined] so [/underlined] thrilled that music means so much to you now, I can see we are going to have a wonderful life together when at last we are reunited. All my love dearest, God bless you, 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/20220.

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