Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Whites that she has had no mail from him that week and that some plans for week fell through. Describes other activities of shopping, gardening and mentions receiving information about visit to his camp by by Swedish representatives. Writes of daughter's progress and describing photograph she is sending. Continues with news of impending visit by lodger's husband catches up with family news and gossip and mentions her savings plans.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
W/O Valentine, J.R.M.,
British P/W No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Lager A,
[stamp GEPRUFT 52]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday May 14th 1944
[inserted] 13/10 [/inserted]
My darling Johnnie,
This week has been one of frustrated hopes. In the first place, no mail from you. Then we had arranged quite a full programme of entertainment, all of which fell through at the last moment except one. I had invited the Horswell’s to tea on Tuesday, and apparently Mr. Horswell simply forget [sic] to pass the invitation on to his wife, anyway she knew nothing of it. However that was all to the good, for we were late getting back from the dancing class anyway. Wednesday we were expecting Barbara, but she has postponed her visit till next week. Thursday we invited to tea a girl who lives in the village with her twin daughters of 14 months, her husband was killed in Africa. She duly came, she is a nice type, also desperately looking for a house, for she has to get out of her present cottage in August. On Friday Vera Bowack was due to come, but she wrote that she could get a lift up to town on Monday, so we are expecting her then instead. So instead I went in to Gerrards Cross on Friday to see Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier in “Wuthering Heights”, thoroughly enjoyed [inserted] it [/inserted] and wept buckets. Do you remember our seeing a stage version together in Oxford? I enjoyed that expedition more, for other reasons!
So the chief event of the week after all was the purchase of a pair of shears – quite an achievement these days, I can tell you. They only cost 5/11 too, and seem to be quite good. As a result I spent Saturday afternoon clipping the edges of the front and back lawns and trimming two little ornamental bushes in the front garden. The second rhododendron is now in bud, it is a dark purple one, and will make a nice contract with the white. The irises are just coming out too, they seem to be mostly white. We had some longed-for rain last night, quite a good heavy shower, and everything looks much brighter today. So I have been busy on the lettuces this afternoon and have thinned and transplanted dozens and dozens. So if my letter contains less sense than usual it is because the blood went to my head through a surfeit of transplanting!
I had a letter from Grunfeld this week, enclosing a copy from Nilson describing a visit from a Swedish representative of some sort to you. I suppose this is a different chap from the one your father told me about, is it? You live in quite a social whirl!
Frances has recently begun to show marked signs of independence in the management of her own affairs, such as teeth cleaning, hand washing and other toilet requisites. She has to be supervised of course, but it is all to the good that she should want to do it on her own. She is also very keen on laying the table for me, and she doesn’t do too badly at it; gives us large forks for desert occasionally and that sort of thing, but on the whole she is pretty good – for her age. She is awfully sweet with Carol too, and makes herself quite useful to Pat is [sic] collecting and assembling the requisites for Carol’s bath.
[page break]
In one of the photos I am sending herewith you will behold your daughter sitting in a cardboard box, deeply engrossed in the intricate business of putting a nappy on her Bunny Rabbit. She has even learnt to fold Carol’s nappies into double triangles. The photo of me with Frances in the swing was taken last autumn down in Devon by Peter, who has only just sent me a print. The photo of Ann isn’t very flattering of her, we had rather a struggle with Frances to make her stand still. That is the dining-room window to the right of Ann, in the photo of me and Frances taken at the same spot you can see something of the espalier pear against the wall. I am sending all the snaps at once, instead of spreading them out over as many letters as possible, because I am afraid mail communications may get even worse when things really get moving.
The main preoccupation at the moment is the news that Pat’s husband Frank is coming on leave next week. Pat is in an absolute fever, has gone clean off her food, and spends all day making herself new clothes to greet the occasion. He hasn’t had a week’s leave for over six months, and has been in one or two notable actions, so there will be great celebrations. The baby is to be christened on Sunday 21st May, their wedding anniversary, and I am to be one of its godmothers. So I am busy making myself a new dress too, with some material which I bought last summer and never had time to make up. It is a black and white printed lawn, from Liberty’s, and I do hope it will look equal to the occasion. There will be a few relations of theirs to tea after the christening, luckily Pat already has a cake sent for the occasion. While her husband is here they are going to use our bedroom – I do hope you don’t mind, but it seemed ridiculous not to offer it to them. This will be a sort of dress rehearsal, pale and mild in comparison, for your home-coming. I wonder if I shall go as goofy as Pat has done!
Mother has very nobly written to offer to lend us the little beige carpet which used to be in the nursery at Lido, and I have accepted most thankfully. If it comes I shall put it in Frances’s room, and then the matting which covers, but does not grace, the floor in there at present, will come down into the kitchen, and the shocking old rug at present in the kitchen, which used to be over the tank in the loft at Lido, can be slung out. It will be a great improvement all round, and a considerable relief to me, for now the rug which I am knitting with so much labour out of string can be a hearthrug, as I first intended, instead of having to be made three times as big to go into Frances’s bedroom.
I am having great difficulty in saving my £2 per week now with our enlarged household. After a bit I saw it was hopeless, and only aimed at 30/-, since of necessity it must cost more to feed four than two, but even 30/- doesn’t always get saved. However, house a/c has a credit of about £20 at the moment, so it will survive. The RAF supplements and Pat’s £2.00 per week go regularly into establishment account of course, so we are really doing alright. I long to spend lots of money on the garden, buying bedding plants and perennials for the herbaceous border, but all seedlings and plants are a wicked price now, 2d each for antirhinums and so on, so I am trying to be very strong minded, make the best of what is there and concentrate on vegetables this year. I have sown dwarf and runner beans, and today put in some fancy marrow seeds, which I am trying for the first time. But I am not really pleased with the way things are growing.
I love you so much darling.
Yours always, Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 26, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20224.

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