Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Notes that mail is getting slower as war draws top climax but hopes photographs she sent will arrive. Describes lodgers baby and recent activities including intention to take up learning Russian again. Continues with description of daily routine and outhouse buildings on adjacent land that she would like to obtain. Mentions starting negotiations with owner. Writes of daughters activities, progress and her kitten.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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To W/O Valentine,
British P/W 450, Stalag Luft III Lager A
[ink stamp] [inserted] 20/8 [/inserted]
From Mrs. Valentine, Felmersham, Botterell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday, May 28th 1944
My own darling Johnnie
There is still no mail from you – I have a nasty feeling that letters are going to become scarcer and scarcer until they practically cease to arrive as the war draws to its climax. However, if the fact that mail is getting rarer means that the war is drawing closer to its end, I can put up with it quite stoically. Of course it is far worse for you to be cut off from news of home – I do hope that the photographs I have been sending lately will arrive. The one enclosed today is of Pat Hodson and her infant Carol, the latter as you can see has got a very snub nose, but she is a sweet baby and very healthy and good. Frank, Pat’s husband has now gone back from leave, and the house seems very quiet and subdued without him, he is such a cheerful sort of fellow. Pat and I have taken up our various activities with renewed vigour, and have tried to organise a timetable to ensure that we get at least a few of the things done that we want to do. Of course nothing much reasonable ( i.e. brainwork) can be done during the day while the sprogs are around, but when we have got rid of them, at 7 p.m. we have a quick supper, during which we both read, then I have half an hour on the piano while pat practices her typing, an accomplishment which she wishes to acquire, heaven knows why, then Pat goes at the piano and I pitch into something else, generally mending or ironing or fruit bottling ( I have bought a pounds of gooseberries from old Mr. Palmer next door and bottled them – ours are not ready yet and anyway there will be very few.) I have decided to take up Russian again and see if I can’t learn it properly this time. I haven’t actually started yet, but Sunday evening is dedicated to my letter to you. We are having simply gorgeous weather just now, much to Pat’s annoyance since it was horribly cold all the time Frank was here, and I have to spend some of my evenings watering the more urgent vegetables – the ground is terribly dry again. I have planted out the bush tomatoes and cucumbers, seedlings which Daddy gave me at Easter and which I have been nursing ever since. Some of the French beans are through but not the runners yet. The main crop of peas are coming on quite nicely and I had the unpleasant job of sticking them yesterday, its awfully hard on the hands.
Nothing very striking has happened this week. At the beginning looked after Carol a fair amount while Pat and Frank went out together, Tuesday Frances had her dancing class as usual, and on Thursday evening Frank departed . Then we changed bedrooms back again, and I am glad to be in my own again. I have now got the green and white table lamp which someone gave us for a wedding present beside the bed for a reading lamp, so that I can indulge I the vice of reading in bed ( I never get enough reading in otherwise). I have just finished “ Madam Curie” by her daughter Eve, a really fascinating book which makes one feel that one must fit in a little intellectual work beside the housework, since she did such a prodigious amount as well as bring up a family. ( of course she didn’t have to do much housework , lucky thing!) On Saturday, just as I was preparing to cook the meat and make the pastry, a strange sight appeared in our drive, to wit Mr. Horswell, in a smart blue lounge suit, astride a foaming charger. We went out to greet him, and he asked me if I would like a ride, so up I hopped, in cotton dress, no stockings and an apron, and took the beast out for a trot. luckily it turned out to be quite tame, and we had quite a pleasant ride. But I am still stiff from it, though I wasn’t up more than 10 minutes!
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Frances is very keen to have a pony, not content with a kitten, but I have prudently told her to wait and ask father! Really, though, I should love to have her taught riding fairly young, there is a good bit of hacking done round about here, I often see one woman who seems to conduct a riding school out with youngsters of various ages, and I do hope we shall be able to rise to having her taught at well.
I believe I have told you in earlier letters that at the end of our garden there is a piece cut off, which geometrically should obviously belong to us, on which Mr. Horswell built himself a massive series of outhouses, about 10ft tall and constating of various sections, in at least one of which he used to keep a horse, so you can judge the size. The rest of the ground he used as a chicken run. I have been coveting this piece of land for a long time, the outhouses would be most useful, as greenhouse, garden shed and potting shed, house for the children to have as their own to play in, and general dump, and the extra bit of land would make all the difference to our garden. So at last I plucked up courage to approach our new neighbour, Mr. Brown, who looks like a peppery retired Colonel but told Pat he was something to do with the Navy – anyway he is peppery and rather queer – he has a passion for airing shirts all round his garden. He turned out to be quite docile, to my surprise, and said at once that he would consider my request either to sell or rent the land to us. That was yesterday, presumably he has been brooding on it but nothing further has happened. I really haven’t the faintest idea how much the land is worth, it is not large, but the building is probably worth something, though not to anyone else, since I shouldn’t think it could be taken away. I do so hope he will be reasonable.
This afternoon Frances and I went out for a picnic, and I took my paintbox and perpetrated a sketch of a scene that I love particularly among the many lovely views round here. This morning I went to church.
Frances continues to grow and flourish, and her hair is getting longer, curlier and thicker, so that it is quite a problem to do. The brushing and combing sessions night and morning are a trial, and I am now doing it with a ribbon tied right around her head keeping the long hair out of her eyes, and she looks very sweet like that. Her little limbs are growing so straight and firm, I am really proud of them and only wish my legs were as nice as hers! She hasn’t made any very memorable remarks recently, but she keeps up a constant chatter. She is very fond of her kitten and is learning to be a little more gentle with it. The kitten incidentally has started on a course of house-training, we put a tin lined with newspaper in the corner of the kitchen where it usually makes its messes, and put some sand in it, and to our joy and surprise the cat now performs in the tin and kicks the sand about like anything .Pat and Frank wanted to give me a present for the garden, presumably because I looked after their infant for them, but of course this is not the time of year for transplanting trees or bushes. However, they bought one stripling bush, which is due to have a lovely misty blue flower when grown, I can’t read the label but it is something like Ceanalba, and they also gave me 15/- to buy roses in the autumn when they can be transplanted. Wasn’t it kind of them? I shall use the money to buy roses for the enlarged pergola I want to make in the autumn dividing the lawn from the vegetable garden. There are about 6 climbing roses already there, but I think more will be needed , and I should like to plant clematis, honeysuckle and jasmine as well. The herbaceous border looks like nothing on earth this year but I am hoping to improve that nest year too.
[inserted] All my love to you, my dearest, I long for you so terribly, Ursula. [/inserted]
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Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 19, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20231.

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