Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Reports receiving postcard he sent in January an glad he got new boots from Red Cross and discusses whether she should send more parcels or not. Laments over time missed while he has been a prisoner despite fact he is learning violin and Dutch. Continues with news of daughter and successful "Salute the Soldier" week. Mentions accounts and going to British Legion dance and meeting an American. Notes arrival of great day at last and assumes rejoicing in prisoner of war camps. Writes of visiting new junior school where she would like daughter to go. Concluded with gardening news.



Temporal Coverage



Two-page typewritten letter


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To. W/O Valentine,
British P/W 450
Stalag Luft III, Lager A,
[stamp GEPRUFT 67]
[inserted] 18/10 [/inserted]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday, June 4th 1944
My own dearest Johnnie,
I actually had a postcard from you this week, but as it was dated 23rd January, the news wasn’t exactly hot. Anyway I was glad to gather from it that you had got yourself a new pair of boots from the Red Cross, for of course the shoes I sent wouldn’t arrive for ages, if ever. I have no idea what to send in your next parcel, sometimes I feel all hopeful and think it doesn’t matter whether I send one or not because you ought to be home before you could receive it, but other times I am in more cautious mood and realise that it is better to be on the safe side. Two lines of your postcard were blacked out, so that it doesn’t leave very much over for me to reply to. You say you are fit, and that is the main thing. Also you say that you love me, and that is more important – not really [underlined] more [/underlined] important I suppose, for if you were ill, life would be a nightmare, but it makes everything worth while for me. You have seemed particularly near to me this week, so that two or three times I wanted to down tools and just cry for longing for you – particularly on the 30th May, terrible anniversary. Remember how wretched we used to feel if we were apart for more than a month? And now it is two solid years – grim years, but not totally wasted, I am sure. You are learning the fiddle, and Dutch, and have discovered your love for music, and I, though I haven’t added anything much to my intellectual accomplishments, have been able to do some of the groundwork in getting our home together, and Frances has grown up from a crawling baby to an independent and self-possessed young lady of three. These two years may not have been wasted but they have been quite long enough. They have seemed pretty arid to me, though I can do more or less what I like with my time, so what they have been like for you I can barely imagine. We shall just have to blot them out with the happiness and intensity of our living when you come back.
Frances has had quite a busy week. Tuesday was her dancing class as usual; on Thursday I took her to the cinema for the first time to see “Snowwhite [sic] and the Seven Dwarfs”, as this story plays such a large part in her imagination as well as her dancing class just now. Unfortunately we had to sit through another film first, which though not unsuitable was unutterably boring. However, she stuck it out, and at last got her reward. Of course a good bit of the humour went over her head but she grasped the main points of the story, and thought she was duly impressed by the wicked queen and the huntsman and so on, she wasn’t really frightened and doesn’t seem to have suffered from bad dreams on that account. She really behaved very well during the show though of course she chattered a good bit – but then the audience was mostly children and they all chattered about the film. Then her third engagement this week was a birthday party on Saturday at the house of one of the little girls at the dancing class, Barbara Kelly. It was at Gerrards Cross, and mothers were not invited, so I took her there and provided myself with a book which I lay and read in a secluded part of the common till it was time to fetch her again – a very satisfactory arrangement, much better than trailing home and back again. Frances seems to have had a wonderful time. She managed to get hold of Mr. Kelly, a large man well over 6ft and getting on for 50, and persuaded him to dance Snow White with her, and at intervals during the afternoon was to be seen arabesquing gracefully across the lawn with huge Mr. Kelly lumbering after her like a great bear.
[page break]
We have been having a special “Salute the Solder” savings week in the village this week, and as I have now got about £40 in house and establishment accounts besides the £50 which you gave me out of your RAF account, I have put this £50 into savings certificates – not that it wasn’t doing just as much good in my bank account but one may as well play the game. There have been rejoicing of all sorts in the village, and I actually went to one dance in the village hall given by the British Legion Womens Section. It wasn’t very thrilling, though I quite enjoyed dancing a bit again; the only reasonable person I met was a U.S. Sgt, an Austrian by birth, who speaks the same languages as I do and knows and like the same places and things. He drops in in the evenings sometimes, and the three of us argue about politics and international affairs and everything under the sun.
Tuesday, June 6th.
The great day has arrived at last, I hope you will have heard about it as we are hearing. There must be considerable rejoicings in all the prison camps. Here we feel a mixture of tenseness and relief, relief that at last it has started, but tenseness because it is going to be pretty awful from now till victory. There is so little that ordinary housewives can do to help. The ordinary daily round has seemed an awful anti-climax today, but of course Frances went to her dancing class as usual. I suppose that even when the armistice is signed I shall still keep on washing up and sweeping and dusting! My day will come later, so don’t be surprised if on your return the house looks far from clean, I shall probably have gone on strike at last!
Last Wednesday I cycled over to Jordans to look at the new Junior School recently started there. It is a delightful place, just a large hut really with two large classrooms, cloakroom, kitchen, and the sweetest little lavatories you have ever seen, small and low! I should very much like Frances to go there when she does start, perhaps in the autumn, I can take her on the back of my bicycle in about 5 minutes, and I am sure the companionship would do her good even though they might not teach her much at the tender age of 3 1/2. She, of course, is very keen to go to school. Pat has now decided to have some music lessons (piano) from a Madame Vastri (I suppose that is how she spells her name) who lives in the village. She started yesterday, and is now overwhelmed with a programme of scales and exercises she has to do for next week. Between the two of us we keep the poor old piano going, for I have been practising regularly every evening from 8 – 9, and feel I am getting a little better.
I have bought a dozen tomato plants from Mrs. Sharpe for the very modest sum of 3d each and have stuck them in, but since then the weather has been cold. The runner and french beans are coming up, and so are the Argentine and South African marrows I have sown. The weather has been terribly changeable, on Whit Monday it was simple baking, and after doing a large wash we made some sandwiches and took a picnic lunch up into the woods, Frances and baby and all, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
I do hope you will like the Polyfoto snaps of Frances that I am sending herewith. More to follow. Our kitten is coming on well, & is nearly clean now.
All my love to you, my own darling, it won’t be long now till we are reunited.
Always yours & longing for 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/20233.

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