Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes there is still no news from him and hopes her letters are getting through. Mentions she has agreed sale of plot of land with neighbour and describes outbuildings on it. Describes listening to radio programme on small holdings with lodger and dreams of following suit. Continues with gossip and news of garden. Complains that there are many things she wished to write of but are forbidden which make her letters seem trivial.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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To. W/O Valentine, J.R.M.,
British Prisoner of War No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Lager A,
[inserted] 18/10 [/inserted]
From Mrs. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday, June 11th 1944.
My own darling Johnnie,
There is still no news from you to answer, I do so hope that you are getting a few of my letters through, specially now that I have some photos to send at last. I am enclosing some more Polyfotos of Frances this time. I think she really looks more grown-up in some of them than she strikes me as looking in real life. But perhaps that is only because in the flesh her childish prattle dispels any illusion of great age. Worst of all, of course, the photos miss her colouring, which continues to be as lovely as I have ever seen (maternal pride notwithstanding, even you will have to admit that she is sweet!) Of course she is a demon in many ways, but sometimes she is very thoughtful and kind as well,. She simply loves her pussy, but her affection takes rather too violent forms and I still often have to intervene to save the wretched kitten from being strangled.
Nothing very much has happened this week; that is in our private domestic affairs, outside very big things have happened which you will doubtless have got to know about. The main thing at home was that Mr. Brown, our new next door neighbour, and I have come to terms about the sale of the piece of land at the end of our garden, with the outbuildings thereon. The price agreed on is £20, which I think is probably quite a bargain from our point of view, and he is apparently satisfied too, since he doesn’t use the land and couldn’t sell it to anyone else. I got the local estate agent and surveyor, Mr. Horne, a dear fatherly little man, to come up and see if the price was fair, as Mr. Brown asked me to, and Mr. Horne, having examined the outbuildings gazed at me with round eyes and said “Will he sell you all this for £20?” and afterwards announced solemnly that he thought it was the right price. The outbuilding consist of four sections in a row, first a small stable, big enough for a horse and with a manger at one end. The other end has about a dozen rabbit hutches built in, and I am now seriously considering the idea of keeping rabbits, high-class rabbits of some sort, chinchilla, or rex or silver fox, the kind whose skins are really worth selling (Ann Doxford kept quite a lot and made money out of the too). Next in the outbuilding comes a smaller section, about 4ft wide, fitted with roomy shelves on both sides. Then comes another horse box, and the last section has very large windows on both sides, and will make quite a good substitute for a greenhouse, and potting shed. Altogether the extra space and storage room will be most useful to us, and opens up all sorts of delightful possibilities in the way of poultry and rabbit keeping – there is plenty of room to keep a pony for Frances too!! I am not going to rush into a lot of livestock all at once, for one thing I haven’t the cash just now, but it is nice to think that we can expand whenever we want to. As for the £20 purchase price, that of course is going to set me right back where I started from in my attempt to save something towards the £200 we owe my people, but I do think you would approve of the purchase. I shall have to think of some quicker way of making £200!
[page break]
Pat and I were listening the other day to a woman talking on the wireless of how she and her husband had make [sic] a success of a small holding of 20 acres of rather poor land, without any previous experience and not very much capital. It set us both wishing again, for she and Frank had wanted to go into farming when he got out of the merchant service. Now they have absolutely no idea what is going to happen to them after the war, and we started building fantastic schemes of the four of us (with children) going into partnership with a small farm after the war. You would run the business side of it and presumably keep on with your job as well, Frank would do most of the actual work on the farm during the day, and Pat and I would look after the poultry, vegetables, flower garden, houses, children and all the rest. It might be great fun, but of course it would depend on whether you and the Hodsons took to each other. I like them both and think you would too, but one can never really judge for other people. I suppose it is all rather a crazy idea, but it would be jolly if it happened to turn out. We could start quite well from [inserted] here [/inserted] if only one or other of our neighbours would depart so that Frank and Pat could have their house. Pat, of course, is all in favour of our packing up and going to New Zealand and buying a large sheep farm with a piece of coast all of our own and a beach for the children to bathe. All very idyllic, but as neither we nor they have any capital, it hardly seems practicable.
Miss Pewsey, our little grocer round the corner, was ill last time we went with a very bad catarrh, and when we came home Frances told Pat very solemnly that Miss Pewsey was ill with tar in her throat. She got muddled up between soya and soil too, and almost refused her custard when I told her there was soya in it. Tomorrow there is a circus on in Chalfont St. Peter, and all being well I hope to take Frances, it ought to be quite a thrill for her.
I have now got 2 dozen tomato plants in the garden, but the broad beans have got the black fly, so all in the garden is [underlined] not [/underlined] lovely. We have had some rain recently, and I have been doing some weeding and trying to get it to look tidier. The herbaceous border is bright with large poppies, pink and scarlet, in full bloom just now, and the valerian, which grows all about the place like a weed, is in flower too and trying to justify its existence. Another of Frances’s words, which I have been meaning to tell you, is Chebud, for cherub which I almost prefer to the original!
There are such a lot of things I should like to write to you about which are forbidden, things that are happening in the world just now. I’m afraid my letters must seem awfully trivial to you sometimes, but I am not allowed to write about any but purely domestic matters, and nothing very exciting happens in the domestic round. I have kept up my practice pretty regularly this week, mostly Chopin and Debussy and have read an Austrian novel, otherwise its all more or less housework.
4 lovely letters from you today, 12.3, 26.3, 2.4 & 7.4.44. Thank you so much dearest, will reply more fully next time.
All my love to you my own darling & big kiss from Frances. Ursula.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 28, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20241.

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