Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Reports arrival of several letters and postcard and attempts to answer all his questions and future plans for the house. Mentions buying adjacent plot of land getting it at a very good price and possibility of keeping rabbits. Continues with description of days activities and going to a concert locally and lodger taking piano lessons, Concludes with new that she and daughter have been invited to stay with friends.



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, Germany
From Mrs J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrells Lane,
Chalfont St Giles, Bucks.
Sunday, 17th June 1944.

My darling Johnnie,
After I had finished writing to you last week and used up all the paper, I had a wonderful mail from you, letters of 12th and 26th March, and 9th April and postcard of 2nd April. It was a real thrill, what a pity it doesn’t happen more often. I will now attempt to answer some of the points, though by the time you get my reply you can’t possibly remember what you asked? However the Cozystove. This is the silver finished one that Mother had in the hall at Lido which I bought from her for the sum of £5 - £10 really but she discounted £5 because we paid for the new handbasin in the bathroom which Mrs. Stenzel broke. It certainly is a great asset in the sittingroom [sic]. Quite a lot of your remarks about the camp were censored out of your letters so I gather they weren’t too complementary. In this letter (12th March) you write very despondently about the fiddle, and it nearly makes me weep to think of all you have to contend against and of your courage in carrying on. From the later letters I gather that you managed to pull out of that particular slough of despond, as I suppose you do out of so many that you never mention. God, how I long to make you really happy again! Now for the next letter, 26th March, in which you acknowledge the arrival of 6 ”A” strings some music and the Argotone. So I’m glad they all arrived safely. It is awful to think that you haven’t had a clothing parcel for 9 months, but I’m afraid there is nothing I can do about it here. What rotten luck that two consecutive ones should have gone astray, it wouldn’t have been so bad if there had been one in between. In your letter of 9th April you touch on financial topics, say you don’t intend to audit my accounts (after I’ve kept them so religiously all this time, it’s enough to make me give up the good the good habits I have so painfully acquired!). I couldn’t help laughing at you when, after cautioning me about our increased expenditure when you are back, you immediately proceed to ask if we couldn’t have H & C laid on in the bedrooms! If you get made a partner, yes certainly! I have no idea actually how much it would cost, but personally I have other improvements that I would put higher up the list of priorities. I shouldn’t think it would cost very much to install a hand basin in our bedroom, in the corner beside the bed, for this is just nextdoor [sic] to the bathroom so it would not mean much extra piping. I suppose it would be quite possible in the spar [sic] room too, for the rising main up to the storage tank goes up one corner. I have put up the corner hanging cupboard in that particular corner, to hide the pipes, but of course that it [sic] easily removed. Personally I am not so particularly keen on basins in the bedrooms, though I suppose it is some convenience. What I would like to have done is a) have a linen cupboard, preferably with a hot pipe in it, built into the space formed by the staircase well, opening into the bathroom. That would be a proper builder’s job, but would make a lot of difference to the accommodation. Then if we still have money to throw about, I should very much to have an extra room built on on top of the garage. The garage walls are a good 9” thick so they would stand it; an extra entrance would have to be arranged from the staircase, it wouldn’t be very difficult I should think. However, all that is likely to remain in the very far distant future, for it will certainly be very difficult to get any private building jobs done soon after the war while the enormous housing programme is going on. That will give us time to save up enough money!
[page break]
Talking of spending money, Mr Brown, our next door neighbour, and I have come to terms about the piece of land with the outbuildings at the end of our garden, and I am buying it from him for £20. We have written to our respective solicitors, so now I suppose it is just a matter of time. Horswell came over the other day and was amazed that I was getting it for so little. He said that it would put have put at least £120 on to the price of the house if it had been sold with it, but he is an awful liar and you can’t believe what he says anyway. Besides which he was asking £1650 for the house before I beat him down. I am still toying with the idea of keeping rabbits and hens in it, and for that matter we could keep a cow there! (That is if we could rent somewhere to pasture it) I don’t expect I will shall do anything as drastic as that till you come home, for one thing with livestock you are so terribly tied, so we might want to have a holiday, visit our respective parents and so on. What a gorgeous thought, I can’t really visualise so much happiness yet, but it certainly seems to be coming much nearer now.
It is a gorgeous day to-day, and I am sitting out in the garden typing this with the typewriter on the tea trolley, wearing shorts and a sun bathing halter. Pat is stretched out on a rug in the bathingsuit [sic], and Frances has been playing with a bucket of water, dressed in a sunsuit too. Quite a change from the cold winds we have been putting up with. This morning Frances and I sat out on the lawn topping and tailing the gooseberries for the pie, Frances is getting quite handy with/scissors [sic], but is left handed with them as with everything else. Her dancing class and Snow-White [sic] are still the main ingredients of her imagination, so she is always hopping and skipping about and pretending to be one or other of the characters in the story, perhaps she is going to be a great actress or dancer – she certainly has enough good looks!
Yesterday evening I went over to Jordans, which is about 5 minutes on a bike, to a concert given by the Griller String Quartet in the Mayflower Barn. It was a lovely programme, Schubert’s A Minor and Haydn’s E flat quartets, and a slow movement from a quartet by Bloch, which I didn’t look forward to but turned out to be beautiful. The setting was so lovely too, in the historic old barn with sunlit lawns and flower beds beyond. I’m glad we live so near Jordans, there are lots of interesting things going on there and the enterprising and intelligent people living there. It is beautiful country too. Pat has now started to take piano lessons from Madame Fastre, a Belgian concertpianist [sic] who lives in the village. I gather that she also teaches the violin, so perhaps you will have lessons from her when you come back. I do hope you will learn from a good teacher, after struggling alone for so long you do deserve some decent tuition. She only charges 21/2 guineas for 12 lessons, so that really isn’t bad. Pat has also joined the St Giles Singers as a contralto, which ought to be fun for her. We couldn’t both join, and as she is more experienced in choir singing than I, it was obviously for her. I have been busy dressmaking and have just finished my black and white printed lawn dress which was meant to be for last summer. I think it is quite successful. Frances and I have been invited to stay at Barnet the weekend after next and I am thinking of wearing it then. There is a service at St Paul’s for prisoners of war and I have written for tickets for Ann and me. I’m hoping to work in a routine visit to the dentist this weekend too.
[handwritten] all my love to you my darling husband, and a big kiss from Frances to Father – Daddy, whom she remembers every day in her prayers.
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/20245.

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