Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Starts with discussion over number of letters allowed as reason why some friends refrain from writing. Glad he has found a place to practise violin and mentions an increase in allowances. Goes on to describe daughter's dance class and visit to a fair as well as other activities. Catches up with news of friends and tells of new voluntary work she has started. Continues with news of her lodger and neighbours. Concludes by thought of their future.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
To. W/O J.R.M. Valentine,
British P/W 450,
Stalag Luft III, Lager A,
[inserted] 7/12 [/inserted]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday, June 25th 1944.
Johnnie my darling,
I have had one postcard from you this week, dated 16th April; glad you have had letters from Fred Don and Eileen Johnson, but most of your friends don’t write although they would like to because we have been constantly told that each prisoner should only receive one letter a week all told from all friends and relations, and so people like Freeman and Bish don’t write because they are afraid it may hold up my letters and your poeple's. [sic] Perhaps it isn’t actually so, but that is why they don’t write, not that they have forgotten you and anything of the sort. Anyway, I will certainly write and thank Fred for his letters to you – he always was a good and cheerful correspondent. I’m glad to hear from your postcard that you have at last found a good place to practice – though it seems hard that you should be incinerated as well as incarcerated! You will doubtless play all the more freely too if you know that you are not disturbing others. My piano practice goes on as regularly as possible but often there is gardening to be done in the evenings, specially watering the tomatoes and peas and beans, which cuts into the hour, 8 – 9 p.m. when I can get down to it. It is not really possibly to do any by day because of Frances.
The Air Ministry have given me an increase of 3/- per week, all wives’ allowances were recently increased by Parliament, but of course I have had to own up to Touche’s about it, so that it doesn’t get me anywhere. I now have £5.10 from the RAF, and of that I hope to put aside £2.10 into the bank.
Last Tuesday, after the dancing class, Frances and I went over to look at a Fair which was on in Gerrards Cross. I suggested she should try the roundabout, which was fairly mild so she did, though another little girl from the dancing class, older than Frances, was too scared. But the roundabout was too tame for our Frances, so next I took her on a very mild form of switchback, and she loved that too. But what she really had her eye on was that much more potent form of fun when you sit in two-seater chairs attached by a rod to a revolving centre, and whizz round on a metal floor at an increasing pace with sickening lurches round corners. I thought it would make her sick but she should try it once and be cured of all desire for me. Not a bit of it! She loved every moment and wanted to go round again! She seems to have a good head and tummy, so ought to make a good rock-climber! How lovely when we can go for holidays together – but probably there will be smaller hindrances by then, at least I hope so!
[stamp GEPRUFT 131]
Last evening we had a very unexpected visit – you’d never guess who – I didn’t recognise him myself for a moment- it was Stewart Kennedy, who has now walked out on his job in Ayrshire and got another somewhat similar one in Herts. Eleanor had apparently given him a list of people he had to look up, and he had worked round to us. He looked very different from my memory of our visit to their house, when he struck me as being very well turned out and self-possessed, almost arrogant. Now he was dressed in old and dirty clothes, a sports jacket and grubby corduroy trousers, looked very tanned and healthy, handsomer than I remember him, he has such striking blue eyes that I didn’t notice before, and seemed very cheerful and buoyant. He stayed for an hour or so, and had a cup of tea with us – we hadn’t anything stronger to offer him!
[page break]
You know they have a third child now, born last September I believe, called Anne. Stewart is looking for a house down here and will then bring the family down, and I suppose let their house in Troon, which he says is getting too small for them anyway now that their family has expanded. With his usual luck he has managed to get rooms on a farm somewhere in Herts and has some design of buying the whole place up. It’s amazing what one can do with his personality and plenty of money! I’m afraid I couldn’t bring it off for you, Johnnie! Anyway, if Eleanor does come down south, I hope we shall see something of them, for I like them both. We got on to politics with Stewart and had quite an interesting discussion, though I don’t agree with him at all.
I have now myself some voluntary work to do in a convalescent home near here. I have arranged to go every Friday afternoon and do more or less whatever they want. I started last Friday by getting tea and cutting bread and butter for the men and staff, and afterwards darning about two dozen pairs of socks for them. [censored words] and helps to give the illusion that one is doing something for the war effort – if only it could be something more effective, but I really don’t see how that is possible out here. Last Monday a friend of Pat’s from New Zealand came out for the day, a pleasant and talented girl, and in the evening I had consented to collect from house to house for Queen Alexandra’s Rose Day. It is a job I hate, but gave me a legitimate excuse for meeting some of our neighbours on their home ground. Most of them I have not much desire to know more of, but one I think and hope may turn into a friend. This is a Mrs. Kent, who lives in a very picturesque wooden house, chalet type in a thickly wooded garden which I have often admired. She was gardening when I got there, so we chatted about that and then other things. It seems her husband used to work in the oriental section of the British Musuem, [sic] (he now has a job with the BBC,) so he decided to take up Turkish and she learnt it with him for fun, and gradually they have become acknowledged experts, and she does a lot of translating out of Turkish and he has got his BBC job on the strength of it. I think that the ability to share one’s husband’s work, as well as his play, is a thing I covet more than good-looks or social accomplishments, it knits the two so closely together and makes the partnership really complete. I’m afraid, of course, that with your profession I could never attempt that, but I do always hope that as time goes on we may develop interests and activities in common in which I can really work with you. For one thing it is so important when children are adolescent and wanting to break away from their parents, that the parents should have plenty of interests and activities outside the family so that they are not tempted to hang on to their children when they ought to be giving them their freedom. I hope that our music may become one such bond, in which of course the children can join too, and perhaps others may develop. I feel life will be so full and rich for us, when once this ghastly period of waiting is over and we can get down to it.
[censored paragraph]
all my love to you, my dearest one, & a hug from Frances.
Always yours, 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/20380.

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