Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Describes daily activities of gardening or going out for walks. Writes of daughter going to Sunday school and visit of his sister. Mentions poor weather limiting gardening activity, daughter's dancing class, house-coat making, and that daughter is promoted to full size bed. Continues with talk of finance and description of local area. Concludes that she has not heard from him for two months.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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W/O J.R.M. Valentine,
British P/W No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
[stamp GEPRUFT 113]
[inserted] 5/1 [/inserted]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks
October 17th 1944
My own darling Johnnie,
We have been having a very pleasant weekend with Ann staying here. The weather was very fine and clear, and we spent nearly all the time out of doors, either gardening, or out for walks picking blackberries. On Saturday afternoon we went for a really long walk, starting out at 2 p.m. and not getting back till after 5. Frances trotted manfully along with us the whole way, she was pretty weary at the end, but still she did very well. It was a lovely walk through Hodgemoor woods, and we picked blackberries and collected a big bag full of crabapples from a tree which I had noticed in the spring when it was in bloom. There are several wild crabapple trees near here and the fruit is very nice and juicy. With those we collected I have made pulp and bottled it, as I haven’t enough sugar to make crabapple jelly. I think it will be useful in the winter, and I hope you will like it too. The blackberries we picked then and on Sunday have been bottled too, five big jars of them, so we ought to have some pies! I have made 6 lbs of blackberry and crabapple jelly too, as a side-line. I am so glad to have been able to do a little preserving, I was afraid I had missed the season again this year by being down in Devon during the autumn, and I do like to have something put by for the fruitless months.
Frances went to Sunday school for the second time on Sunday, Ann and I took her down, then went on blackberrying and came back shortly before 4 p.m. when she was due to emerge. But the class had apparently ended early and there was no sign of Frances. We hurried home, and found her waiting quite composedly in the front garden! She wasn’t nearly so upset as I had been. I asked her what she had been taught at Sunday school, and she said they had read a story about Baby Nosey. After further questioning I discovered that it must have been Moses in the bullrushes! [sic] I shall probably get a good laugh each week out of it!
Ann is looking very flourishing, and is growing up into a really nice, intelligent girl. I always enjoy having her to stay here. She is very helpful in the house and garden, and is very intelligent to talk to. She seems to be enjoying her training and says her ambition is to own and run a nice hotel in a lovely part of the country – not asking much, is she?
I haven’t been able to get down to much gardening yet because of the heavy rain we have been having most afternoons. Today for instance when we had to go into Gerrards Cross to the dancing class, there was a really torrential downpour and we absolutely soaked about the feet and legs when we got there. But Frances does love it so that I wouldn’t miss it for worlds.
I have been utilising the wet afternoons in trying to make myself a house-coat to wear in the evenings when you come home. I have cut up that black evening cloak with hood which I have possessed for years and only worn two or three times. Out here I felt I should really never want it, for when we do go on the spree together, a fur coat will
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probably be more suitable. It is no easy matter turning it into a dress as I want it, but if it is successful, I think it should be very useful and look nice. After all these glamour-starved years, I feel I could do with a tonic of some sort. The other day I got down the suitcase with all my best underclothes in, none of which I have worn since you went, ostensibly to see if they were alright. Boy, it did me good to look at them!
Frances has now been promoted to a full size single bed. She is really getting a bit too large for the cot, though she could use it in emergency if we wanted to put up two visitors at a time. If there are any of your present companions that you would like to see again, I do hope you will invite them to stay – but maybe after all this time you never want to see any of their faces again! The furniture I bought down in Devon hasn’t arrived yet, but I suppose there is no need to worry about it yet, it hasn’t been a fortnight on the way yet and goods often take that much.
I sent for a bank statement the other day, which tells me that I am £20 better off than I had calculated. “Shall I believe my heart or you?” as one of the present-day popular songs asks. Knowing my arithmetic, I believe the bank, so I have drawn firm lines across the account book and started again with the bank’s version of by balance. It is all very gratifying, and I hope I may be able to pay off half of our debt to my parents this year. They, incidentally, are planning to come up to London some time, maybe round about my Mother’s birthday, and then they may come out and visit us. Funny that none of the grandparents on either side have seen our home yet. I remembered to send a card to you Mother on her birthday and a cable to Leslie who is in hospital again but not too seriously, I gathered from Ann. It will be a good thing if it keeps him out of the fray for a bit, he has had more than his share.
The countryside is looking simply lovely just now; from our bedroom window the orchards and woods opposite are a symphony of reds and golds and greens, and the view from the top of the lane is really satisfying. The garden is looking quite jolly too with masses of Michaelmas daisies in various mauves and purples, but I gaze on it with rather a jaundiced eye, knowing how much work awaits me out there, once I can get down to it. The vegetables are alright, and that is something to be thankful for. The marrows I grew this year are a great improvement on the usual kinds, and I shall certainly keep some seed and grow them again. There is still no word from the solicitors about the purchase of the bit of land and outhouses at the end of the garden, they have had it in hand for four months now. I should have thought they could put through a £20 deal quicker than that. I am going to write to Burgess tonight, but I have to be very gentle since he has been so good to us.
I do wish I could have some word from you, it is nearly two months now since I heard, and I have no idea whereabouts you are. I do hope the mail situation is not equally bad with you, though really with the war in its present stage I suppose it is hardly to be wondered at. Well, it won’t matter if it means that you will be back the sooner, but I should just like to see your dear writing again.
All my love to you, my darling husband, and a big kiss from Frances to her Father-Daddy.
Yours for always, Ursula.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed January 27, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20403.

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