Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes that post office have stated that letters posted that week should reach prisoners of war by Christmas and dreams of future Christmases with him. Describes recent activities with visitors and that while she is enjoying solitary house occupancy now she feels she will need to get temporary lodger after Christmas. Continues with finance and other domestic matters. Describes daughter's activities and catches up with news of friends and family.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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To W/O John R.M. Valentine,
British P/W 450
Stalag Luft III, Germany
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
November 13th 1944
My own darling Johnnie,
The Post Office tells us that letters posted this week ought to reach prisoners in time for Christmas, so here I am, on a wet and cold November evening, trying to visualise Christmas, remembering what it used to be like with you, picturing how lovely it will be in years to come when we are together in our own home with our little ones to get a tree and stockings ready for, and me busy with plum puddings and mice pies and you coming home with snow on your coat and your arms full of mysterious packages for the children; the only Christmas I try not to think about is this coming one. I had had just great hopes that this might be THE Christmas of our lives, radiant with the joy of reunion which I am sure will outshine even the bright happiness of our wedding or the lustre of our golden wedding in years to come. But apparently it is not to be, and I can hardly bear to think of you and all the other boys; it seems a hollow mockery to wish you a Merry Christmas, and yet I do hope that it will be cheerful for you, particularly that you will get something good and extra to eat and drink, and I am sure you will know that I shall be thinking of you with all my love every minute of the day.
I am a day late in writing to you because I had Eileen Johnson to stay for the weekend and she decided to stay on for Sunday night as well and go back to work on Monday straight from here – I expect she enjoyed having quiet nights for a change. We had to get up at 6 a.m. so that she could get to her factory at 8 a.m., but being washing day I didn’t mind having an early start as well. The weather wasn’t too good for her, though we had a lovely cold sunny spell on Sunday morning and went out for a walk abandoning the house-work for once. The countryside looked really lovely with its autumn colours shrouded in mists and suffused with the pale yellow sunlight.
We have had quite a busy week socially altogether. On Monday we invited Gwen Milliner to tea with her two children Pemma (aged 4) and Robert (1) and an expectant mother she has [inserted] x [/inserted] staying with her called Denise [inserted] x [/inserted] (? I don’t know her surname). Actually [inserted] x [/inserted] only Denise and Pemma came, as Robert had a cold and Gwen lumbago! [inserted] x [/inserted] This girl Denise is a queer cuss she seems to have the same twist [inserted] x [/inserted] as Cicely Donovan (do you remember her?) for spinning romantic yarns about herself which bear no relation to fact with the same inability to stick to one yarn, however fancy, with the result that although I have only had two or three chats with her (she often takes Pemma to the dancing class) she has already contradicted her previous stories in many particulars. Not that I care two hoots about her past, murky or gay, but people of this kind are rather interesting psychologically, and I should think that this weakness for romantics is connected with an unhappy or insecure childhood and that the person tries to make up for the lack of a safe family anchorage by making out that her childhood and youth have been so exciting and glamorous. Denise, in any case seems to be a rather unstable
X This girl Denise is a queer cuss, she seems to have the same twist X [/inserted]
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person and I don’t think Gwen, who is the solid British type, gets on too well with her. Denise’s husband is an old friend of Gwen’s, that’s why she took her in when the husband was sent overseas – I wonder how long they will stick it out together. I must say I am very much enjoying my solitary glory just now, but I think that after Christmas I shall have to try to get in someone temporary again, for purely financial reasons. I am going to pay back £100 to my people this month, and that will leave my bank balance in a pretty low state, as you can imagine, specially as I have bills of £20 for the outhouse and £25 or so for the housepainting still outstanding – I do wish people would send their bills in reasonably soon, it is worse having them hanging over one’s head! However, I think I can just make it provided Property Tax doesn’t have to be paid till January, but there will be an urgent need to make a spot of cash afterwards, and it seems a pity not to, while I am here on my own. After all, house-room is one of the greatest assets these days.
Mr. Hatchett has now fixed the new white cupboard for me. It was a bigger job than I realised, I couldn’t have tackled it on my own for some of the joints had shifted a bit on the journey and he had to plane a bit off the bottom of the door etc. It is all O.K. now and looks quite nice – it will be better still when it has a new coat of enamel, but I just don’t think I can tackle it for a bit. Mr. Hatchett also brought back our gates which have been repaired, so that we now look much more respectable.
On Thursday we had another tea-party, this time another mother from the dancing class and her two small daughters, Richenda and Susan (4 and 2). Ann Reed, the mother, is a really intelligent type, one of the best I have met round here. She lives in Gerrards Cross with her people, her husband, an architect, is in the Army, she was training in architecture too, and is a really nice girl. We were to go to tea with her this week but her little ones have got chills so we have put it off for a bit. I do hope that they may become permanent friends of ours, specially if you and the husband get on together.
On Friday Frances and I went to look at another dancing class which seems to be more fashionable and to which several from Mrs. Mawer’s class are deserting next term. It was a much bigger class, not really as advanced as ours, it seemed to me, more romping and not so much real ballet. I think I will leave Frances where she is for the time being, unless Mrs. Mawer’s class becomes so small that it ceases to be fun.
I had a letter from Bish today [censored words] but he sounded as cheerful as ever. I hope he will come over and see us soon. Bunty has invited us to go and stay there for a few days, and I am proposing to do [inserted] so [/inserted] next week, she says there is some furniture which your Mother says we can have if we want it, some odd chairs I gather – I shall look it over but it is really no good cluttering the house up with things we don’t need. However, she also says she can let me have some cooking apples so that is worth going for at any rate! Also I want to make the acquaintance of my new niece Margaret Jean, now about 9 months old. Frances is thrilled at the idea of seeing Muriel and Robert again, they ought to play together better now that she is older and has more sense.
All my love, darling, & a special kiss for Christmas – wait till you come back, I’ll kiss you cock-eyed!
Yours always Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 1, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20404.

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