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 three letters posted July and August as well as a postcard after a 3 month gap with nothing from him. Answers points raised in his letters. Continues with news of his parents building efforts on their house and catches up with news of other acquaintances. Writes of daughter getting over illness and visit to his parents and family and activities there. .



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


IBCC Digital Archive


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Start of transcription
To W/O J.R.M. Valentine,
British P/W No. 450,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks
Monday, November 27th 1944
My own darling Johnnie,
Frances and I got home from our visit to Gable End this afternoon at 4.30 p.m. and the first thing to greet me as I opened the front door was the longed-for sight of letters from you, three of them, dated 2nd and 30th July and 27th August and a postcard of 6th August. After the desert of three letterless months, this is indeed an oasis! Let’s hope it is a preview of the green and pleasant land of peace and reunion. First to answer your points in your letters. I was extremely glad to hear that you have received the January parcel and that the shoes are a success. Pity about the soap and chocolate combining! That is the Red Cross packing centre’s fault, not mine. I was also very interested to read that you have been considering domestic design and furnishing. There are so many fascinating ideas and possibilities opening out nowadays and it would be lovely if we could take advantage of some of them. I’m afraid Felmersham won’t lend itself to anything very revolutionary, but some day, if we really are well off enough to build ourselves a house to measure, we’ll have some great fun and make it really smashing. Meanwhile, we are lucky to have a house at all. I expect you will have lots of ideas for improvements when you get back, perhaps things will be a bit easier then and we shall be able to carry some of them out. Your people are making a very good job of Gable End with minor unobtrusive adjustments which greatly improve the comfort without spoiling the old-world atmosphere. They have built porches at the back and front doors, put in a nice deep sink in the wash-house and other small items. But to return to your letters – You must have been glad to meat Jeans, who had been with Leslie at the beginning of the year. You will doubtless have heard from your people that he is on the shelf again, it looks as though it may be a longer job this time and of course we are hoping he may be sent home, he certainly deserves it. Bunty heard today that Stewart may be home after Christmas for interviews prior to being shot off somewhere else, the obvious thing is for you to return too, to a grand family reunion! In the letter of 27th August you say you are not getting any fiddle practice and I can imagine that you miss it and time hangs on your hands. I wonder why it is that you can’t practise, lack of space, I presume. I’m awfully sorry about it. I do hope you have got some food parcels and that your stocks are built up again now that the cold weather has set in. I just dread to think about it, when we have so much over here. I am gradually laying in stocks of things that will do you good and build up your strength again, I’ll soon have you as fit as a fighting cock again. You mention that Frank P. thinks his wife may be out of the ATS. I’m afraid I know nothing about her, I wrote to Olga as you asked to enquire about her when Frank hadn’t heard for such ages, but I suppose Olga didn’t welcome such enquiries from outsiders, for she never replied to my letter and I don’t suppose it’s any good writing again. There is only one way I know of to get out of the ATS, but I hope for Frank’s sake that she has found another, if it is true she has left. How very sad for Louis den Boer that his fiancee [sic] has died, the Dutch must have been going through a terrible time altogether. I do wish you were able to tell me where your present camp is, but I suppose that is not allowed. Two of your letters had chunks censored out, which Frances thought
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outrageous, and when I asked her what she suggested doing about it, she said the Germans were very unkind and ought to be smacked.
As you will have gathered, Frances and I did go down to Gable End after all, as Frances got over her tummy upset very quickly and I didn’t want to alter all the arrangements unnecessarily. She has been as right as rain ever since, so that’s alright. We went down last Wednesday, it doesn’t take long by train from Amersham, and Bunty got a car to meet us from the station. Robert and Muriel have grown a lot and Jean is now a strapping infant of 9 months, very bonny and placid; she reminds me strongly of Irene, chiefly because her eyes are blue and her face rather wide outside the eyes. She has the family dimples, and seems a very good-natured infant. The other two have reached the cheeky age and make Bunty furious. They need Stewart’s heavy hand, and poor Bunty gets rather depressed about them. We went out to tea to the McKeand’s one afternoon, and Robert spilt his tea and Muriel squabbled with him a bit, not unduly I thought but Bunty sent her home (she has a bike now and goes on her own), and afterwards Bunty seemed really depressed and said her marriage was the biggest mistake of her life and she wished she hadn’t had any children or at least not without Stewart being there to help bring them up, and that they were spoilt and ruined and the only hope was to pack them off to boarding school, which of course she couldn’t afford. I must say I think she takes an unnecessarily gloomy view of them. She is rather inconsistent in her handling of them, giving in often when I wouldn’t have done and being rather too hasty and severe other times (though it is easy for me to criticise sine I have only one to deal with), but I don’t think they are really spoilt, it is just animal high spirits. Muriel is doing very well at school and writes very nicely for her age. Frances is half a head taller than Robert, who always reminds me irresistibly of a bright-eyed brown mouse. It is certainly not easy to bring up children specially when they reach school age, and I am glad you will be here to weigh in with your authority when we reach that stage.
Bunty had arranged a grand programme for us. We had bridge on Wednesday evening, a children’s tea-party on Thursday, and the land-girls from the McKeands farm in to supper, Friday we went to tea to the McKeands, Saturday we had a bridge and Mahjong [sic] party, at which I acted as instructor of Mahjong [sic] to 3 younger girls, and afterwards had a couple of rubbers of bridge as well. Bunty has also taught me to play Euchre, a really good card game for two, which I must pass on to my people and maybe we shall play it too someday. On Sunday the land girls came to tea again, and we came away today Monday after lunch. We fairly staggered away under the load of stuff Bunty gave us, chiefly applies from their large crop of cookers which will be very useful to me. Bunty also found some old books of yours, Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, Peter Pan and others of that ilk, which will come in for our brood in their day. She has also lent me her electric kettle and passed on various small garments for Frances which Muriel has grown out of. I brought her a couple of knitted dresses for Jean but am still very much in her debt. Bunty and I get on well together, though she seems to have as much difficulty with Irene as I do. Irene has practically cut herself off from her family, she sends them the least possible news, they only know that she and Bill are now in the Loch Lomond district in a house with 14 rooms; Gordon their infant is a year old now. I certainly shan’t bother to communicate with them any more. I haven’t left much room for Frances to write her kisses! However we both send you all our love, come soon dearest. Yours always, Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 30, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20407.

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