Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes that she has returned home to find 6 inches of snow. Mentions that her fears of frozen pipes did not happen and house was in good order. Writes of journey home and finding Christmas parcels on arrival. Continues with account of framing pictures and plans for decorating. Writes of constructing bookcase and other domestics and news of their daughter. Mentions that purchase of adjacent land has not gone through yet and writes of plans for various outbuildings. Hopes they may get a small car in future and talks of other future plans and ideas.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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To W/O J.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.
Sunday, January 14th 1945
My darling Johnnie,
Here we are, home again once more. We came back last Wednesday 10th January, and had a very comfortable journey up, with a carriage to ourselves most of the way. We were amazed to find about 6 inches of snow lying over all the countryside here, Frances was very thrilled at the sight of it, the first real snow she has experienced. It only lasted a couple of days and has now practically all gone – thank goodness. I was very relieved to find everything in order in the house, I had been so afraid of the pipes freezing or bursting or something, so I wrote to Mr. Hatchett before our return and asked him to come in and get the water system working again, which he duly did. We got home about 4 p.m., having started at 7 a.m., and found quite a collection of Christmas parcels waiting for us, [deleted] one [/deleted] from Cousin May, Aunty Mary, Bunty, Eileen Johnson, Irene Galitzenstein and my Aunt Ethel in Canada. Mostly books for Frances – she has had so many the wonder is that there are no duplicates – but Aunty Ethel also sent some contributions to the larder and also some lace for me. For Frances she sent some little plastic doll’s knives and forks and spoons, which I have put aside for the moment for Frances has had so many presents this Christmas that she is quite overwhelmed with them, and these will be much better appreciated later, perhaps for her birthday.
We have soon got back into the way of things and Christmas seems very remote already. On Thursday evening I suddenly decided I must do something about our pictures, which have been giving me no satisfaction whatsoever, except for that large sepia one of yours. So I cut out five of my favourite woodcuts from one of my books of woodcuts and have framed them up in the plain black wooden frames we already had containing those two rather vague water-colours by some friend of your family, two prints of mine and your father’s photo. The originals are still in the frames, behind the woodcuts, if we should ever want to bring them to the light of day again, but I must say the woodcuts are a great improvement as far as the decoration of the dining room is concerned. The sitting-room is still unfinished, but I am going to make another attempt to get the two water-colour landscapes Barbara gave me framed to hang in there. They are rather large, and I think they will look nice there. It is amazing what a difference it makes to a room to have suitable pleasant pictures in it, I get a glow of satisfaction now every time I go into the dining room and wonder how on earth I put up with the others for so long. On Saturday part of the stuff I had sent up by rail from Devon arrived, including the parts of the bookshelf Daddy and I had been making out of packing-case wood. So yesterday afternoon I set to work to put it together and make it fit its appointed niche, which was no easy matter with our primitive tools. (Incidentally I hereby warn you that you will probably receive carpentry tools for every birthday and Christmas from now on until we have the necessary minimum equipment – starting with a vice and a jack plane!) We had made the bookcase with grooves for the shelves to slide into, had purposely left the shelves too long as I hadn’t got the exact measurement of the alcove and of course it had to fit snugly. So now I proceeded to measure it up and was of course afraid to cut the shelves too short
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for that would have done for them altogether, so I cut the first one a shade too long and then of course had to shave off bits to get the right size, an easy enough job with a plane, but with only a saw, screwdriver and triangular file, it was awful! The second shelf was better and the third one accurate, but it all took time. The bookshelf fits into the space in the diningroom [sic] between fireplace and [deleted] chimney [/deleted] [inserted] window [/inserted], standing on the cupboard which is already built in there. It is just under 3’ high with three shelves, so that books could stand on the cupboard and two shelves and some of the Quimper pottery on the top shelf which we have grooved for that purpose. The wireless stands in front and to the side on the cupboard. The bookshelf I bought at the sale in Devon will probably go up in the nursery, painted “morning blue” to match the other furniture, for Frances’s library is growing fast and presents quite a problem now. Tonight when I put her to bed she said her usual prayer for your safe return and then informed me confidentially that when you come she will give you all her share of meat, specially the fat, and her “coggly oil.” This is a considerable concession on her part, for she loves fat and coggly oil – even if you don’t! She is very absorbed with the dolls these days, constantly dressing and re-dressing them. They are always falling ill with dire diseases and she has to nurse them. Anyway it keeps her busy and occupied and out of my way, which is the main thing.
[drawing of house and garden plan] You asked in your last letter for a plan of the new plot of ground, here it is. There has been no further word from Mr. Burgis about the purchase, it is really hardly credible that such a small purchase could have taken so long – he obviously just doesn’t bother about it. However, there is no real hurry, as long as old Brown doesn’t peg out in the meantime, which he looks quite capable of. The outhouse itself consists of four parts, two of them large enough to house a horse, one small one fitted with numerous shelves and the end one suitable for a potting shed. The one nearest the house is fitted with rabbit hutches on one wall, and I should really like to keep some high-grade rabbits like Chinchillas or Rex or even Angoras. I have been thinking that the other long one would make either a workshop for you and me, or else a fine playroom for “the children” – we could put down the old lino I got at a previous sale, heat it with a Valor stove if necessary, and make a grand playroom. In that case we’d need to fix up a bench at the back of the garage for our carpentering etc, I think there would be room unless we propose to buy a super-limousine, which I take it is very unlikely. I hope we shall be able to have a small car someday, though I shouldn’t think it would be possible for some years. There are so many things I want for us – a standard lamp in the drawing-room, a radiogram, a sewing machine, a new or at least a better piano, I suppose we shall have to get out a priority list and save up for them in that order. And of course, a refrigerator, don’t forget that! And I’d like to have a slight binge of some sort with you too, if you are agreeable! I was able to put £10 in the bank owing to the Christmas holiday, so now I can breathe again and pay Schedule A when it comes along. It is nice to have paid back £100 to my people, it was my ambition to have the whole £200 paid off before your return but I’m afraid that will be out of the question.
All my love to you, my darling husband, I shall love you for ever
Yours always



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 10, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20413.

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