Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes of making acquaintances in local area and of social activities. Mentions visitors, how adventurous their daughter is and of her latest activities. Writes that she now has some white hairs and disparages her getting older. Catches up with news of other acquaintances, Mentions there has been no movement on allowances and that red cross returned a pair of pyjamas she sent as they were not striped. Hopes the chocolate she sent arrived but worries about the conditions in his camp.



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 357, Barrack C 2/3
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday, March 4th 1945.
My own darling Johnnie,
Frances and I have been making new acquaintances this week, not very notable ones perhaps, but pleasant. The first is a young married called Joan Michele, mother of a 4-year old daughter Joanna and 7-month old son Anthony. Joanna goes to the same Sunday school as Frances and they got on well together there, so at last I invited the whole family to tea, last Monday. [censored words] they seem to be a gay and pleasant family. In return we were invited to Joanna’s birthday party yesterday (incidentally I do like the name Joanna and had often thought we ought to call one of our future daughters by it!). At this function, when the children actually had ice-cream, there was, besides Mrs. Michele’s sister and child, a Mrs. Macdiarmid with two small offspring. They live on a farm somewhere over our end of the village, and as we were heartily invited to go over there sometime, as the children suffer from lack of suitable playmates, I think I shall organise a walk in that direction on the next suitable day.
As for our other social engagements, there was dancing as usual on Tuesday, and on Friday we went for a walk with Joan Nove and her small son David and afterwards they came back to tea here. The walk was much enlivened by our meeting a steam-roller, which is always a great joy to Frances. She is very keen on tractors too. David is about six months younger than Frances, but hasn’t half her energy or spunk. He walks along very docilely holding his mother’s hand, while Frances dashes on ahead, climbs up banks and on to gates and generally enjoys herself. Sometimes I could wish that she were a little more docile and timid, but on the whole I am very glad that our child is the more adventurous type. I think a meek little boy is a particularly sad sight. Mrs. Macdiarmid’s small son John was the very opposite, and a most stoical child, for I saw him take half a dozen hard knocks without a murmur. Once he was reaching over a small stool to get a toy and seemed a long time about it, so I looked to see what he was grunting about and found he had one finger under the leg of the stool which his whole weight was lying on, so that it must have hurt him considerably. He must be made of rubber.
Talking of pinching fingers, I don’t believe I have told you that I pinched my first finger on the left hand in the mincer ages ago, at the beginning of December. It was naturally very sore, and some weeks later when it had grown up a bit I saw that I had actually cut the nail underneath the cuticle. It has made a horrid big black bruise covering about half the nail; this has now grown up to the top half of the nail, and the new part is growing up quite normally so that once the bruise has grown out I think it will be alright again. I’m afraid it may be rather awkward when the bruise comes right to the top for I think it may be loose from the quick, in which case it is going to be rather painful. I do hope it will have quite grown out
[page break]
before you see it, for I remember how you disliked the split in my other thumb nail – which incidentally is still no better. While we are on the subject I suppose I may as well prepare you for other shocks – the chief being that I have a large and ever increasing number of white hairs! The effect is not yet generally grey, I am glad to assure you, nevertheless there are plenty of white hairs. I am doing my best to combat incipient wrinkles, and my figure is no better than it was, so altogether you must be prepared to put up with an old hag! The pain in my knee which I had rather badly at Christmas has only recurred once or twice since – I don’t really think it is rheumatism, it feels much more as though I had twisted my knee somehow, and [missing words] weak and inclined to go again. Incidentally [inserted] how is your [indecipherable word] trouble [/inserted] [censored words] [missing words] You say it [missing words] [inserted] mentioned it at all [/inserted] [missing words] the last time you said you were [missing words] [inserted] having much better results with [/inserted] [missing words] [inserted] lately, [/inserted] salt and water, and I should so like to know how it is doing now. We must certainly get it seen to once and for all when you come back – though if it means your leaving me and going into hospital, I shall cry! Once I have you back I am sure I shan’t be able to bear to part with you even for a day!
I had an airletter from Charles this week (of GAT’s), in reply to by Christmas card. He has been in Malta for 2 years now and sounds pretty browned off, though he admits he has a pretty good time on the whole. I haven’t heard from Hale again, I was so hoping to have more first-hand information, better still to visit him. We have received a very thrilling invitation, to go and stay for a long weekend with the C.O. and his wife at Barbara’s place of work. The wife is a great pal of Barbara’s, and I shall be so interested to see it all, and Ba’s hut, and meet some of the people she is always telling us about. The date of the visit isn’t fixed yet, but should be within the next few weeks. It is really awfully decent of them, considering their extremely exalted position. Irene Galtzenstein has also written asking me to go to a show with them up in town sometime soon, I shall try to leave Frances here for the day with friends, I am not too keen on taking her up to town. I have heard nothing further of the Clarks, who were supposed to be coming to stay here. I don’t know whether they are just waiting for leave to organise the journey, or whether they simply don’t intend to come. I must say I’m not very keen, except financially, and if they don’t hurry it won’t be worth it for you will be on your way home and then out they will have to go. Talking of finance, there has been no movement on the part of Accounts in the matter of extra allotments etc, I suppose your letter instructing them hasn’t reached them yet. The Red Cross has returned the pair of pyjamas I sent in your last parcel, because they weren’t striped! The rest of the parcel is on its way, however; I do hope you have received some of the earlier ones, for I expect the chocoloate [sic] they contain would come in useful. I am terribly worried about the conditions you are having to put up with now, my dearest, and I pray that you will be able to hold out and keep fit somehow, for the longed-for end really can’t be so far off now. I love you so tenderly, darling, and would give anything to be able to have you home again. We shall be so happy once this nightmare is over!
[child’s writing]
[inserted] All my love to you my dearest. Yours always Ursula



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 11, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20414.

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