Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Writes it cannot be long now. and goes on to describe recent activities and local news. Catches up with news of acquaintances, RAF accounts and that proposal to open a private school in the village. Continues with upcoming social activities and preparing for visitors as well as gardening. Concludes by announcing that she had completed string rug she had been working on for a year.



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.
Saturday, March 10th 1945
My own darling Johnnie,
This week has been truly eventful on all fronts, home and abroad. You will doubtless know all about foreign ones and have felt even more strongly on the subject than I, if possible. Darling, it can’t be long now, it really can’t, in fact, this letter will probably reach its destination to find its bird flown – home to the nest!
We started off by going to tea with Mrs. Kent, the lady whose translations from Turkish I have been helping to type. Poor woman, she is in the throes of divorcing her husband and is going through it pretty badly. They had seemed ideally happy until just a few months ago when he suddenly went off the rails, and poor little Mrs. Kent still seems hardly able to realise it. So they are selling up the house they built for themselves with its lovely woodland garden which they have worked so hard together to make; all the spring bulbs are coming up under the trees, and it must be really heartbreaking to part with it all now. I’m so sorry for her, and it gives one an awful jolt to think that such things can happen to anyone. We’ll never, never let it come near us, will we, Johnnie? However, we had a very pleasant tea-party; Mrs. Kent’s old mother is staying with her, and she doted on Frances to such an extent that even I became almost embarrassed – and I can stand a good bit of flattery on Frances’s behalf!
On Tuesday I started off well by spring-cleaning the sitting-room, and then tottered off with Frances to dancing in the afternoon and was jolly glad I hadn’t got to dance myself. On Wednesday came a letter from Irene Galitzenstein asking if they could possibly come and stay here for a bit to get a few night’s peace, so I wired off at once to say yes, she and Dr. Spiegler, (her husband – or as near as no matter.) I also had a pleasant surprise from RAF accounts, a supplementary order book for £1.11.6 per week, at your request. However, there was no mention of the state of your account with them, which I believe you asked to be sent to me as well. I hope to be able to put this amount aside regularly for us to spend together some day, but it is certainly nice to have it there for emergencies. Thank you very much, my darling. Another surprise on that day was a visit from a Mrs. Pearcy, a woman of 40 – 50, rather nice type, who is proposing to open a small school, two hours in the mornings only, in the village. She is not a qualified teacher, but has had considerable experience teaching her own son who suffered from asthma in his early youth, and assures me she knows lots about modern methods. She proposes to charge 1/- an hour, i.e. 10/- a week, which is not cheap, but I am seriously considering sending Frances to her after Easter, for a year at least. She is still too young to go to school all day, even if they would have her, but she is beginning to need juvenile companionship, hence the hectic round of teaparties [sic] with other mothers similarly placed, and a couple of hours regularly in the morning would suit her fine – and me too, incidentally! Since we don’t pay by the term but simply for the mornings she goes, we need have no
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compunction in keeping her away if we want to go gadding about the place this summer when you are home. What will happen this time next year, when she will be five and due to start schooling properly, I don’t yet know. It depends how much she learns with Mrs. Pearcy – anyway we can bother about that when the time comes. I am quite relieved that this small school is starting though – at first there will only be 6 – 8 of them – for I have been feeling that something ought to be done about it soon. Several of her small friends will be going.
On Thursday the major pleasant surprise arrived, in the shape of an invitation from Mrs. Bennett, wife of the biggest bug of all on Ba’s place of work, to go and stay next week. Of course we accepted with delight, but I hadn’t expected it to be so soon, and was thrown into turmoil over the Spiegler’s arrival here, which just nicely clashes. As it now turns out, Dr. Spiegler is arriving tomorrow, Sunday, but Irene can’t come till Monday evening, after we have left, so that I shan’t see her to give her instructions about running the house in my absence – and Godfrey (Spiegler), being an eminent physicist, is of course worse than useless in the house. So I have written out three pages both sides with detailed instructions for Irene on how to work the Triplex and other gadgets, where to get food and all the rest, and have no doubt she will manage just fine. Anyway I’m not going to let it spoil my holiday! Since then life has been a mad rush to get everything ready both for the Spieglers and for our visit, I’ve spring cleaned the bedroom and moved all my clothes out into the spare room, collected emergency cards, laid in food, ordered coal, cleaned up the house in general, washed and ironed the clothes we need to take with us, had my hair set and Frances’s cut and washed, and generally been in an uproar. To crown it, Mrs. Kent had promised us some plants from her garden, some of her special favourites, which was an offer too good to miss, so I went round there this afternoon and staggered back at about 5 p.m. with two large baskets full of choice specimens. We had tea, and then at 5.30 Frances and I pitched into the job of planting them all out. Frances worked like a real little Trojan with the watering can, fetching about a cupful at a time from the water butt, since she couldn’t carry more, and painstakingly and lovingly watering each plant as I put it in. I do hope most of them take root, they will make a vast difference to the garden if they do. There were two large roots of primulas, one the dark purple kind we had at Lido and the other a lovely pale mauve. I have split these up into a couple of dozen small roots and they ought to make a very jolly border. There were also aubrietia and cat-mint roots, and a very special gentian which I have put into the rockery, and sundry other perennials. Mrs. Kent says she will also give us some of her little alpine strawberry plants and I should love that, for we have no strawberries in the garden yet. Perhaps we could make a proper strawberry bed together this autumn.
Another memorable occasion this week was the completion of the string-rug I have been toiling over for nearly a year. Now that it is finished it looks very nice, but oh so forlornly small! I really ought to make another to go with it, but my heart sinks at the thought, and I don’t think I can bear to start it right away.
All my love to you, my darling husband & a big kiss from Frances.
Yours always Ursula.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 13, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20415.

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