Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula



Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula


Reports on arrival back from a 10 day visit and describes couple they stayed with as well as activities undertaken. Mentions meeting the daughter of Earl and Countess of Sandwich at Hinchinbrook [sic]. Writes of going to the theatre, a dance, of meeting Wilfred Roberts M.P. and her thoughts on joining the Liberal party. Mentions receiving letter from the RAF concerning his account and other financial matters. Concludes with activities since returning home.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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Start of transcription
To J.R.M. Valentine, W/O,
British Prisoner of War No. 450,
Stalag 357, Barrack C 2/3
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Felmersham, Bottrell’s Lane,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks.
Sunday March 25th 1945
My darling Johnnie,
Frances and I returned last Thursday from our visit to the Bennetts, which lasted 10 days and which we both thoroughly enjoyed. Both Ly and Don are really grand people, I’m sure you would like them both tremendously and I do hope you meet them sometime. Ly is fair and very slender, really very beautiful, and perfectly natural and charming, and unaffected. Don is, by any standards, I should think, a great man, or potentially one, and has certainly achieved more in his thirty odd years already than many men of fifty. I do hope that nothing will happen to stop him getting right to the top. They live in a large house, [censored words] with their two children, Noreen aged 8 and Torix 6 1/2, who got on with Frances very well; the other two were at school all day during the week, which was perhaps just as well for they are a noisy pair. We crammed a tremendous amount of fun into our ten days’ holiday, and I am feeling very much refreshed for it. Among other things we had two dances [censored words] went to the cinema three times and the theatre up in town once, and played squash four or five times as well. We popped over to Barbara’s canteen whenever possible and lent a hand there, and met all the people whom she has described to us so often. They are a cheery lot, and the hut has a very pleasant friendly atmosphere. It is certainly a much nicer life for Barbara than her ambulance station.
One afternoon Barbara had got a special invitation for us to go to tea at Hinchinbrook, the ancestral seat of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, whose daughter Lady Faith works with Ba in the canteen. She is a very jolly person with a small red-headed daughter a little older than Frances, and she escorted us over the castle, which is now given up for other purposes, and over the lovely grounds where the daffodils and violets and crocuses and scillas were blooming in great profusion. There was a beautiful walled fruit and vegetable garden with rows of perfectly pruned espalier and fan-trained fruit trees and plenty of hot-houses – I often think I should love to be an under-gardener in a place like that. Afterwards we went back to tea at the “cottage”, an 8 or 9 bedroomed dower house standing in the grounds where the family now lives, and there Mike, a friend of Ba’s, Australian who is also fond of pictures, and I were amazed to observe the walls in the diningroom [sic] hung with Renoirs and Sisleys and other priceless examples of the French impressionists. After tea Lord Sandwich himself very kindly gave us an escorted tour of the pictures in the house, only a small part of the collection which used to hang in the castle, it seems, but quite as good as many art galleries have. It was very interesting indeed. Frances meanwhile froliced [sic] outside with Gemma, Lady Faith’s small daughter, so a good time was had by all.
Another day the Bennett’s had to go up to town and while Don was busy Ly and I went to the theatre to see “No Medals”
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a pleasant domestic comedy after the style of “Quiet Wedding” and “Quiet Weekend”, whose heroine is the harassed housewife. I thoroughly enjoyed the drive there and back as well, for Don drives very fast and very well. The dances were great fun too, Ly arranged dinner parties beforehand, and Ba came with us as well; we arrived rather late and left too early for me, other-wise it was grand. I’m afraid my thirst for dancing will be quite unquenchable when you return, so I hope you will be prepared for it. None of my partners at these dances were particularly good, not a patch off you any of them, yet I enjoyed it very much, it is such a joy just to get into evening dress and glide round the dance-floor after so much unalloyed domesticity!
At the weekend the Bennetts had a distinguished visitor in Wilfrid Roberts, M.P., chairman of the Liberal Party. He is a very pleasant man, not prepossessing at first but who improves on acquaintance [inserted] x [/inserted] and he [missing words] [inserted] x AND HE MADE ME FEEL MORE THAN [/inserted] than [inserted] x [/inserted] ever that I would rather join the Liberal party than anything else. I wonder what your views will be, I am longing to discuss it with you. I was rather perturbed today when I came out of church to see a notice posted up about the electoral register, saying that those who wanted to claim to be included [missing words] [inserted] x [/inserted] [inserted] MUST DO SO [/inserted] before yesterday! So I wrote off hurriedly, under yesterday’s date, and hope very much that I shall be in time, [inserted] x [/inserted] or that [missing words] [inserted] x [/inserted] [inserted] x OR THAT AS A x [/inserted] householder I shall be automatically on it, for it would be simply terrible if after waiting nearly nine years for a vote I were done out of it after all! I also enquired whether I could vote for you, and whether your name were on the register so that you can vote for yourself, which would be far better!
I have had a very pleasant letter from the RAF enclosing a draft for £117, being the contents of your account up to March 1944, which now nestles safely in the bank. I wondered if I would pay off the rest of our debt to my people with it, but decided to let you do what you want with it when you come, which won’t be long now. There was also a letter about income-tax, saying that they were going to pinch about £36 from you, which I feel sure is wrong since GAT are paying it for you; but there again, you can fight that out yourself when you come. On second thoughts I think I will send the letter to Touche’s. The RAF say that no tax has been deducted from June 1940 to 31st March 44, and the £36 is due for ‘44/45. It’s a mystery to me.
Things have been pretty busy since our return last Thursday evening (incidentally we were motored down to London, which was very pleasant). Irene and Godfrey are still here, which makes a little extra work, also a little extra cash. It is pleasant to have their company, and Irene helps a lot with washing-up and so on. On Friday Frances [deleted] went [/deleted] and I went to a meeting of a discussion group in St. Peter’s where they had got the chairman of the local District Council to talk on housing, and a very good meeting it was, with questions afterward lasting nearly an hour. There have been arrears of washing and cleaning and correspondence to clear up, so that I feel I haven’t caught up with myself yet, however, it will sort itself out in time.
You must be feeling a lot more cheerful these days, so am I, and I sincerely hope you will be home long before this letter could reach you. Oh my darling, what a glorious, glorious day that will be!
All my love to you my darling Ursula.



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 16, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20416.

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