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 missing letter and says she will be sending photographs separately. Comments on photographs of Frances cooking and says she is learning more words every day. Writes of daughter's other activities before going on to describe her own which include; womens' group meeting, gardening and reading.



Temporal Coverage



Two page typewritten letter


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To Sgt. J.R.M. Valentine
British Prisoner of War No. 462,
Stalag Luft III, Germany
[stamp GEPRUFT 32]
[stamp Stalag 383 18 Gepruft]
From Mrs. J.R.M. Valentine,
Lido, Tenterden Grove,
London N.W.4.
Sunday May 23rd 1943.
[inserted] A 20/7 R 19/7 [/inserted]
My dearest Johnnie,
Your letter [censored word] arrived [censored words] It was one that was missing from a former series, now practically complete up to No. 21. I have decided to send the photos separately this time. I enclosed the two best from this batch with my last letter, and am sending the remaining six off separately without a letter, because my letters seem to reach you even more infrequently than your people’s and I am afraid it may be the photos that are holding them up. I feel it is jollier for you to get one or two snaps with each letter, but if they make the censorship slower they are not worth it and you may as well get them separately. These photos of Frances “cooking” are very good of her and taken together should give you a pretty clear idea of what she is like just now. Of course half of her sweetness lies in her colouring and her eager vivid ways. I hardly seem to have mentioned her in my recent letters, so I thought she should have an innings this time.
She is learning more words every day now and copies almost anything one says, however unsuitable, of course without knowing what it means so that we have to watch our step now. Her main topic of conversation consists in pointing to all the objects she knows the name of and saying that they belong to me. “Izizmummyzizbook, izizmummyzizshoe, izizmummyzizchair” and so on ad inf. Sometimes she even takes things from Barbara’s room and awards them to me, so that there is often quite a lot of sorting out to be done when she is out of the way. It is quite impossible to scold her for her misdeeds because she immediately agrees with me and deflects the scolding from herself on to the object of her misdeed. The other day she got into the bathroom, turned the taps on and started flooding the place. I caught her in time and gave her a very serious talking to about how naughty it is to turn on the taps on her own, and now whenever we go near the bath or she sees the picture of the bath in her picture book she harangues me on the subject of the naughty taps, carrying on at great length and with the utmost seriousness, often mimicking me until I really can’t keep my face straight. Last week she got hold of a pencil and scribbled all over the tray of her high chair. As a result Ba and I had a long lecture on the naughty pencil and the naughty tray – never naughty Frances, mind you! She is very fond of playing with her dolls now spends a lot of time putting them to bed either in the dolls’ bed or the dolls’ pram. She comes and reports to me with a voice fairly dripping with weariness that Lulu is tired and needs to go to bed and proceeds to pack her away, generally underneath the mattress. Her dolls have to be put on the potty at frequent intervals too and encouraged with suitable noises. Recently she has tumbled down a few times and grazed her knees. She makes very little fuss on these occasions but is immensely proud of and interested in her scars and wounds, comes and shows them to me every day and assures me that they are better now. I still seem to have the magic touch for all her bumps and knocks, anything I “kiss better” is cured at once.
[page break]
While the painters were here she got into the habit of saying “Hallow-ow” with a most awful cockney ”ow” on the end and hasn’t quite got out of it yet. The other day she was pottering with me in the garden and I said we must fetch the how. “How” says she, “No, hoe”. “Oh, hoe, hoe” and she proceeded to repeat “Hoe” with a most prim and affected accent, and now whenever she sees the tool she purses up her little mouth and utters a sepulchral “Hoe”. I have started a campaign to have us called Mother [missing words] Daddy are words that come naturally to a baby [missing words] whenever she [missing words] quite nicely now [missing words] when she wishes goodnight when [missing words] generally Teddy or Lulu.
I have been as busy as ever this week, if not worse. On Tuesday I went up to town, bought you a pair of warm slippers for your next parcel and I am having rubbers put on them to make them extra strong and waterproof. I got Augeners to send you a copy of Kaysers Studies, books I, II and III in one volume. I also bought myself a pair of black and white high-heeled summer shoes which I think you will like, and some material to make myself a summer dress. Also some material to make Frances’s winter sleepingsuits. In view of the above purchases I passed your request for G.B. Shaw’s works on to your Father, as you suggested, and he tells me he has had two books, plays I believe, sent to you, but G.B.S. is out of print just now so it is not easy to get anything much. Grandma rang up this evening and said that Leslie had written that he had nearly joined you so he must have been busy, we have no idea where.
Last Wednesday we had another meeting of our Current Affairs Club at Mrs. Boyd’s this time we had Mrs. Cole, wife of G.D.H. Cole the economist, to talk to us about Beveridge. She put it very lucidly and well and impressed them all considerably. I having already read her husband’s booklet on the subject didn’t need impressing. She is a quiet rather shy person, almost awkward but with a charming personality, great intellect and a delightful sense of humour. The Current Affairs Club is growing gradually and getting more self-assured. We are going to take it in turns to be Chairman to get practice in conducting a meeting, and I have been elected secretary for the next six meetings, ie. e 3 months. Luckily that doesn’t amount to much yet, though I suppose I ought to write up minutes. We have avoided too much organisation so far because we are all busy women and we meet because we want to know about things not just to fill in an idle afternoon; however, some of them seem to think we ought to put it on a proper committee basis, and if we are going to pester the local authorities for maternity hospitals and the like, we shall be needing a filing system soon!
I have been busy in the garden today, planting out 2 dozen tomato plants bought from Mr. Thompson. They were 4d each, 1d up on last year but still 2d less than the price in most shops. I have put them right up at the top of the garden in front of the fence which I hope will be covered with runner beans. It is all coming on quite nicely, and the roses are in bud or in bloom. The peonies are almost over, I had hoped Mother would be here in time for them.
I have just read your book “Eothen” and very much enjoyed it. I am on to Aldous Huxley’s new book “Grey Eminence” now but get very little time for it. It is nearly midnight now so I must pack up and retire.
With all my love to you my darling husband, I’m so proud of you & long for you terribly. Keep fit and cheerful, dearest.
Yours always, Ursula.
[inserted] Just had a parcel from Grandma May with a little dress & knickers she has knitted for Frances – they fit her well. She sends her love to you. [/inserted]
[inserted] x. “and it is an effort to change _ _ _ _ you are one the first people” _ _ _ [/inserted]



Ursula Valentine, “Letter to prisoner of war John Valentine from his wife Ursula,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 15, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20029.

Item Relations

This Item dcterms:relation Item: Frances Valentine Cooking
This Item dcterms:relation Item: Frances Valentine Cooking
This Item dcterms:relation Item: Frances Valentine cooking
This Item dcterms:relation Item: Frances Valentine cooking
This Item dcterms:relation Item: Frances Valentine cooking
This Item dcterms:relation Item: Frances Valentine cooking
This Item dcterms:relation Item: Frances Valentine cooking