For members of the armed forces the importance of mail during World War II was second only to food. The emotional power of letters was heightened by the fear of loss and the need for communication during times of separation. Messages from a husband, father, or brother, killed in battle might provide the only surviving connection between him and his family. The imminence of danger and the uncertainty of war placed an added emphasis on letter writing. Emotions and feelings that were normally only expressed on special occasions were written regularly to ensure devotion and support.
Letter Writing in WWII
View a two-minute newsreel describing V-Mail: "New Service Speeds Mail to U.S. Troops, 1944," produced by the Office of War Information.
National Archives (208-UN-113).
Letters from home; each day millions of them are sent to American servicemen
fighting on distant battle fronts.
Because a war postal system called V--mail,
they can be flown throughout the world reaching distant points safely and with amazing speed.
This plane is landing in Italy.
Each bag of mail it carries contains 136 thousand letters.
Back in America, each letter was reduced to a tiny strip of film.
Now near the front, automatic machines and enlarge each overseas letter from
sixteen millimeter motion picture negative to a four by five inch print.
These strips are dried,
carefully inspected and cut into individual letters.
Machines fold them and put them into envelopes.
In this one laboratory over three hundred thousand letters a day are handled.
A complete locator card system takes care of mail incorrectly addressed.
In the censorship section, anything that might reveal vital military information is cut out.
At mail call, Americans overseas receive their letters.
Nearly every transport plane that spans the ocean brings its quota of mail.
In just a few days, V-mail letters from home reach serviceman in every theater of war.