“Think of me when you’re out there” : V-mail and love letters during WWII

My historical fiction novel is based on Don’s 130 letters and telegrams sent to Honey from 1938-1944, and so I had to document the letters before going back to Honey for interviews. When reading Don’s letters from his Army service during WWII, I found small cards called V-Mail (for “Victory Mail”). These letters were written on specially manufactured cards, and turned into microfilm. The 37 mail bags required to carry 150,000 letters on a cargo plane could be replaced by only one mail sack. The weight of that mail was reduced from 2,575 lbs to 45. This was tremendously helpful to the US during WWII because it allowed for more supplies to be shipped instead of entire cargo planes full of letters. Because soldiers couldn’t talk about where they were or what they were doing, the letters were letters of love. This is one such letter:

July 14, 1944

Dear Piggy:

Very little to report – or seems to be going pretty well – you know more about it if you listen to the radio than I do. I forgot to mention, about 2 weeks ago I sent a package with a suitcase that was headed for Alabama. This girl in Alabama, Baumgardner’s wife, will send it on to you. It’s a little box with very nice pieces of silk, 1 white, 1 mixed [camouflage], 1 blue, 1 yellow.

They are from parachutes dropped on D-Day. The green mottled one in white are from paratroopers, the yellow and blue are from equipment chutes. The boy in one of these got loose [several words are crossed out] and the rest I don’t know about. The boys are making little scarves out of the white ones, and the camouflaged jobs. They camouflaged one I wish you’d make into a scarf. It may not look pretty to you that they really mean something…I wish you’d do something with all of it and keep it because they mean a lot to anyone that has seen what a terrific job those boys did the 1st few days. Let me know when you get it, Piggy. It should arrive in a month or so. Get them all cleaned up nicely before you try to do anything with them.

I’m going to send you a German machine gun belt when and if I get the chance, the boys wear them for belts. Painted up, they really would make the pretty [can’t read] belt: give it to [Little C] if you don’t want it.  She can gain prestige universally at the [B]ell Jr. high school, I’m sure. Best of it Baby, and take good care of yourself and Jr. Be careful Baby, all the love ‘de tout de la monde.’

Don

*It should be noted that the scarves and the machine gun belt were both confiscated by the US government before reaching Honey.

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