In 2009 I wrote about V-Mail, the U.S. Postal system’s answer to the hundreds of thousands of letters that were being exchanged between families on the home-front and service men and women all over the world during WWII.
A person who wanted to send a letter by airgraph or V-Mail would obtain the standard, pre-printed form from the local post office or five and dime store on request. The form contained space for a letter of about 100 to 300 words, the address of the serviceman or -woman to whom the letter was to be delivered, the address of the sender, and a circular area for the censor’s stamp of approval. Once the message was written, the form was to be folded and sealed. It then made its way to a processing center where the form was re-opened and fed through a machine that photographed the letters on 16mm film.
This past weekend in at the flea market in Pennsylvania I bought three actual V-Mail prints between PFC Edward Roofner (who was stationed “Somewhere in England”) and his family back home in PA. Interesting stuff. Kate here at ACL HQ (who scanned these letters; thanks Kate) commented on how many cigarettes that a soldier was issued compared to actual food. Amazing stuff.
UPDATE: ACL reader Chuck did some detective work and discovered that “PFC Roofner made it through the war and passed away last month.
UPDATE II: ACL reader Chad found some more info about Mr. Roofner.
Comments on “Victory Mail Revisited”
Wow! These purchases of yours are sweet! Just love these!
Back in the day whether you were a airmen, marine, sailor, soldier… getting a mail was like getting gold and a package felt like Christmas!…Even recieving a postcard makes your day! When I was serving USN overseas, there were a couple times I hit the jackpot -6 letters most in one day… felt soo bad that my fellow mates didn’t get any so I shared my unopened ones and have them read them to me. Good thing they weren’t naughty cause that would get me in trouble!
I’m glad I kept the ones that my husband wrote way back….that I did not share!
Nowadays you can just skype, chat, email….for those who are serving everywhere from home, just a simple letter, postcard, and a package can just brighten a service members day! Just make sure you pack some extra goodies when you do happen to send a package :)
gone are the days of great penmanship.
Only if you give in.
Reminds me of a post I did last Christmas. My grandfather was in the EU theater for WWII and sent home a letter a week to his parents and his girl-friend. (who would later become my grandmother) I posted the Xmas cards he sent back home. Cards were issued by the US Gov and each GI was able to send an unlimited amount back home, free of charge.
Great find Mr. Williams.
The address in PA still exists, I wonder if the descendant still live there.
Last year I found all my Dad’s WWII Vmail letters to his family. Over 100 pages!
Most were typed because he was in charge of the office on the ship. He was an excellent
writer and I felt like I was right there with him. He was in the South Pacific
and it was incredibly rough. He has passed away, but I wish I could talk to
him about it now. So many unanswered questions! The only time he talked
about the War was when my uncles were together on holidays. They would
all sit in the living room sharing War stories and the women would be in the
kitchen. The women didn’t like to listen to those stories. I thank God for all
their sacrifices and our resulting freedom.
Reminds me of my days as a Mormon missionary, except no cigarettes :). We used to love getting mail and pictures from home. Nowadays they just rely on email for the most part.
Ah yes. My Grandma still has some of hers. I need to scan them pronto…
I hope you are planning on at least letting the descendants know you have these letters and either give them copies or the originals if they are interested…..
Cool find I must say though.
tell that to my 4th graders. We don’t grade penmanship anymore. We do not teach cursive anymore as well!
In all likelihood it’s his descendants that tossed these things right after he died.
If they had wanted them they would not be turning up at a fleamarket in the first place.
Like it or not, the reason we can buy and own cool old stuff is because people die and their children don’t value old random things… like blue jeans, leather jackets and letters from World War II.
EK is right. The guy at the Flea where I bought these letters told me he cleans out houses…which is where this stuff all comes from. So most likely the family just wanted to get rid of this stuff. -ACL
Have just a few of these from my grandfather to my grandmother. His handwriting is one of the things that can get me teary eyed when I come open an old list or envelope once in a while.
We will not have emails to throw away or to Flea.
We still use similar in the British Army.
They are known as “Blueys”, because the form is on blue paper. You can pick them up for free at any post office. You write one side of the paper, then fold and stick, and put the address on the outside. As long as you don’t enclose anything, postage from the UK or any British Forces Post Office is free.
When I was in Iraq we were constantly getting told not to put samples of desert sand into the envelopes, as it escapes and breaks the sorting machine.
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