Hardy remembers using “V-Mail” while serving in WWII
by Alan Reed
Sep 12, 2007 | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
William Hardy holds a picture of the unit he served with in the U.S. Army in World War II while stationed in New Caledonia.
William Hardy holds a picture of the unit he served with in the U.S. Army in World War II while stationed in New Caledonia.
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Before the Internet and satellites made communications between servicemen abroad and their families at home inexpensive and reliable, GI’s depended on the tried and true method of writing letters to tell family, friends and sweethearts about their experiences. Former U.S. Army Soldier William Hardy said he used a special service known as V Mail, not E-Mail to communicate with his loved ones from his duty station on the Pacific Island of New Caledonia.

Hardy said, “We would write letters home and send them through the post office. It would take two weeks by ship to reach the west coast. By the time it got home, it would take about three weeks and about as long to get one back. With V-Mail, it got home much sooner than with the old route. We would write a letter and somehow they would reduce it. We could not write much. The limit was about one page. After we got it, we used it all the time.”

According to Hardy, the Army Post Office collected no postage for GI’s to send a letter home. He said that he would be given a V-Mail form to provide the addressee’s information, his return address, and space to write a letter. A wartime censor approved each letter home before applying a stamp of approval.

The National Postal Museum’s Website at http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu said that the “V” in V-mail stood, of course, for “Victory.” The original forms were photographed and shipped back to the United States or a theater of operations on microfilm, thereby saving space on ships for war materials. Upon arrival at the destination, the microfilms would be “blown up” to one-quarter of the size of the original and printed near the addressee’s home or unit to legible size and delivered to readers. Thirty-seven mailbags used to carry 150,000 letters could be replaced with just one bag. Weight dropped from 2,575 pounds to 45 with the reduction to microfilm.

The V-Mail form asked letter-writers to use typewriter, dark ink or pencil, and write plainly. The form adds, “Very small writing is not suitable.”

For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.
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