Frank Charney's Sunday Postcard
October 7, 2007
An uncle's V-Mail during World War II
In conjunction with the PBS showing of Ken Burns' documentary "The War," a seven-part series about World War II, I decided to display a copy of an old V-Mail, or WW II letter, dated July 26, 1944, that my uncle Alex Charney mailed to his brother Mike, my father. It gives me a greater appreciation of how my uncle, along with other veterans, fought the Nazis in Europe and managed to survive.
What is V-Mail, especially to the younger generation? During World War II in 1942, the military devised a method for servicemen stationed overseas to send mail to the United States. It was called V-Mail, the V for Victory. The serviceman wrote the letter on a V-Mail form, a one-sided, regular-sized piece of paper with a block on the top for the receiver's address. The letter was sent to a mailroom just behind the combat zone, cleared by the censor, and a photographer shot the page onto 16-mm black and white camera film. The reel of V-Mail film was then flown or shipped to a safe processing center where a copy of the letter was printed onto a piece of 5" x 4" black and white photographic paper. This then was folded, slipped into an envelope and dropped into a mailbag for delivery. The V-Mail system was adopted because mail had to compete with overseas cargo space for valuable war-time supplies, with V-Mail occupying a lot less space than regular mail.
In a previous Sunday Post, I described my uncle's unbelievable preoccupation with obtaining tins of snuff while he was in the midst of wartime chaos. What would our cravings be, if placed in such a situation? See http://www.nantyglo.com/postcards03/jul2703.htm.
I translated his V-Mail for more legible reading.
After viewing Burns' documentary and hearing about my uncle's wartime experiences, I'll never again complain about having to pull midnight guard duty on a New Year's Eve when I was stationed stateside in the Army
This Day in History
1930: The first glider license was awarded to L.A. Wiggins of Akron, Ohio.
A morning low of 28 degrees in Rockford, Illinois, set a record there, and fog
in other locations reduced visibility to near zero.
Senior moments: Your mantra is, "fast, temporary relief."
Thought for today
To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.
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