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What the Heck is V-Mail?
Lyle Cunningham rose from Private in July of 1943 to Sergeant by the time of the Cisterna Action through battlefield commissions in Sicily and Italy; and later gained Staff Sergeant status before leaving the service. Here is an early V-Mail from North Africa or Sicily before the V-Mail Photo Process was completely deployed.
V - Mail the Blessing and the Curse of the Common Soldier
Message From Your Uncle Sam:
V-Mail Service provides the most expeditious dispatch and reduces the weight
of mail to from personnel of our Armed Forces outside the continental United States.
When addressed to points where microfilm equipment is operated, a miniature photographic negative of the message will be made and sent by the most expeditious transportation available for reproduction and delivery.
The original message will be destroyed after the reproduction has been delivered. Messages addressed to or from points where microfilm equipment is not operated will be transmitted in their original form by the most expeditious mean available.
(1) Write the entire message plainly on the other side within marginal lines.
(2) PRINTthe name and address in the two panels provided. Addresses to members of the Armed Forces should include rank or rating of the addressee, unit to which attached, and APO or Naval address.
(3) Fold, seal, and deposit in any post office letter drop or street letter box.
(4) Enclosures must not be placed in this envelope and a separate V-Mail letter must be sent if you desire to write more than one sheet.
(5) V-Mail letters may be sent free of postage by members of the Armed Forces. When sent by others postage must be prepaid at domestic rates (3c ordinary mail, 6c if air mail is desired.
Any mail is better than no mail. V-Mail was written on a standard form and passed through military censors; who in-turn either blacked out or clipped military secrets or sensitive material...the folks at home received a photo copy of the letter...
censored or not...measuring about 4"x5"...envelope here is the actual size. Soldiers always feel closer to home when they write and receive mail.
Letter from Lyle; to Winnell and Morris Price; George Tubb Ranch Canadian Texas, 23 Aug. 43; Sicily;
"...tell Price that I have seen some action during this campaign. You see lots of interesting things, and see lots more...of people who can speak English...all of them say they came from Brooklyn...Love Lyle".
(The above letter is about four times the actual size of the photo copy mail)
1. V-Mail F.R. Bob Price Collection
2. Used with Permission: Northwestern University Library