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Collection Spotlight

World War II V-Mail

Bing Crosby perfectly captured the sentiments many service men and women felt during World War II when he crooned, “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams” in 1943. It will come as no surprise that soldiers felt especially compelled to reach out to loved ones as the holidays approached. The U.S. Government responded by producing special Christmas V-Mail for them to send home with messages of seasons greetings.

V-Mail, short for Victory Mail, was created by the U.S. Postal Service to expedite mail service during wartime. Standardized stationery was created for soldiers to use when writing letters, which were then photographed onto 16mm microfilm. The film was shipped overseas back home to the U.S., at a fraction of the space and weight needed to ship paper letters, allowing more space for needed war supplies. Once it arrived in the U.S., V-Mail was printed onto paper again for the recipient.

This example, from Private LeRoy Pape, was sent to his mother- and father-in-law back home in Dubuque. It was dated December 8, 1944, and was sent from France.

LeRoy Pape was born in Dubuque and married Margaret Sullivan, daughter of the recipients, in 1942. After serving his country in World War II, he was employed by John Deer Dubuque Works for 33 years. He and his wife had three children and enjoyed square dancing. He passed away in 2010 at the age of 86.

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