Just a word to tell you…

V-Mail provides insight to soldier’s point of view

The whole idea of “V-Mail” was to reduce the volume of shipping overseas. One sack of V-Mail film equaled 37 bags letters. National Archives

The whole idea of “V-Mail” was to reduce the volume of shipping overseas. One sack of V-Mail film equaled 37 bags letters. National Archives

By Chris William

I have attached a copy of a letter that readers may find interesting. It provides the perspective of a WWII front line soldier. The letter was sent to my father’s cousin. The sender was one of her former co-workers at the time.

6 March 1945

Somewhere in Germany

Dear Helen,

Hello! Just a word to tell you I hope you and your’s are well and happy. Also a thousand thanks for your thoughtful gifts. The heating pads have and are now performing wonderful service. Just to keep your hands warm on a cold night or day for that matter. But mostly, I use it during the day and loan it to my Belgium buddies who do most of the night patrolling and guard duty.

The scarf is just what I needed. The chap I loaned the pad to last night was tickled pink and about 2 in the morning went in the woods and came back with two Nazi Lts (Lieutenants) and a Medic Captain. One of the Lts tried to give him a little trouble so he shot him.

I wish I could tell you about the thousand and one interesting things that happen in these parts every day. As you know, I am with a forward element of the First U.S. Army. Can’t say where we are now, but I guess just about as close to Berlin as it is possible to get as of this day.

The things you see along the roads are like a nightmare, something we in the U.S. are used to reading about but not seeing. Along the line are thousands of liberated slave labors, prisoners, etc. Mostly Russian. And they are plenty happy, too. But the Germans, they look upon you with a strange expression, as if to say that it couldn’t happen to them… but it did.

Yet Germany seems to have more in common with the U.S. than any other country I have been in. Surely she is the most modern and up-to-date. Who else could wage war on the scale of the present. She has everything and I can’t imagine why she would want to fight for. But she fights on and I think will continue for many months to come. Wouldn’t we, if our own dear country was attacked! She will too. (Strictly personal opinion).

Original piece of V-Mail transcribed here for the reader’s convenience. Short for “Victory Mail,” V-Mail  was a hybrid mail process used during WWII in America as the primary and secure method to correspond with soldiers stationed abroad. To reduce the cost of transferring an original letter through the military postal system, a V-mail letter would be censored, copied to film, and printed back to paper upon arrival at its destination.

Original piece of V-Mail transcribed here for the reader’s convenience. Short for “Victory Mail,” V-Mail was a hybrid mail process used during WWII in America as the primary and secure method to correspond with soldiers stationed abroad. To reduce the cost of transferring an original letter through the military postal system, a V-mail letter would be censored, copied to film, and printed back to paper upon arrival at its destination.

Two days ago I ran across a burned out small farm house factory, and as I usually do out of curiosity lifted up a few burned up planks to see if there were any souvenirs worthwhile. (I select them — carry them around a few days — then throw them away).

I found six Nazis burned to death and they had evidently laid there for a few months — ever since the Bulge break-in. Shows you how busy things are around here when the Nazi’s even have no time to bury their dead.

But life and human beings are cheap around these parts and I trust leaders of all countries know what this leads to.  Sometimes I wonder. I said before that I thought the Germans had everything. Perhaps things were so well and “normal” here as they were in America not many years ago. And like in America when things are “normal” people are not too much interested in politics or what their leaders are doing. When they are interested it is because their own personal selves are concerned. Anyone with a little initiative and enthusiasm can sell them a “bill of goods.”

So, perhaps it was in Germany. I don’t know, but maybe that is why Nazism grew and maybe that is why, now, they cannot even surrender with dignity.

We are here today as conquerors. They resent us more than it is possible today. And they will not forget for many generations. And the mere fact that they will not forget leads me to believe that what has happened for the past several years is a prelude to a greater and third World War.

Best of everything to you all at the factory,    

                                                —Ed

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