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United States/Covers & Postmarks : V-mail and Airgraphs

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Roy
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BuckaCover.com - 8,400+ new covers coming Sept. 19
12 Aug 2009
09:17:33pm
I noticed an item in the auction with the following description.
A V Mail cover with letter-V....Mail was operated during the war for the conservation of critical aircraft space thru the reduction in weight and bulk of mail to and from members of the armed forces over seas-The letter was written in full size and then reduced to 4 " X 5 "


While this is essentially correct I thought members might be interested in a description of the actual system.

The one-page forms were provided to users, and the forms sent to the local microfilming station. Then, all the letters were shot onto the microfilm, and the actual film reel was transported on aircraft to the destination station, where a reduced photographic print was made, inserted into a special envelope designed for it and sent to the recipient. Both sending and receiving stations needed to have the proper photographic equipment. The original letters were kept for a short time in case film reels were lost in transit. At least one instance is known of a plane with V-mail reels lost to enemy action, and the letters were re-transmitted.

Most V-mails are plain letters, but illustrated holiday (Christmas, Easter, Valentine etc) are also available. If anybody has any of these illustrated ones, I would be quite happy to bid on them if they were put into the auction.

vmail

Roy
http://www.buckacover.com
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Roy
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BuckaCover.com - 8,400+ new covers coming Sept. 19
12 Aug 2009
09:27:28pm
re: V-mail and Airgraphs

P.S. The British Commonwealth Forces also used the same system, but called it "Airgraph" -- thus the dual title in the original post.

Roy

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Bobstamp
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12 Aug 2009
11:20:42pm
re: V-mail and Airgraphs

The Brits came up with the idea first, and it was adopted later by the Americans. And the Americans saw V-Mail more as a way to improve morale, through faster mail delivery, than as a space- and weight-saving scheme.

My most treasured V-Mail letter is one that my Uncle Phil Ingraham sent from New Caledonia near the end of the war, to my grandparents in New Mexico; he was a radio repairman in the U.S. Army Air Force. My web page, The War Stories of M/Sgt Philip Ingraham, details his experiences. It includes a page about V-Mail, with several images of an unused V-Mail form.

I read not long ago, somewhere on the Internet, that far more ordinary letters than V-Mail letters were transported. It was a two-way system, by the way. Servicemen could access it from combat zones (conditions permitting, of course) and civilians could purchase forms to send V-Mail to servicemen.

I've seen only one V-mail letter from a civilian.* It had been mailed to a soldier in Europe, but was returned, in a special V-Mail cover, because the soldier had been killed in action.

Bob

* Anyone who collects war-related postal history soon learns that few covers sent to soldiers have survived. Combat conditions require that soldiers carry only what they need, and even if letters are kept, they are fragile and often don't survive anyway.

(Message edited by Bobstamp on August 12, 2009)

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Stamperdad
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13 Aug 2009
11:07:33am
re: V-mail and Airgraphs

There is also some great info on V-Mail found on the US National Postal Museum website at

http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/VictoryMail/index.html

Hope this helps

Steve

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