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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Our WWII Soldier's Younger Brother Gets a Furlough and Elopes

March 6, 1944
Sat. 9:00 P.M.

My Darling Mark

Hello Sweetheart !  !

         I haven’t written for a few days so I’d better write tonite. I leave in the morning for a week or so. I’m not sure – but I guess I’ll be able to write anyway.

         There’s nothing new to write about, except its still cold as hell here & I miss you more every day – honey! I got a letter from Frank yesterday. He said Ralph came home on a 15 day furlough & got married secretly. If I know Mom she’ll have it annulled – he is too damn young to get married.

         Honey – I sure miss not hearing from you! Are you still working nites? How are your sisters & Mother & Dee Dee? Where’s your brother stationed now?

         Honey – I’ve got to get to sleep & do some more packing – I have to leave early in the morning!

         I think of you an awful lot honey & miss you like hell – no end!

         Write very Soon Darling
         I love you Darling – don’t ever forget it.
Goodnite honey
All My Love forever     Johnny

Monday, March 26, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Visits A 700 Year Old Cathedral

Feb. 27, 1944
Sunday Eve.

My Darling Mark

         Hello Sweetheart ! 

Mama Mia – no letter for over a week now honey.

         I know why tho – since you haven’t heard from me for a month – I guess you don’t know whether to write or not huh?

         This is my weekly blue letter to you honey – not necessarily because I’m blue but because of the blue envelope. Just the base censor – censors it & it isn’t censored by our officers. I just came back from town – I went & visited a cathedral & honey it was really something to see. I’ve never seen a church so large & beautiful & as old. Over 700 yrs. I really couldn’t start to explain it. It has about 7 altars in it. The pews have these velvet cushions & pillows for kneeling pads.

         I got a card from Sis today that I have to answer. She said she was going to call you – did she?

         Honey I sho miss you an awful lot! What I wouldn’t give to be back there with you. I had a dream about you the other nite & like a dope I must have acted the same way as I do in your dreams.

         Someday we’ll make up for this lost time honey on the double time. I’ll never stop loving you honey. How I’d like to be in your arms now – mercy!

         Honey I sure miss you. I write every chance I get honey – so if you don’t hear from me for a day or two or even a week – just believe me I’m busy, & would write if it was possible.

         We’ve got to get up earlier in the morning honey – so I’d better get to sleep.

         Goodnite now Darling.
         Write very soon – I miss you so much.
                 All My Love Darling   Johnny

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Has Stationery Shortage and Can't Write Very Often

Feb. 25, 1944
Friday  1:00 P.M.

My Darling Mark

         Hello Sweetheart !  I haven’t written you lately – mostly because of the stationery shortage. I haven't received a letter from you for a week now. That’s a long time to go without a letter. I guess you went longer than that getting a letter from me tho.

         Its still cold as hell here & always wet. I’ll have to close now honey & finish this tonite. -       (7:00 P.M.)

         I’ll attempt to finish this now honey.

         I got a letter from home yesterday & one from Mary & Dode. She said Joyce was sure getting big. Dode had to take his physical the 20th. I guess he’s in by now.

         Are you still working nights honey? Seen Cec or Lu lately? In general whats cooking around K.C.? I sure wish I was back there with you – but that’s all I can do is wish. I really miss you honey & love you more every day. I had a dream about you the other nite & I didn’t even get to hold or kiss you. I tended when I was woke up for reveille. Had to wash clothes again last nite.

         Well honey I’ve got to shave & shower tonite so I’d better close. Write Soon Darling because I really miss hearing from you.

         I love you honey! !
                 All My Love        Johnny

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Can Only Write About How Much He Misses His Sweetheart

Feb. 20, 1944
Sun. Eve.

My Darling Mark

         Hello Sweetheart !  I haven’t heard from you for a couple of days but I’d better write anyway. As soon as I get hold of more stationery. I’ll write more often.

         I haven’t really anything special to write about except how much I love & miss you. I guess that’s what you want to hear anyway huh?

         It’s been cold as hell the last couple of days – which I don’t like. The sun very seldom shines here – its so cloudy. I’ll bet its pretty cold in K.C. too – honey – but I would like to be there if it was 50 below.

         How’s Cec. & Lu – have you been over there lately or are you still working nights? I wrote the folks a letter tonite too – honey – so you see I do write them.

         Honey I got to sleep till 9:00 this morning – that’s a wonderful feeling. We’ve been getting Sundays off so far too. I got a letter from Ralph Friday – he’s still in Florida.

         Honey the folks sure think you’re a swell girl – but not any more than I do.

         Honey I’ve got to wash out some clothes yet tonite so I’d better close.

         I love you more every day honey & miss being with you just a helluva lot. Write Soon Darling! Goodnite now.

         All My Love forever     Johnny

Friday, March 23, 2012

Blue Envelope Mail, WW2 - The History and Practice of Censoring Soldier's Letters

Blue Envelope Mail


What were the censors looking for?
The censors were looking out for two things in World War I and World War II. They didn't want the soldier to say anything that would be of value to the enemy, such as where they were. They always wanted to camouflage how strong the troops were. "Loose lips sink ships" was the phrase that was very prevalent in WW II and that was the theory in WW I as well.

Officers also were looking to see any weakening of desire among the troops. It's very important in wartime for officers to know about morale issues.

Did censoring influence the quality of the letters written?
In general, in the Revolutionary War and Civil War the letters have much more information. The writers would say, 'We're outside of Fredericksburg' or 'I'm in the 12th division,' and that's important information that was often cut out in World War I and World War II.

In WW II, it's common for a soldier to write, 'I can't say much or the censors will cut it out.' Early in World War II, the soldiers couldn't say where they were. People back home didn't know if they were in the Pacific or the Atlantic. You'll see letters where the soldier will say where he is -- it's cut out -- and how many people are in the building -- and that's cut out too. People would do very simple things to get around the censor like write on the inside of the flap but they were usually unsuccessful. So the World War letters often just include just Mom and Pop stuff.

Who did the censoring?
The enlisted soldier was censored by an officer in his unit. It was considered an unimportant job and often someone like the chaplain or the dentist would get saddled with the job. If the enlisted man did not want his officer to read his mail -- if he had been giving him a hard time, let's say -- the soldier could use what was called a 'blue envelope.' The writer would certify that there is nothing in here that shouldn't be and the letter would go up to the next level where it might be looked at a little more kindly.

The officers were self-censored. They didn't have anyone looking at their mail regularly, although the higher level staff or base censors would randomly check officers' letters to keep an eye on them. Officers seemed to say more in their letters. Whether it was because they knew better what was allowed or whether they were more brazen or whether their mail often was not censored is debatable.

What happened to letters that were censored?
If the section they wanted out was very big, they would confiscate the letter. If it was small, they cut out the words or obliterate it with ink. If they had to use special chemicals to check for invisible writing -- something they did when they suspected a spy -- they would confiscate the letter because they didn't want people to know they were doing it.

The censors returned very few soldiers' letters. They confiscated them; they didn't send them back. They didn't necessarily give the word back to the soldier that his or her letter was withheld. It depended where it was stopped and how fast the troops were moving.

From the soldier's perspective, you often didn't know if it was going to get through. The soldiers were all given guidance on what they could say, so you would think they would know how to avoid getting their mail intercepted, but not all did.

What happened to you if your letter was censored?
You might be talked to, because it's important. I don't know of any soldiers who were severely punished for what they wrote in a letter. It wasn't considered an overt act of sabotage; it was considered carelessness.

Why did censorship end after World War II?
It took a lot of time and effort to censor mail and the military probably just figured that it just wasn't worth it. Some censored letters are known from the early part of the Korean War. We believe this was an error with World War II veterans implementing WW II policy until things settled down. Communications changed too. Things were supposed to be faster and that included the mail to and from soldiers. In the latter part of the Vietnam War, the military didn't even bother to cancel letters.

From an interview with Myron Fox, on on War Letters

Saturday, March 17, 2012

WWII Blue Envelope Mail: Censored by the Base Censor But Not By The Soldier's Officers

click on the image of the envelope to see it larger

Feb. 16, 1944
Wed. 7:30 P.M.

My Darling Mark

         Hello Sweetheart !  No letter today, but I’ve received 4 from you in the last two days – so I guess its still my turn to write. If you’re wondering about this blue envelope – we get to send one a week. These aren’t censored by our own officers only by the base censor. Honey – a guy just can’t write what he really feels when he knows the officers he sees every day is reading his mail. 10 to 1 – the censor doesn’t even remember anything he reads– he has to censor so many – but that’s the way we feel about it.

         I’ve been thinking about you a hell of a lot today – honey – but I always do. Honey you don’t know how much I love & miss you. What I wouldn’t give to be with you now. I guess being over here will make me appreciate a home more when I get back. I always took it for granted.

         I’ll try my darndest to make you happy as possible honey. If you only knew what your love for me means to me honey. I hope it isn’t too long before I come back to you. I know its rough for you too honey to have to wait & not know for how long. Darling – if at any time you feel like you don’t want to wait on me to come back – or want to marry someone else – I guess I couldn’t hold it against you, even if I love you more than anything in this world. I know I couldn’t forget you honey & never will, I love (you) too much I know.

         It rained all day today honey & it sure is muddy around here. Its never been dry since we arrived here – only me. I don’t care for these beers here so much & you can’t get anything else.

         There’s a lot of women here – most of which are in the service of some kind. They don’t compare with U.S. girls tho. I can’t even get interested in them – not that I’m supposed to honey – but just in case you’re wondering. Just thinking of you keeps me satisfied honey – believe me.

         Well, Darling I’ve only got 2 sheets of this paper & had to get it thru channels. Tell all your folks & Dee Dee hello. Darling write soon & often – your letters mean so much to me honey. I’ll write every chance I get too honey. Goodnite honey.

         I love you & miss you Darling. A 1000 kisses
                          All My Love                 Johnny

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Has A Slow Saturday Night in England, Gonna Make Coffee

Sat 8:00 P.M.
Somewhere in England

My Darling Mark

         Hello Sweetheart

No letter today – but since I’m not busy just as well write. Sat. nite & nothing to do – oh if I were in K.C.

         I got a letter from Mom & one from Sis today. I just finished answering them.

         Honey this letter is going to be short. I don’t have anything special to write about & I didn’t get a letter from you.

         We’re starting to get passes now to go to town. We have our English money too. Very complicated system to me.

         We’re going to make a little coffee in the hut tonite so will start closing & get this over to the censor & it might go out tomorrow.

         Darling I love you & miss you. Come to think of it – Valentine’s day is the 14th. You still mine – honey? I hope so cause I’m coming back to you.

         If you don’t get a Valentine from me you’ll know why honey – its impossible to get any here.

         I guess I’d better answer Mom’s & Sis’ Letters now, & then hit the hay & I mean hay.

         We have no reveille in the morning, anyway. Bye for now Darling!
Write soon & often.
         All My Love        Johnny

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Hasn't Seen A Newspaper In A Month

Feb. 4, 1944
Fri. 3:00 PM (9:00 AM K.C.)

My Darling Mark –

         Hello Sweetheart ! 

I didn’t write last nite – I wanted to wait till we got our other address. I’ve got a little time this afternoon so thought I’d write a little. I just finished a Vmail to Mom. Its pretty cold today & snowed for a minute or two. How’s old K.C.?  I’d sure like to be back there with you – honey. I’d sure be making up for lost time.

         It’s about time to fall out honey so I’ll finish this tonite & hope I get a letter from you.

8:00 P.M.
         There wasn’t any mail today so naturally I didn’t get a letter from you.

         I haven’t anything else to do so I just as well write huh honey?

         I’m laying on my bunk so if you find this difficult to read you know why.

         I just finished shaving & it was too cold to shower. We shower once in the summer & not so many times in the winter.

         I see where I’m going to have to put a little more straw in this bunk – its getting kinda hard.

         Have you been over to Lu & Cec’s lately. Honey every time you go over there – tell them I said hello.

         I didn’t get any of your pictures yet.

         Honey I sure miss you – I hope it isn’t too long till I get back. I don’t want you to get tired waiting.

         Honey you can send some newspaper clippings in your letters if you want. I haven’t seen a newspaper for a month. Anything that’s going on in K.C.

         Well honey I’d better close for tonite. I got a V-mail from a buddy in my old outfit I should answer.

         I’ll write more tomorrow – honey. Bye now & write real soon. Tell my future mother in law hello. I love you honey.

         All My Love Darling           Johnny

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Plans To Make Up For Lost Time When He Gets Home

Feb. 2, 1944
Wed. Eve

My Darling Mark –

         Hello Sweetheart !

I got your letter of the 19th today & was more than happy to get it. Air-mail does come faster.

         I seen Princess O’Rourke too & like it very much. That must be quite the deal getting up at 10:30. I don’t intend to spend too much time catching up on sleep when I get back – but I do intend to make up for lost time honey!

         Did Cec. smash his finger very bad? I hope not!

         Its not so cold here but the sun very seldom gets to shine thru the clouds.

         Honey are you still working nights?

         I like to write you a long letter but I honestly don’t know what to write. I expect long letters from you tho honey. I guess I told you I got a letter from Cec. didn’t I?  Well honey I’d better stop here & write home.

         Don’t forget I love you Darling & miss you like hell.

                 Bye for Now – Write real Soon
         All My Love honey -   Johnny

Thursday, March 8, 2012

V-Mail History

     V-mail, short for Victory Mail, is a hybrid mail process used during the Second World War in America as the primary and secure method to correspond with soldiers stationed abroad. To reduce the logistics of transferring an original letter across the military postal system, a V-mail letter would be censored, copied to film, and printed back to paper upon arrival at its destination. The V-mail process is based on the earlier British Airgraph[1] process.

Operation and Function

      V-mail correspondence was on small letter sheets, 17.8cm by 23.2cm (7 by 9 1/8 in.), that would go through mail censors before being photographed and transported as thumbnail-sized image in negative microfilm. Upon arrival to their destination, the negatives would be blown up to 60% their original size 10.7cm by 13.2cm (4 ¼ in. by 5 3/16 in.) and printed.

     According to the National Postal Museum, "V-mail ensured that thousands of tons of shipping space could be reserved for war materials. The 37 mail bags required to carry 150,000 one-page letters could be replaced by a single mail sack. The weight of that same amount of mail was reduced dramatically from 2,575 pounds to a mere 45." This saved considerable weight and bulk in a time in which both were hard to manage in a combat zone.

     In addition to postal censorship, V-mail also deterred espionage communications by foiling the use of invisible ink, microdots, and microprinting, none of which would be reproduced in a photocopy.

British 'Airgraph'

     The airgraph was invented in the 1930s by the Eastman Kodak Company in conjunction with Imperial Airways (now British Airways) and Pan-American Airways as a means of reducing the weight and bulk of mail carried by air. The airgraph forms, upon which the letter was written, were photographed and then sent as negatives on rolls of microfilm. A General Post Office (GPO) poster of the time claimed that 1,600 letters on film weighed just 5oz, while 1,600 ordinary letters weighed 50 lbs. At their destination the negatives were printed on photographic paper and delivered as airgraph letters through the normal Royal Engineers (Postal Section), also known as the Army Postal Services (APS), or systems.

     In 1940 the British Minister of Transport, Lieutenant Colonel John Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, put forward the idea that airgraphs be used to reduce both the bulk and weight of mail travelling between the Middle East Force (MEF) and the UK. The matter was referred to the APS and the GPO, who jointly investigated the possibility of using airgraphs. This eventually led to a service being instituted between England and Egypt in 1941 when 70,000 airgraphs were sent in the first batch and took three weeks to reach their destination.

     Kodak had offices in Cairo that were capable of processing airgraph negatives, but it was not until the appropriate equipment arrived from America that their Cairo office that the APS was able to provide a return service to the UK.

     In the theatres of war the whole airgraph operation was coordinated by the APS. Completed airgraph forms were collected by the A/FPOs and forwarded to the Kodak processing plants, which were co-located with the Base APOs.
The use of the airgraph was not rationed and its postage was also set at three pence (3d). Although the airgraph proved to be immediately popular its use was limited because of its size (approx; 2ins × 3ins) and lack of privacy, so when sufficient aircraft capacity became available its use declined in favour of the air letter.

     The airgraph service was later extended to: Canada (1941), East Africa (1941), Burma (1942), India (1942), South Africa (1942), Australia (1943), New Zealand (1943) Ceylon (1944) and Italy (1944).

Historical antecedents

     The U.S. military's V-mail was based on British Airgraphs, which were based on Eastman Kodak's patent obtained from New York City banker George McCarthy. Prior to that, a similar system was deployed during the Franco-Prussian War which used carrier pigeons to send primitive microfilm strips across German lines, developed from French optician RenĂ© Dagron's first patent granted for microfilm in 1859. Dagron's microfilm patent was additionally based on British scientist John Benjamin Dancer, who created microfilm in 1839.[2]

See also:
1.                         ^ Edward Wells (1987). 'Mailshot – A history of the Forces Postal Services' p. 107. Defence Postal & Courier Services, London.
2.                         ^ John Benjamin Dancer, 1812–1887: 19th Century Manchester Instrument Maker & Inventor of Microphotography, Manchester Microscopical & Natural History Society webpage. Retrieved October 13, 2010.
  • Smithsonian Magazine, March, 1994, Around the Mall, vol 24:12 pg 16
  • Smithsonian Magazine, May, 2004, "V - as in Victory Mail", pg 38
External links

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Had A Pretty Nice Voyage to England

Jan. 31, 1943 (sic)
Mon. 7:00 P.M.
(1:00 P.M. K.C. Time)

My Darling Mark –

         Hello Sweetheart !

I got your V mail letter of the 13th today – I got an air mail from Cec. too.

         I was sure glad to hear from you honey – I hope you write very often honey.

         We had a pretty nice trip over – it got pretty rough at times & at the first couple of days a lot of the guys got pretty seasick. I never got sick – but felt like I was on a cheap drunk a couple of times.

         As you hoped I’m well & happy – I could be happier tho.

         If you’re wondering – I’m somewhere in England – honey. It’s a pretty nice country & pretty. The people are really friendly. The kids go nuts over candy & gum, thats the first thing they asked us for when we seen them. We got coffee & donuts & cigs & candy & gum from the Red Cross. We gave a lot of our cigarettes to the British Tommies. They really appreciated them. We’re rationed to 7 packs a week which is plenty & 1 pack of gum – 1 bar of soap – 3 candy bars – 2 razor blades & 1 roll of mints.

         This British monetary system is kinda screwy – but I guess we can get used to it.

         Our quarters here aren’t really bad – I had expected worse. Its cold over here now & rains quite a bit.

         I got a letter from you before we embarked. I got one from Ralph on the ship.

         There isn’t much more that I can write about or can think about at present. I’ll write every chance I get honey & hope you do too.

         I miss you honey & love you more every day. Don’t worry about anyone beating you to me honey – even if it is leap year.

         Goodnite now honey – Write Soon.
I love you Darling!
         All My Love                 Johnny
Hows that “Dentist” deal?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Tells His Sweetheart to Lay Off Those Whiskey Hi-Balls

Jan. 15, 1944
Tues. 7:00 PM

My Darling Mark –

Hello Sweetheart !  I got your letter today – the one you started the 25th & finished the 3rd. Fast huh?  I guess you haven’t got any letters from me for a month or more honey – I’ve been writing every time I could & there was times it was impossible to send any mail – so don’t think I didn’t want to write honey or have forgot about you, cause I certainly haven’t. I miss you & think about you all the time honey - & I couldn’t love you any more than I do now – I don’t think its possible.

I guess you’d better lay off those whiskey hi balls – if they make you feel like that honey – at least till I get back, or drink one for me. If you’re wondering why I’m writing so small its because I’m running short on stationery & don’t know when I’ll get any more.

You asked me what I thought the first time I kissed you – well honey to be honest – it was like kissing a frozen fish! But now – as you say “oh brother” – I’d give my pay for one of your kisses right now.

I guess Frank doesn’t like married life – he’s in Nev. and his wife is in K.C. – see what I mean? I told you Ralph got a 15 day furlough didn’t I? Well anyway he did.  Dope?

Helen is the oldest, then Frank & then Dode & me. Why?

Honey I’m okay – I hope you are too. You keep your chin up honey & I will too. Did I tell you I was in England? Quite a ways from K.C. huh? The folks are all okay. the last I heard honey. Goodnite now Darling. Write Soon.          All My Love  Johnny
Darling I love you more every day.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

OVERSEAS: Our WWII Soldier Is Now In England!

Jan. 14, 1944
Mon. Eve. 8:00 PM

My Darling Mark –

         Hello Sweetheart !

Well – honey I’ll start answering the letters I got yesterday & today. I got 4 of the 16th 17th 18th & 20th. I was really happy to get that many letters from you honey – I hope they keep coming.

         I went to town Sat. nite & Sun. & didn’t get back in time to write. I got a letter from Mom & a package she sent me an identification bracelet – its really nice. I got a letter from Cec. too yesterday. I just finished washing some clothes out.

         I seen a church in this town that was over 700 years old & they still hold Mass in it. There’s quite a few interesting sights to see.

Honey I slept till 10:00 Sunday morning & went to 11:00 Mass. It sure felt good to sleep that late.

Mom knew I was going across when she got the change of address card & she wrote & told me to be brave & say my prayers. I got a letter from Sis & she said she took it pretty hard – but I guess she’ll get used to it.

Yes honey I guess I was smoking a pipe when I first met you – I’ll bet the pipe holder is sharp.

Okay honey I’ll address my letters Mr & Mrs C. R. Green – I never thought of it before. I’ve got to write Cec. tonite so that’s the way I’ll address it.

We’ve just brewed a can of coffee – its not bad – we make some about every nite.

You asked me if I was hard to please with meals. Honey after what I’ve ate & been eating & probably will eat – anything will please me. Right now I’d give a months pay for a good steak of pre-war days. We did have pork chops today. I like meatballs & spaghetti too honey.

The weather here is changeable as Kansas. One day its cold as hell & next day it rains. Its just a drizzle but it keeps it damp all the time here.

Well honey I’d better close now & write to the folks. You told me to. I’ve got to conserve stationery too – I don’t know when I’ll get more. Bye now Darling.

Write Soon. Oceans of love & a kiss on every wave.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

History of the Pla-Mor in Kansas City: Ballroom, Bowling Alley, Swimming Pool!

Located at Linwood and Main in Kansas City, Missouri, the Pla-Mor Ballroom was part of an entertainment complex which included a hockey arena, swimming pool, bowling alleys, a roller skating rink and a baseball diamond. Known as the "million dollar ballroom," the Pla-Mor opened Thanksgiving, November 23, 1927, to the music of the 16-piece Jean Goldkette Orchestra.

The Pla-Mor was lushly appointed with carpets and velour drapes. It boasted a 14,000-square-foot, spring-loaded dance floor that could accommodate 3,000 dancers.

The Pla-Mor featured legendary artists such as Django Rhinehardt (left) and the best known radio and recording bands including Glen Gray, Jan Garber, Jimmie Lunceford, George E. Lee, Count Basie and Andy Kirk. Legend has it that Hoagy Carmichael introduced "Stardust" while a member of the Pla-Mor's house band. 

Dancers continued to flock to the Pla-Mor during World War II, but attendance declined in the post-World War II period. The Pla-Mor closed after one last dance on June 14, 1957.

The Pla-Mor was then converted into the seventh largest bowling alley in the nation. The bowling alley closed in 1966. In 1970 the building became Freedom Palace, a rock venue that featured national touring acts including the Who and Canned Heat. The Pla-Mor was demolished March 31, 1972.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Our WWII Soldier Wants to Know If The Pla-Mor Is Still Open In Kansas City

Jan. 12, 1944
Thursday Eve.

My Darling Mark –

Hello Sweetheart !

No letter today – but I guess I owe you a couple of letters anyway.

Did you go to the matches Thurs. nite?

There isn’t much to write about now. Its still cold as blazes here. There’s a big lake frozen over here & I expect to do a lot of ice-skating sometime. Is the Playmor rink still open?

Honey this letter will have to be short – I’ve got to shave yet & then wash out a lot of clothes.

Honey I’ve sure been thinking a lot about you lately – well I always do anyway. I miss you more every day.

I’ll close now honey. Bye for now Darling!

                                                            Write Soon
All My Love

I love you Darling