collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I
If you are a former Prisoner of War or a next of
kin of a POW, we invite you to sign and leave your email address so others that
come may find you. Please mention camp, compound, barracks and room numbers if
As no mail seems to be coming
through to us from you (your last letter we received two weeks ago), Iím
sure you must be having some trouble so Iím going to try V-Mail. Martha
hasnít heard from Emory in over ten days but today a V-Mail letter to Lola
came in Ė as slow as this type letter is, it must be better than airmail,
until this condition gets better what ever the condition, I donít know.
Daddy has written you every day
for 4 straight weeks now. I write once a week, as I told you in my last
letter, I canít think of a thing to write because he writes it all. Every
thing I hear I tell him so he can have something to say. He is proud of his
record of letters to you. Be sure to brag on him, etc.
Lewis Mitchell is here and looks
great in his uniform. I heard some one go in the other door and whistle
your whistle Ė boy my heart did flip-flops. I rushed over and there stood
ďBrerĒ. No oneís here for him to play around with so itís going to be
Jeannie and Mr. White havenít
heard from Hugh in over a month. I feel so sorry for them. They have asked
the Red Cross to get in touch with him and find out whatís the matter.
Sister and Ben may come home to
live. Will write more later.
P.S. Am praying for your safe return
Hereís Brer Mitchell:
Hold everything down until my gang and I
get over there. Best of luck too.
Scan of the V-mail letter
What is V- Mail?
During the latter years of World War II, V-Mail became
a popular way to correspond with a loved one serving overseas.
V-mail consisted of miniaturized messages
reproduced by microphotography from 16mm film. The system of microfilming
letters was based on the use of special V-mail letter-sheets, which were a
combination of letter and envelope. The letter-sheets were constructed and
gummed so as to fold into a uniform and distinctively marked envelope. The
user wrote the message in the limited space provided, added the name and
address of the recipient, folded the form, affixed postage, if necessary,
and mailed the letter. The V-mail correspondence was then reduced to
thumb-nail size on microfilm. The rolls of film were flown
across the world and then developed at
destinations closest to the recipient's position.
Finally, individual facsimiles of the
V-mail letter-sheets, which were about one-quarter the original size, were
then mailed and delivered to the addressee.
The development of the V-Mail system
reduced the time it took a soldier to receive a letter by a month - from six
weeks by boat to twelve days or less by air. However, the main
advantage of V-Mail was its compact nature. Reduction in the size and weight
of the letters translated into more space for crucial military supplies on
One roll of film weighing about 7 ounces could hold over 1,500 letters.
Putting that another way, two pounds of microfilm replaced 100 pounds of
letters! Over a billion letters
(556,513,795 pieces of V-mail were sent from
the U.S. to military post offices and over 510 million pieces were received
from military personnel abroad)
were sent via V-mail between 1942 and 1945. Think of it as the
earliest form of e-mail.
Americans on the home-front were encouraged by the
government and private businesses to use V-Mail. Letters from home were
compared to "a five minute furlough," and advertisements that instructed
how, when, and what to write in a V-Mail reached a peak in 1944. Letters
were to be cheerful, short, and frequent. V-Mail made it possible for
servicemen halfway across the world to hear news from home on a weekly basis.