World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I


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Stalag Luft I - E-mail us

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October 24, 1944




Dearest Son,


        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 pretty lonesome.


        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 each night.


Hereís Brer Mitchell:


Hello Dick,

Hold everything down until my gang and I get over there.  Best of luck too.  





Mother's v-mail letter to her son

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 cargo planes.  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.

Package of V-mail letters

Outside of v-mail letter

Inside of V-mail letter

A package of V-Mail letters

Outside of the letter

Inside of the letter


Instructions for V-mail

Instructions for sending V-Mail

A mailed V-mail

A received v-mail

Example of V-mail letter on sending side

Example of V-mail letter on receiving side

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This site created and maintained by Mary Smith and Barbara Freer, daughters of Dick Williams, Jr.