United States Scout V-Mail
Douglas J. Uzakewicz

During the Second World War, the only link home for our service men and women serving abroad was the letter received at mail call.  The need to keep the mails flowing to and from our people in the service was a monumental job.  The vast numbers of people in the service created mountains of mail that had to be moved.  Delivery of the mail was very important for the morale of the people in the field and at home.  There was limited space on both ships and aircraft for the dispatch of mail.  The need to move materials and people in time of war took first priority.

To help ease the problems of transporting all this mail, it was decided to use a standard form for writing letters.  These would then be collected and sorted for their destinations, then photographed on microfilm and the microfilm was shipped to the destination like regular mail would be.  Upon arrival, a print of the original letter was made and then distributed to the service people.  Letters from the people in the service going back home were treated the same way.

The microfilming of the mails solved several problems.  The first was the weight and volume of the mail handled.  This aided in the censoring of mail and made all the mail a uniform size for easier handling.

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This piece of V-MAIL is of special interest to us, for it's Scouting theme.  The letter is dated April 25, 1945 and is addressed to Staff Sergeant Jack A. Stillman.  The note is from Jack's friend Tom Jenkins of Stockton, California.  It tells of a pre-camporee trip by a Scout troop (most likely his Troop) to Mill Creek in California.  A humorous illustration was hand drawn to add a small piece of home for this serviceman.

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This V-Mail was intended to be sent to former Troop Members now in Armed Services by the Scoutmaster of Troop 23 in Berkley, California.  It was typed but never mailed.

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SOSSI Journal, Vol. 43, No. 9, November 1994