V-Mail letter sheet
V-Mail letter sheet was sent by Seaman 1st Class Joseph Spiegelberg to his wife Ruth while he was stationed at Manila, Philippine Islands. Probably the form was dispatched unprocessed (not microfilmed) because it dates from late 1945 and it was deemed quicker to dispatch as is. Postmarked October 18 of that year, it was only a few short weeks until microfilming officially ceased in November.
The message from Joseph Spiegelberg is date October 17, 1943, which is a typo of two years too early given that he discussing plans for homecoming. He describes some of the vagaries of the mail service for military personnel during World War II. He recounts a package postmarked in July has arrived recently. He notes that “The candy was pretty melted,” and he marks with a special call out “Thanks a million” for receiving his favorite treat—kumquats.
Officials estimated that microfilming V-Mail messages saved up to 98% on cargo space. However, not all letter sheets underwent microfilm processing. If a letter sheet was damaged, the writing too illegible to be copied, a V-Mail processing plant was not available, or it was more expeditious to simply dispatch the aerogram, then the letter was usually forwarded as it was. Even if they were dispatched in their original form, the V-Mail letters took 42% less space and weighed 45% less than regular mail.
Frank Spiegelberg (son of letter’s author and recipient), in discussion with the author, 2007.
To: Ruth M. Spiegelberg, 2007 Davidson Avenue, Bronx, New York City 53, New York
From: J.H. Spiegelberg, S1C, C.B.M.U. 610, Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, Calif.
Date: 17 October 1943
Markings: Typed: "FREE"
17 OCTOBER 1943
HAPPY DAY. IT WAS ANNOUNCED TO-NIGHT THAT A BROADCAST FROM THE STATES SAID THAT 41 POINTS WILL BECOME EFFECTIVE ON NOVEMBER 1. WILL HAVE 41 1/2 POINTS ON 23 OCTOBER, SO, UNLESS ANYTHING UNTOWARD HAPPENS, YOU CAN PLAN ON THAT DOUBLE PARTY-BETH'S BIRTHDAY AND MY HOMECOMING. BOY IT WILL BE ANOTHER HAPPY DAY WHEN I LAND IN THE STATES, AND GET OUT OF THIS DIRT AND FILTH. OF COURSE THE HAPPIEST DAY WILL BE WHEN I CATCH SIGHT OF YOU AGAIN.
EVERYTHING IS THE SAME OUT HERE. AM CLEARING UP ALL MY LOOSE ENDS, AS YOU CAN NOTICE FROM THE STUFF I HAVE BEEN SENDING HOME. WILL TRY TO TRAVEL AS LIGHT AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT THERE WON'T BE ANY POSSIBLE DELAYS. HAVE TO CLEAR UP A MESS OF MAIL THAT I GOT IN THE LAST FEW DAYS. HOW ARE DAD AND MOTHER? RECEIVED THEIR PACKAGE WITH THE QUOMQUATS, (Thanks a million) ANCHOVIES, ETC., ETC., ETC. THE CANDY WAS PRETTY WELL MELTED. IMAGINE ITS A PACKAGE THAT THEY SENT OUT IN JULY, AND WE HAVE BEEN RECEIVING, THE LAST FEW DAYS, A LOT OF JULY BOAT MAIL-FINALLY CATCHING UP TO US. FRANK WRITES THAT HE THINKS HE IS GOING TO KURE, JAPAN SOON. WISH I COULD GET UP TO SEE HIM.
All my love,