It is hard for us to imagine the importance of mail to the soldiers of World War II. Today, we can communicate almost instantaneously by email, text, smartphone, and other technological methods. In fact, many people are so dependent on their communication devices; they cannot bear to be separated from them, even for a moment. During the WWII era, however, it could take weeks for letters arrive, and even telegrams were not immediate. Would you have been able to tolerate waiting that long to hear from relatives, friends, or family?
Journals of War is filled with references to “mail.” For example, one of my father’s entries from Camp Adair, Oregon (September 1, 1942), reveals the sheer lifeblood of mail and its relationship to morale: “Hope I receive some mail soon, as it seems I just live until the mail arrives.” By the time my father writes from Germany (December 4, 1944), mail was even more critical: “We live from one day to the next, principally for the receipt of mail.”
During WWII, mail provided a connection to people at home and in the soldier’s community. It supplied emotional support, provided encouragement, and alleviated loneliness. Writing letters assisted soldiers in expressing emotions about their own fears, relationships, and issues related to the war itself. The Smithsonian has published an interesting website about “Letter Writing in World War II” at https://postalmuseum.si.edu/victorymail/letter/index.html. You can also read more about the significant role that mail played for my father during WWII in Journals of War.