Letter Writing

v-mail v-mail

Writing the Perfect Letter

Receiving letters from home provided a sense of connection and comfort to soldiers during the Second World War, replenishing their motivation to win the war and ultimately return to their families. However, those with husbands, brothers and fathers fighting in the war often struggled with writing the "perfect" letter. Family members did not want to lie to their deployed loved ones, but letters were a very sensitive factor in terms of keeping morale strong.  Many articles and manuals were written at this time to help family members structure letters that were both honest and uplifting for those deployed. 

“Men in war have neither the time nor the emotional energy to be interested in boring details about housekeeping, rationing problems and family troubles. Unfortunately, many women’s minds run that way. They had better change routes for those letters are often not even read to the end. Men have told me as much. Soldiers are occupied with the fundamentals of existence. Yours, as well as theirs, only most of you are too far away from the terribleness of war and what a Nazi-dominated world could mean, to realize it. Yes, I know. It’s very hard to suddenly become a psychologist and an author overnight merely because your man went away. But it’s worth your while to try. For just as the right kind of letters will tighten your romances -- or your bonds of affection with son, brother, or husband -- so will the wrong kind loosen them”.

-Rosemary Ames, "Sabotage Women of America"

Do's & Don'ts 


  1. Write short letters multiple times per week
  2. Use V-mail templates when available (to reduce need for censorship)
  3. Include neighbourhood gossip 
  4. Include pictures 

Do not: 

  1. Include negative or stressful content
  2. Talk about chores or household duties 
  3. Write excessively about positive life events occurring in his/her absence 
  4. Forget to say thank you


Examples of V-mail templates to help inexperienced letter writers 
Letters on YMCA Letterhead

"...it arrived in perfect condition and such a lovely selection. It is wonderful to know you all have not forgotten me..."

Care packages sent to deployed soldiers were also a welcomed addition in terms of wartime mail.  Attached here is a letter from the Leddy Library archives explaining a soldier's delight that his care package was in perfect condition upon delivery, thoughtfully filled with items he both wanted and needed. This helped massively boost morale - along with multiple letters throughout the week, care packages gave soldiers a piece of home that they could physically touch. 

The best care packages included a mix of personal items like underwear, socks and toiletries, and miscellaneous items like candy, cigarettes, newspapers, meal enhancers like sugar and spices, and puzzles/games to pass the time.