Mollie Liggin Rankin explains V Mail also known as Victory Mail that was used during WWII.
There was no real secret to the v-mail process; in fact it was simple, the soldiers wrote their letters on a form provided and it was then photographed onto microfilm which was simply flown to the USA. A reel of 16mm microfilm could contain 18,000 letters and in terms of bulk and weight the roll of film took up only a fraction of what 18,000 real letters would take. Upon arrival in the USA the letters were printed from the film and then posted onward to the addressee.
This clever method was employed at the suggestion of the US Army Postal Director Col. Bill Rose who actually copied the idea from a system then currently in operation in the British services which was called an ‘airgraph’.
The process might seem to be laborious with the collection of mail, the actual photographing of thousands and thousands of letters and a similar process at the other end of re-printing the photographs, addressing envelopes and mailing them on. It did really all boil down to a space issue and it is on record that for every 150,000 letters microfilmed like this over a ton of shipping space was saved.
V-mail was also for families to use to send mail to the soldiers and there were major publicity campaigns in USA to persuade families that using v-mail was a patriotic thing to do. Its take up after inauguration in June 1942 was slow – only 35,000 letters that month – but, a year later, in June 1943, some 12 million letters were v-mailed. All correspondence in both directions still had to be censored in case sensitive information was conveyed.