Wednesday, December 14, 2016

My Christmas Memories, WWII V - Mail, and Give A Way by Linda LaRoque

By Linda LaRoque

I have to say the earliest Christmas I remember was 1952. Daddy was in the Air Force and was stationed at Harmon AFB in Newfoundland. He came home to take us back with him. We had Christmas with the grandparents, and I'll always remember the flannel pajamas my grandparents gave me. They had hard candies all over and the words, "sugar and spice." I treasured those until I wore them out. They were precious because my grandparents were very poor and didn't usually give gifts. I'm sure they did then because we would be gone for 2-3 years.

We left Texas and drove for several days. We listened to the radio and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause," played often, as it was new that year. The words set my young head to thinking. Surely my mama didn't kiss Santa Clause. As we got to the northern states, I remember staying at a couple of boarding houses which were foreign to me. They were big two story houses with bathrooms at the end of the hall. We arrived in Nova Scotia where we, car included, boarded a box car air plane to fly across to Stephenville, Newfoundland.

My mother was terrified the entire trip, afraid the car would roll out the back end of the plane, and she set in the car with her foot on the brake. My brother and I visited the cockpit where we met the two young pilots. They teased us about being hung from the flag pole if anything happened to us, as they didn't have orders to transport us. I had visuals for years of these young men hanging from an actual flag pole. I was only seven at the time and didn't realize the comment was a figure of speech.

When we arrived in Newfoundland, it was snowing hard and the wind blowing. You can imagine what these two Texas kids thought of such a sight. For a short while, we lived in a house off base—very primitive—a storm porch where we kept all of our perishable foods, a living/dining /kitchen combination, and two bedrooms. I remember Mama cooking on a hot plate. We didn't have an oven and just a few dishes and utensils. Every day Santa visited on the radio and read letters from boys and girls. He hid chocolate bars behind the radio. My brother and I were thrilled to find ours.

That Christmas, the tree was in our bedroom. It was an exciting Christmas as snow covered everything, something we weren't used to. My brother and I got identical Tonka cranes. I guess to play with  in the snow. We got cap guns with holsters, and I got a doll and a jewelry pop bead design set. We must have eaten at the NCO club as I do not remember a turkey.

Those memories are special. It was a time of innocence and new adventure. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures.

While searching for pictures, I did run across two V-mail greetings from uncles overseas in WWII. One is from Daddy's brother Dean, and the other is from Mama's brother J.W. I'm posting pictures of those, though they're hard to read and the messages are very short, but I've included one I found on Google that are the actual letters.              

V-Mail was first adopted by the British as a result of the Italians closing the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean Sea to Allied forces. Sea traffic had to be rerouted around the Cape of Good Hope, a 12,000 mile detour which resulted in delays of 3-6 months. Mail could travel by air, but mail was heavy and required too much space on transport planes. "Microphotography was deemed the best solution to the problem of space."

By "The War Letters' Archive", CC BY-SA 3.0, 

By Nancy Lamm -, CC BY-SA 3.0, 
(I'm assuming this letter is from a younger friend or cousin. Haha, asking for jewelry.)

V-mail was in use from June 15, 1942 until April 1, 1945. Up until this time, it had taken a month for mail delivery via ship, but V-mail could take as little as twelves days or less. They lessened the chances of enemy interception and insured that letters would never be lost as each was traceable with serial numbers on file. Of course, the mail was still censored and stamped to indicate such.

There are lots of V-mail letters on the web. Take a look if you're interested.

Reference:  The Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Article written by Cassie Messner, July 2004

I'd love to hear from you so please leave a comment. I'll be giving away 2 E-copies of Wounded Hearts to be chosen from those who comment. Please include your email address. Winners will be  announced here on December 15th at 8:00 pm CST.

Sarah Lawson's fiancĂ© Logan Miller died in Afghanistan. She receives a text from a war buddy, Brandon Perdue, who wants to meet and deliver a message from Logan. 

Physically and emotionally scarred, Brandon values Sarah's friendship. In time Sarah finds herself attracted to him and wants their relationship to deepen, but he fears she's projecting her feelings for Logan on to him.

Thanks for Reading and Writing!



  1. Cool letters! And that's quite a memory from your childhood. Like your mom, I would be terrified of the car flying off the plane.


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