Discussions with other volunteers are always interesting, and on Monday, when I was working with Don, he recalled that we had some stationery samples from times past tucked away in the Archives. I thought I’d share these with you, along with an interesting piece Don wrote about Airgraphs.
The Salvation Army provided writing material for the Canadian Forces in the 1940s.
Air Mail letters were varied ~ mailing information was on one side of the form and the letter itself was written on the reverse. The forms were then folded so the letter inside remained private.
Active Service ~ “This envelope must not be used for coin or valuables. It cannot be accepted for registration. Correspondence in this envelope need not be censored Regimentally. The contents are liable to examination at the Base.” You might notice that up to three letters may be forwarded in this cover, but they must all be from the same writer…
This is a telegram form produced by The Eastern Telegraph Company Limited, associated with Marconi Radio Telegraph company of Egypt, S.A.E. It’s interesting to read the list of conditions on the reverse side.
Postcards were popular. This first one, Field Service Post Card, had room for only the address on one side. On the other side the writer checked off the appropriate responses, then signed and dated it.
This post card is rather special. Do you see where it was sent from Stalag Luft III? Dated September 9, 1944, the writer thanks Mr. & Mrs. Smith for their gift.
Don, a member of our Archive Team, showed me an Airgraph Form and then described how the system worked ~
Don explains, ” During the Second World War, with thousands of Canadian Service men and women overseas, there was a huge quantity of mail going to and from. It took a great deal of shipping space which was at a premium, but nevertheless vital to morale.
A system was established to help reduce the volume. A letter size form was used. (See the photo above.) The sender completed the form and it was mailed. These forms went to a central location where they were filmed on 35 mm film. Hence tens of thousands of letters could be shipped on one roll of film. When the film arrived at its destination, each letter was printed on a 4 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ sheet and then mailed to the recipient. (See samples below.)
One RCAF Squadron, #168, based in Ottawa, flew B17 (Flying Fortress) and B24 Liberators carrying mail from Canada to the UK, then to Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Sicily, Libya, and Egypt. The flights carried approximately 1,400,000 pieces of regular mail, but most likely rolls of filmed letters. On one flight from Canada to the UK (January 11, 1944) the aircraft carried 2,245,269 lbs of mail, including 9,125,000 letters and similar volumes to the continent.”
Clearly the Airgraph was a great solution!