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  • Laureta Huit

Victory Mail

Written by Ryan Swardson Senior Intern


Over the last 79 years since the end of World War II, the world has experienced extraordinary advances in technology, medicine, globalized trade, and especially communication. Today, we can send instantaneous messages that reach anywhere in the world with a simple press of a button. This ability has brought an unimaginable level of connectedness never known before. However, with the extraordinary speed that comes with technological advancements, we have lost the personal touch that accompanied written communications. It has become exceedingly rare to receive a letter from a best friend or young grandkid as they are inundated with iMessages and Snapchat communications. These modern forms of communication lack the connection that many experienced during World War II with the V-Mail system.

 

During World War II, V-Mail, also known as Victory Mail, was instrumental in preserving the lines of communication between American soldiers abroad and their families in the States. Introduced by the U.S. Army in 1942, this ingenious system minimized the physical volume of mail, facilitating quicker and more efficient transport of correspondence.

 

Our collection includes numerous original V-Mail correspondences from members of our own communities, generously donated by the Hill family.




 

These V-Mail letters vividly illustrate the importance of family and connection during times of great struggle and turmoil. For many WWII service members, these swift correspondences served as a crucial lifeline, enabling them to maintain contact with loved ones and momentarily escape the harsh realities of war.

 

For example, a series of correspondences donated by Kermit Hill Jr., a respected member of our community, underscores the significance of these letters. In one correspondence, Kermit Hill Sr. receives a letter from his wife, Zella Meador Hill, and child, Kermit Hill Jr., expressing their joy at the announcement of V-Day (Victory Day) and detailing their plans to celebrate with a trip to Hyde Park. This letter not only provided the young father serving overseas with a glimpse into his family's life but also renewed his sense of purpose, reminding him of the peaceful and prosperous world he was fighting for. Included in this collection is a poignant photo of Zella Meador Hill and young Kermit Hill Jr. in the park later that same day, capturing a moment of joy and hope during a pivotal time in history.

 



Additional letters donated by the Hill family offer further insights into the personal experiences and emotions of those serving overseas, capturing moments when they were contributing to the war effort. In one such correspondence, Kermit Hill Sr. describes his role in the war effort both on the home front and the battlefield. As a weapons technician, Hill Sr. was responsible for the maintenance, repair, and proper alignment (or "sighting") of the aircraft's guns to ensure they were accurate and functional during combat missions. He also ensured that the cameras used by pilots to confirm kills in battle were functioning properly. Furthermore, on the night before the D-Day invasions, Kermit Hill Sr. was responsible for painting black stripes on the undersides of fighter aircraft, aiming to help Allied artillery teams distinguish between friendly and enemy aircraft.

 

These letters, later rediscovered by his son and brother, highlighted the importance of family and the value of documenting the past. The collection includes three main letters that mark the start, middle, and end of the war, each capturing a significant moment in Kermit Hill Sr.'s service. The first letter, written shortly after his deployment, reflects his initial resolve and the emotional farewells to his family. The second letter, penned during the height of the conflict, details his duties as a weapons technician and his experiences on the battlefield, including the night before the D-Day invasions. The final letter celebrates V-Day (Victory Day), expressing the joy of anticipated peace and plans for the future.

 

Found long after Kermit Hill Sr.'s passing, these correspondences provided his sons with a glimpse into a world that no longer existed but still held relevance to them. This world, despite being torn by war, showcased the resilience, commitment, dedication, and ultimately the love of family embodied by a man who honorably served his nation and family during one of the darkest hours in history.

 

In his own words, Kermit Hill Jr. summarizes the importance of these letters to him and his family:

 

“Our memories are history. They are important to us individually and collectively. In wartime, being connected to home and loved ones is very important. Unfortunately, letters and photos are often forgotten or even thrown away. This collection was found after the man involved had passed on. Look for and archive these treasures in your lives!” 

 

- Kermit Hill Jr.

 

These letters serve to underscore the significance and value they hold for different family members, while also providing a link to loved ones who have passed away. This bond is something they will treasure and carry forward to future generations.

 

 

Photographs, Letters, Ephemera

On loan from the collection of Kermit Hill Jr.

 

 


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