Sunday, January 9, 2011

World War II Letters from Wife

Today I was hunting around some of the storage facilities at my apartment complex trying to find some awesome things before they hit the dump. It's pretty easy to find boxes of cool things that people no longer want. I try to catch everyone before they toss these out and came across a box with a drawer in it full of old birthday and greeting letters that were going to be sent to the garbage. Instead, they became a great resource for World War II-era militaria. Too bad there was no actual military memorabilia!

It turns out these letters are dated back to the 1940's and are addressed to Nicholas Agro, a soldier from White Plains, NY serving in the US Army during World War II. He was a Corporal in the 3614th QuaterMaster Truck Company. From my tiny bit of research, this company was involved in the famed Red Ball Express support of the Allies in the European theater. There were a few of the messages with full intact envelopes, but most of the envelopes had begun to deteriorate and the stamps had lifted up off of them. Above is the only envelope I could find in fully assembled condition with the stamp still attached. The rest had fallen apart, but I think I was able to recover the stamps that went along with them and stored them separately.

In the envelopes were various cards and letters. Some were for birthdays, others for Easter and some were particularly lighthearted morale boosters. Each was addressed from the soldier's wife, Catherine and bore a personal message. On the left is a birthday card that I found particularly moving. It has Catherine's lipstick marks and although it is relatively bright in tone, it bears a somber personal message that shows the vulnerability of serving in a time of war : "...I hope you will be home for the next birthday. Loads of love and good luck to you my Darling." Click the image to see the message up close and read the full personalized text.

In one of the Easter letters was a stamp form of what I think is a photo of the couple. Nothing in the message mentioned it, so I'm not sure if it was sent in the original letter or added as a memento afterward. Here is a photo of the small stamp-like image:

Not every letter was somber in tone; some were quite funny. The art on this card emanates the feel of the 1940's publications and has an instantly recognizable World War II charm.