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Saving World War Two Letters

Updated on April 20, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.

My uncle, Ralph Martin with his airplane.
My uncle, Ralph Martin with his airplane. | Source

Soldier's Letters, Love Letters and Other Memorabilia from the Second World War

It horrifies me to think of someone tossing out their grandfather's World War II letters or burning an old diary. My family treasures letters, journals and other memorabilia from the generations that preceded us. Unfortunately not all families feel that these are worth saving. Who cares about that old stuff, some might say.

More and more, people realize these creased and yellowed letters from World War II really are a precious record of a very historic time. Each letter provides a piece of the jigsaw puzzle; a tiny glimpse into one person's experience. The pieces form a larger picture of what the war was like and how it affected people's lives. (photo from our family album of my Uncle Ralph Martin)

I've collected a wide variety of books made from World War Two letters. Some are letters the soldiers sent home, others are from the homefront and some are love letters. Do you want to know how to preserve letters that you have or how to turn them into a book? I've included that information too.

Books of World War II Letters

Published Letters from World War II - Soldiers writing home

Take a look at these books available from Amazon. Since You Went Away, World War II Letters, Seeds of Hope and Taps for a Jim Crow Arm (letters from a black soldier) are the titles I'm recommending.

It Was an All Out Effort to Win the War

Almost every able-bodied man went into the service (army, navy, air corps) and others worked in essential services back home. Women entered the war effort too, working in aircraft factories, saving for war bonds, gathering metal for the scrap drives.
Almost every able-bodied man went into the service (army, navy, air corps) and others worked in essential services back home. Women entered the war effort too, working in aircraft factories, saving for war bonds, gathering metal for the scrap drives. | Source

Published Letters from Women in World War II - From women in the military and on the homefront


Soldiers Without Guns Greeting Cards by ww2posters from Zazzle

Don't forget women's participation in the war years. These letters detail first-hand what it was like to be a WAC or in the Women's Land Army. You'll also see books of WWII letters from women on the homefront.

Women served in so many ways. They were nurses, office workers, factory workers and volunteers in selling war bonds, collecting scrap metal and contributed in many other ways.

Every Soldier Looked Forward to a Letter from His Girl

My mother in WWII
My mother in WWII | Source

More Sweethearts from the 1940s

Source

Mailing the Letter at the Local Post Office to a Loved One Overseas

Post office in New Hampshire (in WWII museum in Wolfboro, NH)
Post office in New Hampshire (in WWII museum in Wolfboro, NH) | Source

Published Letters from World War II - Soldiers writing home

Sometimes letters kept love alive despite the long separation caused by the war. Enjoy these books of WWII love letters. By saving your ancestors love letters in a book, you preserve their memory for future generations.

Taken at the WWII museum in Wolfboro, NH.
Taken at the WWII museum in Wolfboro, NH. | Source

A Jeep from World War II

Source

Some Letters Were Handwritten and Some Typed

Typewriter from WWII era.
Typewriter from WWII era. | Source

Letters of Love and War

Letters of Love and War: A World War II Correspondence
Letters of Love and War: A World War II Correspondence

In this collection of letters, you see both the homefront (from Helen's letters) and the battle areas from her husband's letters. He's an army surgeon and his letters come from North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. A great glimpse into the war years.

 

Museums with Collections of World War II Letters

World War II Letters Online

Turn Your Family's World War II Letters into a Book

An Example of World War II Letters Published Using Blurb - Somewhere in France By Bernard P. Lyons/Mary Jo Meloy

Somewhere in France by Bernard P. Lyons/Mary Jo Meloy | Make Your Own Book

This one teams up photos and letters from the second world war for a remarkable account. Don't miss it.

With Love, Jim - Letters from Jim Holzem during the War

More WWII Letters Published through Blurb - Letters Home 1940 to 1945 Written By Russell L. Eberlein

WWII Love Letters - The Chandler's WW2 Letters

More Letters Published with Blurb.com - All My Love, Bob

All My Love, Bob by Forward by Heather Bryce | Make Your Own Book

This book features the letters of James R. Bryce Jr. Each day during the war, he wrote his family a letter. He was stationed in Europe (France, Germany, Italy) and in Africa.

Store World War II Letters Safely

Proper Storage to Save the Old Letters

Taking care of old paper means don't store it in hot or cold places (attics or garages) or where it is exposed to dampness (basements). Displaying it presents problems, as sunlight can fade the old ink and make the paper brittle. Check out the rest of the tips in the link here on WWII Memories: How to Preserve Letters.

Acid Free Storage Box for Old Letters - Keep the letters from deteriorating

Century Archival Products 8 1/2x11" Clamshell Print Storage Box, Color: Black, 9x11 1/2x1 1/2" (Letter)
Century Archival Products 8 1/2x11" Clamshell Print Storage Box, Color: Black, 9x11 1/2x1 1/2" (Letter)

A shoebox seems a convenient place to store old letters and photos. Unfortunately the fiber in the cardboard causes the vintage papers and photos to deteriorate.

Don't let this happen to your family heirlooms. Store them in archival quality containers.

 

World War II Letters Show up on eBay - Sometimes in a batch or just one or two

Get your bid in for some wonderful WWII memorabilia. Check here for more tips about collecting military letters from various wars.

Navy Letters of World War Two - Volume 1 - Eugene Schmidt to Maxine O'Connell

Flynn's Letter (WWII letters published with Blurb) - by Joseph A. Burke (preview the book)

Dear Folks, by Paul Stoloff

The World War II Memoirs of 1st. Lt. Marvin Stoloff

This book shows the handwritten letter as the background design on the page. That is overlaid with the text of the letter in printed form for easier reading.

WWII Letters from China

by Edmund M. Hayes for Marvin Bidwell Hayes

My uncle made flights over China during WWII. We have a great photo of him standing by his airplane. It has a Jayhawk graphic on the nose. I wonder if my cousins have letters that he sent during the war.

I should read this book to get some insight on Uncle Ralph's experience.

CHINA by Edmund M. Hayes for Marvin Bidwell Hayes | Make Your Own Book

Dear Gramp by Joshua B. Bell, Editor | Make Your Own Book

This is a collection of letters written by the editor's Grandfather to his Grandfather during World War II. The book contains typed copies of the letters, the original letters and envelopes, as well as several pictures.

five minute furlough; by Matthew E. Hardy | Make Your Own Book

Letters from the War: Gordon M. Sill in the Pacific, WWII by Michael R. Sill | Make Your Own Book

Letters From Artie by Terry Lyons | Make Your Own Book

YouTube - Another Way to Share Letters

Read your parents' or grandparents' letters from WWII for the camera and share on YouTube.

Save WWII Letters by Sharing Them on YouTube - A son reads his father's WWII Air Force letters

This is a great way to share the letters with family members and the whole world. I expect back in the 1940s when the family received the letters, they would sit around the living room or the kitchen table and read them aloud so everyone would get the news at once.

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Are You Saving Your Family's Letters and Memorabilia?

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    • Virginia Allain profile image
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      Virginia Allain 3 months ago from Central Florida

      With CreateSpace, you can self-publish in paperback or as an ebook. I used Blurb for my parents' memories and found it quite easy to use. I hope you do complete your book project and save these letters for posterity.

    • profile image

      RicardoSharrardo 3 months ago

      Thanks for posting all this useful information Virginia! I am currently blogging the letters my Great Uncle, Cyrus Stafford, sent to his love during WWII while he was in North Africa and Italy. WWIILoveStoryLettersFromBuddy. I'm interested in turning it into a book. I'm very encouraged to see so many other people saving the letters and sharing them--this is the real history that so rarely ends up in the history books. -Rick

    • profile image

      Ibidii 3 years ago

      My Mother has an awesome collection of letters and photos! We are going to scan and digitize all of them and the negatives to positives as well. Awesome lens!

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      texastamee 3 years ago

      yes i inherited my great aunt and uncless home with in the attic findings there was a box of letters ....and there lives were so full of love ....together they stayed until their calling ...lives lived to love ...honor...and cherish always ....something today many no nothing about....God bless them all

      my name is tammy penner i can only wish that in my life i can bring as much joy to my friends and family as those before me their love for life was so inspiering that i so hope i can share it with you all and do them the honors in which they deserve...and i was so glad to find this info ..as its been so helpful thank you so much God bless

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 3 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I have letters that our dad wrote to our mom during the war. He was stateside at the end of the war and was older when he joined but they are so interesting. I need to display some of them so appreciate all this great information.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @AngelaWatts: Angela, I thought that way about my mother's childhood memories. As I arranged them in a self-published book using Blurb (print-on-demand, so very affordable). It turned out that it had a wider audience than I expected. It even won an award. It takes some time to transcribe and arrange it, but very much worthwhile. Now Mom's books are featured at several local history museum stores.

    • profile image

      AngelaWatts 3 years ago

      I have many letters from my father who was stationed in Shanghai before the war and while he was a POW in the Philippines. I have a blog called Ludjapie's Lagniappe where I've posted most of them. I wish I could put it all into a book - I believe his life before and after he returned would be an interesting read. At least, that's how I feel - not sure if anyone else outside of the family would feel the same way.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @MariaMontgomery: That's history too. I'm so glad you are preserving those.

    • MariaMontgomery profile image

      MariaMontgomery 3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Our family doesn't have any letters from WWII, but I have some from the Vietnam War that I have kept.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 4 years ago

      I have a few photos of my father from the Korean War but otherwise not so much. Very nicely done lens!

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 4 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      I used to have world war 1 postcards sent from my grandfather - not sure where they are now though sadly

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @ManipledMutineer: I feel very strongly about saving family history (and history in general).

    • ManipledMutineer profile image

      ManipledMutineer 4 years ago

      A whole new field of collecting I never knew existed!

    • kerryhrabstock profile image

      kerryhrabstock 4 years ago

      I don't have letters, but I have WWII ration books. I like reading about that time and I love the old movies about the war.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @anonymous: Wow, Jackie, what wonderful family treasures you have. They are historically interesting it seems, as well. Take a look at blurb.com as a possible way to self-publish these. If you don't wish to do the work yourself, there are experienced book designers at the site who can be hired.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have a huge shoe box of world war 11 letters from my father to his mother. He wrote one to her every day of the time he spent in Algeria and Italy. He was a recipient of a Medal of Gallantry and mentioned in dispatches. The letters are really well written and go into great details little stories of his trips out in the desert and meeting local folk. They are worthy of a book and there are many photos that could go with them. Has anyone any ideas of how I could start off. I would prefer to have them printed properly in a book in remembrance of him. He was a gentleman and loved his Mother and sisters very much as it apparent in the letters. They are very readable. I also have numerous documents dating back to 1800's of his family who had a fine importing business and printing business in Nuremberg back in 1875 and later in the Barbican in London,. His father was interned in the first world war as he was a German in UK. He died in internment of pneumonia and my father then became the man of the family. The documents are fascinating as they are copies of owner ship of church pews, and crypts, house ownership and sales, and old maps of Furth where the very first steam train started from. Is anyone interested in helping me to compile an historic social history of all the items I possess. Thanks for any heHappy Christmas.Jackie Gear

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @cjbmeb14 lm: That's marvelous that you are preserving those items.

    • cjbmeb14 lm profile image

      cjbmeb14 lm 4 years ago

      I have a good collection of World War 2 items including, ration books, letters and a spoon from Stalag 17

    • profile image

      JohnSchlatter 4 years ago

      Your posting makes a great point -- there is a lot of WWII memorabilia out there that needs to be preserved. A few years ago I spotted WWII postcards in an antique store. I started buying them and trying to find the soldiers who wrote them, or their children (most of the soldiers have passed away). I had a great deal of success, and the families were grateful to receive the long lost memento. I wrote a book about it, called "Postcard Memories of World War II: Finding Lost Keepsakes 70 Years Later."

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @anonymous: That's marvelous, Rocky, I'll go have a look at it.

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