For the soldiers sent to the battlefield during World War II, one of the things that they looked forward to were the mails that they were receiving from home (unless it was a “Dear John” letter.) To make sure that these letters reached their respective destinations, units like the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion worked hard from the moment the letters were dropped in the states until they got to the troops overseas. What was more outstanding with 6888th was that it was the only all-Black and all-Women battalion of the Army Corps to serve abroad during that time.

Mountain of Letters

The US government, in February 1945, was facing yet another huge problem apart from the ongoing war. There were millions of pieces of undelivered mail intended for members of the US military, US government personnel, and Red Cross workers, all serving in the European Theater piled up in the warehouses in Birmingham, England.

There were also undelivered Christmas packages stored in airplane hangars. At the same time, a never-ending stream of letters kept on coming, adding yet another burden to the already massive backlog of mails and packages. It was not only the volume that was the problem but also the fact that most of these letters were addressed to “Smith, US Army” or “Junior, US Army.” There were 7 million American soldiers in the European Theater at that time, with common names shared by many. For instance, there were 7,500, Robert Smith. So, trying to figure out which Robert was supposed to get the package with baby pictures and which Robert should get the one with a copy of the divorce papers was not an easy task.

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, the servicemen were beginning to notice that they were not getting any mail from home. Had my family forgotten about me? Were my parents already dead? The Army official reported that the inability to deliver these letters and packages was affecting the morale of the troops. As one general predicted, their lack of reliable mail delivery would take them six months to clear and process all the backlog.