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National Museum of Naval Aviation
History Education Program

Home Front - Section I

"There is one front and one battle, where everyone in the United States - every man, woman, and child - is in action. That front is right here at home, in our daily lives."

-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
In address to the Nation, April 1942


The Importance of letter writing in World War II

"We got our first mail in a month two days ago, and it was fine!"
-Captain Austin K. Doyle, January 25, 1945

Imagine a world with no Internet, no email, no television, no communications satellites and limited telephone access. This was the reality of life during World War II. The naval aviator on board the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise could not email his family to let them know he was alive and well after the Battle of Midway. A worried mother whose son might be fighting in the jungles of New Guinea or Guadalcanal could expect no phone call letting her know her child was safe. Those fighting the war longed for news from home and those at home anxiously awaited news that their loved ones were safe and sound. For most, letter writing became a ritual that formed a much-needed link between home and the war. We today are very fortunate that letter writing was such a vital part of wartime life at home and abroad, because many of these letters have survived the ravages of time and stand as a written reminder of a past that is quickly fading.


Read the actual wartime letters that have been provided for this exercise and pay close attention to details. As you read, try to put yourself in the author's place. Remember that the situation Americans faced during World War II certainly was unique, but letters from home front to the fighting front were not anything new, nor was facing the possibility of losing a loved one in battle. Take into consideration the fear of the unknown, which was perhaps the most difficult issue for those at home to confront. Think about the servicemen separated from loved ones for months, not knowing when or if they will ever see them again.

Assignment: You are on the "Home Front" in World War II

After reading the provided letters, write at least a two-page letter of your own to a "loved one" in the armed service. It can be a father, brother, boyfriend, friend or neighbor. Be sure to consider that letters during this time take weeks, sometimes months to be delivered, so include lots of information. Add in news of current events in your hometown as well as details of scrap drives, bond sales and rationing. Also include what you are doing to help out in the war effort. It is okay to include emotion and personal information. Remember you have not seen this person in a long time and do not know when or if you will see them again. Realize that what may seem ordinary or boring to you may not be to those fighting overseas, for whom any news from home provided an escape from the horrors of war. Use what you have learned from reading the letters of the previous exercise to help you write your letter and incorporate this type of information into your own.

[click] each line below for information about the author and to read their letter(s).

"I think that the Ole U.S. is beginning to really feel there's a war on now"

"Dearest Jimps . . . "

"With All My Love, Daddy"

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