Mail and Morale: The Canadian Army in Italy, 1943-1945
During the Second World War, the majority of Canadian soldiers were overseas for years at a time. Geography and a poor policy on leave made communication with home especially important in the upkeep of morale. Not only was mail a way of staying in touch with family and friends, but it provided an intimate space for soldiers to share, rant, or express themselves. Receiving mail became ritualized as letters provided comfort and represented life beyond war. The Canadian chain of command recognized the value of mail, giving it due attention and being sure to publicize their efforts to both soldiers and citizens. Not only were the logistics of mail delivery important, but the content of soldiers’ letters provided valuable insight into their private thoughts. The use of censorship reports brought mail’s content from the private sphere into the army bureaucracy. Mail and morale are closely linked, a relationship that is exemplified when using the Italian campaign as a case study.
Originally from Vernon, British Columbia, Megan Hamilton is a social historian of 20th century Canada. She has an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Wilfrid Laurier University and is currently completing a one-year Master of Arts degree at the University of Waterloo. Her federally-funded research studies the Canadian experience of the Second World War, specifically the Vernon Military Camp. In 2022 she won the Tri-University History Program’s top essay prize for master’s students with her paper entitled “Liberal Intentions and a Colonial Mindset: The Imperial War Graves Commission in East Africa.” Megan has been awarded a federal fellowship to conduct research for two months in the United Kingdom this upcoming summer. Her work has been published in The Northern Mariner, The Mirror, Waterloo Historical Review, Minerva, and on the Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada’s academic blog..
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