Merry Christmas to all our readers around the world. Continuing our mini theme of Christmas related items, tonight we are looking at a Christmas Airgraph sent in 1944:The airgraph was a post office initiative to allow messages to be sent to loved ones around the world without the problems of shipping bulky mail. Senders filled out an airgraph form, it was photographed and miniaturised and then sent to the other side of the world. Once here the messages were printed and distributed to the men. This system meant that sending 1600 airgraphs on film weighed 5oz compared to 50lbs for the same number of letters. There was also the added advantage that if a plane was lost carrying the microfilm, a copy had been kept in the UK and could be sent again. This service was advertised to the public in magazines and post offices:
The airgraphs used the Kodak Microfilm system, called Recordak, that had been used for record keeping in business since the early 1930s. the first airgraphs arrived in Cairo on April 21st 1941 with just 70,000 letters. Within two months the average number of letters sent using this system was 500,000 a month. The system was used in both directions, with airgraphs sent back to Britain from overseas postings, as seen in this photograph of a soldier filling out an airgraph form:A great site detailing the airgraph process can be found here. My example of an airgraph was sent by TH Purslow of Birmingham:To his son Corporal Purslow, at 416 Ordnance Park, 37 Vehicle Company, RAOC, British North African Force:The message is a fairly banal Christmas greeting, wishing the man’s son well and hoping for his speedy return:This Christmas form was specially produced and available from the post office for the price of 3d, which included the postage.