Restrictions on Overseas Shipments to Army Personnel

Order of the Postmaster General

Restrictions on Overseas Shipments to Army Personnel

Order No. 19687, dated January 7, 1943

The War Department has informed the Post Office Department that in view of the heavy demands being made on cargo space for military shipments and because of the limited facilities available to commanders of theaters of operations for delivery of mail, the volume of mail dispatched to overseas destinations must be kept to a minimum.

Therefore, in accordance with the recommendations of the War Department, the following restrictions on mail for Army personnel addressed to A.P.O.’s overseas, other than official shipments and shipments to military agencies, shall become effective January 15, 1943.

1. No parcel exceeding 5 pounds in weight, or 15 inches in length, or 36 inches in length and girth combined, shall be accepted for dispatch to A.P.O.’s overseas for individuals. (It is contemplated that there will be no exceptions to the weight and size limits for parcels to individuals.)

2. Except as hereinafter provided, no parcels shall be accepted for dispatch to A.P.O.’s outside the continental United States unless they contain such articles only as are being sent at the specific written request of the addressee, approved by the battalion or similar unit commander of the addressee.

3. Individual copies of newspapers or magazines shall be accepted for dispatch to A.P.O.’s outside of the continental United States only where subscriptions are specifically requested in writing by the addressee or for which subscriptions are now in effect. Such copies to individuals shall be accepted only from publishers who shall place on the wrapper, or on the publication when a wrapper is not used, a certificate (which shall be regarded as sufficient to authorize their acceptance) reading as follows:

“Mailed in conformity with P.O.D. Order No. 19687.”

4. No circular matter of the third class should be presented for mailing to A.P.O.’s overseas, as the War Department advises that it will not be dispatched from ports of embarkation.

5. V-mail will be transmitted, either when microfilmed or in its original form, to all A.P.O.’s overseas and transported by airplane where such facilities are available. Although letters prepaid at the air mail rate of 6 cents per half ounce will continue to be transported by airplane as far as the ports of embarkation, the War Department advises that no assurance can be given that such letters, other than V-mail, will be dispatched by airplane from ports of embarkation to localities overseas served by V-mail.

Referring to restriction 2 above, the War Department states that individuals serving overseas desiring to request the mailing of parcels to them will be required to include in their request the following:

1. A general description or name of article requested.

2. The grade or rating, the complete address, and the signature of the individual (addressee) making the request.

The request will be presented to the battalion or similar unit commander who will approve it when the circumstances justify. Requests of officers not assigned to organizations or separate units will be approved by the next higher or theater headquarters. In case the individual making the request is a civilian, the request will be approved by the commanding officer of the installation concerned.

Parcels addressed to individuals at A.P.O.’s overseas must be accompanied with the approved written request from the addressee set forth when presented for mailing. The request shall be postmarked by the accepting employee in such manner as to prevent its reuse and then be returned to the sender.

General Information

Mail addressed for delivery to A.P.O.’s outside the continental United States shall embrace all that which is addressed to such A.P.O.’s in care of the postmasters at New York, N.Y., San Francisco, Calif., Seattle, Wash., New Orleans, La., Miami, Fla., or Presque lsle, Maine.

Mail of any character originally addressed to individuals at Army posts, camps or stations in the continental United States and received at such places after departure of the addressees for an overseas destination will be forwarded.

The restrictions of this order apply only to personnel of the United States Army and to contractors and civilians served through A.P.O.’s outside the continental United States. They do not apply to mail for personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, nor to international mail which will continue until further notice to be subject to the provisions of Order No. 17471 of April 30, 1942, and the general permits thereunder insofar as applicable.

None of the restrictions in this order apply to official shipments and shipments to military agencies overseas nor to any mail from A.P.O.’s outside the continental United States to points in the United States.

Postmasters shall return to the senders, marked “Dispatch prohibited by Order No. 19687” any prohibited matter obviously accepted for mailing after January 15, 1943.

This action is prompted by military necessity and it is believed that the public will cheerfully comply.

3 thoughts on “Restrictions on Overseas Shipments to Army Personnel

  1. You have no idea how thrilled I was to find this page! If you look at my post at, you’ll see why.

    But I am also very pleased to have found your site because you have done what I have contemplated doing with my father’s WWII letters from Italy. I’ve “published” a 756-page transcription for my brothers and a few other interested parties, but I thought there might be enough of general interest to warrant publishing them online. The letters date from August 1944 to approximately August 1945, and I had thought of posting each letter on the day 70 years after it was written (beginning in August 2014, obviously). But I suspect your site may have discouraged me more than it encouraged me, as you’ve done such a great job with it!


    1. Suzanne, thank you for your kind words and I enjoyed reading your post very much. My project has moved ahead in fits and starts since my mother died in August 2011. I have about a half-year’s worth of letters to transcribe and I’ve been off the horse for a bit now. But please don’t let my project discourage you from doing the same with your father’s letters. To be honest, I don’t think my uncle has any giant insights to share through his letters, but I suspect in the aggregate, all of us with these sorts of letters have something to share with the world, so I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor.


  2. Thanks for your encouragement. Since I posted my comment I’ve spent some time working my way back to your first post and starting there. It will take a while to read through all of them, but I feel sure I’ll find some more tips I’ll wish I’d had before I had Dad’s letters printed. I was just relieved to see that the information on five-pound parcels had been posted fairly recently (about the time I was putting my book to bed, in fact), so it wasn’t something I’d missed in my earlier fruitless searches.


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