The U.S. Postal Inspection Service in WWII

During WWI, William Kenyon dramatically advanced the military mail service. His success took much of the responsibility out of the hands of the Post Office and into the military. During WWII, however, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service was highly regarded as the experts for military mail handling.

1939 - 1942

In 1939, William Kenyon was working as the liaison officer between the Post Office Department and the War Department in the handling of Army Mail. In 1941, the War Department called all 18 National Guard Divisions and 11 regular Army Divisions to mobilize for war. At that time, approximately 600,000 troops were based at camps, with a draft on the horizon. It became apparent that the work Kenyon did during WWI was going to need additional support for the Second World War. Major A.C. Hahn, drafted from the Postal Inspection Service, was added as an additional liaison for the Navy (FPOs), while Kenyon focused on the Army (APOs).

At the end of 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into war. Over the next year, Postal Inspectors were being drafted or enlisting on their own to assist in war efforts. Most often, trusted Inspectors and clerks were put in the Army Postal service to ensure quality mail delivery to and from troops.

1943 - 1945

By the turn of 1943, 225 Inspectors and clerks had left the Postal Inspection service to join the Armed Forces. That same year, a school was organized at Camp Lee, Virginia. The school offered a six-week program that prepared postal employees and military officials for the Army Postal Service.

By 1944, the U.S. was fully involved in a two-front war in the Pacific and European theatres. The large numbers of Inspectors leaving for military service meant missive restructures of the Postal Inspection Service.

Every month, new Inspectors and clerks were being appointed, or moving to other divisions. Despite the movement within the department, the Inspection Service was able to successfully carry out its mission in the country and be a prominent advisor for the Army Postal Service.

WWII Heroes of the Inspection Service

Major Cecil R. Steele:
Post Office Inspector - St Louis Division
Major Steele was killed in an airplane crash over England on December 28, 1944. He was the first Inspector to die in the service during the war.

Lt. Colonel Alexander J. Hawkins:
Post Office Inspector - Philadelphia Division
Lt. Colonel Harkins was awarded the Legion of merit for his outstanding work with the U.S. Armed Forces in the Middle East.

Lieutenant Herbert C. Hunter
Bureau of the Chief Inspector - HQ
First Lieutenant Hunter was drafted in 1941 and spent over three years in the Armed Forces. He was honorably discharged on March 27, 1944, and returned immediately back to the Inspection service that same day!

Colonel Richard E. Eggleton:
Assistant Chief Inspector - HQ
Colonel Eggleton spent two years overseas as a prominent member of the Army Postal Service during the war. Upon his return, he was immediately promoted to Assistant Chief Inspector, due to his successes during war.

Captain Cyril L. Alden:
Chief of Stolen Mail Collection - HQ
On April 20, 1944, Alden was aboard a transport vessel that was sunk by enemy ships in the Mediterranean.


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