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Translated North Vietnamese Army Letters & Envelope – Wounded Comrade August 23, 1968
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READ THE ENEMY'S MAIL!
Captured enemy letters are very rare. They form the centerpiece of any personal effects display.
Families in the North could write to a loved one who had gone to the Front. This mail would take months to reach a soldier in the South. Regardless like anyone who has ever served, it was a welcomed and cherished item to receive.
For security reasons, the family would write to a Ham Thu or HT which is the abbreviation for Letter Box number. The LBN was an encrypted unit designation used in lieu of writing the actual designation of the Company, Battalion and Regiment on the envelope.
The soldier could write back but mail going North was not as reliable. North bound mail was carried back by returning couriers. This mail was often censored by unit Political Officers before it could be sent. In keeping with communist party theory, every Company or larger unit had a Political Officer who was actually superior to the Commanding Officer. Soldiers were encouraged to report on glowing victories, the reunification of the country and other themes dictated by the Political Officer. Soldiers' letters might even be read allowed to the unit to show that soldier's revolutionary spirit and support for the war.
North Vietnamese Army envelopes were either purchased or hand made. The hand made envelopes were from pieces of scrap paper cut and glued together by hand. Purchased envelopes often have some kind of bird, political or military motif on the left lower front.
North Vietnamese stamps, which always had a military or political nature, were sometimes attached when sending from the North to the South but were not necessary for mail going from he Front back to the North. Sometimes you can read the postman's cancellation mark and the date it was sent.
Soldiers could also write to other NVA soldiers in which case both used the letter box number but no stamp was necessary.
Finding letters, envelopes and diaries is very rare as, like all things of potential intelligence value, they had to be turned in to S-2 for exploitation. Purportedly, after exploration, the could be retained as souvenirs.
This material is highly interesting and makes for a great personal effects display, so pick out a few pieces while it is still available.
Enemy Militaria has employed the services of a native Vietnamese and English speaker to translate some of the more important Vietnamese language documents:
The envelope has two letter inside, one is two pages, the other is three. The second one is dated
The Second letter translated:
From: Pham Phan Thuong
To: Nguyen Gac Diem PO 5218
This is the first letter that we’re writing to you since the day we were separated. I hope you understand my difficult situation. I’m writing to ask you if you’re fine. You’re progressing much better in your work, so I’m quite happy and feel much more motivated personally.
Oh Diem! Since the day we started marching to fulfill our duty, our friendship has become much closer. Through fighting and working, though during the day we have to face hardships, we suffer together. We always encourage each other during our missions. Hungry or full, we have each other. We share everything with each other, even our meager rice and salt. During those years, we’ve participated in many battles, fighting fiercely together. The more hardships that we face, the deeper our trust grows, the deeper our love for each other. Our bonds never cease to grow and deepen.
I’m going to let you know about me. Since the day I was wounded, because the injury was very severe, (perhaps you already heard about this) that’s why my health is very poor right now. I have been back in the North since 6 March ‘68. Right now I’m undergoing therapy. But one thing that’s certain is that my injury hasn’t completely healed.
I’m going hospital to undergo surgery for the injury . Oh Diem! After I recover, I will get some furlough. I promise to you that I will visit your family and inform them of your current situation.
I just want to tell you a lot of information, but I hope you’ll understand my situation. I’m still recovering. Wait until I’m fully recovered, then I will write a lot then. Lastly, I wish you good health, strength and happiness in your work, as well as participating in the fight for the final victory against the American invaders. Send my regards and good wishes to everyone in the unit.
I’m waiting for your victory
Your dear friend,
Pham Xuan Thuong / Chuong
Last week I mailed a letter to Dinh, asking about Teacher Phuc and Phung. You should ask those comrades if they've received my letter and to respond whenever possible.
Obviously these two set out on the Ho Chi Minh Trail together, suffered hunger and fighting together and grew to be great friends. The author was severely wounded, possibly during the Tet Offensive of 1968 as he arrived back in the North in early March 1968 for surgery and physical therapy and is writing his friend still at the Front.
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