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March 2023
1min read

General John J. Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force during World War I, took the matter of censorship seriously. “It was impressed upon our forces,” he wrote in his memoirs of the war, “that every person who, either willfully or inadvertently, disclosed facts of military value thus gave the enemy an advantage, and … might actually be responsible for the unnecessary sacrifice of his own comrades.”

The degree of Pershing’s concern was recently brought to our attention by reader Donald B. Robinson of St. Petersburg, Florida. After reading Elton Mackin’s ”… Suddenly We Didn’t Want to Die” (February/March, 1980), an account of the battle for Belleau Wood, Mr. Robinson was moved to pass along a postcard sent by his brother-in-law during the war “from somewhere in France.” The postcard, which was standard issue for the Allied Forces, is shown here—a masterpiece of tight-lipped communication in which the soldier had only to cross out what he didn’t want to say. “Not much information,” Mr. Robinson notes, “but very welcome.”

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