Cleaning out my in-laws (or out-laws depending on point of view ) house I have run across several boxes of letters and postcards my dearly departed father-in-law had saved during his WWII tour of duty. I have found a few postcards with cancels but no stamp, all hand written "free". I can see no evidence of a stamp. How can this be, did the postal service have certain days they offered free postage to servicemen?
All military personnel during World War II were granted "free" mailing privileges and as evidenced by your example, all the soldier or sailor had to do was write "Free" in the upper right hand corner of the piece and it would be honored in lieu of a stamp. The idea was that the mails were so important to deployed troops that it became a morale booster for the soldier and their families to communicate while at war.
Here's a WWII-era newspaper article announcing the program, which became effective April 1, 1942:
The practice continues today in designated areas -- here is the response to a frequently asked question from the Military Postal Service Agency's website:
Quote: Is there "Free Mail" from the theater? Yes, most areas of the Middle East have been authorized Free Mail for personal correspondence being sent from the service member overseas back to the U.S. Family members sending mail to service members in a free mail zone must pay for postage. Service members are briefed on the Free Mail procedures when they are deployed to a Free Mail area.
Enclosed is some Examples of Free Postage from the U.S.S.Maddox D D -731. in the 1960's. I was the Naval Postal Clerk at the Dates on the envelopes. These dates are also the date the Vietnamese shelled us from shore.I am the only person to have theses and the Captain signed and Notarized them for me. I never told why I was doing this. The Postal Clerk from August 1964 ( Roger )( I have never been able to confirm with him ) is suppose to have an envelope Dated August 4,1964 for the escalation of the Viet Nam War when the U.S.S . Maddox and the U.S.S. Turner Joy was attacked by 3 Vietnamese Patrol boats. Still trying to upload picture's