Family Parcels


This two-page memo from the U.S. War Department contains instructions for families on how to prepare packages to be sent to prisoners of war and civilian internees overseas.

The memo is from Matt Brazil and Bonnie Jacobsen (née Brazil), whose father, Staff Sgt. Matthew P. Brazil, was a POW at Camp 59. Matthew’s family undoubtedly used these guidelines in putting together parcels for him.

The parcels are the American equivalent of what British prisoner Robert Dickinson, in his camp journal, “Servigliano Calling,” called “next of kin” personal parcels.

Here is a transcription of the War Department memo:

Services of Supply
Office of the Provost Marshal General

March 11, 1943

The Provost Marshal General directs me to inclose a label which may be used within the date stamped thereon for the purpose of sending a prisoner of war or civilian internee parcel. Should you desire to use the label, it is suggested that the following mailing package instructions be strictly followed.


Only one label at a time will be issued to the designated next of kin, or emergency addressee, to each American internee or prisoner of war officially reported. The label may be transferred to another person if so desired. Each label will be issued in duplicate. The original to be securely pasted on the outside of the package and the duplicate to be placed on top of the contents inside of the package in order that it maybe removed by the postal censor. The label can only be used between the dates specified on the original label. Additional labels will be issued from time to time.

The contents of the package must be listed on the Post Office Department Custom’s Declaration, Form No. 2966, at the time of mailing. If this form is not available at your local post office, the contents may be listed on plain paper and attached to the package. No postage is required.

The weight of your package should not exceed 11 pounds, gross dimensions not over 18 inches in length, not 42 inches length and girth combined. The package should not be sealed and should be wrapped in a manner which will facilitate opening for postal inspection.

The following articles only may be included in the package:

Tobacco Pouches
Cigarette Holders (except paper)
Cigarette Cases (non-metallic)

Washing Powder
Medicated Soap
Bath Soap
Towels, bath and face
Wash Cloths
Tooth Powder (in non-metallic containers)
Tooth Brushes
Combs (non-metallic)
Brushes, scrubbing
Clothes Brushes

Shaving Material
Safety Razor
Safety Razor Blades
Shaving Brushes
Talcum Powder (in non-metallic containers)
Styptic Pencils
Shaving Soap Cake and Powder
Small Mirrors

Sock supporters
Sport shorts for athletics
Shirts (regular army or navy if prisoners of war)
Slacks (regular army or navy if prisoners of war)
Light Sweaters
Shoe Laces
House Slippers



Wool Hose
Safety Pins
Small Mirror
Hair nets and pins
Knitting Needles (non-metallic)
Crochet Needles (non-metallic)
Knitting Yarn
Toilet articles except liquids (in non-metallic containers)
Camphor Ice (cardboard containers)
Sanitary supplies for feminine hygiene
Orange Sticks

All kinds of clothing and shoes
Small indestructible wooden toys

Sports and Games
Playing cards
Ping Pong or Table Tennis Sets
Softball or Baseball Gloves

Miscellaneous Items
Chewing gum
Shoe polish in tins
Tooth picks
Nail clippers
Mending Kits (no scissors included)
Sewing kits
Buttons (non-metallic)
Hair clippers
Vitamin tablets in cardboard containers

Food Items

Processed American or Swiss Cheese (wrapped in cellophane)

Dried Prunes, Raisins or Apricots, Peaches and Apples (in one pound or one-half pound cellophane pkgs.)

Dried soups (in cellophane bags)

Cereals of the Farina or Cream of Wheat type (cardboard containers)

Dried skim milk (in one or one-half pound cellophane bags)

Nuts – only pecans, Brazil nuts, or peanuts in shell or salted (cellophane bags or cardboard containers)

Plain or chocolate powdered malted milk in press top tins or boxes or in cellophane bags not in excess of one pound

Malted milk tablets in cellophane bags or cardboard boxes not in excess of 500 tablets

Dried noodles, macaroni or spaghetti in cardboard boxes
Dried (chipped) beef wrapped in clear wax paper or cellophane not in excess of one pound

Coffee in plain bags not in excess of one pound

Tea – bulk (loose) in one-fourth (1/4) or one-half (1/2) pound bags or cardboard boxes

Cocoa in press-in topcans or cellophane bags not in excess of one-half (1/2) pound

Sugar in paper bags or cardboard boxes not in excess of one pound
Biscuits or crackers – one pound (cardboard containers)

Bullion cubes – (1/2) pound package

Sweet chocolate in one pound bars

Rice in one pound cellophane packages or cardboard containers

The signature and address of sender must appear in ink in the space provided on the label. Cigarettes and printed matter may not be sent at this time.

Howard F. Bresee,
Colonel, C.M.P.,
Chief, Information Bureau.

1 Incl.

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