1944-1945. Envelope only, no letter. The envelope was addressed to Private First Class Walter Mikucki at the Osaka Yodogawa Bunsho POW Camp in Japan. It has a typed “Prisoner of War Postage Free” free frank in the upper right corner and has received a Chicago “War Savings machine postmark dated Jan 13, 1944. The envelope was opened by a U.S. censor and resealed using censor tape annotated, “Examined by 6587.” The address was subsequently obliterated with a red cross and black bands using grease pencil or crayon. It has a circular handstamp in the lower right corner dated Nov 20 1945 with text that appears to read “[LIBER]ATED HQ. USMC., WASH., D.C.” Ther is a USMC “pointing finger” return-to-sender hand stamp that point to the return address. Very good. Item #008825
Pfc. Mikucki was a member of the 4th Marine Regiment when, as war clouds rumbled in the Pacific, it was sent from China to Corregidor to defend Manila Bay in the Philippines. Shortly after its arrival, Japan launched its sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and allied bases throughout the Pacific. Corregidor was bombed continuously from late December, 1941 until May 5, 1942 when an overwhelming force of Japanese soldiers landed on the island. After tanks were brought ashore the following day, Lt. Gen. Johathan Wainwright realized defeat was imminent and surrendered fearing the thousand or so wounded men and bedraggled defenders would be annihated. Although most of the 4th Marine Regiment had been killed, the remaining men were transported to prison camps in Japan. The Yodogawa Bunsho Camp near Osaka was one of the smallest Japanes prisoner of war camps, and records in the National Archives identify only 12 prisoners that were known to have been held there. Pfc. Mikucki’s name is not on that list. Other records show that Mikucki may have been imprisoned at various times at the Itchioke, Chikko, and Umeda Bunsho camps. He died from unknown causes on March 11, 1943. Clearly this information was not provided by the Japanese to the Red Cross as Mikucki’s parents sent this letter ten months later. Examples of mail sent to American prisoners held in Japan are very scarce, and this example may be unique for as os 2017, I am unable to find any record of other returned mail for Corregidor Marines who died in Japanese prisoner of war camps in philatelic or ephemera auctions records, for sale in the trade, or held by institutions per OCLC. Also, there is no mention of anything similar in Gruenzner’s Postal History of pf American POWs.