Sunday, February 5, 2012

OSS Det. 202 in Kunming, China

In 1945, the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was aligned with Ho Chi Minh against the Japanese in Indo-china. 

Headquartered with the 14th Air Force in Kunming, China, OSS Detachment 202 monitored and influenced activity in the region. A small number of the OSS actually operated within Indo-china and met directly with the Viet Minh. 

Over the past decade I have located two OSS covers from APO 627 in Kunming shown below.

The first cover was sent by Victor Jabson on March 19, 1945 enjoyed free-franking privileges. The enclosed letter is cut in half vertically. It seems innocuous enough, but perhaps the military censor took issue with some of the contents.

Victor writes, "I have seen so many interesting things that I could write volume after volume but I think I [would] rather wait until I come back and then we can have an old fashioned get together with beer, oysters and all the other good things we used to have at our meetings."

The second cover was sent by Jerome Wisniewski, from the HQ & HQ Detachment operating out of China. It was mailed on Aug 20, 1945 - less than a week after Japan's surrender in World War II and two weeks before Ho Chi Minh's declaration of independence on September 2.

This is a fascinating and complicated era of Vietnamese history. To learn more I recommend:

The OSS and Ho Chi Minh: Unexpected Allies in the War Against Japan by Dixee R. Bartholomew-Feis
Why Vietnam? Prelude to America's Albatross by Archimedes L.A. Patti
Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power by David G. Marr