History Class, Photos, Uncategorized, World War 2

Four Christmases at War

“Christmas/New Year’s card from the 15th Evacuation Hospital in Italy in WWII. This mobile tent hospital followed the front from North Africa to Sicily and Italy.” Image courtesy of Mary Sanchis, via Wikimedia Commons. License link here: Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International — CC BY-SA 4.0

There are few times throughout the year when the longing for home and family is stronger than around the holiday season. What a difficult time it must have been for the U.S. military personnel serving overseas during the long years of the Second World War—far from home with no certainty of when, or if, they’d be able to return.

Author Gail Kittleson was kind enough to ask me to stop by her site to share some stories from the United States’ four Christmases during World War II. If you’d like to stop by and give it a read, here is the direct link.

I’ll also be giving a free copy of my new novel, Where Shall I Flee? to one commentor on her site.

In preparation for the post, I found a number of related images. While they didn’t make it into the final post, pictures have a way of telling their own stories, and I’d like to share them here today as well.

Wishing you all the best in this last week before Christmas,

-Anne

Wake Island fell December 23, 1941. Its defenders would spend the next four Christmases as POWs. Image courtesy of the U.S. National Archives, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 515586.
“Men of an infantry division eagerly swarm toward the mail-truck loaded down with Christmas packages. Italy, 26 November, 1944.” Image courtesy of the Signal Corps, via Wikimedia Commons
File:6th Armored Div. GIs decorate a Christmas tree in Saarbrücken, Germany, 1944 (49350614327).jpg
“ETO HQ 44 293455 12 Dec. Credit…US Army Signal Corps. Photog: H. Miller (166). Pvt. H.J. Chesler, Cleveland, O., Left, Pvt. Jack Zarzatin, Philadelphia, Pa., Center, and Lt. Richard Laubacher, Oxnard, Calif., decorate their battery Christmas tree at their headquarters. 231st FA 6th Armored Div. 3rd Army.” Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Caption: “Battle of the Bulge – Tankmen of the U.S. First Army gather around a fire on the snow-covered ground near Eupen, Belgium, opening their Christmas packages (12/30/44) -5th Armd. Regt” Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Caption: “Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe and his staff gathered inside Bastogne’s Heintz Barracks for Christmas dinner Dec. 25th, 1944. This military barracks served as the Division Main Command Post during the siege of Bastogne, Belgium during WWII. The facility is now a museum known as the “Nuts Cave”. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) Via Wikimedia Commons.
Caption: “Members of the 101st Airborne Division walk past dead comrades, killed during the Christmas Eve bombing of Bastogne, Belgium, the town in which this division was besieged for ten days. This photo was taken on Christmas Day, 1944.” Image from the U.S. Signal Corps, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
“A youngster, clutching his soldier father, gazes upward while the latter lifts his wife from the ground to wish her a `Merry Christmas.’ The serviceman is one of those fortunate enough to be able to get home for the holidays.”, 12/1944 Image courtesy of the U.S. National Archives, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 535527.

14 thoughts on “Four Christmases at War”

  1. Thank you for these Anne – the photos are very evocative. The (British) soldier whose story I am telling was on the move through France towards Belgium on Christmas Day 1944 – but reported that they were well fed the following day. This is what he wrote “…I’ve had my Xmas Dinner darling after spending the day on the road – it was pretty good though under the conditions, tinned chicken, roast pork, baked potatoes, peas & Xmas pud, beer, wines & cigarettes and a cigar…”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Mike.
      I see the Bastogne War Museum just had their “Nuts Weekend 2021” in memory of the 77th anniversary! It’s on my read-up-on list. Grandpa wasn’t at the Battle of the Bulge, but the need to replenish American manpower in the aftermath is what sent his division into Europe rather than into the Pacific (which they’d been training for- so much for those beach landing practices.)
      All the best!

      Like

    2. Incidentally, I did originally intend to start this post with earlier dates and include the official start to the war and the “phoney war” period- December time constraints convinced me to stick with just the four years. Maybe next year I’ll expand it and include some details from outside the U.S. experience…

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  2. Your post here reminds me of the scene you described in your book about making a Christmas setting in the hospital. I know it’s not the same to be home with family, but I do think Dr. Suess was on to something when he wrote, “Christmas Day will always be…just as long as we have we.” xxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s handy to have a few “already started researching” things around 🙂
      That’s a great quote, Jean. Also, Christmas gives such a unique opportunity for giving. Some of the nurses themselves in those stories that I found admitted to being homesick and kind of miserable, BUT talked about finding joy in their work to set up something nice for their patients. xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

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