The Joys of Christmas – Celebrating the Holiday

Of the the two joys most commonly represented in World War Two holiday photographs of the troops, pictures of troops celebrating (decorating, singing, etc.) is by far the more numerous and the one most filled with the “spirit” of the holidays. A major part of this is that troops could use a variety of home-made items located in the field to decorate whereas they were limited in their access to the mail (the other joy most commonly represented.

37th Infantry Division soldiers celebrating Christmas, probably at Bougainville, Solomon Islands, December, 1943. The 37th served in the Pacific Theater during World War II under the command of Major General Robert Beightler.
A 1942 Santa arriving by tank instead of outdated sleigh. Sgt. Hiram Prouty playing Santa for British children. Dec 5, 1942. Perham Downs, England. M.3. Tank of 1st Tank Group. Sgt. Prouty, member of 175th Inf.
25 Dec 1944. Sgt. Edward F. Good feeds his buddy a leg of Christmas turkey, Pfc. Lloyd Deming. Both are casualties at the 2nd Field Hosp, (San Jose, Mindoro, PI)
Seated at a box in a storehouse for artillery shells, in Germany, Pvt. Walter E. Prsybyla, member of the 2nd Infantry Division, addresses Christmas cards to the folks back home. 11/30/44. B Btry, 37th FA, 2nd Inf. Div., FUSA, Heckhalenfeld, Germany.
Pfc. Lyle School and Pfc. Lawrence W. Miller made this bullet Christmas card for “Dear Adolph”, somewhere in England. December 5, 1942. Tidworth, England, 175th Inf.
General view of the speakers platform at the Christmas exercise, December 24, 1942, in the court of the Pentagon Bldg., Arlington, Virginia.
US Soldiers Caroleers Circle GlobeŁThe Christmas spirit is universal, the traditions unchanging even in the midst of war. Where ever our American troops are to be found throughout the world Christmas Carols will be heard in joyful hymns on the eve of the Nativity of Christ. In India – “Come and Behold Him, Born the King of Angels”. 1942.
A Christmas Eve congregation at Midnight Mass in a theatre in Trinidad, B.W.I. December 24, 1941. Docksite, Trinidad.
Fort Leonard Wood Chapel at Christmas time. Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

[Images courtesy of the US Army Center of Military History and Ohio History Central.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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