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It Feels More Like Christmas This Year

Posted by on October 25, 2016

December 19, 25 and 30, 1944. Stanley rings out the old year with three letters from England to Dad in Topeka. On the 19th, Stanley writes that he just finished up work and had some time to catch up on some letters. He asks about Dad’s machine shop classes and expresses that he wishes he “had something of that sort to break up the monotony of the work…”

The weather is not helping Stanley get in the holiday mood as he wishes for some “heavy snowfalls” to “bring memories back to the old good childhood days when we used to look out the window at the snow falling and always hope that it would be a white Christmas.”  Nonetheless, the “PX is sure decorated up for Christmas… They have Christmas decorations all over the wall and on the side of the building they have a Christmas tree with Christmas lights.”

He notes that there are a few other signs that Christmas is on the way. “Our Red Cross Club is closed for a few days for decorations purposes. Lately the card games have slumped down quite a bit, must be they are saving their money for Christmas and New Year’s.”

Stanley writes on the 25th that he has the day off and is writing from the day room. “We have a Christmas tree here with all the decorations and also Christmas lights and silver tinsel on it… it feels more like Christmas this year than it did last year.” On Christmas Eve they listened to Christmas Carols on the radio and President Roosevelt’s address to the nation. They also listened to part of a German program the played Christmas music.

He also went to Midnight Mass, which was said in Latin and was held “on the field in our chapel. The chapel was decorated with hollies, wreaths, flowers and also Christmas trees. It felt like going to Midnight Mass back home. I went to confession and communion. The chapel was sure packed. It was a solemn mass assisted by a choir of men and everything went quite well.” After getting back from Mass he went to bed at 1:30 and slept until 11:30 when “it was too cold to sleep any longer in bed.”

Instead of snow on Christmas, “there was a very heavy fog and also a heavy frost. When the fog and frost hit the trees it just stuck. The frost on the trees and grass was about a quarter of an inch thick. It was a white Christmas without the snow. Everything was coated with frost and it sure looked nice.”

As the 30th rolls around, Stanley writes another letter from the day room. For a good bit of the letter he recaps Christmas. He also notes that “the new year is almost in. The time sure goes by fast. Tomorrow you will have been in the Army two years. Those years sure went pretty fast.”

Stanley tells of an encounter that provided him a little bit of home all the way in England. It happened in the washroom as he “and another Polish fellow started to whistle Polish polkas…Before I knew it we had another fellow joining us. He wasn’t Polish but he lives in Connecticut and he and I had quite a chat about the Polish bands at Hartford, Waterbury and Bridgeport. He plays the drums and played with a Polish band and he sure liked it because he could have a good time anytime he played.”

Well, that does it for letters from Deenethorpe for 1944. Stanley wraps up his letter with “I guess I’ll close for now till the near future.”

Cover of Christmas Card sent to Dad by Stanley in 1944.

Cover of Christmas Card sent to Dad by Stanley in 1944.

As is my custom, the following are the missions flown by the 401st Bomb Group in December of 1944. The work of the 401st, flying strategic bombing missions in Europe stands in stark contrast to the mundane nature of Stanley’s letters.

  • December 4: Marshalling Yards, Kassel, Germany
  • December 5: Berlin, Industrial Plants
  • December 6: Merseburg Oil Refinery
  • December 11: Marshalling Yards, Frankfurt, Germany
  • December 12: Merseburg Oil Refinery
  • December 15: Marshalling Yards, Kassel, Germany
  • December 19: Koblenz/Schleiden
  • December 24: Marshalling Yards, Koblenz
  • December 27: Marshalling Yards, Gerolstein
  • December 28: Marshalling Yards, Rheinbach
  • December 29: Supply Facility, Bingen
  • December 30: Rail Overpass, Kaiserslautern
  • December 31: Marshalling Yards, Krefeld
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