Christmas During Wartime
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A poster one could see back at home during the Holidays. They would promote individuals to save their money and invest in wartime efforts.
As the holidays are now upon us, we decided to take a break from discussing the battles fought during WW2 and shift towards discussing how regular holiday events were handled during wartime.
Although conditions weren’t always favourable, the Allied forces always made do with what they had and celebrated Christmas in many unique ways. Back at home, many families were without love ones who were abroad fighting and were subject to high amounts of rationing that was being conducted in most parts of the country. Due to short supplies, many families got creative with their gifts and would often resort to exchanging fully handmade items without wrapping paper as wrapping paper was issued to only be used on food items.
It wouldn’t be unusual to see a child’s stocking full of toys made from nothing but paper and paint. Other seasonal events like decorating Christmas trees and meeting Santa clause would fortunately still happen as these things required the holiday spirit rather than money and labour.
Father Christmas visiting children, including Winston Churchill's grandson who can be seen receiving a gift.
How was it for the troops?
The conditions for troops would vary depending on where they were stationed and what resources were available to them. Some holidays that the Canadians experienced would entail gift exchanges and food, while others revolved around sitting in a jail cell in a prisoner of war camp. In 1941 the Canadians were captured in Hong Kong on Christmas day and were sent to prison while in 1943 the Canadians were subject to a large Christmas feast where soldiers rotated guard in the streets of Ortona Italy. If you were lucky enough to be stationed at a base camp or battleship, the soldiers usually had a chef preparing the meals as well as access to personal mail from back home.
During the Battle in Ortona, the Canadians would have their Christmas dinner in a demolished Church not too far from where the fighting took place. The troops were able to find tables and eating utensils and were treated to pork, beer and an assortment of vegetables. The men would be able to rest their minds for one day and would sing songs while others played instruments. Letters from loved ones would often be read out loud for everyone to hear and minimal gift exchanges of cards and cigarettes would also take place.
Canadian troops eating Christmas Dinner in the Santa Maria di Constantinopoli Church in Ortona Italy.
Commemorate With Us
With the 75th Anniversary of Canada’s Liberation of the Netherlands, let us join together in celebration and thanks for the Canadians who sacrificed so much for us. In their honour, we travel to Normandy and Holland for the 75th Commemorative events. Join us to remember the bravery and vigour of our boys on the battlefields during those fateful days. Embrace the Netherlands that we know and love today, and help us honour the sacrifice endured by keeping our Canadian story alive. If you would like to join us on the upcoming program commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Canadians in Holland, or if you would like more information in regards to the events taking place in France/Holland for the anniversary, Click Here