Thursday 23rd February 2017

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Christmas 1945: Peace At Last

December 24, 2013 Frontpage No Comments

By MICHAEL D. HULL

Finally, as the Christmas season of 1945 arrived, the world was at peace.
True, there would be many lesser conflicts and tensions in the coming decades, but World War II — the most far-reaching and devastating period in recorded history — had ended with victory for the Allied democracies. Spirits were high.
Fifty-seven Allied and Axis countries had been involved, and the six-year war claimed an estimated 15 million military personnel killed and missing, and twice that number of civilian deaths from bombings, starvation, drownings, and murder.
As 1945 waned, there was still widespread suffering in the countries where the bitter campaigns had been fought, from Northwest Europe to Russia, and from the Mediterranean to the Far East. Cities had been razed, crops destroyed, and many people left homeless, weary, and deprived of life’s necessities.
But for the victorious nations there was now time to hope, chart the future, and ensure that there would be no more global bloodlettings. For Americans, 1945 brought the first peacetime Christmas since 1940, and for the British, the first since 1938.
Across the United States, returning soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines rode crowded trains and buses, hoping to reach their homes in time to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ. Waiting families sang carols, wrapped presents, hung pine wreaths on front doors, and prayed for the other sons, fathers, and brothers still languishing in staging camps far away.
Unlike the other countries ravaged by the war’s sacrifices, America had emerged ready to charge ahead with a booming economy and the resources necessary for assuming a leading role in maintaining postwar stability. Her people were ready and able to embrace Christmas in full measure.
For President Harry S Truman, who had taken office only seven months earlier, it was to be his first yuletide in the White House. On December 23, he went out and took a brisk walk on the icy paths behind the mansion. “It is cold as mischief,” he reported in a letter that day to his daughter, Margaret. Kept from slipping on the ice by four Secret Service agents and two policemen, he took a look at the national Christmas tree, where he planned to switch on the lights and address the nation at 5:16 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
A holiday spirit glowed in the chilly air in every city and town, and downtown shoppers jammed buses, trolley cars, and stores along brightly lit Broadway and Hollywood Boulevard. Bing Crosby’s top-selling White Christmas was heard regularly, Arthur Godfrey Time began a 27-year run on CBS Radio, Art Linkletter starred in the network’s debut of House Party, Fords rolled off the assembly lines for the first time in several years, more than 25,000 people gawked at a television set during a three-week demonstration at the Gimbel Brothers department store in Philadelphia, and at the Mississippi-Alabama Dairy Show, a 10-year-old boy from Memphis, Tenn., sang Old Shep and won a $5 second-place prize. His name was Elvis Presley.
Thousands of miles away, one of America’s most famous soldiers welcomed Christmas in Tokyo. After attending a tea party at the British Embassy, General of the Army Douglas A. MacArthur gave his ten-year-old son, Arthur, a portable typewriter and a shiny new bicycle, and penned a thanksgiving message:
“On this Christmas Day — the first in five years on which our guns have been silent — I join with all members of this command in thanking God for our deliverance from the death and destruction of war, and pray that our merciful Lord will sustain us in our efforts to realize in its fullest the ideal which Christ brought to the world — peace on earth and to all men, goodwill.”
But, for another prominent American soldier who had also battled tyranny in two world wars there was to be no Christmas celebration. He was Lt. Gen. George S. (“Blood and Guts”) Patton Jr., the fire-eating, profane, yet reverent veteran of the North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, and Ardennes campaigns, and whose Third Army tanks and tank-destroyers scourged the retreating Germans in 1944-1945.
Early on the morning of Sunday, December 9, the day before he was due to sail home for a well-earned Christmas leave, Patton and his chief of staff, Major Gen. Hobart R. “Hap” Gay, drove off to hunt pheasant near Mannheim, Germany. Approaching the city, their Cadillac limousine collided with an Army truck that suddenly turned left across the autobahn. Patton was thrown forward awkwardly into the driver’s steel-and-glass partition, with his nose and neck broken, his scalp bleeding profusely, and his spinal cord damaged.
Patton, who had often said that he wanted to be killed by the last bullet in the last battle of the war, growled that a traffic accident was “a hell of a way to die.” He was rushed to an Army hospital in Heidelberg, placed in traction, and a noted neurosurgeon from Oxford University was flown in. But there was nothing he could do. Immobile and helpless, Patton lingered bravely for 13 days before succumbing in his sleep to “pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure” late on the afternoon of December 21.
He was buried under a simple white marker, alongside other Third Army soldiers, in the American military cemetery at Hamm, Luxembourg, on the overcast, windy morning of Christmas Eve. Among the generals, soldiers, and reporters at the 25-minute ceremony, the focal figure was Patton’s widow, Beatrice. “Her eyes were red, but for the rest she was the same good soldier her husband had been,” wrote Walter Cronkite of the Washington Times-Herald.
At Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, meanwhile, wounded veterans of campaigns in Europe and the Pacific gaped when an unannounced visitor strode into their wards on Christmas Eve.
He was General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower, former commander of the Allied crusade in Europe and the new Army chief of staff. There to visit “his boys,” the genial Ike stopped at every bedside to shake hands and chat. “It’s certainly a better Christmas for all of us,” he said.

A Greater Peace

Christmas 1945 was a time of thanksgiving and renewed hope for Americans, wearied from four years of shortages and fears for their uniformed loved ones serving on distant battlefronts. They went to crowded midnight Masses, cooked big turkeys, and piled dolls, bicycles, and Lionel train sets under living-room trees. It was a bountiful yuletide, and they relished it.
Across the Atlantic, however, the war had taken a more severe toll on their staunch British allies. Having borne the brunt of the global holocaust from the start, they faced yet another belt-tightening Christmas. The country’s stringent rationing system allocated some extra meat, margarine, sugar, and sweets for the holiday, and even oranges were once again obtainable in London and other districts.
But people still had to “make a little go a long way.” (There was not be a ration-free Christmas until 1953.)
Bread and potatoes were rationed, and shortages of coal disrupted train schedules. Traditional roast turkey or goose was served on few dinner tables, and there was little available to fill children’s stockings hung on mantelpieces, except perhaps a cheap toy or doll, a penny whistle, and an apple or pear.
Yet, observed The Times, “People made the most of their first peacetime Christmas for six years.” Large congregations in churches and chapels gave thanks for the return of peace, while in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Cathedral, citizens prayed alongside Commonwealth servicemen and American soldiers and airmen, many of whom were spending their last yuletide in Britain.
At many Army camps and airbases around the country, as they had done since 1942, GIs played Santa Claus and hosted children at Christmas parties, generously doling out candy, chocolate, chewing gum, and even gifts they had received from home. The grueling war years were over, and despite the rationing and shortages of almost everything, Britons had reason to hope again.
Even their damp, fickle weather brightened. “The holiday was agreeably mild, dry, and green,” said The Times. “The maximum temperature of 43 degrees in London was 15 degrees higher than a year ago.”
Family gatherings were enlivened by the return of serving fathers, brothers, and sisters who had been absent for five or six years, but in many homes, Christmas 1945 was a time of sadness. Empty chairs testified to the loss of a soldier at Dunkirk or Caen, a sailor in the North Atlantic, an airman over Germany, or a merchant seaman on the Murmansk convoy run.
King George VI summed it up in his traditional Christmas afternoon radio speech to the nation. “There will be the vacant places of those who will never return, brave souls who gave their all to win peace for us,” he said. “We remember them with pride and with unfading love, praying that a greater peace than ours may now be theirs. . . . But many anxieties have been lifted from you and from your folk at home, and the coming of peace brings you nearer to your heart’s desire.”

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Trump to Drop Transgender Bathroom Mandate

Obama’s controversial mandate attempted to force schools to let boys into girls’ locker rooms WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) – President Donald Trump is expected to revoke Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate insisting that students be allowed in opposite-sex bathrooms and locker rooms. The…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke is ‘de facto’ suspended, claims Knights of Malta condom promoter

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Knights of Malta official at the center of controversy over the Order’s Catholic identity and sovereignty says its patron, Cardinal Raymond Burke, has been “de facto” suspended. Albrecht von Boeselager, a German aristocrat, was…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen says ‘naïve’ Pope and bad advisors are betraying underground Church in China

February 21, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Joseph Zen says the Vatican is betraying Catholics living their faith out clandestinely in China. In an exclusive interview with LifeSiteNews, he says he has been urged to speak out by Catholics who lack…Continue Reading

Cardinal Zen on dubia: ‘Very respectful request by those bishops and Cardinals to have a clear statement’

February 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Joseph Zen in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo expressed his support for the four Cardinals’ dubia that asks for clarification on the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia’s chapter 8. “I suppose it is a…Continue Reading

These Catholic parishes openly celebrate LGBT. Why aren’t bishops stopping it?

January 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – As controversy continues to rage over Pope Francis’ doctrines on communion for the divorced and remarried, an even more controversial practice proliferating in the shadows for decades is becoming increasingly open and explicit: same-sex couples…Continue Reading

Michael J. Novak, Jr. [1933 – 2017]

Theologian, public intellectual, and close friend of the Acton Institute, Michael J. Novak Jr., passed away last night on February 17, 2017. Acton Institute President Rev. Robert A. Sirico reflects on the passing of his friend and mentor Michael Novak,…Continue Reading

Twitter erupts with dubious reaction to Cardinal Cupich’s post on marriage document’s ‘absolute clarity’

February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich tweeted Tuesday that Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia document was in full fidelity with the Catholic Church and absolutely clear in the expression of its teaching on marriage, but users of the…Continue Reading

More essential than ever for Catholic hospitals to maintain distinct identity: Cardinal Burke

Catholic health-care institutions are needed today more than ever, Cardinal Raymond Burke told a conference on Catholic hospitals in Ohio last week. “Our country suffers the scourge of an attack on the dignity of human life,” the cardinal said. He…Continue Reading

Council of Cardinals pledges allegiance to Pope Francis

ROME, February 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – In an odd note without explanation placed on the Vatican’s daily press briefing today, the Council of Cardinals, a group of 10 Cardinals which Pope Francis has delegated to work with him on reform,…Continue Reading

Conference Looks Beyond ‘Crisis’ of Catholic Colleges, Debunks ‘Land O’ Lakes Statement’

The day after an historic and widely-covered March for Life, presidents from four Newman Guide colleges and Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick Reilly presented on the future of Catholic higher education at the “CRISIS: Catholic Higher Education and the Next…Continue Reading

Top Restaurants Will Sell Cookies to Raise Money for Planned Parenthood Abortion Business

A handful of Chicago restaurants are baking cookies and selling them through Feb. 24, with the proceeds benefitting the abortion group Planned Parenthood, the Chicago Eater reported.

Roman Catholic Church of Philippines Criticizes Duterte’s Bloody Drug War

The Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs in a sermon read out during Sunday’s services, marking its strongest opposition yet to a flagship policy that has led to the deaths of more…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

San Diego’s Catholic bishop urges citizens to be ‘disruptors’ and ‘rebuilders’ in Trump era

Even before the White House announced stricter immigration policies Tuesday, there were signs of opposition. Addressing people “of all faiths and no faith,” San Diego’s Roman Catholic bishop on Saturday urged Americans to be “disruptors” and “rebuilders.” Donald Trump, Bishop Robert McElroy noted, had campaigned for the presidency as “the disruptor.” “Well now,” McElroy told almost 700 community organizers and social justice advocates meeting in Modesto on the weekend that “we must all

Washington D.C. Becomes 6th Place in the U.S. to Legalize Assisted Suicide

A Washington, D.C. law allowing doctors to prescribe their patients lethal drugs to commit suicide went into effect Saturday after U.S. Congress failed to block the measure, the Washington Times reports. The district is the sixth area in the U.S. to legalize the deadly procedure, following Oregon, Washington state, Vermont, California and Colorado. The D.C. council passed the law at the end of 2016, despite wide-spread opposition from African Americans, people with disabilities, medical professionals,…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke urges massive U.S. crowd to defend faith amid Church confusion

cburk12

LENEXA, Kansas, February 17, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The façade of Cardinal Raymond Burke as a boogeyman of tradition projected by his critics and the media was nowhere to be found last Friday when he gave his usual clear witness to the Catholic faith before an overflow crowd in the Kansas City area. Cardinal Burke delivered a stirring, clear message on defending the Catholic faith amid the current confusion in the Church that was embraced with…Continue Reading

Again More Questions than Answers . . . MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS ON THE OCCASION OF THE WORLD MEETINGS OF POPULAR MOVEMENTS IN MODESTO

Dear Brothers and Sisters, First of all, I would like to congratulate you for your effort in replicating on a national level the work being developed in the World Meetings of Popular Movements. By way of this letter, I want to encourage and strengthen each one of you, your organizations, and all who strive with you for “Land, Work and Housing,” the three T’s in Spanish: Tierra, Trabajo y Techo. I congratulate you for all…Continue Reading

U.S. House votes to overturn Obama regulation forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 16, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The  U.S. House of Representatives voted 230 to 188 today to overturn former President Obama’s “eleventh hour” HHS rule forcing states to give Title X money to organizations that commit abortions. Title X money comes from the government to fund “family planning services,” but technically not abortion. Before he left office, Obama pushed through an HHS regulation that essentially forces states to give Planned Parenthood Title X

Culture Of Life 101… The History Of Future Dreams

By BRIAN CLOWES (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of the complete series on artificial reproduction, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “In the year 6565, ain’t gonna need no husband, won’t need your wife, you’ll pick your son,…Continue Reading

Ex-Planned Parenthood Worker . . . Recalls Webcam Abortion Opposition, Sees Hope For Pro-Life Cause

By PEGGY MOEN ST. PAUL — Sue Thayer told her February 15 audience here that “an immediate stopper” in a debate with a pro-abort is this quotation from President Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.” Thayer was addressing the Legislative Dinner of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, held here at the…Continue Reading

Reopening The Question Of Women Priests… A Theological Travesty And A Spiritual Tragedy

By JEFFREY MIRUS (Editor’s Note: Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. This commentary first appeared on CatholicCulture.org, and LifeSiteNews featured it on February 13. All rights reserved.) + + + La…Continue Reading

Even As “Assisted Suicide” Looms . . . Ethics Expert Tells How Roe V. Wade Might Be Reversed

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — “If you want to see what a Roe v. Wade reversal looks like, read Washington v. Glucksberg,” a national expert on medical ethics and the law told a Catholic physicians’ meeting here while he also warned against an accelerating effort to legalize “assisted suicide” in the states. With speculation rising…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… Silence As An Expression Of The Sacred

By JAME MONTI In a recent interview concerning his new book, The Power of Silence, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah observed, “Before God’s majesty, we lose our words” (Catholic World Report, October 3, 2016). Silence is man’s humble reply to the glory and transcendence of His Creator, a reply that even the high and mighty…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Joy And Dismay . . . Greet Cardinal Tong’s Article On China-Holy See Dialogue

By FR. BERNARDO CERVELLERA (Editor’s Note: In the article below, Fr. Bernardo Cervellera evaluates the optimism of Hong Kong’s John Cardinal Tong over a change in the method of appointing China’s bishops and the function of the Patriotic Association. But it is unclear whether it is real change or just nominal — in words only. (Fr. Cervellera notes that underground…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Signs Of Growth At “The Margins” Of The Church

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Why does a young man of 18 years old put on a suit and tie on Sunday morning, leaving his parents and sisters behind, to drive to a more distant parish? To attend the Traditional Latin Mass. I’d noticed him for a few weeks along with our growing Sunday Traditional Mass congregation and met him…Continue Reading

The Meaning Of Original Sin

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 25 Haven’t you met Catholic people who question the gravity of Adam’s sin? They do believe that all humans stem from a single couple, yes, but they find it hard to accept that stealing an apple is such a big deal. Surely God could not be that much offended by that! Such people argue…Continue Reading

The Liturgical Celebration Of The Eucharist

By DON FIER As narrated in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke and in the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper on the night before He died. Jesus and His apostles had just traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the great Jewish feast of Passover in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Following up on a recent reply about the failure of Jesuit colleges and universities to uphold Catholic morality, the Cardinal Newman Society has reported that most members of Congress who graduated from Catholic institutions have pro-abortion voting records. Of the 56 Jesuit college alumni who hold seats in the new Congress, said Matt Archbold of the Cardinal Newman…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church different saints have had special devotions. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Peter Julian Eymard had a great devotion to the Real Presence, and Blessed Thomas Mary Fusco had a deep devotion to the Most Precious Blood. (The Catholic Church recognized this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Geltrude Caterina Comensoli

By CAROLE BRESLIN (Editor’s Note: Some sources give this saint’s name as Gertrude, but the Vatican’s website calls her Geltrude.) + + + Can there be any nobler calling than to promote adoration of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament? St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St.…Continue Reading