Monday 8th February 2016

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Christmas 1944: Victory Denied

December 17, 2013 Featured Today No Comments

By MICHAEL D. HULL

Allied hopes for a victory over Nazi Germany by the end of 1944 were dashed by the failure of Operation Market-Garden, the massive airborne invasion of Holland, that September.
But the enemy forces in Western Europe, while fighting stubbornly, were nevertheless on the retreat as the British, U.S., and Canadian armies pushed doggedly eastward. A sense of euphoria persisted in the Allied headquarters, and many soldiers — generals, field marshals, and men on the front lines — still clung to the hope that the European war might be over by Christmas.
Such optimism then vanished abruptly early on the morning of Saturday, December 16, 1944, when 25 German armored and infantry divisions rolled through thinly held American lines in the snow-clad, foggy Ardennes Forest, punching a 50-mile bulge in a bid to split the U.S. and British Armies and seize the strategic port of Antwerp. Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s last major offensive threw the Allied command into disarray for several critical hours and ensured that a yuletide victory had been nothing more than a pipe dream. GIs’ plans for well-earned furloughs in Paris were shattered.
After the initial panic and confusion in Belgium and Luxembourg when many American troops fled, abandoning their positions and weapons, the Allied forces regrouped and fought back. Elements of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr.’s Third Army wheeled in to stiffen the units in the Bulge, Gen. Sir Brian Horrocks’ British 30th Corps defended the strategic River Meuse, and the German thrust was eventually blocked.
In the Bulge, American soldiers now fought valiantly while enduring miserable weather and deprived of air support and vital supplies. Thoughts of any respite and cheer during the coming festive season had been rudely interrupted, but the GIs nevertheless set up makeshift Christmas trees in command posts and foxholes, sang carols, prayed with visiting chaplains, and shared the contents of their packages from home with local children.
A bleak yuletide faced the residents and American defenders of Bastogne, a small town in southeastern Belgium that was the junction of seven highways and lay on the center line of the German advance. It became a vital objective for both sides. Men of the 101st Airborne (Screaming Eagle) Division stood firm there for six days as three German panzer and grenadier divisions surrounded them. The defenders were outnumbered four to one as Bastogne was hammered by artillery, mortars, and bombs.
After famously saying “Nuts!” to a German surrender demand on December 22, Brig. Gen. Anthony C. “Old Crock” McAuliffe, the scrappy little deputy commander of the 101st Airborne Division, declared, “We are giving our country and our loved ones at home a worthy Christmas present, and, being privileged to take part in this gallant feat of arms, are truly making for ourselves a merry Christmas.”
As Christmas 1944 approached, Allied forces were battling forward on all fronts.
The Canadian First Army cleared the Scheldt Estuary; Patton’s Third Army crossed the Saar and Moselle Rivers; Royal Air Force Lancaster heavy bombers sank the German battleship Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord; U.S. B-29 Superfortress bombers began bombing Tokyo; the British Second Army reduced the German pocket west of the River Maas; Gen. Sir William Slim’s “Forgotten” British Fourteenth Army overwhelmed fanatical Japanese forces at Arakan, Kohima, and Imphal in Burma. And U.S. Navy ships started softening up Iwo Jima for an invasion; British troops vanquished Communist insurgents in Greece; the British Eighth Army opened a three-corps offensive in Italy, and the long-awaited liberation of the Philippine Islands by Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur’s U.S. armies was underway.
Meanwhile, powerful RAF Bomber Command and U.S. Army Air Forces formations intensified their pounding of Nazi targets in Europe, and the Red Army advanced into Hungary and Czechoslovakia while relentlessly pushing the frayed Wehrmacht back toward its homeland.
In the United States, families chafed at the rationing of sugar, meat, coffee, gasoline, and rubber, but cheerfully prepared for Christmas and prayed for peace. They hung holly wreaths on front doors and blue-and-gold-star banners in windows denoting that fathers, sons, and brothers were in uniform and far from home. They sat around living-room radios and listened to Ozzie and Harriet Nelson debuting on CBS and Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers on the Mutual Broadcasting System.
In cinemas that festive season, Americans found escape from their cares by watching Frank Capra’s whimsical Arsenic and Old Lace, starring Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, and Peter Lorre; Double Indemnity, with Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck; Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright in the comedy, Casanova Brown; John Cromwell’s Since You Went Away, the sensitive story of a family at war, starring Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, and Monty Woolley, and Vincente Minnelli’s captivating period musical, Meet Me in St. Louis, with Judy Garland, Margaret O’Brien, Tom Drake, and Mary Astor.
On Broadway, theatergoers saw the opening of On the Town, a musical about sailors on leave in New York, later to become a vibrant MGM film starring Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, and Vera-Ellen.
In his fourth wartime Christmas Eve address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said he found it “not easy to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to you, my fellow Americans, in this time of destructive war.” Surrounded by relatives and friends at his Hyde Park, N.Y., estate, he sat before a radio microphone and declared, “Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way — because of its deep spiritual meaning to us, because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives, and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and goodwill.”
Across the Atlantic, where December 1944 brought hoarfrost, fog, and low temperatures to Britain, the archbishop of York was hopeful in his yuletide message. “This is the sixth Christmas of the war,” he noted. “But it will be happier for most of us than the preceding five. The danger of invasion has passed, and the worst of the air raids are over. With quiet confidence we see the end in sight.”
But British families, exhausted and dispirited from more than five years of bombings, military setbacks, severe rationing, and the loss of many loved ones, faced a frugal and joyless yuletide. The Ministry of Food eased restrictions slightly on sugar, margarine, meat, and candy for the Christmas period, but shortages remained acute and corned beef had to substitute for turkey on many dinner tables.
W.J. Wheatley recalled later, “Nineteen forty-four was a strange Christmas. After the success of the [Normandy] invasion and the advance through France, you would have thought the mood would have been cock-a-hoop, but it was not. . . . Many had thought the war would be over by this Christmas, but it still dragged on.”
The Germans dropped less than 2,000 tons of bombs on Britain in 1944, but they resumed their assault that June with V-weapons — deadly V-1 and V-2 rocket bombs that fell without warning and caused widespread devastation. At least 100 V-2s landed on Britain in December, and almost 8,500 civilians had been killed by Christmas.

Courage And Faith In God

The 1944 birthday of Jesus Christ was clouded by two tragedies that would stun millions in the Allied family of nations.
While approaching the port of Cherbourg on Christmas Eve, the troopship Leopoldville, carrying 2,000 American reinforcements to the Battle of the Bulge, was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Crippled in heavy, icy seas, the ship sank in two and a half hours. Almost 800 GIs perished.
Just after 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the BBC interrupted a broadcast to announce that Major Glenn Miller, famed leader of the Army Air Forces Band, was missing over the English Channel. Miller, whose music did much to lift Allied morale, had left foggy England on December 13 for a Christmas concert in Paris.
Despite their many tribulations, stoic Britons “carried on” as they had for five years. They cheered themselves with seasonal pantomimes, parties, soccer and rugby matches, and BBC variety shows and comedy. In the cinemas, they watched Lancashire comedian George Formby in He Snoops to Conquer; Abbott and Costello in In Society; Christmas Holiday, starring Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly; Laurence Olivier and Robert Newton in the epic Henry V, and Western Approaches, a classic documentary about the Merchant Navy.
Inland churches were allowed to light up their stained-glass windows for the first time since the outbreak of war, and King George VI sought to hearten the people with his traditional Christmas afternoon message.
“The defeat of Germany and Japan is only the first half of our task,” he said. “The second is to create a world of free men untouched by tyranny. I wish you, from my heart, a happy Christmas, and, for the coming year, a full measure of that courage and faith in God which alone enables us to bear old sorrows and face new trials, until the day when the Christmas message — peace on earth and goodwill towards men — finally comes true.”

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading

‘Justice has been served’ – Bishop Conley on why he invited Bishop Finn to Lincoln

Lincoln, Neb., Feb 5, 2016 / 11:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln defended his decision to allow Bishop Robert Finn, former bishop of Kansas City, Mo., to take a position as chaplain of a community of…Continue Reading

Marco Rubio, David Daleiden; Chi-Town priest ‘outs’ himself

The young investigative journalist and pro-life activist David Daleiden – whom GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio recently defended – will present himself before Judge Brock Thomas in Houston on February 4. Peter Breen, special counsel for the Thomas More Society,…Continue Reading

Catholic Italy mobilises as conservatives mount last stand against same-sex unions

It has been 2,000 years since Romans gathered at the Circus Maximus to watch chariots roar around the racetrack, but a new battle was brought to the ancient site on Saturday . Clutching banners reading “We defend our children” and…Continue Reading

New documents prove Planned Parenthood profited from selling aborted body parts: pro-life group

HOUSTON, January 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-life organization has released documents that may show Planned Parenthood illegally profited from the sale of aborted babies’ body parts, furthering a Texas state investigation and possibly triggering a new grand jury in…Continue Reading

TRUMP’S SPOKESWOMAN MUST APOLOGIZE

Bill Donohue comments on a remark made by Donald Trump’s national spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson: On December 18, 2011, Katrina Pierson sent the following tweet: “Just saw a commercial from Catholic Church stating that Catholic Church

Faithful Catholic Education Offers Understanding of True Freedom, Says Archbishop Lucas

Catholic education prepares students to live a life of faith, but also offers students a true understanding of God-given freedom in an environment in which they can grow in virtue, said Archbishop George Lucas of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb.,…Continue Reading

NFL star who refused to meet Obama over abortion gives powerful talk at March for Life

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – All the speakers at the 2016 March for Life play a pivotal role – but only one was regularly called an MVP. Matt Birk, the former center for the Minnesota Vikings and the…Continue Reading

2016 March for Life heats up blizzard-stricken Washington (PHOTOS)

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 22, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The blizzard snows are falling on the nation’s capital, layering the city in a blanket of frost that could be two to three feet thick by tomorrow morning. But for awhile this afternoon,…Continue Reading

SPECIAL REPORT: Planned Parenthood Offices Located Near Half of Catholic Colleges, Alarming Pro-Life Leaders

Half of all four-year, residential Catholic colleges in the U.S. are within five miles of Planned Parenthood facilities, a study by The Cardinal Newman Society has found. Catholic pro-life leaders warn that the close proximity of these Planned Parenthood centers…Continue Reading

81 percent of Americans support dramatically stronger pro-life reforms: Poll

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – An overwhelmingly majority – including two-thirds of self-described “pro-choice” Americans – would support greatly strengthening laws that protect the unborn, according to a new poll released this morning. In all, 81 percent of…Continue Reading

New initiative aims to make Catholic men ‘watchmen’

For years, Chad Crow has attended the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ annual conference for men. And the father of four, who is a parishioner at Transfiguration in Oakdale, said that he and other men who attend the conference…Continue Reading

Vatican Parishes Are Now Welcoming Refugees

Diocese of Rome Responds to Holy Father’s September Invitation for Parishes to Host a Family of Refugees January 15, 2016  By ZENIT Staff Responding to Pope Francis’ appeal this September, Vatican parishes have begun welcoming refugee families. In his Sept.…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  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 145 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

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope’s Angelus reflection: Trust in the word of the Lord

(Vatican Radio) Do not be afraid but trust in the word of the Lord: that was Pope Francis message to the crowds gathered in a windswept St Peter’s Square on Sunday for the recitation of the Angelus prayer. The Pope based his reflections on the Gospel reading which tells the story of Jesus calling his first disciples by Lake Galilee. After fishing all night without a catch, they are washing their nets when Jesus gets…Continue Reading

Christie and Bush attack Cruz, Rubio for being too pro-life

Fr. Mark Hodges WASHINGTON, D.C., February 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-lifers across the nation are scratching their heads and saying, “With friends like Chris Christie and Jeb Bush, who needs enemies?” Their frustration comes from both Christie and Bush attacking other presidential candidates as unelectable because they are pro-life without compromise. This morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie attacked Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio for not favoring aborting children conceived in…Continue Reading

INTERVIEW: Padre Pio In Rome: Saints as Living Icons of Divine Mercy

Stefano Campanella, Director of Padre Pio TV and Author of Publications on the Friar of Pietrelcina, Reflects on Significance of the Historic Transfer •February 4, 2016•Osvaldo Rinaldi• Stefano Campanella, born in 1964 in Putignano, Italy, lives with his family at San Giovanni Rotondo. He has been a parliamentary journalist and Vatican expert. Currently, he serves as director of Padre Pio TV and heads the press office of the religious province of Sant’Angelo and Padre Pio…Continue Reading

Pope: The Faith is the greatest inheritance we can leave

(Vatican Radio) The most beautiful inheritance we can leave to others is the Faith: that was Pope Francis’ message during Holy Mass on Thursday morning at the Casa Santa Marta. In his homily, he invited us to not fear death, because the course of life continues. Thinking about death illuminates life The day’s first reading tells the story of the death of King David. “In every life there is an ending,” the Pope said. This…Continue Reading

The Pope: consecrated life must be close to the people

pope301

Vatican City, 2 February 2016 (VIS) – The following are extensive extracts of the Holy Father’s extemporaneous address to the participants in the Jubilee of Consecrated Life, which took place yesterday in the Paul VI Hall. This afternoon in St. Peter’s Basilica he will celebrate the Mass to conclude the Year of Consecrated Life. “I have prepared a text for this occasion regarding the themes of consecrated life and three of its most important pillars:…Continue Reading

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “How Dissenters Attack The ‘Holiness’ Of The Church”

By BRIAN CLOWES Conclusion (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of the book Call to Action or Call to Apostasy, consisting of a detailed description of the current forms of dissent and how to fight them, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.)…Continue Reading

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . The New Literalism And Fundamentalism

By STEPHEN M. KRASON (Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly]. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society…Continue Reading

Sources, Methods, And Lives

By JUDGE ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO This has not been a good week for Hillary Clinton. She prevailed over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses by less than four tenths of one percent of all votes cast, after having led him in polls in Iowa at one time by 40 percentage points. In…Continue Reading

Is A New Era Upon Us?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Whoever wins the nominations, the most successful campaigns of 2016 provide us with a clear picture of where the center of gravity is today in both parties and, hence, where America is going. Bernie Sanders, with his mammoth crowds and mass support among the young, represents, as did George McGovern in…Continue Reading

Fire From Ice

By DONALD DeMARCO One of the most improbable ways of getting a fire started is by using ice. That’s right, using ice. No survivor’s manual would be complete without describing how this can be accomplished. First, one finds some clear ice and then shapes it into a disk that can be used as a lens.…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

An Apologetics Course . . . Hostility Against The Church

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 40 Fourth objection: Why do so many people have hostility to the Catholic Church? Reply: Why was Jesus the object of hostility from so many people? In simple terms, the Pharisees may have refused Him as they could not accept His doctrine and felt threatened by His power to perform miracles. The Sadducees may…Continue Reading

Life Everlasting — The Particular Judgment

By DON FIER In concluding our examination of the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on article 11 of the Creed, we saw that in order “to rise with Christ, we must die with Christ” (CCC, n. 1005). Death, with all the mystery which surrounds this common fate of all mankind, is the gateway to everlasting life.…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. I know that in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are supposed to practice more fervently the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. Most of these are fairly easy to understand, but I wonder about the one that says we are to “admonish the sinner.” How can one do that without judging another person, which we’re not supposed to…Continue Reading

One Truth, One Lord, One God

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER First Sunday Of Lent (YR C) Readings: Deut. 26:4-10 Romans 10:8-13 Luke 4:1-13 In the Gospel reading today we hear about Satan tempting our Lord. In the third temptation the Devil offers all of the kingdoms of the Earth to Jesus if He would just bow down and worship the tempter. In response, our Lord quotes…Continue Reading

Pope’s Address To Roman Rota… Proclaim The Truth Of God’s Plan For Marriage

VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Below is a ZENIT translation of Pope Francis’ January 22 address to the tribunal of the Roman Rota in the Vatican. In his talk, the Holy Father affirmed: “The Church, in fact, can show the indefectible merciful love of God to families, in particular those wounded by sin and by the trials of life and, at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Boleslava Maria Lament

By CAROLE BRESLIN The Catholic Church observes the Church Unity Octave from January 18 through January 25. For each day of the octave, we pray for a different form of unity. For example, on January 18, the intention is for the return of separated Eastern Christians to communion with the Holy See. Another day the intention is for the restoration…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Vincent Pallotti

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church, beginning with Christ Himself, disenfranchised youth have found a friend in the followers of the Lord. St. John Bosco and St. Philip Neri come to mind. There is another saint who also helped both young men and young women, St. Vincent Pallotti, a man born and raised in Rome during the…Continue Reading