Thursday 23rd September 2021

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

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Pro-Life Group Calls for Removing Fauci After He's Caught Funding Aborted Baby Parts - https://t.co/kqxQXGgoG8

LifeNews.com - The Pro-Life News Source

.

LifeNews.com

Load More...

Federal judge rules in favor of Gov. DeSantis’ mask mandate ban

MIAMI (LifeSiteNews) – A federal judge this week handed Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis another legal victory on his mask mandate ban for schools. On Wednesday, Judge K. Michael Moore of the Southern District of Florida denied a petition from…Continue Reading

The Eucharist should not be received unworthily, says Nigerian cardinal

Priests have a duty to remind Catholics not to receive the Eucharist in a state of serious sin and to make confession easily available, a Nigerian cardinal said at the International Eucharistic Congress on Thursday. “It is still the doctrine…Continue Reading

Donald Trump takes a swipe at Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him

Donald Trump complained about Catholics and Jews who did not vote for him in 2020. The former president made the comments in a conference call featuring religious leaders. The move could be seen to shore up his religious conservative base…Continue Reading

Y Gov. Kathy Hochul Admits Andrew Cuomo Covered Up COVID Deaths, 12,000 More Died Than Reported

When it comes to protecting people from COVID, Andrew Cuomo is already the worst governor in America. New York has the second highest death rate per capita, in part because he signed an executive order putting COVID patients in nursing…Continue Reading

Prayers For Cardinal Burke . . . U.S. Cardinal Burke says he has tested positive for COVID-19

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke said he has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19. In an Aug. 10 tweet, he wrote: “Praised be Jesus Christ! I wish to inform you that I have recently…Continue Reading

Democrats Block Amendment Banning Late-Term Abortions, Stopping Abortions Up to Birth

Senate Democrats have blocked an amendment that would ban abortions on babies older than 20 weeks. During consideration of the multi-trillion spending package, pro-life Louisiana Senator John Kennedy filed an amendment to ban late-term abortions, but Democrats steadfastly support killing…Continue Reading

Transgender student wins as U.S. Supreme Court rebuffs bathroom appeal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed a victory to a transgender former public high school student who waged a six-year legal battle against a Virginia county school board that had barred him from using the bathroom corresponding…Continue Reading

New York priest accused by security guard of assault confirms charges have now been dropped

NEW YORK, June 17, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A New York priest has made his first public statement regarding the dismissal of charges against him.  Today Father George W. Rutler reached out to LifeSiteNews and other media today with the following…Continue Reading

21,000 sign petition protesting US Catholic bishops vote on Biden, abortion

More than 21,000 people have signed a letter calling for U.S. Catholic bishops to cancel a planned vote on whether President Biden should receive communion.  Biden, a Catholic, supports abortion rights and has long come under attack from some Catholics over that…Continue Reading

Bishop Gorman seeks candidates to fill two full time AP level teaching positions for the 2021-2022 school year in the subject areas of Calculus/Statistics and Physics

Bishop Thomas K. Gorman Regional Catholic School is a college preparatory school located in Tyler, Texas. It is an educational ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler led by Bishop Joseph Strickland. The sixth through twelfth grade school provides a…Continue Reading

Vatican observes ‘Earth Hour’

On Saturday, along with the Vatican, symbolic monuments of cities all across the globe turn off their lights, to demonstrate the serious global climate crisis. By Vatican News staff writer Vatican City State took part in the traditional international initiative Earth…Continue Reading

House passes bill setting up path to citizenship for millions of Dreamers

Lawmakers in the House of Representatives on Thursday passed an immigration bill that would create a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children.

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

Catechism

Adopt A Center

Today . . .

Abortion On Demand Act . . . House Set to Vote Friday on Massive Abortion Bill

CV NEWS FEED // Democrats in the House of Representatives will vote Friday to pass legislation that would enshrine the “right” to abortion in federal law. The “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which Republican opponents have dubbed the “Abortion On Demand Act,” would preemptively destroy all future state-level legislation to protect the unborn.  If the bill passes the House, it is not expected to pass the Senate, where it would need a 60-vote supermajority to overcome…Continue Reading

Federal judge rejects Biden admin’s demand to block Texas abortion ban before hearing

A federal judge has blocked Joe Biden’s emergency request to stop the Texas abortion ban, which has saved anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 babies from abortion. The Texas heartbeat law went into effect Sept. 1, prohibiting abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. Unique from other state heartbeat laws, the Texas law includes a private enforcement mechanism that allows people to file lawsuits against abortionists who violate the law…Continue Reading

Archbishops criticize ‘outrageous’ claims against St Junipero Serra

A California bill to replace a statue of St. Junipero Serra at the state capitol unfairly slanders the saint’s legacy, two archbishops claimed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Sunday, Sept. 12.  Last month, California lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to pass Assembly Bill 338, which would replace the statue of St. Junipero Serra at the state capitol with one honoring local Indigenous populations. The bill text claims that 

Catholic health ministry head decries ‘unjust’ federal vaccine mandate

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for many private employers, drawing criticism from the head of one Catholic health care ministry. “Coercing individuals into making a medical intervention is unjust,” said Louis Brown, executive director of the Christ Medicus Foundation and former acting deputy director of the Civil Rights Division of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, in an interview with CNA on Thursday. “And a vaccine mandate that could…Continue Reading

Archbishop Cordileone raises issue of excommunication for abortion advocates

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Sep 5, 2021 / 18:07 pm Calling abortion “the most pressing human rights challenge of our time,” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone on Sunday invoked the excommunication of prominent Catholic segregationists in the early 1960s as an example of a legitimate response to Catholics politicians who support “a great moral evil.” In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, the leader of the Archdiocese of San Francisco pushed back against recent statements by Catholic politicians…Continue Reading

New FDA Records Show . . . Purchases Of Fetal Organs, Heads And Tissue for ‘Humanized Mice’ Project

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Judicial Watch announced September 14, that it received 198 pages of records and communications from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) involving “humanized mice” research with human fetal heads, organs and tissue, including communications and contracts with human fetal tissue provider Advanced Bioscience Resources (ABR). Most of the records are communications…Continue Reading

The Enduring Path To Financial Health: Graduate, Work, Marry And Have Children

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY The basic path to financial success in this country has been revealed once again by the Census Bureau’s annual report on income and poverty, which was released this week. What did it show?People who graduate from college, get a job, get married and have children generally earn more money than those…Continue Reading

Our Vindictive Culture

By REY FLORES We have all known political correctness as a way of life for years now. It seems that everyone gets offended by one thing or another, but as we spiral out of control into the unknown future, it’s no longer about pointing out political incorrectness — today it’s about punishing the accused in…Continue Reading

If Dems Trample U.S. Into The Dust … They’ll Have Cleared The Ground To Build New Dictatorship

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX – Like many other people who don’t determine the priorities for coverage by dominant left-wing media, conservative pundit Bill Bennett was puzzled at irrational behavior in Joe Biden’s proclaimed steely fight against the COVID virus.Commenting that 40,000 people a week come up to the southern border, Bennett said, “If this is…Continue Reading

A Philadelphia Lawyer In The Garden Of Eden

By DONALD DeMARCO There was no moment in the annals of biblical history, if we are to give full rein to our imagination, when the presence of a lawyer was more urgently needed than immediately after Adam and Eve ingested the forbidden fruit. His absence was most keenly felt, for he was not there to…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

“Abortion is Murder”

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK “Be a pastor, don’t go condemning.” was the Pope’s answer to a question from a reporter on the return flight from his recent apostolic journey to Slovakia and Hungary. The context was a question posed: “What must the pastor do?” in reference to pro-abortion politicians. On the subject of abortion, the Pope repeated the Church…Continue Reading

The Exorcistic Effect… Of The Word Of God

By MSGR. CHARLES POPE (Editor’s Note: Msgr. Charles Pope posted this commentary on September 8 and it is reprinted here with permission. His blog is found at https://msgrpope.com/.) + + Many often think of exorcism only in relation to driving out demons from possessed people using ancient prayers. But, truth be told, we all have afflictions, oppressions, temptations, and other…Continue Reading

Love God With Your Whole Heart

BY FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Sixth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR B) Readings: Numb. 11:25-29James 5:1-6Mark 9:38-43; 45, 47-48 In the Gospel reading today our Lord tells us that if our hand or foot causes us to sin, cut it off; if our eye causes us to sin, pluck it out. Obviously, our hand, foot, or eye cannot be the cause…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: If the following lessons, which were prepared for Confirmation students, are of value to you, put them to whatever use you can. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well, so please send them along, either to the postal mailing address or the email address below, and we will interrupt this series to answer…Continue Reading

The Beating Heart Of Texas

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK When it comes to legalized baby killing, also known as abortion, untold numbers of Catholics are languishing spiritually under what I’ll call the “Biden delusion.” Some of them would begin to explain it by stating, “I’m personally opposed, but….”For a few years now Biden has survived politically as a Democrat, while claiming to be Catholic,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Nicholas Owen

By DEB PIROCH First you see him…and then you don’t. Dangerous times call for dangerous measures. During the reign of Elizabeth I and James I of England, St. Nicholas Owen was the expert at creating what became known as “priests’ holes,” or secret hiding spots for clergy. Located in the homes of wealthy recusant Catholics, these were hidden compartments or…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Mariam Of Jesus Crucified

By DEB PIROCH Her parents had tried so hard to have a child. Again and again they had a little boy, one after the other dying in infancy. After losing 12 boys, Mariam’s mother said to her father: Let’s go to the Holy Grotto in Jerusalem and pray to the Blessed Virgin to intercede for a girl.Mariam’s parents were Greek…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)