Updated: Feb 19
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Snetterton Heath England
I love Christmas. It is the one day of the year when family and friends come together, eat a lot of food, give each other gifts, remember those who are no longer with us, and renew their belief in Santa. Yes, Santa. As my two kids were growing up, Santa would visit our house in person every Christmas Eve. I have a lot of home movies which show the wonder on their faces as he walked through the door. One of my biggest accomplishments as a
parent came when they were cynical teenagers: after assuring them Santa wasn't coming that year, he made a surprise visit - wonder on their faces indeed! But during World War II, there was no time for Santa or Christmas - no days off from bombing raids - the war waited for no one.
It was a different story during World War I - there was a truce over Christmas. The Germans placed candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon after, there were excursions across No Man's Land, where small gifts were exchanged. The artillery in the region fell silent.
During WW2, however, there was no Christmas truce. On December 24, 1943, the 96th Bomb Group made a bombing run to the Pas De Calais area of France. The mission itself was routine and uneventful although, when the planes returned to Snetterton, an extremely thick ground mist made landings extremely difficult. On the good side, the fog stayed around for a while so there was no mission on Christmas Day. On base, Christmas trees were abundant. True, their decorations weren't classy or expensively ornate, but the spirit was there. Christmas dinner was served at 1100 -- turkey and the works. The main room was quite well decorated, and one GI, dressed as Santa, dispensed presents to all.
I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a beautiful Christmas and a safe New Year's. To the military personnel who won't get a day off this Christmas as they work diligently to keep us all safe, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate your sacrifice more than words can say. I would also like to send a shout out to everyone who has taken an interest in the rumboogiecrew website and my blogs. I can honestly say that I have been forever changed by these projects, and they have given me a new purpose. It is a gift for which I will always be grateful.