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Christmas Remembered

Heroes Remembers Presents

Christmas Remembered

I always told my men ‘This is all temporary. We’re gonna be out of here by Christmas!’

Snow globe with two soldiers standing in front of an evergreen tree.

We had a lot of married people. It was hard on them, being away over Christmas Well, we used to sing ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’1945…

Servicemen and thier families celebrating Christmas.

we sang it All we got was one can of Irish stew, in a can thrown to us : "Here you are that’s your Christmas dinner’ because

Soldiers rationing canned food.

we were up on the front line, you see… It seemed like Christmas and it didn’t seem like Christmas. It was too far from home, too much danger, a lot of discomfort.

Soldier getting his letters from home.

We had our famous Christmas in the trenches. Christmas in a trench is not funny because that night, a light snow was falling, just enough to cover the ground, and we said : ‘Back home it’s

Light snow cover over trenches and equipment.

Midnight Mass." All of a sudden, in the loud speakers, the Germans played ‘Holy Night’ and ‘Lili Marlene’ and all those things. It was tough. We were promised that we would have turkey and a real Canadian Christmas dinner. We were the last to get there.

Serving Christmas dinner.

One of the girls said : ‘Those pots sound empty!’ And we said no, they couldn’t be! She said ‘It seems there is nothing left! We said this is Christmas, there will be enough left for us. Got down to the bottom and there was nothing for the four of us or six of us, they were just empty! The Allied soldiers started shooting phosphorus bombs of different colours, blue, red, yellow, it was quite a… but after that you start thinking. My position was up in the roof of a house like in the attic of the house and I had knocked the brick out, I was doing observation up there. And a German

Picture of a Canadian sniper observing from his nest.

soldier come out and I had to shoot him on Christmas day, that bothers me so much. Christmas night, one of the soldiers that we had with us committed suicide... and that really affected us. Christmas morning dawn, we got up, the Japanese brought a tree in which we decorated, they brought a couple of big long tables in which we put some of these linen sheets on, then they brought in a few loaves of bread, extra rice, oranges, even 24 quarts of beer. They lined us all up around the table, took pictures then took the whole damn thing out again. We used to play Christmas carols over the wireless sets and over the system set we had. You could hear Christmas carols in the front lines! And that kind a made you feel nice that it was Christmas day. At least we’re not fighting, at least it’s peaceful today. On Christmas Day 1945, when I came back to Canada, this was a lively Christmas full of joy, full of love.. you can’t imagine what it is compared to the one you had spent before It was day and night.

Soldiers holding up a Merry Christmas sign. Other Soldiers in a church, listening to mass.

Soldier reading a letter from home.

Parcels and cargo being unloaded.

Montage of generations of soldiers.


Veterans recall what is was like at Christmas time for them while in service

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Veterans Affairs Canada
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Heroes Remember Presents

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