Christmas on the Home Front

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by ritsonvaljos, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    How Britain Celebrated Christmas During The Second World War

    Six years of war brought many changes to familiar festive rituals. Christmas celebrations during the Second World War often had to be scaled down or adjusted as restrictions and shortages took their toll.
    For many families, the most difficult part of a wartime Christmas would be spending the festive season apart from loved ones. Many men were fighting abroad in the armed forces or were being held as prisoners of war. Women might also be away in the services or carrying out war work. Many children spent Christmas away from home as evacuees. By the end of the war, thousands of families had suffered the death of a family member either in action or from enemy bombing raids.

    Christmas luxuries were especially hard to come by at a time when even basic foods were scarce. People were forced to find substitutes for key festive ingredients. Gifts were often homemade and practical, and children’s toys were often made from recycled materials. Cards were smaller and printed on flimsy paper.
    In 1941, to conserve paper, the Ministry of Supply decreed that 'no retailer shall provide any paper for the packing or wrapping of goods excepting food stuffs or articles which the shopkeeper has agreed to deliver'. This made it difficult to keep Christmas presents a surprise.

    As in peacetime, singing songs and carols were rituals of wartime Christmases, along with the performance of pantomimes and festive plays. The BBC also broadcast a special Christmas Day radio programme. From 1939 onwards this featured a Christmas speech by King George VI, and became so popular with listeners that it became an annual ritual.... [article continues]




    https://media.iwm.org.uk/ciim5/44/5...5.1036484946.1545604972-1089507274.1545604972
    © IWM (D 23619)
    image.png
    A group of young children at Fen Ditton Junior School design and make their own Christmas decorations. One boy is making a paper chain. Behind them in the classroom can be seen other children hard at work. In the background, the teacher is helping one of the pupils with their painting.
     
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  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Post Much Earlier This Christmas (1940)


    Christmas is Coming (1940)
     
  3. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    Christmas in Cornwall in 1942:
     
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  4. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    POW letters sent back home at Christmas

    Crook, the only child of parents of modest means, had begun an undergraduate degree in Classics after being awarded a scholarship to St John’s in 1939, but his studies were interrupted by the war. In 1942, he enlisted as a private with the 9th Royal Fusiliers. Captured at Salerno in September 1943, during the allied landings in Italy, he was sent to Stalag Luft VIII-B at Larnsdorf in Silesia, where he remained for the next two years.
    In truth, life in the prison camp was extremely difficult - something which Crook hinted at in the letters in touchingly positive terms. His mention of “very Xmassy weather - snow and ice” refers to the perishing cold temperatures and challenging conditions experienced by the men. Life as a prisoner of war meant learning to live without certain basic comforts, and while Crook instructed his parents not to send any clothes, he did request cigarettes, explaining: “They are currency here, and one can obtain for them anything from a banjo to a tin of porridge.”
    Crook’s letter to his parents on Christmas Day, 1944, is particularly moving and reveals the determination of the men in the camp to remain brave despite missing friends and family. He wrote that, notwithstanding the good cheer and cold, crisp weather, all that he and the other men could think of was their loved ones at home. Dances and concerts had taken place, with everyone “in their best khaki slacks”, but Crook longed to see the faces of his parents again.

    Christmas Letters from a Second World War prison camp
     
  5. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    Tis the season to revisit these!
     
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  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Something I found going through some unpublished papers as part of my dissertation research.

    In 1942 a hostel had been set up in the rural parish where I live for COs, mainly of Quaker or Methodist persuasion who had been granted exemptions provided they worked on the land. They were mainly employed in digging drainage ditches and clearing scrub to allow more land to be ploughed up for food production. They decided to form a Christmas concert party to entertain the pupils and staff of the Birmingham Girls Grammar School for the Blind which had been evacuated to a large mansion in the same parish. From the heavy labourers they were able to find - One symphony orchestra conductor, two classical pianists, one classical violinist, four nationally renowned singers from Welsh Chapel choirs, three professional vaudeville artists and a number of professional writers. Definitely better than most Every Night Something Awful troupes could manage. The entertainment went very well and the school reciprocated by combining with the English School of Church Music (evacuated to the neighbouring parish) to give a carol service. None of which got reported in the local press. But an account of Christmas on the Home Front.
     
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  7. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    [​IMG]
    Selfridges December 1939

    The Selfridges building reaches 6o metres below ground level, so it's no surprise that the basement levels were put to use during the second world war. The US Army took up residence down here, as the building offered a secure telex line, was safe from bombing, and was close to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square. Churchill and Eisenhower are both known to have visited.

    11 Secrets Of Selfridges
     
  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Six years of war brought many changes to familiar festive rituals. Christmas celebrations during the Second World War often had to be scaled down or adjusted as restrictions and shortages took their toll.

    For many families, the most difficult part of a wartime Christmas would be spending the festive season apart from loved ones. Many men were fighting abroad in the armed forces or were being held as prisoners of war. Women might also be away in the services or carrying out war work. Many children spent Christmas away from home as evacuees. By the end of the war, thousands of families had suffered the death of a family member either in action or from enemy bombing raids.

    Christmas luxuries were especially hard to come by at a time when even basic foods were scarce. People were forced to find substitutes for key festive ingredients. Gifts were often homemade and practical, and children’s toys were often made from recycled materials. Cards were smaller and printed on flimsy paper.

    In 1941, to conserve paper, the Ministry of Supply decreed that 'no retailer shall provide any paper for the packing or wrapping of goods excepting food stuffs or articles which the shopkeeper has agreed to deliver'. This made it difficult to keep Christmas presents a surprise.

    As in peacetime, singing songs and carols were rituals of wartime Christmases, along with the performance of pantomimes and festive plays. The BBC also broadcast a special Christmas Day radio programme. From 1939 onwards this featured a Christmas speech by King George VI, and became so popular with listeners that it became an annual ritual.



    How Britain Celebrated Christmas During The Second World War
     
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  9. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    Truro Crib photo.JPG
    The crib at Truro Cathedral in December 1942.
     
  10. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Plain brown paper could still be acquired and was often supplied to cover and preserve books or for kitchen purposes. It was also used for wrapping war materials (and then recycled) I can certainly remember in the immediate post war years that presents were often wrapped in plain brown paper perhaps with a festive coloured string, sticker or crayoned decoration. Festive wrapping paper reemerged in the 50s
     
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  11. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    20191127134911.jpg

    Found this piece of Festive Fun in a December 1943 edition of our local paper.
     
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  12. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Comment from the late great Kenneth Horne
    "Oh didn't we have fun when we were being bombed and starved"

    Round the Horne - BBC Light Programme
     
  13. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    Daily Sketch 13 Dec 1943 Kids Christmas Plans.jpg
    This was from the Daily Sketch 13 December 1943.
     
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  14. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

    And a cutting from the Cornish Guardian December 1943 showing the Foxhole nativity play called "The Stained Glass Window".
    20191127150853 Foxhole.jpg
     
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  15. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    "If we can find some mistletoe" says the cutting. Mistletoe had become another war material as the berries could be used to make a very sticky paste that would adhere to almost anything. This had a number of uses one of which was the coating on the notorious 'sticky bomb'. The Tenbury Wells area was (and is today) one of the main areas for producing mistletoe for the Christmas trade but during the war the crop was earmarked for war purposes.
     
  16. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    Was that chilblane stuff called Melrose?
     
  17. CornwallPhil

    CornwallPhil Senior Member

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