The celebration of Christmas during wartime has always been a bittersweet experience, no less so than during the Second World War. Christmas is a time we look forward to as it's the period we put our normal routines on hold and enjoy the holiday spirit. However, during the 1939-45 period, "normality" was a loose concept for civilians and military alike. The holidays took on an even greater significance during this time with everyone looking forward to the familiarity of the festive season, and the feeling of family and friendship associated with it. Soldiers were most affected by this. Deployed in the furthest corners of the world, most of them had never been away from loved ones. Each military unit did what it could to honour the season, but the realities of war often took precedence over holiday traditions. World of Tanks and War on the Rocks offer this collection of Christmas-themed photos from the two world wars that show the full spectrum of the human experience, from friendship and love to hatred and barbarity.
- Finnish Army unit holding a Christmas service near the Kollaa River, Finland, 12/24/1939.
- Personnel of USS LEXINGTON celebrate Christmas, 12/1944.
- US Army soldier dressed as Santa Claus at Camp Lee, Virginia, 12/1941.
- Christmas Dance for African-American soldiers of 1323rd Engineers, Camp Swift, Texas, 12/23/1943.
- Actor Mickey Rooney eating in the USS Intrepid crews mess during a Christmas visit in California, 12/1943.
- Sgt. Hiram Prouty of US 175th Infantry Regiment dressed as Santa Claus, arriving on a M3 medium tank, Perham Down, England, 12/1942.
- US 5th Armored Regiment tankers gathering around a fire and opening Christmas presents, near Eupen, Belgium, 12/30/1944.
- US Army Sgt. Edward F. Good feeding Pfc. Lloyd Demin during the Christmas dinner at a field hospital in the Philippine Islands, 12/25/1944.
- US Army soldiers sharing care package sent by one of their wives for Christmas, somewhere in Europe, 11/18/1944.
- Members of the 101st Airborne Division walk past dead comrades killed during the Christmas Eve bombing of Bastogne, Belgium, 12/25/1944.
- M-51 Anti aircraft Battery looking up at a Christmas Day dog fight near Puffendorf Germany, 12/25/1944.
- Christmas during World War II in Italy.
- Christmas during the Battle of the Bulge.
- Christmas dinner on board a British battleship 29 December 1942. The ward room drinking the royal toast, seated in navy fashion.
- Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe's Christmas letter to the US 101st airborne division at Bastogne, Belgium in which he recreated the German surrender demand and his response to it.
- Christmas day marine menu 1941.
- American dolsiers donate their sweet and chocolate rations to British children at Christmas.
- To show their gratitude to their liberators these Belgian children are donating their own toys for Britisth children who are short of playthings at Christmas.
- This soldier intends to have a good Christmas dinner - a tanks corps corporal walking off with four ducks.
- The last minute rush for Christmas greeting cards in a department store in London, December 1941.
- Little toddlers may be sleeping in a bunker but Santa Claus did not forget about them.