Misery, optimism and homesickness: WW II Christmas letters

An item from the Legion Magazine.

Front Lines
Stephen J thorne


Misery, optimism and homesickness:
WW II Christmas letters


Even at the best of times, Christmas can be a confusing, bittersweet morass of nostalgia, loneliness and longing. Nowhere is this more evident than a Christmas at war.

Whether it be soldiers at the front living in filth, airmen flying flak-filled missions over Germany, or sailors running the U-boat gauntlet in the North Atlantic, a Second World War Christmas was a time of camaraderie, care packages and stinging reminders of all they were missing—and all they had missed.

For some folks back home, the season could remain a lifelong reminder of a lost loved one.



Pocketpal 2023
Military Milestones


How one flying ace became the luckiest man in the war


First World War flying ace John Herbert Hedley might well have been the luckiest man alive.

Captain Hedley was the observer in a Bristol F.2B biplane fighter piloted by fellow air ace Lieutenant Reginald “Jimmy” Makepeace when they were caught in a dogfight Jan. 4, 1918.

To escape machine-gun fire Makepeace put the aircraft into a steep nosedive. Hedley experienced what is known as “negative Gs,” the feeling roller coaster riders get as the car starts its steep descent and they are lifted up in their seats.



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