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Do You Ever Wonder What Soldiers Experienced During War on Christmas Day?

Updated on May 4, 2013

Peace on Earth During Wartime

Since the beginning of American history, the USA has been in numerous wars and conflicts. During these conflicts, soldiers always took time to celebrate Christmas. Sometimes the hostilities were completely halted, and in other situations, there was always time taken to pause and reflect.

Every military in history has captured their love for the Christmas holiday, not only in photos, but also in images that brought the soldier closer to home and also brought the family closer to the soldier.

In this website, I have tried to capture the major wars and conflicts in USA history. Although many sites may have common images, I have tried to capture some of the unfamiliar ones.

Please enjoy and this site is dedicated to our veterans who have served during Christmas and to the soldiers continuing to serve!

Creative Commons Photo Credit - US Army Christmas Eve Candlelight Service - Baghdad, Iraq

Photos and images prior to 1928 are in the Public Domain, Creative Commons - Other images are cited or used with permission

Chrismas War Memories!

Do You Have Any?

I have tried to capture as many of the conflicts that I could find material for. If you have any others, please feel free to email me and I will include them.

I would also welcome any stories of veterans during Christmas or military Christmas photos and will add them if they fit the them of this website. Please contact me if you feel that you have anything to add to the cause!

Thank you.

I'll Be Home For Christmas - Josh Grobin - The Christmas Wish of Every Soldier

Christmas During the American Revolutionary War - Washington at Valley Forge

Washington at Valley Forge
Washington at Valley Forge

During the Revolutionary War, George Washington entered into Valley Forge on December 19, 1777 and as far as conditions, these were probably the roughest that any soldier has ever had to endure.

The soldiers were very poorly-fed, did not have adequate equipment or clothing and were extremely tired from their previous long marches. The cold winds were blowing as the 12,000 Continentals tried weakly to prepare for the fury of the cold blast of Winter. To give you an idea of their suffering, only 1/3 of the soldiers even had shoes and you could track them by their bloody footprints that were left by the marching.

They probably didn't have much to be thankful for at Christmas but God was definitely on their side in the coming months.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Women in the Revolutionary War - A Christmas Crossing

A Christmas Crossing: Women in the Revolutionary War
A Christmas Crossing: Women in the Revolutionary War

Many never really ponder about the lives of the families in the Revolutionary War. This Christmas story is about a woman who has her life turned upside-down and the amazing way in which it was reversed for the better! A must read!

 

A Civil War Soldier Christmas - Christmas in the Union Army - A Union Soldier Reflects and Writes a Letter Home

Civil War - North at Christmas
Civil War - North at Christmas

In the Civil War, there was not much time to do anything. Christmas brought time to reflect, write letters home and have a quiet rest. Although there may not have been extra food or supplies, the peace during Christmas created a calm unlike no other.

Photo is prior to 1928 and is Creative Commons - Public Domain

Christmas in the Civil War - Union Army - Depiction by Winslow Homer - 1861

winslow homer - civil war christmas - 1861
winslow homer - civil war christmas - 1861

Although this depiction by Winslow Homer may have been a little exaggerated, the Union Army did have many more supplies than their enemy in the South.

Image is prior to 1928 and is Creative Commons- Public Domain

A Civil War Christmas - From the Discovery Channel

A Civil War Christmas - Christmas Eve by Thomas Nast - Hometown Love Pining for Her Soldier

Christmas Eve - Thomas Nast
Christmas Eve - Thomas Nast

The Confederate life may have been romanticized in movies like "Gone With The Wind", but the North had their share of romanticism. This depiction shows a woman who is pining for her Union love while the soldier is vice versa deep in thought.

Image is prior to 1928 and is Creative Commons - Public Domain

A Civil War Soldier Christmas - Christmas in the Confederate Army - Very Sparse but Soldiers Still Thankful

Civil War - South at Christmas
Civil War - South at Christmas

The soldiers in the Confederate Army were so in support of their cause, that they went without many of the creature comforts that were afforded to the Northern Union Army. Most of the factories and companies existed in the North so the supplies were few and far between and many things were homemade.

Christmas for the Confederate Army consisted of the possibility to rest and have a hot meal. If they were extremely short of supply, they may have only received extra hardtack, mule jerky or Sassafras Tea. Many did not receive anything but the extra rest provided and possibly some companionship and good music.

Photo is prior to 1928 and is Creative Commons - Public Domain

A Romantic Civil War-related Christmas Surprise from 1933! - Fascinating True Story!

Civil War Christmas - Eggnog Party in the South by Thomas Nast - While the Confederate Troops Suffer, the Southern Aristocracy Celebrates with an Eggnog Party

Eggnog Party in the South - Thomas Nast
Eggnog Party in the South - Thomas Nast

Even with the shortage of supplies to the Confederates, the Southern aristocracy did not limit themselves during festive times.

Most Southerners did not think that they would lose the war and most continued with daily life as if their way of living would perpetuate.

Image is prior to 1928 and is Creative Commons - Public Domain

The Civil War from a Soldier's Perspective

The Story of a Common Soldier of Army Life in the Civil War, 1861-1865
The Story of a Common Soldier of Army Life in the Civil War, 1861-1865

This wonderful book gives a person of what the Civil War was like, from the perspective of the actual soldier. This viewpoint is usually the best. I recommend this book if you do not know the hardships of the soldier and the soldier's family during these trying times in our country.

 

Christmas During the Spanish American War - Soldiers Celebrating a Christmas Turkey at the Golden Eagle Bar in Manila, Philippines - 1898 by T. de Thulstrup

Spanish American War Christmas
Spanish American War Christmas

The soldiers paused to eat and celebrate during the Spanish American War.

This is a very rare glimpse of what a celebration during this war looked like.

Image is prior to 1928 and is Creative Commons - Public Domain

1914 Christmas Truce in World War I - Rare Actual Photo fo the Germans and the Allies Having a Conversation

A Christmas Truce - WWI
A Christmas Truce - WWI

Along with a festive attitude and goodwill during the Christmas season, peace is rarely seen during wartime.

On Christmas day, 1914, a cease fire and truce was declared. WWI was probably the most hellish and underrated war, due to the trench warfare and the deadly gas that was deployed. In this very rare photo, the Germans and allies were seen conversing and sharing good will. This was said to have occurred during the Civil War but there is no photographic evidence of it.

On Christmas Eve in 1914, German troops began decorating around their area for Christmas. In some locations, Christmas carols rang out and were reciprocated by the other side. There was a story about some playing a game of football against each other and soldiers ventured from one trench to another and greeted others to exchang gifts and souvenirs. The whole truce was not without risk, however,. Some did not take too kindly to the goodwill and continued to kill their enemy. The whole truce lasted throughout the night in many locations and up until New Year's Day in others.

Photo is prior to 1928 and is Creative Commons - Public Domain

The World War I Christmas Truce of 1914 - More images of the Truce with some cool music!

A French Depcition of the 1914 Christmas Truce in World War I - A French Image that Depicts Germans and British Fraternizing during the 1914 Truce

World War I - 1914 Christmas Truce
World War I - 1914 Christmas Truce

The word of the truce hit home and many magazines depicted the cheer and goodwill. Photos were not available until the troops arrived home and if available, were very rare. In this French depiction, German and British soldiers are shown during the truce

Image is prior to 1928 and is Creative Commons - Public Domain

The Full Story of the Christmas Truce and the Song "Silent Night"

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce
Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce

I gave you a bit of a background on the World War I Truce, however, the story goes much deeper than what I have talked about. This book tells the whole story and about the story of "Silent Night."

 

WWI Christmas in the Trenches - WWI Soldiers Celebrating a Christmas Cake While in Mud in the Trenches

WWI Christmas Cake in the Trenches
WWI Christmas Cake in the Trenches

The truce did not exist everywhere and certainly not on every Christmas. In this original photo, the soldiers show their good cheer and celebration in this scarce photo by enjoying some Christmas cake.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Christmas in World War I - Germany - An Original Postcard of a German Soldier Arriving Home During Christmas (Note the Christmas Tree!)

World War I Christmas
World War I Christmas

Since World War I was in Europe, some German soldiers found a chance to go home during the holidays. This postcard depiction shows an unexpected Christmas present arriving home for the Frau.

Image is prior to 1928 and is Creative Commons - Public Domain

World War II Christmas at a Japanese Internment Camp - 1943 - Minidoka, Idaho

Japanese Internment Camp - Christmas 1943
Japanese Internment Camp - Christmas 1943

This a side of Christmas during World War II that is little-known.

After the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941, Japanese Americans were questioned for their loyalty to Japan. If they did not pledge an oath to the United States, they were sent to numerous internment camps throughout the USA. There was one here in Arizona, not far from where I live on a Native American Reservatin.

The camp in this photo was in Minidoka, Idaho and it held Japanese and Japanese Americans from Seattle, Portland, Puyallup Valley and Alaska. This photo shows a dining facility decorated for Christmas.

Although this was a terrible time in history, they found a way to celebrate the Christmas cheer.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

World War II Packages from Home During Christmas - The Red Cross Preparing Packages to Send to Troops in 1942

WWII and the Red Cross
WWII and the Red Cross

My father, who was in WWII, talked about the Red Cross who served coffee to the troops on the beaches after D-Day.

In this photo, Red Cross volunteers in Australia prepare packages to send to the troops.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

WWII Christmas at the Hospital - Christmas at the Hospital in London During World War II

WWII Christmas at the Hospital
WWII Christmas at the Hospital

This is a rare photo of wounded in a London hospital during World War II. It is not doubt that the Christmas decorations brought cheer to the soldiers in a depressing time.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

World War II Christmas - Overwhelming Amount of Mail Supporting the Troops!

World War II Christmas Mail
World War II Christmas Mail

World War II was the first conflict in the USA where there was an overwhelming support from home. Thousands (if not millions) of packages were sent to the loved ones for Christmas. They even found time to bless the soldiers who had no families.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

WWII First Hand Account Of African American Soldiers who Celebrated Christmas with German Civilians - Touching first-hand account told by John White, Sr.

A Special Gift for a World War II Christmas - A Soldier Coming Home for Christmas in 1944

Christmas Homecoming 1944
Christmas Homecoming 1944

What better gift for the family during Christmas than to receive their loved one...and a kiss!

In World War II, homecomings were highly romanticized and there are many images of the soldiers kissing their soldier.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

A Yummy Korean War Christmas - Some Heat and a Hot Dinner

Korean War Christmas Dinner
Korean War Christmas Dinner

The surroundings are a little more drab than what you saw on M.A.S.H., but with a hot meal & a smile, a perfect way to celebrate Christmas!

Creative Commons Photo Credit

No Mercy for the Enemy - Korean War Christmas - This photo and original description is captioned "A Gift for the Reds."

Korean War Christmas Bomber
Korean War Christmas Bomber

With awful circumstances and no chance for a break, the soldiers find a way to celebrate and also provide a little humor for themselves.

In this photo, they are celebrating by displaying their roles in the defeat of Communism.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Korean War USO Christmas Show

Korean War USO Christmas Show
Korean War USO Christmas Show

No matter where the soldiers were located, the USO found ways to bring in their cheer during the holidays. If it was only singers or some sort of dancing, it was a welcome break from the sounds of shelling or experiences of war.

I thought this photo was interesting because most soldiers did not get to see big name celebrities but all were entertained in some form or another.

This photo is from the author's personal collection

A Big Smile for the Camera - Korean War Christmas - Sergeant Decorating Christmas Tree

Sergeant Decorating Christmas Tree Korean War
Sergeant Decorating Christmas Tree Korean War

Cherished traditions may have been far from where the soldiers were located, but not far from the soldiers. Hawkeye would be proud, provided he added a little cheer from the Swamp.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Christmas during the Korean War - This is and Australian Perspective but Pretty Realistic

Vietnam War Christmas USO Show - Raquel Welch at a 1967 Christmas Show

Vietnam Christmas - Raquel Welch
Vietnam Christmas - Raquel Welch

The sight and performance of Raquel Welch would cheer up any situation and make the soldier forget the horrors of war, at least for an hour or two.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Christmas in Vietnam - A Photographic Remembrance - Straight from the troops!

With Friends at Christmas in Vietnam - Cheers to our soldiers in arms!

Christmas in Vietnam
Christmas in Vietnam

Soldiers celebrating with some cheer during the Christmas holidays in Vietnam.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Vietnam War Christmas USO Show - USS Colorado - 1970

Vietnam War Christmas - USS Colorado
Vietnam War Christmas - USS Colorado

The Navy is honored to have visitors from Colorado, College Dancers in 1970s mini skirts from the USO! Hopefully, there wasn't much of a draft (other than the one that brought the soldiers into the war)!

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Yes, There Were Decorations For Christmas in Vietnam - A Marine Helicopter Decorated for Christmas

Vitenam Christmas Helicopter
Vitenam Christmas Helicopter

In the spirit of Christmas, these marines have found a way to celebrate by decorating their helicopter.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Vietnam POW / MIA Bracelets

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, bracelets were sold to commemorate the Prisoners of War (POW's) and Missing in Action (MIA) soldiers lost in the war. The girls used to wear them until the soldier returned. They are popular again today and have engravings of soldiers still missing.

Desert Storm Christmas - Bob Hope and Ann Jillian at the Desert Storm USO Show

Desert Storm USO Bob Hope Ann Jillian
Desert Storm USO Bob Hope Ann Jillian

Although I was in Desert Storm, I was not able to make it to this USO show with Bob Hope and Ann Jillian. Bob made it to almost every conflict since World War II and it is fitting to honor him here, near the end of his life and from what I understood, his last visit overseas.

God Bless Bob Hope for all of the joy he gave troops over the years. Whether they were able to take these experiences home with them, or to cheer up, unknown to them, some in their final days on Earth.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

A Musical Gulf War Christmas - Soldiers Singing Christmas Carols Aboard the USS Monterrey in 2004

Gulf War Christmas
Gulf War Christmas

From the Revolutionary War to today, soldiers always find a way to cheer up others in song, no matter where they are stationed.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Merry Christmas from Iraq!

Merry Christmas from Iraq
Merry Christmas from Iraq

Christmas in Iraq - Gulf War - Christmas Brought in by a Christmas Parade

Christmas Parade Gulf War
Christmas Parade Gulf War

As in previous photos with the bomber and helicopter decoration, soldiers find a way to bring in the cheer of Christmas during this Christmas parade in Iraq.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Mom, Please Send Something Good to Eat! Packages Sent to the Gulf War Christmas Soldiers - Partial Christmas Mail Delivery

Gulf War Christmas Mail Delivery
Gulf War Christmas Mail Delivery

This package is tiny compared to what is actually received but always welcome!

Merry Christmas to all serving in times of war!

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Turn Up the Volume - Christmas in Afghanistan - 101st Airborne Division Musical Selection

Christmas in Afghanistan
Christmas in Afghanistan

The description "Christmas in Afghanistan" is something I never thought I would hear in my lifetime.

These soldiers celebrate on December 25.

Creative Commons Photo Credit

Candlelight is Spectacular at a Gulf War Christmas Celebration - Christmas Eve Services in Baghdad, Iraq

Christmas Even in Iraq
Christmas Even in Iraq

This is one of the most beautiful photos of Christmas I have ever seen. If you don't look too closely, this could be taken anywhere, in any church.

God Bless all of you in this blessed time of year and never take for granted the freedom that we have here in the United States because of the veterans and active-duty soldiers all over the world!

Creative Commons Photo Credit

How Do You Plan to Thank the Troops on Christmas? - Let me know what you thought of this website!

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    • tvyps profile image
      Author

      Teri Villars 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @favored: My war of Desert Storm is also forgotten, much like Korea. I don't forget it, however. I am glad you help some of them. I try to do all I can also.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      At Christmas and throughout the year we assist the families that are stateside and try to fill in the gap with things they may need (lawm mowers seem to break a lot). My next door neighbor's husband has been in AFG. so this is very real to us. Thanks for including the info on the Korean War. A wonderful topic that is so often forgotten.

    • tvyps profile image
      Author

      Teri Villars 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @PNWtravels: That is very nice of you. You may have sent me one. Vicki, I always appreciate your support. Thank you. Terry

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 4 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      Fantastic tribute to those who have served. It is easy to forget the daily sacrifices like being away home for Christmas. I try to show my gratitude and make things a little better by sending packages every year through Any Soldier.com

    • tvyps profile image
      Author

      Teri Villars 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @TheFreeLife: Thank you. I was there and wanted others to know about it. I appreciate your compliments!

    • TheFreeLife profile image

      TheFreeLife 4 years ago

      Wow, I agree with the person below me. Just an amazing page. It completely changed my mindset right now.. Well done.

    • choosehappy profile image

      Vikki 4 years ago from US

      Wow. This page is simply amazing. Seriously.

      Blessed.

    • tvyps profile image
      Author

      Teri Villars 4 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @Deadicated LM: Right there with you...thank you for the visit!

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 4 years ago

      A truly Fantastic Lens. I thank the troops through prayers, that's all I have to give right now (you can't give from an empty cup).

    • tvyps profile image
      Author

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @Diva2Mom: Thank you. Being there made the difference for me. It gave me a personal perspective. Thank you for the visit!

    • Diva2Mom profile image

      Diva2Mom 5 years ago

      Wow, what an AMAZING lens! You really did an excellent job here. Thanks for sharing! God bless you.

    • tvyps profile image
      Author

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      @Mamabyrd: Thank you very much! I appreciate it. I guess being a veteran, I have a perspective from the inside. I was there during the holidays so I remember it happening to me. Thanks for the visit.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      I have done so.. and they should be thanked at all times of the year! Blessed!

    • Mamabyrd profile image

      Mamabyrd 5 years ago

      Amazing lens you did a wonderful job

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      I liked Christmas Day in 1914. What a terrible day Boxing Day must have been though?

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 5 years ago

      Thank you for this great lens =)

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 5 years ago

      I Love this lens! very nicely done with great information and images. How sad it is to spend Christmas in a wartime without family, my husband experienced this when he was in Vietnam 1966-67. I can only remember one Christmas during my early childhood during the war in Germany. A ~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~ on this lens

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      What an interesting lens! We sometimes mail off packages of cookies and assorted toiletries for holidays. I try to mail off cards, letters, & pictures to my family members who are serving in other countries.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Your personal experience is so important, you create a great lens with info we don't get from other sources. It is amassing how in harms ways, and hostile territories, you find ways to celebrate, cheer up and bypass the missing families with bright colors.

      All the best

    • MissionBoundCre profile image

      MissionBoundCre 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens and so relevant. Valentines just passed yesterday. Sure many have many strong emotions for this holiday as well.

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Chicago area

      Fantastic topic for this lens, and you really covered it well. Raquel Welch looks amazing in that photo! But I've always been most fascinated by the WWI Christmas truce. *blessed*

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      It's so great to remember the men and women who serve their country every day and especially on Christmas. Wonderful page!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very nice lens. Here's wishing a Merry Christmas to our troops throughout the world.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very nice lens. Here's wishing a Merry Christmas to our troops throughout the world.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      This is just awesome. I really miss Bob Hope. He did so much for our troops. Merry Christmas!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Merry Christmas to our troops. Thank you for doing what you do for us.

      This is a wonderful tribute lens, Terry. Excellent and happy to bless!

      Thank you!