Thanksgiving On The Front Lines – World War Two And Korea – Photos And Video

War doesn’t care what day it is, what month, or if that day is important to you. War doesn’t care about anything at all. And as war passes, important days in the life of everyone involved are passing as well. Someones daughter’s birthday, a wedding anniversary, the independence day of your country, or dozens of other days that you would like to celebrate.

The enemy usually won’t respect your celebrations. Often it was the opposite – your day off, the very moment when you got a bit relaxed, would be the exact moment when the enemy would choose to strike. It was always a difficult task to organize Thanksgiving Day in the army during wartime, especially on the front. But at the same time, it was especially important there because the day itself reminded the soldiers of home and overall morale was increased.

For thousands to celebrate Thanksgiving in wartime requires an enormous amount of time and effort to organize – logistics, guards (someone has to do it) and dozens of other details that have to be precisely and carefully prepared.

USMC Lieutenant Colonel W. W. Stickney preparing to cut a Thanksgiving holiday cake with a captured Japanese sword, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, circa 26 Nov 1942.
USMC Lieutenant Colonel W. W. Stickney preparing to cut a Thanksgiving holiday cake with a captured Japanese sword, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. 26 November 1942.

Thanksgiving in 1939-1945

We all know that Thanksgiving Day is the fourth Thursday of November every year, but did you know that between 1939-1941 it wasn’t that way?

Franklin D. Roosevelt broke with that tradition in the wild November of 1939. That year, November had five Thursdays instead of the usual four. Of course, the number of Thursdays in November was not the issue. “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens” changed the day to the second-last Thursday simply because Roosevelt wanted to give more time to merchants and trade before Christmas. To put it simply, Roosevelt hoped that he would help bring the country out of the Depression by expanding a shopping season by one week more.

In 1940 and 1941 the U.S. President declared Thanksgiving Day on the third Thursday. On 26th December 1941, President Roosevelt signed a bill for the first time making the date of Thanksgiving a matter of federal law and fixing the day as the fourth Thursday of November.

On 23rd November 1943, after three days of heavy fighting, the United States forces won the battle of Tarawa. In that year Thanksgiving happened on 25th of November, two days after the island was taken. For many, the victory didn’t taste good at all – thousands of brave servicemen had died; Tawara was brutally hard-won.

On 24th November 1943, USS Liscome Bay was torpedoed. 600 men died just a day before Thanksgiving.

 

Two enlisted men of the ill-fated U.S. Navy aircraft carrier LISCOME BAY, torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Gilbert Islands, are buried at sea from the deck of a Coast Guard-manned assault transport. November 1943.
Two enlisted men of the ill-fated U.S. Navy aircraft carrier Liscome Bay, torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Gilbert Islands, are buried at sea from the deck of a Coast Guard-manned assault transport. November 1943.
Soldiers from Headquarters, 44th Infantry Division, composed of elements from the New Jersey and New York National Guards, eat Thanksgiving dinner in the closing days of the Carolina Maneuvers, November 1941. NGB Historical Services Branch.
Soldiers from Headquarters, 44th Infantry Division, composed of elements from the New Jersey and New York National Guards, eat Thanksgiving dinner in the closing days of the Carolina Maneuvers, November 1941.
Admiral William Halsey having Thanksgiving dinner with the crew of battleship USS New Jersey, his flagship, 30 Nov 1944.
Admiral William Halsey having Thanksgiving dinner with the crew of battleship USS New Jersey, his flagship. 30 November 1944.
Thanksgiving Day Service Held in English Country Church- Americans in Cransley, Northamptonshire, England, UK, 23 November 1944 Men of the US Army Air Corps listen to a sermon on 'The Source of our Strength' during a Thanksgiving service at Cransley in Northamptonshire. The sermon is being given by Chaplain Ward J Fellows. Just visible to the left of the pulpit is Reverend Greville-Cooke, the vicar of Cransley.
Thanksgiving Day Service Held in English Country Church- Americans in Cransley, Northamptonshire, England, UK, 23 November 1944 Men of the US Army Air Corps listen to a sermon on ‘The Source of our Strength” during a Thanksgiving service at Cransley in Northamptonshire.
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Marines celebrate Thanksgiving with a hot meal as they advance to the Manchurian border.
In bleak, icy wilderness of Hagaru-ri, North Korea, with Chinese communist hordes bearing down on them, the 5th Marine Regiment has Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, pumpkin pie and trimmings.
North Korea, 5th Marine Regiment has Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, pumpkin pie, and trimmings. 22 November 1950.
Inchon, Korea: Aboard USS Repose Thanksgiving Day. Corporal Richard R. Hollander, U.S. Marine Corps, is assisted with his dinner by Lieutenant Junior Grade Caldie Green (Nurse Corps) U.S. Navy.
Aboard USS Repose on Thanksgiving Day. Corporal Richard R.
Hollander, U.S. Marine Corps, is assisted with his dinner by Lieutenant
Junior Grade Caldie Green (Nurse Corps) U.S. Navy. Inchon, Korea.

North African Campaign. The Trapped 7th Indian Brigade Fights Its Way Back to El Adem. The 7th Indian Brigade which has done fine work in the Libyan campaign, was cut off by the enemy when the latter recaptured Benghazi. The Brigade was operating in the Solluch area, and escape seemed hopeless. After travelling for three days and nights, through much of the enemy territory, however, the Brigade arrived safely back in the British lines of El Adem. A Thanksgiving Service was held on the safe arrival of the Brigade. Shown: A long drink. Two men of an infantry having a welcome drink after their arrival in British lines.
North African Campaign. The Trapped 7th Indian Brigade Fights Its Way Back to El Adem. The 7th Indian Brigade, which had done fine work in the Libyan campaign, was cut off by the enemy when the latter recaptured Benghazi. The Brigade was operating in the Solluch area, and escape seemed hopeless. After traveling for three days and nights, through much of the enemy territory, however, the Brigade arrived safely back in the British lines of El Adem. A Thanksgiving Service was held on the safe arrival of the Brigade.Two men of an infantry having a welcome drink after their arrival in British lines.
Staff Sgt. Raymond Scherz of Addison, Ill., seems to be pondering the best way to convert this feathered visitor to C Company, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, into Thanksgiving dinner at the nearby Bear Cat base camp. John Olson/Stars and StripesImage 11 of 16. Photo Credit.
Staff Sgt. Raymond Scherz of Addison, Ill., seems to be pondering the best way to convert this feathered visitor into Thanksgiving dinner for C Company, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division at the nearby Bear Cat base camp. Photo Credit.