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Season's Greetings from the CBI Theater


 Christmas in India - 1943
Christmas in India - 1943
Chuck Louis received this card created by his friend Warren Jones as a remembrance.

Christmas 1944 - Chabua, India

 After eating "Bully Beef," Australian Mutton, for so long, I could eat it no more. The only guy I knew that could was my good buddy Don Haggerty. Just smelling the Bully Beef would make you half sick.

 Well, the word went out that we were going to have SPAM for our upcoming Christmas dinner. We were all so excited - Boy Oh Boy - SPAM! We did not get it often but when we did it was soooo good!

 As we were on our way out to dinner at the mess tent, we could smell... Turkey?!? Yes, we had turkey for dinner. I don't remember if it came from a can or what. It really was not important. We had potatoes and gravy and cranberries and all. It was a wonderful Christmas 1944.

Ted Hannegan    


 Merry Christmas to my little sweetheart
Merry Christmas to my little sweetheart from Uncle Chuck
Sent by Colonel Charles S. Davis, General Pick's Executive Officer, to his niece Joan Isham, for Christmas 1944.

Christmas 1944 - Kunming, China

 I recall we got a half day off on Christmas and we were furnished two cans or bottles of warm beer (the only PX items we got, only essential military supplies were sent over the Hump). My how good that warm beer tasted! To this day I don't mind warm beer as a remembrance of that day.

 Also, the most popular guy in our outfit was in medical supply and he gave us a drink of medical alcohol diluted with orange drink. My was that strong! I didn't feel any pain after that while getting into the Christmas spirit.

 Staying in the service afterwards, I didn't get to Korea, but lucked out on an assignment to Paris, France. I also went to Vietnam for a few days, during that insurgency. With all the goodies they were provided, I remarked to myself, "Is this a war going on?"

Joe Shupe    


 Christmas message
Leighton Hacker with greetings from India - 1945
This sign was passed among the basha members and each had their picture taken with Leighton's camera.
The photographs were then developed and printed with X-ray chemicals from the 20th General Hospital.

Christmas 1944 - Tushan, China

  Yes, I remember Christmas 1944 very well. Or shall I say, I will never forget it. We were on the road south to join the Chinese Army front, which at that point was centered on the railroad center of Lushan, which later became the airbase for the 74th Fighter Squadron.

 My Squadron, the 76th FS, based in Liuchow was assigned to support the Chinese front in this area and, at the time, it was thought that the Japanese were about to over-run the area. I volunteered to be the Liaison Officer attached to this Chinese Front, with the primary function of reporting activity in that area and directing Air Support for the Chinese Army as required.

 My entourage included a radio operator, Cpl. Robert Corbin from Rochester, N.Y., and a Chinese interpreter, Don Carlos Duang from Shanghai. Also a Major "Andy" Anderson, U.S. Army Infantry came along with us to observe and instruct the Chinese troops. We left Hangyang, China in a radio-equipped Jeep with a trailer attached that was completely loaded with tons of supplies and assorted armaments.

 It took four or five days to nearly reach Tushan traveling on roads that had been thoroughly bombed during the proceeding weeks. Each time we came to a bomb crater, we had to unload the trailer, fill in the deepest spots in the crater; drive, push or pull the jeep and the trailer individually across the crater; and then carry our supplies around and reload the trailer. Sometimes we needed extra help getting the jeep across and we manage to find a couple barn doors that made reasonably good bridges and these doors became part of our equipment. As we approached Tushan, these craters occurred more often.

 The last day's travel before reaching Tushan, we unloaded and reloaded that jeep trailer eighteen times before reaching the river gorge on the out-skirts of Tushan on Christmas Eve. It was late at night, the bridge over the gorge had been totally destroyed, no possibility of going further and we were pooped. That was as far as we could go!

 We stopped the jeep in the middle of the road, got out our sleeping bags and slept Christmas Eve night in the middle of the road. We felt safer there than any other place because the Chinese Army was tending to the Japanese on the other side of the gorge.

 Yes, I remember Christmas Eve, 1944.

Leonard J. O'Dell    


 IBT Christmas Card

A Christmas Card from the "India-Burma Theatre"

Christmas 1944 - Syhhet, India

 My Christmas in CBI was rather unusual. We were in Syhhet, India and so that I could go to Christmas Eve Mass, I went to bed early that night, while three or so other guys in our basha were playing cards.

 I was sound asleep when it seems the entire basha was shaking, and I woke up still not fully awake. Wondering what was happening, one of the guys said that it was probably some drunk outside who was shaking the basha, "So, don't worry, about it," they said, which I did and went back to slumberland.

 Only when I did get up and went to Mass, did I find out that it had been an earthquake. Apparently not a very severe one, but one that I will certainly never forget, and hope that I will never go through one again.

Nick Sanchez    


 Red Cross Plate
American Red Cross   Calcutta   Christmas 1944
M. Ross McLeod and every service man and woman visiting the
Red Cross Club in Calcutta received this small brass plate as a gift.

Christmas 1944 - Alipore, India

 I was a Sgt. in the 40th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron, stationed at Alipore, India at Christmas time 1944. All of our supplies were flown in, of course, and because of some erratic shipments our squadron had received no mail for several weeks around that time. We ate a wonderful Christmas dinner (if eating out of a mess kit can be called wonderful) of turkey and all the fixings... but no Christmas cards or packages!

 It wasn't until February that the Christmas packages came through, mail bag after mail bag full. Everybody in the squadron had packages of home made goodies. There was so much food in camp that you couldn't give it away!

M. Ross McLeod    


Christmas Services at Ramgarh Training Center
 Christmas Services

 Christmas Services

 Christmas Services

 Christmas Services

 Christmas Services

 Christmas Services

 Christmas Services

Christmas 1944 - Tezgaon, Bengal, India

 Because of engine troubles and weather, it took us two months to fly to India. We landed at Karachi December 24th. When we caught up with our mail. Reacting to finally hearing from home, I wrote the following letter before going on to Tezgaon where we enjoyed a Christmas dinner!

From Karachi, India [After flight over Palestine, Jordan River, Baghdad and a stop in Abadan, Iran---date palms]: 24 Dec 44

My dear family,

 I can truthfully say that this is one of the happiest Christmas Eves I have ever spent. A few days ago I thought the old spirit might not come through but it is truly within me tonight. I would like to thank all my loved ones and good friends who caused this joyous feeling to be present. You see, in my musette bag right this minute are fifty-nine letters and Christmas cards, nine post cards and four V-mails I collected after two months of mail starvation.

 I began reading around four o'clock and when dusk came I was not yet finished, so I finished by flashlight. Every one of those letters seemed to hit the spot. Each word was testimony of real friendship and love. I believe my face exhibited many kinds of emotion as I perused through the bundle. Mom supplied sentimentalism; Dad the manly touch; Katie, happy-go-lucky; Bub, out and out laughter; etc.

 I forgot to mention that I arrived safely and am sure all your prayers aided us as much as material things. I have viewed many marvelous sights, some historic, some biblical and some just plain beautiful. I shall try to describe some of these after I find out what may be said.

 I attempted to write you some kind of note at most of the stops but at times conditions prevented doing so. Smitty says the cable office is closed and I suppose it will be likewise tomorrow, so I may not get one sent. I missed church this morning due to conditions unfavorable. I think I shall be working tomorrow, so will attend midnight mass tonight.

 Some time has elapsed and I am back from the chapel. It was totally an empty service to me as I cannot comprehend Latin. Anyway, I was in there trying. There isn't much more time left for me to sleep tonight so I will end this up by sending you my new address. You don't have to spread it around because I owe everyone. Thanks again for everything and keep those letters coming. I love it. May God bless you all.

On to Tezgaon, Bengal, India - arriving there 25 Dec 44

Best wishes,

Bob Stumpf    


 A Merry Christmas 1944
Richard Pollak and the 83rd Squadron, 12th Bomb Group (Medium),
received this card for Christmas 1944 in Feni, India.

 A Merry Christmas 1944
Milton Caniff Christmas Greeting published in the December 23, 1944 issue of "The Bull Sheet" at Ramgarh, India.

Christmas 1943 - Agra, India

 I was in Agra and spent Christmas 1943 there. However, on December 27th I was introduced to The Hump via Chabua, for that was our destination. Little did I know that I would be stationed at Misamari in nine months for Hump duty.

 Christmas 1944 was a happy day. I was informed that I had completed my tour of duty on December 20, 1944, and would be heading for home.

 I'm sure I went to Christmas Mass and thanked God for all of us. Christmas Dinner? Don't Remember, for that was not important at the time!

 God bless all CBIers.

Francis J. Zurawell    


 Christmas Greetings and a Victorious New Year
Virginia Dyer received this V-Mail from husband Stanley, serving in CBI, Christmas 1943.

Christmas 1943 - Chenkung, China

 Christmas 1943 was a memorable one for the members of the 375th Bomb Squadron [Heavy], stationed at Chenkung (not Chunking), China, particularly for the flight crews.

 We had saved our shots of medical whiskey that the flight surgeon would give us when we returned from a bombing mission. We did not know how this procedure got started, but we liked it!

 We had just completed missions over Canton, China on December 22nd and 23rd. The Japanese bombers paid us a visit on the 24th, but the Fighter Groups from our base and Kunming did a good job getting rid of the pests. Little damage was done to our base or the base at Kunming, and there were no casualties.

 Therefore we had good reason to celebrate and did we ever celebrate Christmas that year, as we were still alive and well. That time was also the Holiday of Hanukah for the Jewish people and Jewish members of our Squadron. That Christmas Eve and day we all gave thanks to God, Christian and Jew alike.

Bernie Danzig    


 Christmas V-Mail
Virgil Neff sent his 1943 Christmas V-Mail from North Africa, on his way to CBI.

 Christmas V-Mail
Virgil's 1944 V-Mail

 Christmas Card from India
Virgil's 1945 card from India

 The Last Resort
"The Last Resort"
Jack Thomas' picture of the girls at the American Red Cross Service Club at Ledo.
A wreath, stockings hung with care, and chestnuts for roasting on the open fire.

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Blank V-Mail Sheets
Sheets like these were addressed by soldiers in CBI and converted to microfilm for the trip back to the States.
They were then converted back from microfilm to paper and delivered to the folks at home as "Christmas Cards".

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Original artwork graced many a V-Mail "Christmas Card."
At left, one from Roundup. At right one from the American Red Cross.

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At right is a plain sheet for letter writing.

Two Christmases!

  We left Shanghai about December 16, 1945, homeward-bound for Seattle. Three days out we hit a monsoon and the ship made very little progress. In the hold there were these big G.I. garbage cans. If you ever did K.P. you'd know. They were there to collect vomit. They turned on their sides and as the ship rolled, they rolled - back & forth, back & forth, Everyone was too sick to right them up. They would have rolled on their sides anyway. We were given sandwiches and a lot of crockery was broken and food trays were sliding all over the mess halls.

  By Christmas Day the G.I. cans weren't rolling side to side anymore as the storm had subsided. We had a good turkey meal. During the day, we crossed the International Date Line, making it December 24th again. The next day was once again Christmas, but we returned to regular chow.

  We arrived at Seattle on December 30th. After crossing the International Date Line and with the Two Christmases, we made it in 5 days to Seattle. Good news - Anyone getting back before New Year's Day got 45 days R & R !!! We lived for two weeks on the docked ship and spent every day in town. We then went by train for 4 days and 5 nights to Fort Dix, N.J., where after 45 days, we were mustered out.

Frank Pinchak, 21st Photo Recon Squadron    


 130th AACS
130th AACS Transmitter Crew
Joe Acetta (legs crossed, center) made a spaghetti dinner for Chritmas 1944 in Kunming.
To this day, Joe's dinner stands out among Frank Vierling's memories.

Another Two Christmases

  I was with the 130th AACS (Army Airways Communications System), stationed in Kunming, China and attached to General Chennault's 14th Air force. We had a gala Christmas feast. That day we boycotted the usual mess hall water buffalo "steak" for a "home cooked, stateside dinner."

  For a month or more, everyone had saved their "care" packages from home. Joe Accetta, one of our transmitter maintenance men, a budding Brooklyn, N.Y. restaurateur, followed his first love (cooking) and wangled his way into the job of Mess Sergeant for Hostel 11. Because of his split loyalties he returned to us for Christmas Day 1944.

  We transformed our transmitter building into a kitchen and dining hall. No turkey, not even a chicken or Spam, but no spaghetti dinner ever tasted as good as the one Joe prepared that day. What a treat after our steady diet of buffalo meat! There were other goodies, I'm sure. We all added what they could, but to this day, it's Joe's spaghetti dinner that stands out in my memory.

  Over the years I've lost track of all but three fellows from my group (many now gone) and have often wondered if Joe ever opened his Brooklyn restaurant.

  In October 1945 I left China. After flying the Hump we had a short stay at Dum Dum, India, before flying to Karachi. There we spent a few weeks at a British camp. While there we had our Thanksgiving turkey dinner. On November 23 we boarded our little Liberty ship, the USS General J. H. McRae and set sail for New York via the Red Sea, Suez Canal and stormy Mediterranean. The weather turned bad and we lost a day's Mediterranean travel standing by a ship in distress. How we could have helped with our already fully loaded ship I do no know.

  The weather cleared to gorgeous days though the Straights of Gibraltar where the porpoises enjoyed crisscrossing our bow. Then the weather turned ugly; it was logged the worst Atlantic weather in 100 years. The carrier Wasp, out of England, was forced to turn back. It was approaching Christmas and we were all anxiously counting the remaining days and checking a chart that recorded our daily progress toward New York. But we were impeded by wind and high seas. The weather was so bad and the seas so rough that we were not allowed on deck. To get to the mess we had to pass through the captain's and crew's quarters below deck. The troops housed in the bow were evacuated so that cross-bracing could be welded in place to reinforce the ship. During the worst 24 hours, at full steam, we only covered 67 miles! Any less, sailors told us, we would have gone down!

  After the storm, the ship's ribs that extended above deck to form the railing were battered to the point where some were broken off at deck line. The armor plate surrounding the empty deck gun placements were twisted and bent as if they were tin cans. But we made it to New York on Christmas Eve, docking at Pier 90 at 50th Street. Dead ahead was the familiar RCA Building (now GE).

  From the ship we were taken to Camp Kilmer, N.J. After loud protests by those of us that lived near the camp, we were given passes for Christmas Day, provided we could return to camp by Christmas night. I must say I had so many mixed emotions being home on Christmas, among family and friends, that I could scarcely eat my dinner. I was discharged December 28, 1945, 11 days short of 3 years service. All's well that ends well...

Frank Vierling, 130th AACS    


 130th AACS
130th AACS
Christmas Dinner 1944

"Home for Christmas"

  I was a pilot in the 75th Fighter Squadron. On Veteran's Day 1944, my brand new Mustang took ground fire in the coolant lines and that Merlin froze on a strafing pass on the Jap held Hengyang Air Base. I was captured within minutes after bailing out. I was flown to Hankow for solitary confinement for two months.

  It was there that Christmas came without any realization. I dreamed profusely during that time and in each one I was home but always had to "go back" very urgently. I never figured out those dreams.

  I had a million lice and hygiene was non-existent. I was only let out once a week to empty my wooden bucket that was my toilet. I could brush my teeth with a brush that hung outside the door on each cell and rinse my face in ice cold water then back to my cell. I was "Home For Christmas" but only in my dreams.

  On December 28th, four of us from that jail met two more from another jail at the boat docks and took a river trip to Nanking. From there we went by train to Kiangwan, a large POW camp near Shanghai. We were isolated from all other POWs which included survivors from Wake Island, North China Embassy guards, an Italian boat crew and a few UAAAF flyers from several planes.

  That entire camp of eleven hundred disbanded and began a long move by rail (locked in freight cars) in May 1945. After a few weeks in Peking we moved by rail though Manchuria to Fusan, Korea. From there we sailed across the Korean Straight to Japan, a most hazardous trip. By rail we went up Honshu Island and passed through Tokyo on July fourth. We boarded a ferry to Hokkaido Island and finally ended up near Sapporo. Our small group of twelve pilots were sent to Northern Imperial Japanese Army Headquarters where we were confined in a single room. We named ourselves "The Diddled Dozen".

  Having been warned in the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies of "prompt and utter destruction" on July 26th, and seemingly ignored by the Japs, the USAAF dropped the Atomic bombs, "Little Boy" and "Fat Man." That decision saved us and many thousands more on both sides; therefore, they proved to be a humanitarian end to a very vicious and inhumane war, all due to Japan's unprovoked aggression. The bombs were dropped on August 6th and 9th; Japan surrendered on the 14th. Formal papers were signed in Tokyo Bay September 2nd.

  My trip home, at last, began September 12th when our AF picked us up and flew us to Manila. From there we split up and I came home on a hospital ship landing at San Francisco, October 16th. On leave from the Army hospital in Swannanoa, NC, I was able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas 1945 at home. Having missed 1943 and 1944, my family and I were thrilled to finally be together once again, especially since I was an only son.

James M. Taylor    


 462nd Bomb Group card
Richard [Dick] Peil was a B-29 Bombardier/Navigator with the XX Bomber Command, 58th Bomb Wing,
462nd Bomb Group, 770th Bomb Squadron, based in Piardoba, India [forward base in Kuinglai, China] 1944-1945.

 Thanksgiving Menu  Thanksgiving Menu
T/3 Glenn Garrelts of the 181st General Hospital, Karachi, saved this Thanksgiving Day menu.

 Christmas  Christmas
Christmas 1944 Services at the 181st General Hospital.

 Christmas  Christmas  Christmas

Christmas 1944 Midnight Mass at Holy Trinity Church, Karachi.

Christmas 1944 Dinner in Karachi.

 Christmas Greeting from CBI Roundup

From The Boss 

Lt. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell's 1943 Christmas greeting:

  "As Theater Commander, I extend the season's greetings to all officers and men of this command and express my sincere appreciation for the splendid spirit shown in the performance of duty often rendered under trying and difficult conditions. Each and every member of this command must be aware that it will be the result of our combined effort that will eventually make possible a powerful blow at our enemy. The work of each unit and of each individual plays its own important part. Let us all do our individual utmost to make the blow crippling and decisive."


 CBI Roundup page
The December 23, 1943 issue of CBI Roundup contained this full-page Christmas greeting.
To see the page full screen, CLICK HERE.


  GEN. SULTAN'S HQS., MYITKYINA - From Lt. Gen. Dan I. Sultan to his troops in the India-Burma Theater:
  "We are celebrating another Christmas in India and Burma. For some of you, it is the third. It may not be much of a celebration, but I hope it will be your last away from home.
  "In addition to wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year. I want to compliment you on what you have accomplished and for your cheerfulness in doing it.
  "Being in a theater of operations located at what has been termed 'The End Of The Line,' you haven't made the headlines perhaps that others in Europe may have made. At times you may have thought you were forgotten.
  "However, you who are the ground troops have defeated the enemy wherever you have met him and will continue to do so. You airmen have not only whittled the enemy air strength to almost nothing and disrupted his communications and supply, but you have also supplied Chinese and British as well as American ground troops in all kinds of weather.
  "You service troops have been building a road and a pipeline which will stand as permanent monuments to U.S. Army achievements. You have made world records for ship unloadings and have improved overland communications until the greatest stream of supplies in local history flows to Assam for trans-shipment to China. You have furnished the Chinese Army with its first medical service.
  "All of you have done the job well and often nobly. In many cases it has been done despite great personal hardship and danger. It has been a job that has lacked the great, elemental drama of huge armies feinting and butting heads on thousand mile fronts, but it has been a job which at the same time will leave permanent, constructive achievement in its wake.
  "I congratulate you on what you have done and what I know you will do in the future. You have been a great team and a solid team. You have been builders as well as destroyers. Above all, you have been men and women in the finest tradition of America.
  "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you."


  GEN. WEDEMEYER'S HQS., CHINA - From Maj. Gen. A. C. Wedemeyer to his troops in the China Theater:
  "Christmas 1944 finds us all half a world away from home, engaged in one of the greatest struggles in the history of mankind, such a terrible struggle that few of us can be home this Christmas.
  "For us, Christmas must carry its spiritual message, the same message it has carried to men of good will for more than 19 centuries - the message of 'peace on earth.'
  "And those whom we love, those who wait for Christmas as we begin to celebrate Christmas Day, know that we in far-off China pray in one voice with them that peace through victory will be attained in 1945."


 Christmas message

 Christmas message

 Card by Warren Jones
Sincere thanks to the Veterans and Friends of CBI who helped make this page possible.

Copyright © 2014 Carl Warren Weidenburner