15:15 Rehearsal for Christmas Carolers in the W.O. Mess
Plan of the Day, December 23, 1944
Received 200 bags of mail and packages on December 24, 1944. Christmas day 1944 “got some more mail on board and the band sang Christmas carols over the loud speaker it sure was nice.”
Christmas of 1944 found us involved in the Philippines campaign. I cannot remember much about the decorations but the holiday meal so far from home was remarkably authentic. Three of the most memorable gifts I received that Christmas were a can of milk chocolate from home which had gone stale and turned white, a beautiful gold pen knife from my wife for censoring mail, and a gift from the Women’s Society for Christian Service from our Methodist church back home. It was a first aid kit! Such a morale builder, but the ladies were thinking like Moms, we supposed. We blessed them anyway.
The Christmas season was a very special time for the crew. Cards were taped inside our lockers; small decorations were given to offices and compartments where safety was not compromised. There were special menus and music was piped throughout the ship from V-discs. We shared cards, pictures and even love letters. We were a happy crew.
Gordon Knapp, 1945
Note: In November 1945, Frederick & Nelson department store selected gifts for the children of officers and men of BB55 from funds the ship sent.
Plans are being formulated for a gigantic Christmas party to be held aboard the North Carolina for the school children of the Officers and Men. The ship and mess halls will be decorated with holly and Christmas trees and wreaths and every effort will be made to show the children a good time. The Recreation Committee is in charge.
December 15, 1946, Showboat newsletter
Background: In December 1943, after 30 days at sea, BB55 headed to Efate in the New Hebrides for some rest and relaxation. Chaplain Everett Wuebbens arranged a burlesque show for the men. There were skits, dances, strip tease and comedy acts. The highlight was the crew members dressed in drag, complete with wigs made from manila line.
At the end of the show the Chaplain asked everyone to remain in their seats. The Chaplain had collected $5.00 from men who had children back home and sent the proceeds to Macy’s department store to buy gifts for the kids. Macy’s gathered as many of the children and their Mothers as possible and made a film reel of each family member saying “hi” to their loved one on BB55.
In 1943 we settled down for a nice quiet Christmas in Efate, New Hebrides. Our Chaplain had worked out a show for Christmas (a burlesque) and had planned a Christmas Church service. On the 24th of December it was announced that the ship would get underway the following morning. The burlesque show was given Christmas Eve instead. It was a very good show, with chorus gals, strip tease and everything. It was a big success.
On Christmas morning a small group of the band played Christmas carols over the P.A. system. At 1000 the ship got underway. We had a big Christmas dinner at sea.
Christmas 1943, the Chaplain had collected money, $5 I believe from crewmen who had children in the states. Sent money to Macy’s and they bought each a present and sent it to them for Christmas. He also had gotten a group together to put on a burlesque show on Christmas day. Crewmen in drag, wigs made from manila line, dancers, strippers, comedians, the whole bit. We received orders however that we had to get underway on Christmas day so the Chaplain put it on Christmas eve. It was a great show, the guys were great and everyone enjoyed the show. When over the Chaplain asked everyone to remain seated as he had a surprise for them. It was unknown to anyone that Macy’s had gathered all the children they could with their Moms and filmed it, then sent it to the Chaplain. Each child and Mom would say “Hi” to their loved one. I don’t believe there were many dry eyes that night.
The night of the smoker they had a news reel made just for our ship. Remember I told you the ship was sending gifts to kids whose fathers are on the North Carolina. Well they took news reels of it and showed us, the end was swell. The kids were all singing Merry Christmas sailor. Many [ ] to you. And once in a while they would show a picture of our ship underway. Where it was taken I don’t know.
Paul Wieser, letter written 12/26/43
To start the day off right, reveille sounded and before we managed to get the sleep out of our eyes, Christmas carol music came over the loud speaker system, and it certainly made us all feel good deep inside. Then a pleasant voice announced that there would be no working parties that day, and that he wished us a Merry Christmas. Breakfast was enjoyed by all hands, and then we all turned to, getting some of the messing spaces decorated with the stuff our committees had obtained ashore. It was a lot of fun and by the time our big dinner was ready, it really looked swell. We knocked off decorating long enough to hold mass and a divine service. The afternoon was spent opening and sampling the goodies received in the many Christmas packages that just arrived on time: sure, we helped each other. In the evening we had a swell movie below decks, and then to bed.
Christmas 1941, Tarheel newsletter
Everyone is having a field day and fiesta on the fantail this afternoon because a little show was put on for the crew by the crew for all to enjoy and have a swell time. They had music, jokes, funny costumes, and very good acting. We all had a ball.
Louis Favereaux, December 15, 1942
Like when Christmas would come, we would have our Christmas services for church. We would have a nice big meal and then, of course, we would try to get mail.