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Selected: December 24
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1931 — , December 24

  • CBI - China: Day 98 of 154 of the Japanese Invasion of Manchuria.

1936 — , December 24

  • Spain: Day 161 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.

1937 — , December 24

  • Spain: Day 526 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
  • CBI - China: Day 171 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 16 of 54 of the Battle of Nanking.
    • Day 12 of 50 of the Rape of Nanking.

1938 — , December 24

  • Spain: Day 891 of 985 of the Spanish Civil War.
  • CBI - China: Day 536 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 74 of 81 of Japan's Operation GUANGDONG.

1939 — , December 24

  • ETO: Pope Pius XII makes a Christmas appeal for peace.
  • Finland: Day 25 of 105 of the Russo-Finnish War.
  • CBI - China: Day 901 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 40 of 381 of the Battle of South Guangxi.

1940 — , December 24

  • ETO - UK: Day 110 of 258 of the Blitz.
  • MTO - North Africa: Day 16 of 63 of the UK's Operation COMPASS, their campaign in North Africa against the Italian troops in Egypt and Libya.
  • East Africa: Day 198 of 537 of Italy's East African campaign in the lands south of Egypt.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,267 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • CBI - Thailand: Day 85 of 221 of the Franco-Thai War (Vichy France vs Thailand).

1941 — , December 24

  • Germany: In a Christmas Eve radio broadcast to the German people, Joseph Goebbels says, "Earlier we sang of peace on earth in our songs. Now the time has come to fight for it. Peace through victory! That is our slogan."
    Spotlight...

    Joseph Goebbels with his daughters, Hilde and Helga, at a Christmas celebration in the Saalbau (Hall) Friedrichshain, Berlin, 1937, during the singing of the national anthems

    Christmas in Nazi Germany

    In order to bring Christmas in line with Nazi ideology, between 1933 and 1945, the Nazi regime sought to remove Christian symbolism from Christmas celebrations and associate the holiday with pre-Christian "Julfest" Nordic traditions of the winter solstice. Hymns and decorations were secularized.

    They claimed that the Christian elements of the holiday had been superimposed upon ancient Germanic traditions. Accordingly, holiday posters were made to depict Odin as the "Solstice man," riding a white charger, sporting a thick gray beard and wearing a slouch hat, carrying a sack full of gifts. The manger was replaced by a Christmas garden containing wooden toy deer and rabbits. Mary and Jesus were depicted as a blond mother and child.

    The Christmas tree was renamed in the press as fir tree, light tree or Jul tree. The star on the top of the tree was replaced with a swastika or a Germanic rune. During the height of the movement, an attempt was made to remove the association of the coming of Jesus and replace it with the coming of Adolf Hitler, referred to as the "Savior Führer."

    Heilent Night?

    Christmas carols were also changed. The words to "Silent Night" were changed to make no reference to God, Christ or religion. Words were also changed to the hymn "Unto Us a Time Has Come" so as to remove references to Jesus. The modified version of the hymn was in use for several more years in post-war Germany.

    Shop catalogs containing children's toys made available during the holiday season regularly featured toy tanks, fighter planes and machine guns. As a sign of appreciation, Heinrich Himmler frequently gave SS members a "Yule lantern," a kind of ornate Germanic candlestick, some of which were made at Dachau concentration camp. Housewives were prompted to bake biscuits in the shape of birds, wheels and swastikas for their children.

    By 1944 the movement to remove Christian influences from Christmas lessened as the government concentrated more on the war effort. The Government attempted in 1944-1945 to reinvent Christmas as a day to commemorate the dead, in particular fallen soldiers.

    Despite the Nazis' best efforts, habits among the population were not so easy to change. For the majority of Germans, the Christian traditions remained the basis of the holiday, and the churches maintained their Christian traditions within themselves.

    Of course the festival of Christmas has been largely secularized in much of the world over since the start of the 20th century, but the Nazi treatment was different. This had nothing to do with commercialism or growing secularism, but was based on promoting their racist ideology.

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  • Russian Front - North: Day 108 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 84 of 98 of the Battle of Moscow.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 56 of 248 of the Siege of Sevastopol, Crimean Peninsula.
  • MTO - Libya: British troops capture Benghazi.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 11 of 164 of Japan's Invasion of Burma.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,632 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 17 of 18 of the Battle of Hong Kong.
    • Day 1 of 99 of the 3rd Battle of Changsha.
  • CBI - Malaya: Day 17 of 55 of the Battle of British Malaya.
  • PTO - Borneo: Day 9 of 107 of the Battle of Borneo.
  • PTO - Marshall Islands: Day 17 of 17 of the Battle of Wake Island, aka the Alamo of the Pacific. US forces and civilian contractors defending the island are finally forced to surrender to the Japanese.
    Spotlight...

    Civilian contractors are marched off to captivity
    after the Japanese captured Wake Island

    Some of the captives were deemed important by the Japanese to finish construction projects, and were retained there on the island.

    Wake Island was one of the islands bombed by the Japanese as part of a wider bombing raid that coincided with the attack on Pearl Harbor. On 11 Dec 41, the Japanese invaded in force, but were repelled by the American garrison and their four remaining Wildcats. A siege and frequent Japanese air attacks on the Wake Island garrison continued, with the Americans unable to resupply them.

    The second Japanese invasion force was successful in taking the island from American hands, but at a cost of 820 men, while the US lost 120. The US made the decision not to attempt to retake the island, but to cut off the Japanese occupiers from reinforcement instead, which would mean they would eventually starve.

    In October of 1943, Rear Adm Shigematsu Sakaibara, commander of the Japanese forces there, ordered the 96 Allied prisoners of war who had been left behind shot dead on trumped-up charges of trying to signal American forces by radio, an atrocity for which he would eventually be tried for war crimes and executed in 1947.

    The Japanese garrison sat on Wake Island for the duration of the war, suffering the occasional US bombing raid, but no land invasion. In that time, 1,300 Japanese soldiers died from starvation, and 600 from American air attacks.

    On 04 Sep 45, the remaining 2,200 Japanese soldiers on Wake Island would finally lay down their arms, two days after their government has already formally capitulated.

    A May 1941 photo of the Wake Island atoll under Japanese control, taken from the northeast from a Navy Catalina flying boat.

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  • PTO - Philippines: Day 17 of 152 of the 1st Battle of the Philippines. Japanese troops make further landings on Luzon to the southeast of Manila in Lamon Bay.

1942 — , December 24

  • ETO: US 8th Air Force: The first P-47s arrive in England however, because of VHF radio and engine difficulties, the P-47s will not sent into combat until April 1943.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 473 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 36 of 59 of the Battle of Velikiye Luki, near Leningrad. This stalemate does help ease the siege a little, but mostly it keeps German troops from being sent to other fronts.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 234 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket, USSR lays siege to the Kholm Pocket but the Germans hold out for a about a year and a half.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 125 of 165 of the Battle of Stalingrad, bloodiest battle in human history.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 13 of 69 of the USSR's Operation LITTLE SATURN, a successful drive into the Northern Caucasus and the Donets Basin pushing the Axis troops out.
  • MTO - Algeria: Admiral Darlan, de facto head of the French Government in North Africa, is assassinated by a young Frenchman in Algiers. General Henry Giraud takes his place.
  • MTO - Tunisia: Day 38 of 178 of the Battle of Tunisia. British troops retake positions on Djebel el Ahmera. British 1st Army decides to hold off on making more attacks on Tunis until after the rainy season. US 9th and 12th Air Forces provide Allied air support.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 4 of 104 of the 1st Battle of Arakan.
  • CBI - China: Day 1,997 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • CBI - India: Day 5 of 5 of the Japanese Bombing of Calcutta. The worst bombing damage is inflicted on the city.
  • PTO - Alaska: Day 201 of 435 of the Battle of Kiska, Aleutian Islands.
  • PTO - Marshall Islands: The US bombs the Japanese at Wake Island.
  • PTO - Malaya: Day 309 of 357 of the Battle of Timor Island, a long guerrilla war ending in Japanese victory.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 36 of 66 of the Battle of Buna-Gona.
  • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 140 of 187 of the Battle of Guadalcanal.

1943 — , December 24

  • ETO - Germany: Day 37 of 135 of the Battle of Berlin (RAF bombing campaign). Missions are confined to mine laying.
  • ETO - France: US 8th Air Force B-17s and B-24s bomb V-weapon sites in the Pas de Calais area.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 838 of 872 of the Siege of Leningrad.
  • Russian Front - North: Day 599 of 658 of the Siege of the Kholm Pocket. USSR lays siege to the Kholm Pocket but the Germans hold out for a about a year and a half.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 1 of 113 of the USSR's Dnieper-Carpathian Offensive in southwestern Ukraine.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 1 of 22 of the Battle of Zhitomir, Russia.
  • MTO - Italy: RAF and US Air Forces provide air support for the Allied ground units.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,362 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 97 of 219 of the Battle of Shaggy Ridge.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 94 of 162 of the Battle of the Huon Peninsula.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 10 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain.
  • PTO - Solomon Islands: Day 54 of 295 of the Battle of the Bougainville Islands.

1944 — , December 24

  • ETO - Belgium: Day 9 of 41 of the Battle of the Bulge. Belgian nurse Augusta Chiwy is presumed killed in Bastogne when her aid station is shelled. Decades later she is discovered alive and well and is knighted by Belgium and honored by the US Army.
    Spotlight...

    Belgian nurse Augusta Chiwy age 93 in 2011 and circa 1944

    On Christmas Eve 1944, the aid station in Bastogne where Augusta Chiwy had been working was hit by a German bomb, killing more than two dozen US soldiers and Renee Lamaire, another volunteer nurse. For years Chiwy was reported to have been among the dead.

    Originally from the Belgian Congo, during the siege of Bastogne she worked with US Army Medic John "Jack" Prior and fellow Belgian Renee Lemaire, treating injured soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge, saving the lives of hundreds during the battle. She treated soldiers at the 10th Armored Division's aid station and even out on the battlefield. At the time there was only one doctor treating wounded and dying American soldiers during a week-long siege of the town.

    When the German shell hit, Chiwy was blown through a wall, but survived. After the explosion, she simply got up and got back to tending the wounded.

    Stephen Ambrose made a passing reference to Augusta Chiwy in his book, and subsequent miniseries "Band of Brothers." British military historian and author Martin King heard about her while engaged in research and eventually found her, alive and well and living in a retirement home outside Brussels. King campaigned for four years to get Nurse Augusta Chiwy the recognition she deserves.

    On 24 June 2011 Augusta Chiwy was made a Knight in the Order of the Crown, Belgium's highest civilian honor. The medal was presented in the name of King Albert II of Belgium by Belgium's Minister of Defence Pieter De Crem. On 12 December 2011 Lady Augusta Chiwy was awarded the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service which was handed to her by US Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman.

    "A black face in all that white snow was a pretty easy target. Those Germans must be terrible marksmen," Chiwy was quoted as saying during the battle.

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  • Atlantic: In the English Channel, U-486 sinks the Allied troop carrier SS LEOPOLDVILLE with the loss of 763 men of the US 66th Infantry Division.
  • ETO - France: Day 146 of 284 of the Battle of Brittany.
  • ETO - France: Day 101 of 236 of the Siege of Dunkirk.
  • ETO - France: US 8th Air Force B-24s hit the coastal battery at La Pallicein.
  • ETO - Germany: Day 97 of 145 of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.
  • ETO - Germany: US 8th Air Force B-17s and B-24s attack several cities in western Germany.
  • Russian Front - Finland: Day 101 of 223 of the Lapland War. Finland and Russia have joined forces to kick the Germans out of Finland's most northern province.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 71 of 206 of the Battle of the Courland Pocket in Latvia.
  • Russian Front - Center: Day 64 of 99 of the Siege of Memel, a border town of Lithuania and East Prussia.
  • Russian Front - South: Day 57 of 108 of the Battle of Budapest, Hungary.
  • MTO - Italy: US and Royal Air Forces provides air support for the Allied ground units.
  • CBI - Burma: Day 268 of 302 of the Chinese Salween Offensive.
  • CBI - China: Day 2,728 of 2,987 of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War.
    • Day 252 of 259 of Japan's Operation ICHI-GO.
  • PTO - Guam: Day 1 of 2 of the Agana Race Riot in Agana, Guam, between African-American military personnel and white enlisted men, one of the most serious such incidents during the war. It is bad enough to become known as the 3rd Battle of Guam.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 363 of 597 of the Battle of New Britain.
  • PTO - New Guinea: Day 247 of 481 of the Battle of Western New Guinea.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 66 of 299 of the 2nd Battle of the Philippines, aka the Liberation of the Philippines or the Philippines Campaign.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 66 of 73 of the Battle of Leyte.
  • PTO - Philippines: Day 10 of 244 of the Battle of Luzon.

Day-By-Day listings for December 24 were last modified on Thursday, January 28, 2016
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