Christmas in Germany, 1944

Pfc John Franklin Cook, 1944

Pfc John Franklin Cook, 1944

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Noon Christmas Day, 1944

Merry Christmas Darling!

And to all my three daughters a happy one. I thought of all of you through the long Xmas eve night and just had to dig out this scrap of paper and say it to you even though it will be late getting there.

I’m sitting in the uncovered part of my hole and the sun is shining on the snow. “White Christmas” is a nice song but not for outdoor living.

We argued yesterday about whether it was Christmas Eve or not and finally found out that it was. One person has said, “Merry Christmas” to me so far and I guess that’s all I’ll hear of it, but plenty goes on in my mind and I know that you will understand my longing to be with you at this time.

Just before dawn, I said a prayer for all the war’s sorrowful people, that their sorrows would be lessened, and that this mad killing would come to an end – and could go no further, not even a prayer for you and me. It was the first time I had cried in years and I felt calm and steady later, better than I had felt for days and weeks. There at dawn all the shelling ceased for the first time since coming here, and an amazing, peaceful, stillness came and lasted for several minutes, with the twitter of a bird in the distance the only living sound.

Later, at sunrise, the same thing happened and lasted for almost an hour and the morning has been comparatively quiet.

So that is Christmas at the front, with frozen meat and beans and vegetables, canned stew for dinner. There is a rumor that we each get a turkey sandwich after dark, but we’re not sure.

Don’t feel too bad about it, though, ’cause we will sure make up for it next year, won’t we, Sugar?

Excuse the paper. I put it on my pack with my mess gear and it is dirty and damp. (So is the envelope and so am I. I’m dirty enough, anyway.)

Please send me a box of food. Crackers, cheese, peanut butter mixed with honey, etc. cookies and candy, too, but no hard candy, and that’s an official request.

And last of all, I love you dearly, with all the ability of my heart and mind. Keep your same sweet self for me and for my return—how soon I don’t know, but am hoping and praying that it is soon.

As ever,

Editors Note: Sent by my father, John Franklin Cook (1909 – 1955) to my mother, Helen Thomas Cook (1916-1999) Postmarked Dec 30, 1944, and received in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb 12, 1945.

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.
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6 Responses to Christmas in Germany, 1944

  1. joe mcdonald says:

    thanks nancy for sharing something so personal; your father’s faith, under such trying times, shines through his letter

  2. Charles Neubecker says:

    Very moving. Merry Christmas!

  3. nancyhvest says:

    Nancy, thank you for sharing this. My father was in Europe in 1944, serving as an airplane and glider mechanic.

    • Nancy Ward says:

      Thanks for sharing, Nancy. I realize that the letter was written only 11 years before my father died in 1955. We were glad that he survived the war and we had him for a few years. Christmas was always special to him.

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