- Gill, C. Hermion
- History - general
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- September 1975 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Christmas 1944 was celebrated in a variety of ways and under widely differing conditions in the RAN. Here are just a few recorded by C. Hermion Gill.
THERE WERE, HOWEVER, oases in the culinary desert, and these flowered on Christmas Day. This was, by the exigencies of the times, a moveable feast in the Australian ships. Shropshire, for instance, observed it on 17th December, and Midshipman Francis recorded that ‘with an excellent meal of roast turkey and plum pudding most enjoyed a very excellent day‘. That was in Seeadler Harbour, where Warramunga also celebrated Christmas, but on 21st December. Shropshire’s chaplain conducted a choral service on the destroyer’s forecastle, followed by a Communion Service. Before dinner, Alliston and his officers went the rounds on the messdecks ‘which, in accordance with tradition, were excellently decorated. The prevailing motif was palm fronds and beer bottles.’ The Victualling Stores Issuing Ship Merkur has arrived, and Alliston recorded that the standard of the Christmas fare she brought ‘. . . was excellent. The turkeys in particular were of first class quality . . . Altogether, Christmas Day 1944, was an outstanding day for all hands, the fact that it was so I consider to be a great tribute to the ship’s company spirit and morale – much was made out of very little.‘
Warramunga’s Christmas menu was: Breakfast – Fresh fruit, tea and coffee, cereal, fried eggs and bacon; Dinner – Roast turkey and ham, beans and peas, plum pudding and brandy sauce, fruit trifle and jelly, nuts and beer; Tea – Christmas cake, nuts, iced fruit juice; Supper – Giblet soup, cold roast pork and ham, potato salad and mayonnaise, iced fruit juice.
By way of contrast, Gascoyne, celebrating her Christmas on 25th December in Guiuan Harbour, south-east Samar, had a busy, if fruitful time. Her Captain wrote in his letters of proceedings.
‘Nippon’s Christmas present was received when Sommelsdijk was torpedoed by aerial torpedo in number one lower hold port, immediately catching fire, the cargo being general stores, and logistic supplies for the 1,300 CB Naval Troops carried on board. This ship was anchored about 1½ miles to the north-west of us, several reefs intervening. The visibility was poor, no moon and occasional heavy rain squalls and it was not until 8.35 p.m. when a signal was received from the Dutchman that it was appreciated that anything untoward had happened, the torpedoing, occurring on the side away from us’ The festive celebrations were continued when the ship returned to port.