Soldiers of US Third Army fighting to relieve besieged troops at Bastogne, Belgium, Dec. 1944 (US Army photo)
75 Years Ago—December 26, 1944: US Third Army under Patton opens a corridor to Bastogne, relieving the defenders.
German Ardennes Offensive grinds to a halt due to stiff opposition and to supply problems caused by Allied bombing.
In Italy, Germans launch counterattack against US Fifth Army in the Serchio Valley, retaking territory.
US Army allows blacks to volunteer for combat infantry duty in black platoons in existing white units.
Tennessee Williams’s play The Glass Menagerie premieres in Chicago.
Finnish Army Lieutenant Aarne Juutilainen and his company holding a Christmas service near the Kollaa River, Finland, 24 Dec 1939 (public domain via WW2 Database)
80 Years Ago—December 25, 1939: For Christmas in Britain, midnight church services are cancelled so stained glass windows won’t have to be blacked out, carolers are not allowed to use handbells, and the carol service at Westminster Abbey is cancelled since the choirboys have been evacuated from London.
Soviets attempt to break out at Suomussalmi, Finland, but fail.
Soldiers of the 463rd Combat Engineers in France near the German border observe Christmas, 25 Dec 1944; note K-ration cans as ornaments (US Army Signal Corps photo)
75 Years Ago—Dec. 25, 1944: US Sixth Army lands at Palompon on Leyte in the Philippines, cutting off the last Japanese port on the island and ending the assault phase of the campaign.
Brig. Gen. Frederick Castle on his promotion, 14 December 1944, ten days before his death (US Army Air Forces photo)
80 Years Ago—December 24, 1939: On Christmas Eve, Pope Pius XII appeals for peace.
75 Years Ago—Dec. 24, 1944: In the largest mission of the war, 2034 heavy bombers of the US Eighth Air Force bomb German targets in the Ardennes.
Brig. Gen. Frederick Castle dies in a B-17 crash after giving his crew time to bail out; he will receive the Medal of Honor.
Two-day Guam Riot begins: white Marines open fire at black Marines who had been talking to Asian women; 2 blacks will be killed in armed riots and 43 blacks—and no whites—will be court-martialed.
The San Francisco Ballet performs the first full-length performance of The Nutcracker ever in the US.
Map noting the objective of and actual ground gained during the German Ardennes Offensive, 16-26 Dec 1944 (US Army)
80 Years Ago—December 23, 1939: British form Military Intelligence Section 9 (MI9) to aid resistance fighters, downed airmen, and POWs in Nazi-occupied countries.
Troops of US 101st Airborne Division watching C-47 Skytrain aircraft delivering supplies to their unit, Bastogne, Belgium, 26 Dec 1944. (US Army Signal Corps)
75 Years Ago—Dec. 23, 1944: Germans reach maximum range of Ardennes offensive, within 3 miles of the Meuse River.
US C-47 cargo planes drop supplies, including medical supplies, into surrounded Bastogne, Belgium.
In US, all horse and dog racing is banned to save labor, effective January 3, 1945.
At Papago Park camp in Arizona, 25 German POWs escape, ecstatic about successes in the Battle of the Bulge, but their plan to float down a river to Mexico goes awry due to the riverbed being dry; all are recaptured by January 28, 1945.
Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s Christmas letter to the US 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne, Belgium in which he recreated the German surrender demand and his response (Source: US Army)
80 Years Ago—December 22, 1939: Finnish Army Group Talvela overruns Soviet 75th Division at Ägläjärvi, Finland.
75 Years Ago—Dec. 22, 1944: Germans demand surrender of surrounded Bastogne, Belgium—US Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe replies, “Nuts!”
US Third Army under Gen. George Patton launches offensive on the southern flank of Bulge.
Movie premiere of Winged Victory, with Army Air Force men in the cast and with Red Buttons in his debut.
Two soldiers of US 101st Airborne Division with bazookas guard road leading to Bastogne, Belgium, 23 Dec 1944 (US Army Center of Military History)
75 Years Ago—December 21, 1944: In the Battle of the Bulge, Germans surround US troops in Bastogne, Belgium and take the crossroads at St. Vith after heavy fighting.
US Sixth Army secures Ormoc Valley on Leyte.
Last class of WAVES officers graduates, and the first two African-American WAVES officers complete training and are commissioned.
Lt. (j.g.) Harriet Ida Pickens (left) and Ens. Frances Wills close a suitcase after graduating from the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School (WR) at Northampton, MA, 21 December 1944. They were the Navy’s first African-American WAVES officers and graduated with the Northampton school’s final class. (U.S. Navy Photograph)
Former US President Herbert Hoover, Dr. van Loon, and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia raising funds for Finland for the Winter War, New York, New York, 20 Dec 1939 (public domain via WW2 Database)
80 Years Ago—December 20, 1939: “Let’s Help Finland” event is held at Madison Square Garden, New York City.
Capt. Hans Langsdorff, captain of scuttled German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee, commits suicide in Argentina.
Eight WASP pilots in front of a North American AT-6 Texan a month before the WASPs were disbanded, Waco Army Airfield, Texas, 27 Nov 1944 (US Army Air Force photo)
75 Years Ago—Dec. 20, 1944: US terminates WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) program—returning combat airmen will perform their ferrying services; 1037 women served, with 38 fatalities.
Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, is appointed 5-star general of the army.
Paratroopers of the US 101st Airborne near Bastogne, December 1944 (US Army Center of Military History)
80 Years Ago—December 19, 1939: Inside US territorial waters off Florida, British light cruiser Orion fires at German freighter Arauca, violating Pan-American Neutrality Zone; Arauca puts in to port at Port Everglades, FL.
75 Years Ago—Dec. 19, 1944: In the Battle of the Bulge, US 101st Airborne Division arrives in Bastogne, Belgium to protect the crucial crossroads.
Germans capture two regiments (7000 men) of US 106th Infantry Division on Schnee Eifel, including writer Kurt Vonnegut, the largest US mass surrender of the war except at Bataan.
Chinese troops at Kunlunguan Pass, Guangxi Province, 18 Dec 1939 (public domain via WW2 Database)
80 Years Ago—December 18, 1939: Battle of Helgoland Bight—German Luftwaffe aircraft shoot down 10 of 22 RAF Wellington bombers, and two more Wellingtons ditch at sea.
Chinese troops defeat Japanese at Longhua in Hubei Province and at Kunlunguan Pass in Guangxi Province, China.
Light carrier USS Cowpens rolling in heavy seas in Typhoon Cobra, 18 Dec 1944 (US Navy photo)
75 Years Ago—Dec. 18, 1944: In its first mass incendiary raid, US Twentieth Bomber Command B-29s destroy Japanese-held Hankow, China.
In Typhoon Cobra off Samar in the Philippines, US Third Fleet loses destroyers Hull (202 killed), Monaghan (257 killed), and Spence (315 killed)—only 91 survive on all three ships.
Caroline Adams knows two things – she wasn’t cut out for high society after all and she’s tired of living under her father’s roof at Fort Reno. The 1889 Land Run in Oklahoma gives her a chance to make it on her own, perhaps opening a boardinghouse for weary travelers.
Shaking off his roguish past, new lawyer Frisco Smith has worked hard to open the land for settlers. He has his property marked out and sells lots in the town he plans to build. However, he arrives at his desired property to find a stake planted by the pretty major’s daughter he used to enjoy flirting with.
Devastated, Frisco takes a small lot in a neighboring town site, determined to win his land back – one way or another!
Once again, Regina Jennings has given us a fun romp of a story, backed by fascinating history of a chaotic and exciting time in America. The vulnerability behind Frisco’s roguish exterior and the grit behind Caroline’s polished veneer make you care deeply for both of them – and cheer on their romance. Oh yes – and a goat named Bucky. The Major’s Daughter is another winner!