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Corsican Kids Christmas Party With the 57th Bomb Wing 1944

by on December 18, 2013


On December 23, 1944, weather on the island of Corsica was bleak and dreary, as it had been for most of the winter. Many of the children who lived on the island had never known a real Christmas because of the ongoing Second World War.  So, the 57th Bombardment Wing of the Army Air Forces (AAF) and its chaplains decided to give a Christmas party like the ones Americans were familiar with at home. The men from the squadron donated money for gifts and shared their candy and cookies for the party.

The National Archives film Corsican Kids Christmas Party” captures this event. This silent, unedited film is from Record Group 18, Records of the Army Air Forces, and is from the “Combat Subjects” Program Series. The film was shot by Army Air Forces 9th Combat Camera Unit (AAF CCU).

The party was held in an old warehouse being used as a theater. The children were treated to some “GI” movies, and members of the 57th serenaded the children with Christmas carols.  A French-speaking GI Santa Claus, Sgt. A.L. Kurth of New York City, was seated before a table spread with presents. Each child could make a survey of the toys and select just the one they wanted to take home, as well as a grab bag of other Christmas goodies.  The children responded to their hosts with their own Christmas caroling and smiles. The children can be seen happily accepting donuts but the cold ice cream they were given didn’t go down so well because of the cold winter weather.

Cameraman Lt. W. T. Blume noted in his production file remarks that he used two 400 foot rolls of film and poor artificial light to record the event.  He explained further that the individual scenes were unslated because of “chaotic conditions caused by a surging, turbulent mob of seventy little French speaking children.”  The lighting was often erratic for the same reason. The production file also notes that “the children were very thrilled with the whole thing and the party was declared a success.”

This map of  Corsica, captured from the Germans Army, and held by NARA’s Cartographic Branch, (RG 242-German Army-Misc. Maps of Italy)  is an outline showing potential targets of allied airfields, including the ones used by the 57th Bombardment Wing.


Comments

Taddei December 20, 2013 at 9:35 am

The Corsican kids were from my village Migliacciaro which was the 57th Bomb Wing headquarters. Lt Wilbur T Blume was the 9th CCU cameraman, I was with the Kids and was 6 years old.
Dominique Taddei USS Corsica

Julie Martin December 20, 2013 at 11:41 am

Thank you for posting this! My Dad (Jim “Red” Martin) arrived in Corsica as part of the 57th Bomb Wing just after New Years 1945. It was amazing to see this in-person experience of the base and some of our men from around that time. FYI – the 57th Bomb Wing Association is still very active – see the website – an amazing resource for researchers: http://www.57thbombwing.com.
Again, thanks for all your good work!

Carrie December 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm

So glad to hear your personal stories about this event and thank you for the additional information about the 57th Bomb Wing.

Burton Blume December 25, 2013 at 3:59 pm

My father, Lt. Wilbur T. Blume shot the footage of the children’s Christmas party. He was a member of the 9th Combat Camera Unit based at Alesani Field. It would be wonderful if the National Archives could make other films produced by these service men available to the public. In particular, I would like to see “Training During Combat” (1944) and “Blood Goes to Battle.” The latter was shot on the fringe of the Voges Forest in Southern France, shortly after the rescue of the “Lost Battalion” by the men of the legendary 442nd Infantry Brigade.

Carrie December 30, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Mr. Blume we can definitely consider your suggestions for future postings. Thank you for your input.

Victor J. Hancock February 1, 2014 at 5:25 pm

Thank you for the poignant film which shows the relationship between American soldiers and the children of Corsica–some who exist today-namely Dominique Taddei and La Bandera. I enjoyed my short sojourn on this beautiful island.

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