Handy Island

Handy Island
"The Air War Finds A Handy South Atlantic Island" was the caption on this Peter Hurd painting of Ascension Island, from Life Magazine, April 1945. It was the only place for pilots to refuel between Natal and West Africa.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Christmas on Ascension: December 1944

Air Corps wings atop the Corps of Engineers castle insignia. This is a Christmas card sent home by my father from Ascension Island in (as indicated) December 1943.

Birmingham News
January 15, 1944
(page 12)
"Scribblers Take Note"

"CHRISTMAS AT ASCENSION ISLAND ... No doubt you've all read the story by John Gunther published in a recent monthly magazine describing the grand work done by the Army engineers and the air force on Ascension Island, one of our allies' most important possessions in the Atlantic, situated about halfway between Africa and Brazil.

Sgt. Dan Martin, son of Mr. and Mrs. D.S. Martin of this city, who has been stationed on Ascension for 18 months, where he serves as base photographer, has written his parents describing Christmas on the island:

"It began several weeks before Christmas Day when 1,000 bags of Christmas packages arrived.  About a week later, Luise Rainer and a group of USO entertainers dropped in--you literally drop in at Ascension since, it of course is an air base only--to put on a show.  Then when Christmas Day came, the usual services were held in both Catholic and Protestant churches with turkey dinner following.

That night, Nelson Eddy and his accompanist landed and gave the boys a concert in the sand bag theater erected on the slope of a hill. Dan was particularly impressed with the beauty of the scene when at the end of the program the boys joined Nelson in singing the familiar Christmas carols and in the distance a white lighted cross--erected by the soldiers--burned on top of a volcano."

Silent night--not so unusual on a desert island that was really in the middle of nowhere. Painting by Peter Hurd, for the Army Air Corps artists program.

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