January 1942: London stands in ruins and covered in snow after German bombing in the Second World War. A crane and truck can be seen clearing debris.
St Paul’s Cathedral – which survived the Blitz – is in the background.
28th December 1940: Members of the Australian 2/15th Infantry Battalion wait to board the troop transport the Queen Mary at Pyrmont in Sydney. They were about to leave to fight in the Middle East.
Second World War.
Happy Christmas Eve! Here’s is a season-appropriate painting by French artist Timoléon Marie Lobrichon (1831-1914), titled La Vitrine du magasin de jouets.
23rd December 1953: Australian soldiers finish decorating a Christmas tree near the new border between North and South Korea. The tree is decorated with electric lights, to be powered by a generator.
The Korean War ended earlier that year, in July. 17 000 Australians served in Korea between 1950 and 1953.
In a photograph dated the 17th of December, 1933, American communists attack a group of Ukrainians in Chicago, USA. The Ukrainians were demonstrating to raise awareness of the Holodomor, Stalin’s genocide of millions of people in Ukraine.
Between 1932 and 1933 Soviet authorities confiscated the food and crops of millions of ethnic Ukrainians, deliberately starving them to death. A similar genocide was also committed in Kazakhstan, where 42% of the ethnic population was killed and replaced with Russian colonists.
Unlike the Holocaust, there was very limited Western media coverage of the Holodomor, despite conservative estimates putting Ukraine’s death toll on par with it, and other estimates putting it even higher. This was because prominent journalists were either friends of Stalin or communists themselves, and they refused to report on it.
1873 illustration from the first Ukrainian translation. X
The story, about a “thumb-sized” girl who goes on an adventure involving toads, birds, and a mole, and who then meets a miniature prince, wasn’t well-received at the time because it didn’t teach any morals.
The first English translation of the book was completed by Mary Howitt in the 1840s.
Usually omitted from English versions of the story, Andersen’s original featured a bluebird telling the story to Andersen himself. The bird had been in love with Thumbelina, and was heartbroken when she married the prince.
Christmas Day in the London Bridge Canteen depicts HRH Princess Helena Victoria, creator and Chairman of the Ladies’ Auxiliary Committee of the YMCA paying a visit to workers during the First World War.
The princess, a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, was one of a number of royals to drop German names from her title at the outbreak of the war. She never married, but went on to live through both World Wars.
The image was created by war artist Clare Atwood in 1920. Atwood, an unusual woman for her time, was a known lesbian who lived in a ménage à trois relationship with two other women until their deaths.
Nearly one in ten of the personnel serving under Britain’s Royal Air Force command in the Second World War were from the Royal Australian Air Force.