Christmas in Wartime. One of the notable aspects of World War 2, aside from it being the first war to be broadcast as extensively as it was, it was the War that took entertainment and turned it into a patriotic and recruitment tool.
Shortly after our involvement began in December of 1941, efforts to build and sustain morale were put into high gear. With radio as the predominant media at the time, it was used extensively to not only report the war from various battlefronts, it also took the homefront to the battlefield by way of The Armed Forces Radio Service; an improvised, sometimes rag-tag broadcasting setup aimed to bring entertainment to the troops in every conceivable way possible.
The effort was enormous – entertainment shows from the States, which were originally broadcast live, were now recorded for re-broadcast to the Armed forces all over the world. Thousands of hours of broadcasts were pressed on to vinyl discs and shipped to outposts and military bases to be played where ever it was possible to listen.
Because the Armed Forces Radio service was strictly for the use of the Military, civilians didn’t really get much of an idea of what went on. So, as a way of introducing the service and to let the civilian population know just what it was doing, The Armed Forces Radio service, in conjunction with all the major American Radio networks at the time did a special Command Performance program, to give the homefront some idea of what the fighting front was listening to.
Command Performance was a veritable avalanche of Hollywood talent, all contributing their time and services for the cause of the War effort and the entertainment of the troops – it was a weekly one-hour spectacular which, with the exception of this broadcast from Christmas Eve, 1942 was never heard outside of military installations and operations. It was a glimpse of what the troops were listening to and it was as much a morale boost to civilians as it was to the Armed Forces.
Many names you won’t be familiar with – they were Popular culture icons of the 1940s and most are forgotten now. But these were the stars that America flocked to see and listen to. The comedy is of the time – the sentiments may seem strange. It was a different era, but it was an important era in our history.
Christmas from 76 years ago.