Christmas in wartime

These images show New Zealand military personnel celebrating Christmas during the First World War and the Second World War, the post-war occupation of Japan, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

Christmas during wartime gave soldiers a rare opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves away from the stresses and hardships of combat. It was also a time of sadness for many New Zealanders, both overseas and back home, as they thought of their absent family, lovers and friends far away.

Christmas parcels despatched from New Zealand supplied special food, drink and other treats as well as Christmas cards and mail. During the Second World War the men of 28 (Maori) Battalion especially welcomed the delivery of mutton-birds and other favourite foods from back home.

Despite the difficult circumstances of wartime, service personnel often put a great deal of effort into creating a celebratory, festive atmosphere.

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