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24 Dec 1943 Children's Christmas Party
Father Christmas is 1Lt Wightman A. Roach
A lone Flying Fortress circled for a landing at Molesworth, wildly shooting red and green flares, while 200 British children between the ages of five and 14 stood and gazed up with awe and anticipation on their faces.
Early in the afternoon of 24 December, kids gathered from local schools and churches by Chaplain Edmund J. Skoner were sweating out the arrival of Father Christmas, who was aboard the American bomber dispatched to ferry him from the North Pole. As the Fort landed and taxied around the perimeter, it took the combined efforts of 40 soldiers to prevent the kids from swarming over the ship before it stopped.
But, when the waist door opened and the red-cloaked Father Christmas stepped out with his bag of toys, not even the Fifth Army could have held back the charge of the children. Just try to hold on to five to eight-year-old kids when they want to go anywhere.
Earlier in the day, the kids had stuffed themselves on G. I. chow and laughed at Mickey Mouse in the Base theater. Old Pappy Christmas was the climax of the party and led his young guests back to the Red Cross Aero Club via jeep. Here the kids queued up to get their Christmas gifts, contributed by the G. I.s who had scoured shops on leave and shared their own Christmas packages. Candy, saved from PX rations, was a big hit with the kids and the ice cream disappeared faster than the Red Cross girls could dish it out. The English kids favored sweets the same as American kids and probably had a lot of tummy aches that night.
The queen of the party, by mutual consent, was Miss Monique Hoefrons, a petite and radiantly glowing nine-year-old young lady. The host for the day was Colonel Kermit D. Stevens, who escorted Monique to lunch and to the party. Monique said, "It was a very nice party. I am sure that we all had a lovely time."
1Lt Wightman A. Roach, who played Father Christmas, liked kids and was perfect for this part. Sgt Henry C. Pendl, T/Sgt Harold E. Rush, Sgt Byron J. Openshaw and Pvt Alfred Tornlino also served on the entertainment committee. The Base Assistant Director of the Red Cross Aero Club, Miss Lucille H. Parker, of New York City, took charge of the party.