By Jason Clingerman
During World War II, the American National Red Cross (ANRC) provided many services to enlisted men serving abroad in Europe and elsewhere. Importantly, they set up clubs for enlisted men to enjoy for recreational purposes in order to take a break from their wartime duties. One of these clubs was in Rome.
In 1944, the Red Cross organized a Thanksgiving celebration at the club in Rome. The celebration included a snack bar and many Thanksgiving decorations. For the troops serving in Rome, this was likely a welcome relief and a reminder of home to celebrate Thanksgiving there.
Ann Arnold Citron, who worked with the Red Cross in Italy and North Africa during World War II, donated these photographs that document the Thanksgiving festivities at the club in Rome.
It was a joy for me to stumble upon these photographs while processing the records. It is nice to know that our troops, who were not lucky enough to celebrate Thanksgiving at home with their families, were still able to celebrate the holiday while serving our country overseas thanks to the Red Cross.
The photographs are found in the file unit “Thanksgiving American Red cross (ARC) Club, Rome, 1944″ (National Archives Identifier 5753484), part of the series “Personal Papers and Photographs, 1942-1945″ (National Archives Identifier 5726879) donated by Ann Arnold Citron. This series also includes photographs of other holiday celebrations during World War II. These records are currently available for research at Archives II.