A Wartime Thanksgiving

Do you ever wonder what Thanksgiving is like for those in the midst of war far away from their loved ones? Sometimes we can catch a glimpse of these holidays spent away from home via the collections in our archives. For instance, tucked among the papers of Dr. James Thomson is a 1944 Thanksgiving dinner menu for the 45th General Hospital located in Naples, Italy. Thomson was a surgeon at this hospital and thanks to his saving this menu we know that they were treated to a proper Thanksgiving meal. The staff feasted on traditional fare such as roast turkey, chestnut dressing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce. This meal provided the medical staff with a little slice of home in the midst of treating the wounded soldiers. They certainly earned a good meal as the daily patient average for the hospital in November 1944 was 2,253.1  Below are images of the menu, photographs of the mess halls for the hospital, and a photograph of Dr. Thomson.

These and many more fascinating items are found in the collections at Tompkins-McCaw Library, Special Collections and Archives at Virginia Commonwealth University. For more information about the James L. and Dorothy Knowles Thomson papers please view the finding aid located in the Virginia Heritage database. To learn more about the collections at Tompkins-McCaw Library please visit our website.

thanksgiving_menu

Thanksgiving menu, 45th General Hospital 1944

Thanksgiving menu, 45th General Hospital 1944

Officers and nurses mess hall, 45th General Hospital, Naples, Italy, 1945

Officers and nurses mess hall, 45th General Hospital, Naples, Italy, 1945

 

Detachment mess hall, 45th General Hospital, Naples, Italy, 1945

Detachment mess hall, 45th General Hospital, Naples, Italy, 1945

Dr. James L. Thompson, Bagnoli, Italy, April 1944

Dr. James L. Thomson, Bagnoli, Italy, April 1944.

Brashear, Alton D. From Lee to Bari: The History of the Forty-Fifth General Hospital, 1940-1945. Whittet & Shepperson (Richmond, Va.) 1957.

 

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