❅ Part of the KB41 Collection Fröhliche Weihnachten series - 2022 Edition ❆
The photograph here shows Heer Kanoniers around a 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 18 Howitzer, somewhere on the eastern front at Weihnachten 1942. The photograph of the Kanoniers shows them enjoying themselves despite the harsh conditions whilst in the field and away from their families at Christmas time. Unfortunately there is no names or unit known of these young Kanoniers but this photograph shows that despite conflict their is still time to celebrate Christmas in the field.
The Kanoniers are seen wearing two different tunic types as they pose for the photograph. The M36 and M40 tunics are seen in wear, the M36's clear and notable difference in this photograph is the bottle green collar. Four of the Kanoniers seen in the photograph appear to be wearing the M36 tunic, these are seen on the right towards the wheel of the 15cm sFH 18 and the other two notably seen on the left with the barrel of the Howitzer. Of these Kanoniers wearing the M36 tunic is the Unteroffizier seen standing on the left, this Uffz can be identified by the tresse around the collar on his tunic and shoulder boards in addition to his shiny belt buckle, as he is the only Kanonier wearing a belt. The Unteroffizier seen here is also the highest ranking Kanonier of the group. He stands holding the bowl of his long tobacco pipe. The Kameraden seen here enduring the cold and harsh conditions of winter are luckier than others in the Wehrmacht as at least three at the front are seen wearing the Winterstiefel (Winter boots). In comparison to standard German Jackboots, the Winterstiefel provided additional warmth and comfort that was favoured in these extreme cold conditions. These Winterstiefel can seen by the felt padding instead of the standard leather in a greyer colours.
Warmth and morale would have been low during this time for Soldaten, not only due the cold winter climate but being away from their families and loved ones at Weihnachten (Christmas). This photograph shows that despite being away from their families' that Weihnachten can still be celebrated, even in the field as seen here. Presents and Feldposts would be exchanged at this period, with this in mind it is likely that such tree decorations seen here were sent from home. Such items from home whether it was gifts or letters from home, this exchange kept morale and the Christmas spirit alive for those in service. The attempt of a Christmas tree being that of a tree with no leaves or pine needles is decorated with scraps of material for tinsel and the other tree decoration could be sent from home or hand made too. All adding to the man made Christmas on the front, the letters "F r i e d e n a u f E r d e n " can be seen displayed on the front of the artillery shells for the 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 18 Howitzer. The words "Frieden auf Erden" translating to "Peace On Earth" a bittersweet message to be written on the shells but a message that those of all nations were praying for as just like previous conflicts many were forced to partake in the conflict. The Kanoniers seen here marking the occasion with "Weihnachten 1942" (Christmas 1942). The Kanoniers un aware that there would be another two Weihnachten celebrations before a final end to the conflict in Europe on the 8th May 1945. The photograph would have been reflected upon by Soldaten as a memory they had of time together at Weihnachten in 1942 and possibly reflected upon if they survived to see Weihnachten 1943. The photo may also have been sent home in a feldpost to the families of those seen in the photograph to show them in service celebrating just as they did when they were home.