June 21, 2018

Soldiers honor WWII tradition

US Soldiers honor WWII tradition with Christmas Eve in the caves of Maastricht

Soldiers from the U.S. Army participated in the annual mass honoring the Christmas Eve Mass celebrated by American soldiers in 1944. For the second year, USA Charge d’affaires Mr Shawn Crowley and his wife Sabine represented the United States Mission.

December 24th, 1944, the Dutch Brothers of the Immaculate Conception organized a Christmas Eve Mass in the Schark Cave, close to the St. Pieter’s Mountain in Maastricht.

Between 250 and 280 mostly young American soldiers, who were based in Maastricht and surrounding areas, attended this special Christmas celebration in the small cave.

WWII soldiers signing their names in charcoal on the cave wall of ‘De Schark’ at the 1944 Christmas eve mass in Maastricht, Netherlands.
Photo: The foundation of the Commemoration of the American Celebration 1944 (S.H.A.K. 1944)

This was an emotional Christmas celebration for many young men who knew they were headed to the Battle of the Bulge in the near future. The Schark Cave was a place of brief refuge in wartime as Brothers and civilians came together in solidarity.

After the Mass these young soldiers signed their signatures in charcoal on the cave wall (see photo). The Dutch foundation “Commemoration of the American Christmas Celebration 1944” (SHAK 1944) organizes this annual commemoration each Christmas Eve to honor the event.

 

 

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