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Jews in Army and Navy Request Duty on Christmas to Relieve Non-jewish Comrades

Many thousands of Jewish servicemen have voluntarily requested camp duty on Christmas Day so that comrades of Christian faith may be at liberty to observe the holiday, according to reports received today by the National Jewish Welfare Board from more than one hundred naval and military establishments.

Jewish girls serving with the WACs this year joined the men for the first time in making the good-will gesture. Women of Jewish faith in the WAC station complement at Fort Benning, Ga., were the first to ask their commanding officer to be placed on duty during the holiday and three cadre members of the complement, normally exempt from K.P. chores, have requested such duty.

The Jewish men at Camp Ellis, Ill. had printed in their camp paper the following notice: “As a gesture of friendship, Jewish servicemen at Camp Ellis, at their regular religious services Friday night, unanimously agreed to offer to remain on duty on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in order that the maximum number of their buddies of other religious faiths might thus be able to observe Christmas. This voluntary action has been communicated to the Commanding General.”

At Camp Fannin, Texas, Jewish officers and members of the cadre joined the enlisted men in requesting holiday duty. Leaves and furloughs due Jewish men during the holiday season were cancelled at the request of the men themselves. Camp Berkley. Texas; Fort Ord, Calif.; Amarillo Army Air Field, Texas. Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.; Camp Cooke, Calif.; Lowry Field, Colorado, and Fort Banks, Mass. were among the many camps reporting that Jewish servicemen volunteered to a man for Christmas duty. At Fort Banks, the Jewish men asked their chaplain to relay to the commanding officers of the Boston Harbor defenses the suggestion that “all available passes and furloughs for the Christmas season go to Christian soldiers so that as many as possible may celebrate the holiday at home in the midst of their family circles and that necessary duties on the various posts on Christmas day be assigned to Jewish soldiers, thus enabling as many as possible of the Christian soldiers who must remain on post to celebrate the holiday.

Men of Jewish faith serving in the United States Marines also are requesting Christmas week-end duties, according to Chaplain Roland Gittelsohn. Jewish chaplain with the Fleet Marine Force at Camp Elliott, California.

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