Plymouth County

Gerald Armand Beaubien




STRASBOURG, ALSACE (Christmas Eve, 1944)

At this time of the year, longing thoughts of Iowans in Europe are centered more than ever on their homes, their families, living rooms bright with Christmas trees, presents, dining room tables stacked high with mother-cooked food.

Here in Strasbourg there is a sprinkling of Iowans in various Army units.  Across the Rhine, whose banks are in Strasbourg, are the Germans.  From time to time, shells whine back and forth across the river.  Usually at night German patrols steal across the rapid river searching for vital information, fighting it out when we spot them.

Aside from this watch on the Rhine, most soldiers here are doing what is technically called “resting.”  Certainly, the weeks behind them were nightmares compared to their Christmas duties.

I talked with a number of Iowans in and near the city, and asked them how they would like to spend Christmas if they were home.

There were longing expressions in their faces as they replied that they would like turkey dinners and pudding cooked by their mothers, that they would like “just to visit with the folks” …But let them tell you in their own words.

“It would be a family reunion for me,” said Pvt. Gerald Beaubien, son of Mr. and Mrs. Phil Beaubien of Westfield, who is in a combat engineer outfit. “My brother, John, came back from the Pacific.  He’s in the Marines.  I’d sure like to be there with the folks and have some of Mom’s turkey.”

“This must be the best Christmas the people of Strasbourg have had in five years.  I see lots of people in town with Christmas trees and then I seem to have the Christmas spirit—but it’s nothing like the good old U.S.A.”

“I guess I’d spend 95 per cent of my time on the davenport with my shoes off,” said Sgt. Max Shaffer of Ottumwa. “And the other 5 per cent eating. I guess—a white table cloth and real plates sure would be a wonderful novelty.”

On Thursday, Sgt. Thomas A Sickich of Mystic celebrated his birthday by “setting them up” for his buddies, including Pfc. Lester Colton of Centerville. Sickich is in a tank outfit and is credited with inventing special highly useful radio control devices.

“I sure would like to spend Christmas with the folks at home,” Sickich said.  “First I’d have a good sleep in a soft bed and then eat one of Mom’s good turkey dinners.  After 26 months away from home, I’d sure stay home all Christmas day.  Boy, my Christmas packages were swell! And there’s more on the way, I think.  Sure, everything’s gone now—you know how it is with me and the gang.”

“I would just spend the day right at home, said Pvt. Robert L. Parks, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ona Parks of Numa.  “What would I do? Well, I would visit with the folks and relatives…Then I’d be about ready for that big turkey dinner cooked by Mother—she’s the best cook in the world, brother.”

Lt. Orel Stith of Britt and Kanawha is something of a conversationalist.  He recalled the former State Senator Oscar Johnson of Kanawha “used to make malted milks,” and on the question of what he would do if he were home for Christmas he said, “That’s very simple. I’d eat the biggest turkey you ever saw.  I do like to eat.” 

“Then I’d pop some corn.  That’s as good a thing to do as any. I’m going to pop some here even.  Popped some last night and strung it on a Christmas tree.”

Lt. Stith, an artillery battalion commander, is the son of Blanche Stith.

“Gosh, I wouldn’t know what to say, said Sgt. Charles Samson of Cincinnati, Iowa, when I asked him about a mythical Christmas at home.  “I guess I’d like to spend it right at home, sleeping and eating.  Maybe at night I’d go dancing. No particular girl. I’d play the field.”  Samson is the son of John W. Samson.

“I’d spend most of the day in the front room sitting with feet parked on end.  I’d enjoy being home in an all-around way.  Funny thing about me, though, when it comes to eating I’m not particular,” said Pvt. Meredith Dillon of Mason City, son of Mr. and Mrs. Delbert L. Dillon.

Another Mason Cityan, Pvt. William (Bud) Boomhower, said his Christmas thoughts of home dwelt particularly on “turkey and that wonderful plum pudding Mother used to make. I’d like to have a quiet Christmas dinner with my folks,” he added.

Iowans’ thoughts are of home today.  ~The DesMoines Register, December 23, 1944

Book Source:  Christmas in Iowa, by Clarence Andrews, pp. 91-93
Chapter titled:  Christmas on the Western Front, by Gordon Gammack, reporter and columnist for the DesMoines Register & Tribune, DeMoines, IA during three wars.

Westfield: (By Special Correspondent)

Pfc. John Beaubien of the U.S. Marine Corps, who returned to the United States on October 23, 1944, after spending two years in the South Pacific, left here for Hastings, Neb., after a 30-day leave with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Phil Beaubien. He is credited with taking part in seven battles. He also has three brothers in the service: Seaman 2c Philip Beaubien in Hawaii, Pvt. Bernard Beaubien in Camp Robinson, Armand Beaubien with the combat engineers in France.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, January 22, 1945


Four sons of Mr. and Mrs. Phil Beaubien, of Westfield, have been honorably discharged from the service and the family has celebrated the happiest Christmas in many years. All four of the sons served overseas and it has been four years since they were all home.

Chief Petty Officer Philip Beaubien, 31, arrived home Tuesday morning after 20 months service in the Pacific. Bernard Beaubien, 27, was discharged November 7 after 18 months in the glider and airborne infantry. He was overseas from March to September 1945 and has been awarded the Good Conduct medal, Infantry badge, European Theatre ribbon, and two battle stars.

John Beaubien, 23, served 39 months with the Marines of which 29 months were spent on Guadalcanal, and 19 months aboard the USS Indiana. He has seven battle stars and two presidential unit citations. He was discharged September 26.

Armand Beaubien, 21, was in the service for three years and spent two years and four months in Europe and participated in the invasion of North Africa, Sicily and Italy and the invasion of France in August 1945. He served with the 11th Combat Engineers in Germany and Austria. He has the Victory Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European theatre medal, with one silver combat star, the Bronze Arrowhead and four overseas bars. He received his discharge November 9 at Fort Sheridan, Ill.

All agree on one thing, there is no place like the good ole United States.

Source: LeMars Sentinel, December 25, 1945