White Christmas, a wartime Christmas no1, sold an distinctly American vision of yuletide bliss. The below video shows what Britain was going through a the same time: short Christmas trees being sold, because tall ones could not fit into the air raid shelters. Toy shops still open, selling Spitfires while dust gathers on the models of the Maginot Line forts, which proves so useless against German attack. Church bells were silent that year; if any rang, it would have been a signal that the invader had come.

Watching this video each Christmas has become a tradition chez Nelson. My in-laws grew up in war-torn Czechoslovakia where life was even worse and the defeat of Hitler just meant a new form of oppression – as Anne Applebaum describes so vividly in her brilliant new book, ‘Iron Curtain’. God knows Britain has its problems, but to watch the below film is to remember how lucky we are to be celebrating Christmas in what is – in historical terms – a time of unprecedented health, prosperity – and peace.

Tags: Christmas