Harry Blake Stephenson was born in June of 1922. I heard of the details of his death shortly after the Remembrance Day Ceremonies in Thedford. The story in the song “Christmas In The Trenches” becomes so real as you realize the peace that Harry must have been feeling December 25th 1943. He was enjoying a wonderful meal put on by a church group while in Italy in which he had been fighting in The Battle Of Ortona. Harry took the time that evening to sit down and write to his family back home on what would be his last Christmas. Later the next day, Harry was shot and killed by a sniper – December 26, 1943 – a young man of only 21 years. Note, the Battle Of Ortona ended December 28th, only two days after Harry Blake Stephenson was shot down. Son of Lillian and George Stephenson, Harry was the youngest brother of my Grandmother, Lillian Turner, and Great Aunt, Jessie Willsie, his name is also found on the plaque upstairs in Knox Church in Thedford.
History Lesson: The Battle of Ortona (December 20, 1943 to December 28, 1943) was a small, yet extremely fierce, battle fought between a battalion of German Fallschirmjäger (paratroops) from the German 1st Parachute Division under Generalleutnant Richard Heidrich, and assaulting Canadian forces from the 1st Canadian Infantry Division under Major General Chris Vokes. It was the culmination of the fighting on the Adriatic front in Italy during "Bloody December".