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22 November 2019, 09:01
Newly-discovered photos of Bing Crosby have been released for the first time by his family estate.
HLC Properties Ltd has released a collection of moving letters and photos sent from the legendary crooner to the families of young soldiers during World War II.
As well as his words of support to soldiers, are handwritten letters to Bing, from their relatives, thanking him for bringing hope to their sons, husbands and brothers in a difficult time.
There are also a series of powerful photographs of Crosby entertaining troops during World War II. The photos show Bing performing shows at the front lines. He can be seen singing to soldiers in England, France and Belgium, on outdoor makeshift stages, in hospitals, and on the edge of wounded soldiers’ beds.
A rare colour photo shows Bing writing down some notes, most likely a soldier’s parents’ address.
Robert S Bader, Vice President of HLC Properties Ltd, said: “I’ve come to know and understand Bing a bit through archiving his correspondence, but I was simply overwhelmed when I found a box hidden in the attic of his home in Hillsborough, California.
"He kept these deeply personal letters in a safe place apart from everything else. The letters from the soldiers’ family members are often heartbreaking. These people felt such a deep connection to this man they only knew as a famous entertainer.
"And he lived up to their faith in him with equally heartfelt letters back to them. He didn’t want any accolades for this. He truly appreciated the sacrifices of these soldiers and their loved ones and was actually grateful for the opportunity to use his celebrity status to offer some small comfort to them.”
In one letter typed on ‘Bing Crosby, Hollywood’ paper, and dated April 10, 1945, Bing wrote that “It was a pleasure working for the boys in France and Belgium, in fact, one of the richest experiences of my life”.
A particularly moving letter from a soldier's loved one dated March 5, 1945, reads: “It gives me a strangely comforting feeling to know that someone whose voice I can hear has so recently talked with my son whom I have not seen for almost two years. It brings them nearer somehow.
"We mothers of sons in the service are so grateful to you and the many others who bring a touch of home to our boys.”
Bing Crosby's recording of 'White Christmas' resonated perfectly with soldiers away from their families during the war. He once introduced the song on Christmas Day 1941, soon after the attack on Pearl Hearbour, on the radio. It became the world's best-selling single, with over 50 million records sold worldwide.
His long-time record label Decca has now released a brand new version of ‘White Christmas’, with Bing’s original vocals set to new orchestral arrangements by The London Symphony Orchestra.
Bing at Christmas with Bing Crosby & The London Symphony Orchestra is released on November 22.