"THE DAY THEY CAPTURED SANTA"
The character of Lassie was first created by Eric Knight in a short story which he expanded to a novel published in 1940. The movie version was released in 1943.
One Christmas, during World War II, Commander Quinton McHale and his men decided to bring a little holiday cheer to the children of Miss Parfey's orphanage on Taratupa. They dressed up as Santa Claus and his oddball assortment of elves and made toys for all of the kids.
"Lassie, come back!" Tani cried as she ran after it.
I am no expert on the timeline for 'McHale's Navy', but I think I will claim that the little girl knew of Lassie from the book, which Miss Parfrey probably read to her charges. America didn't enter the war until December 7, 1941, and by 1945 McHale's squad was stationed in Italy. The window doesn't seem wide enough for a print of a 1943 movie to have been available for use in a far off destination like Taratupa during a time of war.
I could be wrong, but the book is a logical and safer choice.
There is no Zonk when it comes to the TV version of 'Lassie', by the way. Jeff Miller was also inspired to name his collie after the fictional dog, and since that happened most likely in 1953, a decade after the movie came out, I have no problem in claiming he was inspired by "Lassie, Come Home" the movie.