Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The 1914 Christmas Truce - 100 years to the day

Amongst the many stories my Grandad used to tell me, there was one that always stood out at this time of year. Two years before Neil was born, in a battlefield far away, a miracle as many believed, was about to happen.

On Christmas Eve in December 1914, Troops on both sides of the trenches decorated their posts with Christmas Trees and candles. Echoes of Christmas carols could be heard from both sides of the battlefield. Something strange was beginning to happen.

On Christmas Day, word was spreading throughout the British trenches of an organised truce and that all should take part. Not knowing if this was truth or perhaps a hoax, one British soldier took the brave step of lifting his head above the parapet and looked towards the other side. To his astonishment he could see soldiers from both sides walking towards the each other. Exchanging gifts such as chocolates and cigarettes.

Another soldier recalled how he climbed up the ladder and walked across no man's land to meet a German Officer. Both looked at one another and exchanged a firm handshake that would have never been expected. The German Officer admired one of the buttons on the British Officer's uniform. Realising this, the British Officer produced a pair of wire cutters from his tunic pocket, removed the button and passed it to the German Officer. The German officer smiled, took the cutters and removed one of his own and passed it to the British Officer, in the same gesture.

Many similar events happened that day, including a notorious game of football between both sides.

Unfortunately the christmas spirit did not last and war soon returned, for the next 4 years.

The events of that day proved that even in the darkest of times, humans can be human. A truly remarkable story and one that will hopefully live on in the memories of others, for the next 100 years.

Merry Christmas to you all!

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