Thursday 26 December 2019

A Strange Christmas - Friend & Foe Fraternise

CAPE ARGUS – 1915, January 1 & 2
That Christmas in the trenches was not all fighting appears from a letter sent home by a private in the Queen’s Westminsters. The writer says:
“Christmas in the trenches was the funniest thing I ever struck. Our guns shelled the German trenches till 4 o’clock on Christmas Eve, and then there was a little rifle fire till dark, when we started singing carols and songs and chaffing the enemy. As things were apparently going very well, four of us got on top of a parapet and struck matches. The enemy cheered, so we all got out and held a concert and dance in the open. We hailed the enemy, met a few half-way, shook hands and exchanged cigarettes. They are jolly good sports. We had a football on Christmas Day, and asked the Germans to send a team, but they declined the challenge. Anyhow, we had a friendly chat. One of the Germans produced a camera and photographed a group of twelve Westminsters and twelve Germans. I smoked German cigars all day and ate German chocolates all night while on guard, so did not do so badly.”
Fuller details are now available of the truce which prevailed on Christmas Day between the British and German soldiers on many parts of the British front. These show that this truce was one of the most impressive events of the war. Soldiers crossed, met each other and shook hands, sang glees and hymns together and exchanged cigars, chocolates, etc. Neither side had believed such peace and goodwill possible. British officers and men declare they never spent a happier day. German officers were most affable and exchanged tokens.
On Christmas Eve the Germans shouted to the Englishmen, “Sing to us.” The response was the singing of “Lead, Kindly Light” and “Abide with me.” In fact, great enthusiasm for the time being prevailed among friend and foe, who even went to the length of playing games together. It was noteworthy that the trucemakers appeared to be Saxons, and not Prussians. 

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