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On This Day… The Christmas Truce!

Written by: George Chittenden : 20 Jun 2019

It was on this day, 24th December, back in 1914 when the first Christmas truce of WW1 began. The main night of celebration in Germany is Christmas eve, so on that fateful night in the trenches they lit candles and erected some trees along the German line. It was really these actions that resulted in French, German, and British soldiers crossing trenches to exchange Christmas greetings and talk the following day, after weeks of horrific warfare.

Men from both sides bravely crossed into no man's land on Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. Soldiers performed joint burial ceremonies, prisoner swaps, carol-singing and even a game of football, which I imagine the Germans won. It wasn’t all peace though, and fighting continued in many areas.

The following year, in 1915 a few units arranged ceasefires, but the truces were not as widespread as in 1914. This was down to orders from high command, who didn’t approve of the idea of socialising with the enemy and were aware of the risks that went with it. The next year, in 1916, Soldiers were no longer amenable to truce due to the devastating human losses suffered during the battle of the Somme, and the use of poison gas. Today at ‘The History Project’ office we pour a healthy dash of Irish Cream into our coffees and raise a toast to those lives lost on both sides.

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