Napoleon Series Archive 2004

Christmas in the Trenches, 1914 (OT)

Excerpt from an on-line newsletter"

It was on this day in 1914 that the last known Christmas truce occurred, during World War I. German troops fighting in Belgium began decorating their trenches and singing Christmas carols. Their enemy, the British, soon joined in the caroling. The war was put on hold, and these soldiers greeted each other in "No Man's Land," exchanging gifts of whiskey and cigars. Recently killed soldiers were returned behind their own lines and given proper burials, and soldiers from both sides attended ceremonies. In many areas, the truce held until Christmas night, while in other places the truce did not end until New Year's Day. One story has it that the opposing sides played a soccer match together. The game ended when the ball deflated on a strand of barbed wire.

British commanders Sir John French and Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien disapproved of the truce, and they ordered artillery bombardments on Christmas Eve in the remaining years of the war. Troops were also rotated with regularity to keep them from growing too familiar with the enemy troops in the close quarters of trench warfare. The Christmas truce was a war tradition of the 19th century, and its disappearance marked the end of wartime protocols of that time."

Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Nollaig shona duit, S rashdistvom khristovym

Robert A. Mosher

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