Xmas > Christmas News

Christmas Day truce not a one off

Tue, 20 Dec 2016
One of the most famous stories and images from the First World War is of the Christmas Day truce of 1914, on which German and British soldiers came together in peace.

The famous occasion, which featured a football match played in no-man’s land, is one of the enduring legends of the war. However, it seems as though this truce was not a one-off, as an historian at Aberdeen University has found evidence that uncovers a previously hidden truce taking place in 1916.

The accounts of further truces were buried by officials in an attempt to reduce the likelihood of further bonding between the opposing armies.

The discoveries were made by Prof. Thomas Weber, as part of research for his new book on The Great War. Weber said he found plenty of references to truces taking place well after 1914, and estimates there were over 100 truces in 1915 alone.

Weber said: "it goes against our standard understanding of the war and I was fortunate to be given access to so many private accounts of those who fought in the trenches"

Sergeant A. C. Livingston, shared an account of a ceasefire that took place.

Livingston recalled how the troops "exchanged gifts' and thought they were coming out ahead on the presents. The main thing they used the bully beef for was to line the bottom of the trenches with the tins to keep them out of the mud".

Prof. Weber also uncovered a truce at Loos, during Christmas 1916, while at Beaumont Hamel on the Somme, German and British servicemen waved at each other.

"Elsewhere on the Somme, Anglo-German encounters even went further than that," said Prof Weber. Among the evidence found by Prof Weber is a letter from Private Arthur Burke, who wrote home to his family on Christmas Day 1916.

Burke wrote: "It got so frequent it had to be stopped and even after our order to quit, two of our boys got 28 days for going out and meeting them half way for a chat.

"There's never a rifle or machine gun shot fired by either side for many days, although we got orders to fire we knew it was hopeless to do so - so we didn't."

Professor Weber claims that the fraternisation was hidden by officials, for fear of ramifications from their superiors.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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