25/12/1916 Christmas in the trenches

Christmas Day in 1914 saw widespread instances of fraternisation between the soldiers on opposing sides of war. In 1915 the commanders on both sides issued strict orders against any such informal truces, but there were still many reports of soldiers meeting the enemy on Christmas Day.

This year there are less of these Christmas Day truces on the Western Front. The horror of the Somme and Verdun has left many soldiers lacking any feeling of goodwill towards the men in the opposite trenches. But there are still some instances of Christmas cheer. At Vimy Ridge, Canadian and German troops halt hostilities and trade bully beef for cigars. And fraternisation seems not to have been confined to Christmas Day itself: Private Arthur Burke writes home to his parents in Salford that his unit and the Germans have been on “absolutely speaking terms” in the run-up to Christmas, with the atrocious weather encouraging a sense of commonality between the British and German soldiers. There are also reports of French and German troops exchanging gifts in quiet sectors of the Front.

see also:

First World War Christmas truces not limited to 1914, new evidence shows (Belfast Telegraph)

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