World History

Christmas Truce | World War I

One of the most interesting things that happened during World War I was the Christmas Truce of 1914. On Christmas, soldiers on the western front who were engaged in combat stopped fighting in an unofficial cease fire.

Where did the truce take place?

The Germans were battling both the British and the French along the western front of France at the time of the truce. Since there was no formal cease-fire, the truce varied depending on where on the front it was observed. While the soldiers engaged in combat in some locations, they also agreed to a temporary cease-fire in many other locations.

What did the soldiers do?

The soldiers behaved differently over the entire western front. It most likely depends on what their regional commander gave them permission to accomplish. In several places, the soldiers just called it a day on the battlefield. They agreed to allow each other to recover their dead in different locations. However, the war virtually seemed to be over at some locations along the front. Each side’s soldiers met and conversed with one another. They exchanged gifts, shared meals, sung Christmas carols and even engaged in friendly football matches.

Where did it begin?

German forces started to light candles and sing Christmas carols, which in many places signalled the start of the ceasefire. Soon, British soldiers on the other side of the lines joined in or started singing their own songs. No Man’s Land, the space between the two lines, was being entered by courageous soldiers. They met up with soldiers from the opposition and exchanged presents and trinkets.

Response

Unofficial truce participation by the military was opposed by several generals and authorities. The soldiers were not to “fraternise” or interact with the enemy, according to orders from the leaders on both sides. The generals feared that as a result, the soldiers would be less aggressive in subsequent encounters. Christmas truces became considerably more guarded in later years of the war and essentially disappeared by 1917.

The Christmas Truce: Interesting Facts

British High Command issued a warning to commanders that the Germans would launch an attack on Christmas in an effort to halt the truces and communication with the German soldiers.

Princess Mary, the son of King George V, gave a gift to the British troops for Christmas. It included chocolates, pencils, a picture of Mary, cigarettes, tobacco, and tobacco products.

O Come All Ye Faithful, The First Noel, Auld Lang Syne, and While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks at Night were among the songs chanted by the soldiers.

In Frelinghien, France, there is a memorial to the Christmas Truce.

Over the years, a lot of plays and films have depicted the Christmas Truce. Numerous songs have also drawn influence from it.