A Christmas Miracle: The Truce in the Trenches
History Heroes isn’t just about the individuals who make history – and our WORLD WAR ONE pack is a great example of that! The History Heroes WORLD WAR ONE card game features 40 fantastic cards about who made history at this time, from Kitchener to John McCrae all the way to the millions of animals, who served humans and the war effort throughout WORLD WAR ONE. The game tells the story of WORLD WAR ONE from all angles: One of the cards in our WORLD WAR ONE card game is the Christmas Truce…
Alongside Gallipoli and the Battle of the Somme, the Christmas Truce of 1914 is one of the most famous events of WORLD WAR ONE. Unlike those battles, the Christmas Truce shows us the opposite of war; it is not a tale of violence, but one of compassion and humanity.
Many people at the time (and even now) didn’t believe the Christmas Truce in the trenches happened. Lots of different stories have been told and it has become quite the myth in some cases. But History Heroes are pleased to tell you the 1914 The Christmas Truce in the trenches did in fact happen, and here’s how!
The war began on 28 July 1914 and, at the start, the British feeling was that it would be over by Christmas. As we know now, that was far from the truth. Instead, in the winter of 1914, WORLD WAR ONE was five months old and raging across Europe. On Christmas Eve 1914, troops were fighting in the trenches across the Western Front. But in some areas in France and Belgium, something incredible happened…
WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED DURING THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE?
By Christmas Eve 1914, the trenches had been affected by lots of rain and frost, and were becoming truly horrific places to be. Both the British troops and the German troops found themselves in the same boat: They sat in their respective, muddy, flooded trenches on either side of No Man’s Land, cold, miserable, uncomfortable and missing home.
Amongst this unhappiness, members of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) heard German troops singing Christmas Carols in their trenches. Then, the British soldiers saw little lights in the distance – lanterns lit next to small fir trees along the German trenches. Suddenly, in the midst of a terrible war and lots of fighting, both sides were able to understand each other probably for the first time.
Instead of rude insults, British soldiers started shouting messages to the German soldiers and the German soldiers shouted back. For the following 2-3 days, fighting ceased in certain areas of the Western Front. British and German troops met in no man’s land for the first time, exchanging gifts, taking photographs, shaking hands, singing carols and sometimes even playing football games!
NOT JUST A TIME OF MERRIMENT
British and German soldiers came together in more ways than one. In No Man’s Land, on Christmas, this was a chance for both sides to retrieve the bodies of soldiers who had died in the fighting. British and German troops were able to bury their dead.
Following the Christmas Truce, High Commands on both sides made sure this kind of ceasefire would never happen again on the same scale. They were concerned that the truce would affect the troops’ ability to keep fighting by encouraging them to care too much about their ‘enemies’. Not everyone thought the Christmas Truce was a good thing.
Those officers and government officials needn’t have worried about the soldiers becoming ‘soft’. In fact, in many places across the Western Front, the Christmas Truce was not observed, and soldiers continued fighting throughout Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Sadly, this meant that many soldiers along the Western Front died atChristmas.
Whilst the Christmas Truce is a far cry from the horrors of war, it demonstrates bravery at its absolute finest. Troops from across enemy lines coming together to cease fighting, play football, sing songs and exchange gifts, shows us how brave soldiers are, and just how important peace is. What an incredible pocket of history to remember and celebrate!
The Christmas Truce card can be found in our fantastic WORLD WAR ONE pack. Learn about famous WORLD WAR ONE History Heroes like: Secretary of War, Horatio Herbert Kitchener; the first black combat officer in the British army, Walter Tull; reigning monarch, King George V; founder of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Fabian Ware; and the nurse who helped 100s of allied soldiers escape from occupied Belgium, Edith Cavell.