World War I Christmas Truce!

World War I Christmas Truce

On Christmas Eve 1914 on the Western Front, British soldiers heard German troops in the opposite trenches singing carols. They soon joined in with the singing, and both sides shouted “Merry Christmas” to each other between the trenches. At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, British and German soldiers met across no-man’s land. At first, it was feared by Allied soldiers that it was a trick, but this was diffused when it was clear that the German soldiers were unarmed. Second lieutenant Duggan Chater wrote back home: “I think I have seen one of the most extraordinary sights today that anyone has ever seen. About ten o’clock this morning I was peeping over the parapet when I saw a German waving his arms, and presently two of them got out of their trenches and some came toward ours. We were just going to fire on them when we saw they had no rifles, so one of our own men went out to meet them and in about two minutes the ground between the two lines of trenches was swarming with men and officers of both sides, shaking hands and wishing each other a happy Christmas.” The soldiers who had previously been shooting at each other now shook hands, exchanged gifts of cigarettes and chocolate, buried their dead, and even played a game of football. This ceasefire was not observed everywhere on the Western Front, with fighting continuing elsewhere on Christmas Day. Some officers were unhappy with the truce and worried that it would undermine their soldiers’ fighting spirits. The truce came just five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last times that the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies would be observed.