“War’s most amazing paradox,” is how Pvt. Frederick Heath described the legendary Christmas Truce of 1914. Months of warfare had numbed the minds and bodies of the British and German men who populated the trenches of Belgium and France. The war, now called WWI, would trudge on for another four years. More than 25 million people would be killed or wounded during the Great War, and yet it would also be responsible for one of the most human war stories in popular history.
On Christmas Day in 1914, British troops shared whiskey and cigars with their German adversaries. They lit up the trenches and sang songs like “The First Noel”. German troops responded with “Silent Night”. This truce was celebrated for miles along the Flanders line in Belgium. Some officers were not happy about the truce, and squashed the soldiers desire to have a friendly competition between the opposing sides.
The 133rd Royal Saxon Regiment, however, did succeed in playing a football (soccer) match against their Scottish counterparts. This game between “Tommy und Fritz” was likely a rough one, as the ground was nearly frozen solid this late in December. But all accounts of the game describe it as very jovial, as the troops were so in need of a little distraction from the horrors of war. Most claim that the Fritz won the game, 3-2.
Eventually, the truce was ended by their commanding officers, and they would be back at arms against each other the next day. For some time however, it was a Christmas celebration no different from any other.
Jacob Duncan – Staff Writer