The day they pulled the plug on war

christmastroops

Silent Night, Holy Night. All is calm, all is bright.

For a few days in December 1914 – 100 years ago this month – all was calm and bright while time seemed to stop for the English and German troops on the Western Front.

The meeting of enemies as friends in no-man’s land was experienced by hundreds, if not thousands, of men on the Western Front during Christmas 1914. The event was a shining episode of sanity from among the bloody chapters of World War One

Men who had been trying to kill each other were, hours later, hugging, exchanging gifts, and playing soccer in the mud.

This outbreak of peace, entirely unco-ordinated, spread quickly across large sections of the front-lines of Belgium and parts of France. Nobody is quite sure where or how it began.

It possibly began with the singing of Silent Night by soldiers in the German trenches. Then British soldiers joined in.

Men charged with killing each other decided to stop doing so for at least a day. In some areas of the Western Front, the truce lasted until New Year.

In at least one position, English and German soldiers played a game of soccer. Legend has it that the Germans beat the English 3-2.

It must have been so hard for these men to resume the fight.

The remarkable event, dismissed as an aberration in official war histories, interrupted fierce fighting in the trenches of France and Belgium only four months after
the start of the Great War. It shocked and terrified commanding officers on both sides.

Yet it was one of the most amazing Christmas stories of all time.

The truce was not popular with everyone, especially in France, which had been savagely invaded by the Germans. One soldier recalled in his memoirs that French women spat at British troops when they heard “how we spent Christmas Day”.

According to a German book on the truce, one Austrian soldier billeted near Ypres complained that in wartime such an event “should not be allowed”. His name was Adolf Hitler.

Official reaction to the truce was predictable. French and British commanders ordered that “any recurrence of such conduct” be prevented.

Special precautions were taken during the Christmases of 1915, 1916 and 1917, when artillery bombardments were stepped up by both sides.
The events of late December 1914 were never to be repeated.

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10 thoughts on “The day they pulled the plug on war

  1. Off topic, but I’m sitting in a cafe by myself, at Town Hall, and there’s a hostage situation going on just down a bit at a cafe in Martin place. An Islamic flag was seen with the words,”There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is the messenger of god”.

    I find this deeply distressing. Please pray for the hostages. Thanks

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    • Wow Monica, it’s frightening that you’re so close. Thank God you didn’t decide to enter Lindt. My prayers for all. This needs to stop.

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      • Yes, I was certainly frightened Kathleen,

        And distraught over the plight of the hostages. Went to Hyde Park for some solace and whilst there, the police descended upon us and evacuated the park too! Shops were closing their doors and by that stage all I could think of was I far enough away from the suicide bomber.

        The police presence was everywhere, God bless them. They do a marvellous job. But there was such a heightened awareness of bombs being left around the city. It was upsetting.

        I am feeling rage now when I see Islam’s slogan…..”There is no God but Allah”, blah, blah, blah. Not a good feeling.

        Yes, as you say Kathleen, “THIS NEEDS TO STOP”!!!

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    • Prayers for the hostages and their anxious families. Thoughts also with the hundreds and thousands of Muslims who will experience Islamaphobic abuse as a result of this event.

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      • “Islamophobic abuse as a result of this”?

        No Strewth, I think you are wrong…..and to even think like that. The average Aussie is not like that. It’s one thing to feel anger and a totally different thing to ‘abuse’.

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      • My wife feels uneasy to leave the house. She stays mostly indoors nowadays. She has had a lot of her friends cop some kind of abuse. I don’t seem to cop any. Maybe people think I am an ex bikie.

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      • That get’s said quite a bit but with all of the events that have happened at the hands of Muslims i.e. 9/11, the beheadings, the Coptic Christians, Bali, the girls kidnapped in Africa etc. Have there been any retributions? I don’t think there have been any revenge attacks, possibly some verbal abuse.

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      • I’m sorry to hear that people are so mean-spirited towards your wife’s friends, Dom.

        I presume they are women? That’s cowardice to especially pick on women. As one (a woman), I feel a kinship with Muslim women. You hurt them and you hurt me!

        I guess there are ignoramuses everywhere.

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      • There was a suggestion that women might declare a day of support for Muslim women, by all covering their heads for one day. This was inspired by a non-Muslim woman who pulled her scarf over her head to protect herself from light drizzle, and was shouted at by a young bloke driving past in a ute “Go home, you f****** Muslim c***!” This in the last few days.

        Personally, in the heat of last summer I had a white cotton scarf (commonly called a prayer shawl) which I used to protect both head and bare arms from the strong sun, when I had to walk a distance. People I passed in our quiet neighbourhood all seemed to treat the sight of me clad in this odd way with nothing but respect.

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  2. Ha! This proves my theory that more people have ever been killed in the name of politics rather than religion. The only time people have been killed in the name of religion has always been when religion and politics have been mixed together.

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