The surrounding ground was frozen solid. Inside the trenches of both sides, which were a mere 200 yards apart, was about 2 to 5 feet of water and mud.
Many men hadn’t seen a bed since July. Lead was flying overhead, fired by guns in the hands of ordinary people who were trying to defend their families. Then all at once, everything suddenly ceased.
As night fell on Christmas Eve, the British were caught by surprise from the sound coming out of the German trenches. They were singing “Silent Night.”
Men who had been aiming to end each other’s lives, and who would eventually resume the attempt to do so, were coming together to express the regret they felt for having to fight one another.
Countless letters were sent home that all tell the same story: there was an incredible truce on Christmas in 1914.
“You will be very much surprised to hear I had one of the best Christmas Days I have had for years. On Christmas Eve I went to the trenches and the Germans were singing carols to our men and we were singing to them. They then shouted to us ‘A Merry Christmas, British comrades. You English are fine singers.” ~ Rifleman E. E. Meadley of the Queen’s Westminsters
“We did not fire that day, and everything was so quiet that it seemed like a dream. We took advantage of the quiet day and brought our dead in.” ~ Rifleman J. Reading
“We had a sort of truce on Christmas Day, and we were out in between the two trenches talking to one another. A German officer gave me two cigars, which were very good, and the men exchanged good wishes and smokes, &c. They told us that they didn’t want to fight us, as they had no grudge against us. They were mostly young fellows, and the officer was only about 21 years of age, and said he had only seen one year’s service. Nearly all the Germans spoke English, and there was one there about 12 years old and also one or two old men with bald heads, and one or two in civilian dress, so you can see they are rather a mixed crowd. It hardly seems credible, does it, but I saw it with my own eyes.” ~ unknown officer from the 8th division
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