The editors and moderators of Potluck wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. While we take a couple days off to enjoy the holidays with our families and friends, we remind you of this other occasion when opposing factions ceased hostilities, if only for a short while:
On Christmas Day 1914, the first Christmas of The Great War, an amazing cessation of hostilities took place in some sections of the British front-line. Below is the account of the truce in the Sailly - Armentiers sector manned by George Anderson, George Gordon, William Milne, Alexander Pirie and their comrades of 6th Btn, The Gordon Highlanders.
"At Christmas 1914 there took place in some parts of the British line what is still regarded by many as the most remarkable incident of the War - an unofficial truce. During the winter it was not unusual for little groups of men to gather in a front trench, and there hold impromptu concerts, singing patriotic songs. The Germans, too, did much the same, and on calm evenings the songs from one line floated to the trenches of the other side, and were received with applause, and sometimes with calls for an encore. On quiet nights, at points where the trenches were quite near, remarks shouted from one trench system were audible in the other. Christmas Eve the Germans spent singing carols, and, the night being calm, they informed our men they did not intend to shoot on Christmas Day, asking at the same time that we also should refrain from violence. "No shoot to-night, Jock!, Sing to-night!" was one of the remarks they made on Christmas Eve. Little attention was given to this, but on Christmas morning, when our men were at breakfast, a cry was raised that the Germans had left their trenches. Springing to arms, they could scarcely believe their eyes when they looked over the parapet and saw a number of the enemy standing in the open in front of their trenches, all unarmed. Some of the enemy shouted "No shoot!" and after a little, a number of our men also got out of their trench.
Meanwhile Colonel McLean had come up on his daily tour of inspection, accompanied by the Padre, the Rev J Esslemont Adams, minister of the West United Free Church, Aberdeen. They had just completed a burial service over one of our men behind the line, when the Chaplain, looking up, observed the strange sight at the front trench, and drew the Colonels attention to it. Colonel McLean ran along the front line and ordered our men to come down, but they pointed out that more of our men further along were standing "on the top", and that a number of the enemy were out on their side and gazing peacefully across. The Chaplain, who had followed the Colonel, said to him, "I'm off, sir, to speak to the Germans; maybe we could get a truce to bury the dead in No Man's Land." Coming to a little ditch, which ran along the middle of the field between the lines, he held up his hands and called out, " I want to speak to your Commanding Officer. Does anyone speak English?" Several German officers were standing together, and one of them said, "Yes, come over the ditch." The Chaplain hurried forward, saluted the German Commander, and began to talk to him and his staff. Almost at the same moment a hare burst into view and raced along between the lines. Scots and Germans leapt from their trenches and joined in the eager chase. The hare was captured by the Germans, but more was secured than a hare. The truce of God had been called, and the rest of Christmas Day was filled with peace and goodwill.
This account taken from The Sixth Gordons in France and Flanders
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