There has long been a contention that in 1914, there was a spontaneous Christmas truce in No Man's Land between the Allies and the Germans. Many historians had refused to believe this, and those who accepted it claimed that it only happened in 1914, that thereafter, the troops were too embittered. However, there is now a letter from a Canadian who was at Vimy Ridge which reports that the Christmas truce took place, and took place in 1916. I've just been listening to a professor from the University of Toronto, who has read portions of the letter on the radio. Apparently, he is satisfied that the letter is genuine.
Oops . . . the professor was from the University of Aberdeen--the soldier writing the letter was from Toronto. I couldn't hear well enough to get his name. Apparently, the account is in a book which will be published by Oxford University Press. If i weren't so lazy, maybe i'd go out to find the book.
Fri 24 Dec, 2010 07:07 am
A good friend sent me a link by PM to the story i heard on the radio.
A truce that broke out on a European battlefield on Christmas Day 1914 is well documented. German and Allied soldiers sang Christmas carols together, reminisced about Christmas traditions at home and played soccer on no man’s land. It only ended when Generals got wind that peace had broken out and ordered the soldiers back to the trenches.
A letter that has recently come to light reveals that a similar event took place two years later at Vimy Ridge, just months before the horrific battle that is considered to be Canada’s coming of age.
Both the story of the truce and the story of the discovery of the letter are fascinating.
The letter was revealed to University of Aberdeen history professor Thomas Weber after he had lectured in Toronto this fall. A member of the audience approached him afterwards and said that his family had direct evidence that friendly relations were exhibited between the First World War enemies. It is a letter home from a Toronto soldier, Private Ronald McKinnon, to his sister. 23 –year-old McKinnon was killed a few months later, in April 1917, during the battle of Vimy Ridge.
You can read the rest of the article by clicking on the link.
during the "1,000 year reich " the message of the christmas truce was not a very popular one with the LEADERS - it was STRICTLY VERBOTEN to even think about it ( that was before wikileaks = bw ) .
a good thing that the story has not been completely forgotten .
let's not forget !!!
hope this does not destroy the christmas spirit .
Fri 24 Dec, 2010 10:22 pm
Tuchmann's book was The Guns of August. The battle of the Somme did indeed take place in 1916, but it was fought from the beginning of July to the middle of November. It was over before this impromtu Christmas truce took place. Vimy Ridge was a different thing altogether--it was fought in the spring and summer of 1917, and was Canada's biggest effort in the Great War. The author of the letter referred to in the article was killed in that battle, about six months after the truce.
By a huge coincidence, this event was highlighted in a Xmas card received by my parents-in-law this week.
I contains text (in translation) from a letter sent by a German soldier who witnessed the event.
I will copy it out for you here, when I can get the card from them.