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Forces War Records Blog

LETTERS REVEAL FEELINGS OF UNEASINESS OVER WORLD WAR I TRUCE

Blogger: GemSen World War I was one of the bloodiest wars in history and soldiers on both sides experienced gruelling trench warfare. After only five months of war in Europe, something surprising occurred on the front for Christmas in 1914. The so-called Christmas Truce saw soldiers put down their weapons and leave the trenches to play football and exchange gifts. The truce was one of the last examples of chivalry between enemies in war.
 

However, not all soldiers felt good about the truce – as is revealed in some newly discovered letters from 1914, according to a recent report in the Mirror. The discovery of the unpublished letters from Major John Hawksley, of the Royal Field Artillery, to his sister Muriel in Darlington, Co Durham, detail how an entire regiment, the Scottish Highlanders, refused to take part in the ceasefire. Hawksley’s letters demonstrate the uneasiness that many soldiers felt at the unofficial truce and below is a line from one of the letters, which is to be auctioned next month by Bonham’s for around £4,000.
“This is an extraordinary state of things and I don’t altogether approve,”
Instead of playing ball the Scottish Seaforth Highlanders apparently threatened to shoot the Germans who tried to fraternize. In the letter the soldier told his sister that:
“The Seaforths would have none of it. When Germans in front of them tried to fraternize and leave their trenches, the Seaforths warned that they would shoot.”
He also wrote: “Christmas Day in our immediate front was extraordinary. “After dark, our men and the Germans whose trenches were one to two hundred yards apart sang in English Home Sweet Home together. ‘God Save the King’ was sung by both. I don’t know what words the Germans sang. “Late on, a German shouted to the Warwicks, ‘We won’t fire tomorrow if you don’t.’ When it was light on Xmas day, each side showed itself above the trenches.” "First head and shoulders – then a little more until a German got out of his trench and then an Englishman did.” Apparently, the only football result was a 3-2 victory for the Germans in a match believed to have been played in France or Belgium. You can imagine how hard it must have been to have changed tack and accepted a truce after so much violence. The Christmas Truce was never repeated and future attempts at holiday ceasefires were repressed by officers' threats of disciplinary action. If you were a WWI soldier on the front line do you think you could you have taken part in the truce? Or, would you have been too worried that it might have been a trick played by the Germans? Source: Mirror

Are you looking for your ancestors from World War I? Search the Forces War Records site and broaden your military genealogy research - delve into our records and historic documents library. Also search our Historic online library for more information on this subject, read 'The Great War, I was There' part 7 for eye wintess account by Capt. Sir Edward Hulse on the Amazing Armistice Christmas Truce of 1914.
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