The Christmas truce of 1914

Witnessed by a Bishops Stortford soldier

A wonderful Christmas day – British and German troops fraternise – Hertfordshire Mercury January 1915 Rifleman C H Brazier, Queen’s Westminsters, son of Mr A Brazier of Bishops Stortford in a letter dated December 25th writes “you will no doubt be surprised to hear that we spent our Christmas in the trenches after all, and that Christmas Day was a very happy one. On Christmas Eve, the Germans entrenched opposite us began calling out to us ‘cigarettes’ ‘pudding’, ‘a happy Christmas’ and ‘English – means good’, so two of our fellows climbed over the parapet of the trench and went towards the German trenches. Half-way they were met by four Germans, who said they would not shoot on Christmas Day if we would not. They gave our fellows cigars and a bottle of wine and were given a cake and cigarettes. When they came back I went out with some more of our fellows, and we were met by about 30 Germans who seemed to be very nice fellows. They shook hands with us and gave us cigars, and wished us a happy Christmas. I got one of them to write his name and address on a postcard as a souvenir. All through the night we sang carols to them and they sang to us, and one played God Save the King on a mouth organ. On Christmas day, we all got out of the trenches and walked about with the Germans, who, when asked if they were fed up with the war said ‘yes, rather’. They all believe that London has been captured, and that German sentries are outside Buckingham Palace. They are evidently told a lot of rot. We gave them some of our newspapers to convince them. Some of them could speak English fairly well. Between the trenches there were a lot of dead Germans, whom we helped to bury. In one place, where the trenches are only 25 yards apart, we could see dead Germans half-buried, their legs and gloved hands sticking out of the ground. The trenches in this position are so close that it is called the ‘The Death Trap’ as hundreds have been killed there. A hundred yards or so in the rear of our trenches there were houses that had been shelled. These we explored with some of the regulars and we found old bicycles, top hats, straw hats, umbrellas etc. We dressed ourselves up in these and went over to the Germans. It seemed so comical to see fellows walking about in top hats with umbrellas up. Some rode the bicycles backwards. We had some fine, fine sport and made the Germans laugh. No firing took place on Christmas night and at four the next morning we were relieved by regulars. I managed to get hold of a German ammunition pouch and bayonet but the latter I have thrown away as it was so awkward to carry. I intend bringing the pouch home with me – when I come home”.

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