1915: ‘merry Christmas. We will not fire to-morrow’

From THE TIMES of LONDON: Jan. 11, 1915.

Christmas football truce 1915 World War I letter from The Times of London








A Piper in the Scots Guards writes:

We had a glorious time of it on Christmas Day. There was a keen frost and snow falling slightly.

On Christmas Eve the Germans shouted from their trenches: “A merry Christmas, Scottie Guardie. We are not going to fire to-morrow ; we will have a holiday and a game of football.”

Our fellows agreed. Next morning, sure enough, the Germans came out of their trenches, and began to saunter over to ours unarmed. At this our chaps went over half-way to meet them. They greeted one another like the best of friends and shook hands.

You would have thought the war was at an end.

We exchanged cigarettes for cigars, tobacco &c. They brought over ever so many things as souvenirs. A German officer gave me a button off his coat for my capstar. We were chatting all day. I was talking to a German who was four years in London.

He could speak fine English. I asked him when did he think the war would be over. He said in six months’ time.

I remarked that they were getting the worst of it now ; and he said that if they were beaten it was taking four countries to do it. They said they were getting tired of it.

They seem to be as well off as we are, and have plenty of everything. One German gave our officer a letter to post to a lady he knows in Essex.

I had such a funny feeling talking to our enemy, who would seek to shoot us on the morrow ; but there was another surprise in store for us.

Next day they came over and stood up on the trenches. We could walk and go where we liked.

Later the same night we heard that they were going to make an attack, so we prepared for it by getting our artillery to shell them ; but not a rifle shot was fired and they didn’t attack.

Next morning, being the third morning of peace, they came over half-way to inquire what was the matter with our artillery last night, that it had killed a lot of their chaps. They came to the conclusion it was the French.

All day they never fired a shot. In the evening we were relieved by the [redacted]. The Germans knew we were being relieved and asked us to tell them not to fire, and if they got the order to fire high, to fire high, and they would do the same.

I don’t know how they got on since, but we are going back to-morrow. That would never end the war, would it?

I think the Germans are tired of it, and would never shoot if we didn’t shoot first. I must say some of them were very nice fellows and did not show any hatred, which makes me think they are forced to fight.

I wrote you a letter telling you we made a bayonet attack. I wonder if you got it. We lost a few men.

The Germans helped us to bury them on Christmas Day.

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