Tag Archives: Bedfordshire Regiment

The Christmas truce – 1914

24 Dec

by Carolyn Thomas 

As World War I raged on in the trenches of Europe in 1914, Christmas Eve arrived cold and bleak. But German soldiers put up Christmas trees, decorated with candles, on the parapets of their trenches. Although their enemies, the British soldiers, could see the lights, it took them a few minutes to figure out where they were from. Could this be a trick? British soldiers were ordered not to fire but to watch closely. Instead of trickery, however, the British soldiers heard the Germans singing carols and celebrating. One young soldier wrote home about this remarkable event:

“Time and again during the course of that day, the Eve of Christmas, there were wafted towards us from the trenches opposite the sounds of singing and merry-making, and occasionally the guttural tones of a German were to be heard shouting out lustily, ‘A happy Christmas to you, Englishmen!’ Only too glad to show that the sentiments were reciprocated, back would go the response from a thick-set Clydesider, ‘Same to you, Fritz, but dinna o’er eat yourself wi’ they sausages!’ They finished their carol and we thought that we ought to retaliate in some way, so we sang ‘The First Noël’, and when we finished that they all began clapping; and then they struck up another favourite of theirs, ‘O Tannenbaum’. And so it went on. First the Germans would sing one of their carols, and then we would sing one of ours, until when we started up ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ and the Germans immediately joined in singing the same hymn to the Latin words ‘Adeste Fidéles’. And I thought, well, this was really a most extraordinary thing – two nations both singing the same carol in the middle of a war.Continue reading