Summary: The amazing Christmas Truce on the Western Front during WW1.

Christmas Truce in the trenches in 1914

As we celebrate Christmas, I am reminded of one of the more curious events that happened in the First World War

- “The Christmas Truce of 1914”, which on the Western Front.

It all appears to have started on the evening of 24th December, the day the Germans traditionally celebrate Christmas.

A Christmas tree went up in one of the German trenches and the Germans began singing Christmas carols, some of which the British troops recognised.

The British responded by singing carols of their own and this was soon followed by an exchange of greetings across the trenches.

Then incredibly the Germans proposed a "Christmas Truce” and the British troops along miles of trenches accepted.

Soldiers left their trenches and met up in the middle of “No Man’s Land” and shook hands.

The first thing they did was to bury the dead.

Then they exchanged gifts: Chocolate, cake, cognac, postcards, newspapers, tobacco.

And at least one football match was played between English and German troops, which the Germans won


"Just you think," wrote one British soldier to his family back home, "that while you were eating your turkey, etc, I was out talking and shaking hands with the very men I had been trying to kill a few hours before!

It was astounding!"

"It was a day of peace in war," commented a German soldier,

"It is only a pity that it was not decisive peace."

But it didn't last.

In fact, when the generals heard about it they weren’t impressed and ordered their troops to resume hostilities.

And the First World War stumbled on until the Armistice at 11.00am on 11th November 1918.

As we look at the meaning of Christmas, we need to unwrap Jesus from all the glitter and tinsel around us.

We need to see for ourselves that Christmas is not all about giving the most expensive Christmas presents we can afford or looking for pre-Christmas bargains in the shops.

It is all about God’s precious gift to us, His Son Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

As we look at the destruction of war and terrorist attacks going on in many countries today, we need that “peace that the world cannot give.”

Jesus, whose birth two thousand years ago, we celebrate at Christmas, was the same young man who died, thirty three years later, on a Roman Cross.

Why - to bring us true peace with God and concomitantly with our neighbour.

For Christmas cannot be divorced from Easter.

Jesus is the One who can bring true peace to the nations – to the peoples of Iraq, of Afghanistan and of the Holy Land – to name but a few places.

And as we celebrate Christmas in peace and tranquillity, let us remember those who will have no peace over Christmas at this time.

And closer to home Jesus can bring peace to us and our families – if we will let Him.

Jesus left us two great Commandments.

The first was this. To “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind (Mt 22:37) and the second was to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22:39)

I am reminded of a popular reading in the Traditional Service of 9 carols and Lessons form Isaiah 6:

“For to us a child is born

To us a Son is given

And the government will be on his shoulders

And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor,

Mighty God, Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace “(Isaiah 9:6)

But just before I close I would like to read you a letter from the trenches from an enlisted soldier called Tom to his sister Janet

Christmas Day, 1914

My dear sister Janet,

It is 2:00 in the morning and most of our men are asleep in their dugouts—yet I could not sleep myself before writing to you of the wonderful events of Christmas Eve.

In truth, what happened seems almost like a fairy tale, and if I hadn’t been through it myself, I would scarce believe it.

Just imagine: While you and the family sang carols before the fire there in London, I did the same with enemy soldiers here on the battlefields of France!

Just yesterday morning—Christmas Eve Day—we had our first good freeze.

Cold as we were, we welcomed it, because at least the mud froze solid.

Everything was tinged white with frost, while a bright sun shone over all.

Perfect Christmas weather.

During the day, there was little shelling or rifle fire from either side.

And as darkness fell on our Christmas Eve, the shooting stopped entirely.

Our first complete silence in months!

We hoped it might promise a peaceful holiday, but we didn’t count on it.

We’d been told the Germans might attack and try to catch us off guard.

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