Silent Night: The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce, 1914

On a beautiful, crisp moonlit night in 1914, voices rose up in the frosty air, carrying out over the bleak expanse of no-man’s land to reach the trenches of the opposing side.  This is the heartwarming story of the Christmas Truce that happened during WWI.

The Story of the WWI Christmas Truce of 1914
An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

Perhaps it was a bit of curious Christmas magic that caused the truce to simultaneously break out over parts of the western front.  Maybe it was the message in the songs sang by both sides on Christmas Eve, speaking of peace on earth, good will towards men.  Regardless of how it started and why, two-thirds of German, French, Belgium, & British troops – about 100,000 men – participated in this Christmas miracle.

Most accounts say that it happened with the singing on Christmas Eve.  As Pvt. Albert Moren of the Second Queens Regiment recalled, it was “a beautiful moonlit night, frost on the ground, white almost everywhere.”  Graham Williams of the Fifth London Rifle Brigade described it with a bit more detail:

 

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The following morning across the trenches, German soldiers emerged, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English.  Allied soldiers warily left their own trenches to greet them.  In other places, Germans held up signs that read “You no shoot, we no shoot.”  Throughout that Christmas day, troops from both sides exchanged gifts of cigarettes, food, buttons, and hats.  The truce also allowed both sides to bury their own dead comrades, whose bodies had lain for weeks on no man’s land.  One account mentions a British soldier receiving a hair cut from his pre-war German barber.  Other accounts speak of a pig-roast, impromptu soccer games, and other festivities.

The truce didn’t happen across the entire western front, however. In some places the fighting continued.  While other moments of peace happened over the course of WWI, none came on such a scale as the Christmas truce of 1914.  In one of the most violent times in history, for such a truce to happen is a truly remarkable occurrence.  The truce is symbolic of the human desire for peace and humanity.

We hope this story warmed your heart this chilly Christmas like it did ours.  If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out JMCremps collection of other wartime stories.

 

Dogfights, Secret Codes, and Other Inspiring War Stories

Kids have been playing army for as long as there have been armies! Sometimes, play is just play, but the next time your army kids are in full battle mode, why not use it as an excuse to teach them a little history? Even a sentence or two about a brave soldier trapped behind enemy lines could spark a curiosity that may lead to a long conversation about the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.  Imagine what would happen if you told them this:

“Did you know that pilots in World War I would often very briefly turn OFF their engines during a battle so that the engine would not stall when they turned quickly? When the pilot then restarted the engine in midair, it sounded like a dog barking. That’s why airplane battles are called dog fights!”

(Beware though. This kind of inspiration may lead to the next great air battle occurring in your living room.)

Secret Carrier Pigeon found with Coded WWII letter.
This secret coded WWII letter from Sgt. Stott to agent XO2 was found attached to a carrier pigeon’s skeleton in a chimney in England.

The next time your adventurous troop is battling it out, try this one on them:

“Hey guys, did you know that in 2012, in a chimney in England, an older couple found the skeleton of a World War II spy pigeon with a red cylinder still attached to its leg? When they opened up the cylinder, there was a secret, coded message inside.“

That kind of teaser could provide their imaginations with hours of fun and my lead to a lifetime of interest in history. Be prepared, however, because they may ask you to show them the coded letter.

JM Cremps has many resources to inspire your child’s imagination and encourage a love of learning. One of our favorite resources for World War I and World War II history is the Usborne Book, War Stories – True Stories from the First and Second World Wars. This 432-page book is full of photographs, drawings, maps and diagrams. The short stories cover enemy raids, traitorous spies, secret plots, epic battles, and heroic missions. It is recommended for kids ages 8 and up.

Army Kids WWII Books War Stories Usborne Books
War Stories, True Stores from the WWI and WWII, is full of inspiring stories and interesting facts.

Whether your kids decide to use the couch to launch the Invasion of Normandy or their favorite toy soldier set to stage an epic battle, the short stories nestled in the pages of this book will provide them with hours of inspired fun.