Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Christmas Eve Truce of 1914

From the Irish Times:
On Christmas Eve 1914, Capt Arthur O’Sullivan, from Greystones, Co Wicklow, was in his trench at Rue du Bois, near Neuve Chapelle on the western front, when he heard a foreign accent shouting from the opposite side of no man’s land.

“Do not shoot after 12 o’clock and we will not do so either,” said a German voice. A little later, the voice called out again: “If you English come out and talk to us, we won’t fire.”

Thus began the now famous Christmas truce for Arthur Moore O’Sullivan, a 36-year-old career soldier in the British army’s Royal Irish Rifles. Amos, as he was known to his men, played a small but not insignificant role in the playing out of the truce on his part of the frontline trench, section E, not far from where the Italian artist Fortunino Matania would set his painting, The Last General Absolution of the Munster Fusiliers at Rue du Bois, now sadly lost....MORE
From The telegraph:
How one young soldier's song inspired the 1914 Christmas Truce
It is a story handed down through the generations - and even Christmas adverts - but here a letter from the trenches tells the true story of the Christmas Truce 100 years ago
Tales of troops downing their guns to play football at Christmas are some of the most enduring – and poignant – of the First World War.  
British and German troops meeting in No-Mans's Land during the unofficial truce on Christmas Day in 1914
Christmas Eve 1914, it’s icy cold, and the battlefields of northern France are, in the words of the soldiers, frozen as hard as iron.
In the British trenches, a young farmer’s son in the Queen’s Westminster regiment, by the name of Edgar Aplin starts up a song. He’s 26, he’s got a good, tenor voice, and after a few verses of Tommy Lad, he hears voices coming from the German trenches, where the 107th Saxon Regiment are dug in, a short distance away.
“Sing it again, Englander,” they call out, in English. “Sing Tommy Lad again.”
He duly does so, thereby setting in train one of the most remarkable episodes ever to take place in the history of armed conflict. It’s depicted, in somewhat idealised form, in the Sainsbury’s Christmas television advertisement currently on our screens....MORE
The Sainsbury's ad:

Finally, from Colorado Public Radio:

Across the world, and in Denver, 'Silent Night' to honor WWI Christmas Truce
On Christmas Eve, “Silent Night” and other holiday hymns will ring from the Williams Tower at the University of Denver (DU) as part of a global recital in honor of the World War I Christmas Truce.

The 100th anniversary event commemorates the famous 1914 ceasefire in Mesen, Belgium, where soldiers on both sides of the trenches stopped fighting for a short time to celebrate the holiday by singing and exchanging goods.

“They came out and sang Christmas carols and had a lovely night of rejoicing in peace,” DU adjunct instructor and carillon player Carol Jickling Lens says. “They’re not positive ‘Silent Night’ was the first song sung, but it has become the one that’s most associated with the truce.”

Lens will participate in the worldwide event along with carillon players from such countries as France, Norway, Canada and Australia. The concerts will begin when the clock strikes 19:14 military time (7:14 p.m.) in each performer’s respective time zone....MORE