Wednesday, 24 December 2014

A Song For Christmas Eve


Over By Christmas: This sequence from Oh, What A Lovely War re-enacts the informal Christmas truce of 1914. The generals had said that the conflict that became the First World War would be over by Christmas - and if it had been left to the ordinary men in the trenches, it would have been.

IN THE FROSTY EVENING AIR of Northern France, on 24 December 1914, British troops, hunkered down in their trenches, heard their German enemies' voices raised in song. Peering across No Man's Land they saw lights twinkling from the branches of scores of Christmas trees raised high above the German parapets.

After several tentative approaches, soldiers from both sides met in the middle of No Man's Land where they exchanged cigarettes and shared a swig or two of liquor from proffered bottles.

For close to a week, an informal truce kept Death at bay along miles of the Western Front. "Hey Fritz!" cried the English Tommies, "Merry Christmas!" Out of the mist came the reply: "English soldier! English soldier! Happy Christmas!"

The song the men were singing on both sides of the line that special Christmas Eve was the hauntingly beautiful "Silent Night".

In the spirit of that miraculous moment, 100 years ago, may I wish all the readers of Bowalley Road a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Video courtesy of You Tube

This posting is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite.


Victor said...


Best wishes to you and your family for an enjoyable Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Thanks for being such a source of interesting and informative comment (both on Bowally Road and elsewhere) over the last 12 fevered months.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, and I wish you and all your family the same.

Thank you also for your voice through this dark year.


Anonymous said...

Shows the mind-boggling mad folly, the absolute evil nihilism of the WW1. To this day no one can really give a sufficient reason to justify its outbreak,there wasn't one except the militaristic empire strutting which led to the slaughter of millions of fine young men perhaps the cream of Europe. This total disaster was followed by punitiveness which led to WW11 and an all but destroyed a once great European civilisation. America stepped into the power vacuum and has dominated ever since. The same type of madness is now happening in the Ukraine.Ordinary men here understood this but were under threat of being shot if they refused to fight. Sadly human nature hasn't changed and such madness has a good chance of breaking out again.

TONY ALLEN said...


Olwyn said...

Wishing you a Happy Christmas Chris, and a fruitful New Year. And thanks for the thought-provoking pieces you have given us over the past year.

Michael Wynd said...

Chris, the Christmas Truce is over mythologised. The Royal Navy were attacking Cuxhaven, the Russians were attacking the Austrians, and on other parts of the Western Front, British, Belgian and French troops were engaging the enemy. By December 25th, all sides were well aware that this was going to be a long war. Actions of small groups of soldiers on both sides of no-man's-land should not be read as representative of the warring nations.