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Christmastime 1914: Soldiers Halted War for Day of No Hate
The Wall Street Journal ^ | Wednesday, December 4, 2002 | CYNTHIA CROSSEN

Posted on 12/04/2002 6:09:35 AM PST by TroutStalker

Edited on 04/22/2004 11:47:38 PM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

It was the night before Christmas, give or take a day or two, and even in the muddy pits they called home, the troops were in merry spirits. It was December 1914, the first Christmas season of World War I, and German and English soldiers were hunkered down in trenches that slashed parallel lines across thousands of miles of European countryside. The war had come to a screeching halt -- neither side could advance, neither would retreat.


(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Germany
KEYWORDS:
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1 posted on 12/04/2002 6:09:35 AM PST by TroutStalker
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To: TroutStalker; Sparta
Very nice.
2 posted on 12/04/2002 6:12:24 AM PST by Chancellor Palpatine
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To: TroutStalker
I can reccomend Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub.
3 posted on 12/04/2002 6:14:12 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim
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To: TroutStalker
"No Hate"?
4 posted on 12/04/2002 6:16:14 AM PST by AppyPappy
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To: TroutStalker

5 posted on 12/04/2002 6:24:46 AM PST by AnAmericanMother
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To: TroutStalker
BTTT
6 posted on 12/04/2002 6:33:19 AM PST by SevenDaysInMay
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To: TroutStalker
From a song "CHRISTMAS IN THE TRENCHES" by John McDermott

OH MY NAME IS FRANCIS TOLLIVER, I COME FROM LIVERPOOL
TWO YEARS AGO THE WAR WAS WAITING FOR ME AFTER SCHOOL,
FROM BELGIUM AND TO FLANDERS, GERMANY TO HERE,
I HAVE FOUGHT FOR KING AND COUNTRY I LOVE DEAR.
T'WAS CHRISTMAS IN THE TRENCHES, AND THE FROST SO BITTER HUNG
THE FROZEN FIELDS OF FRANCE WERE STILL, NO SONGS OF PEACE WERE SUNG
OUR FAMILIES BACK IN ENGLAND WERE TOASTING US THAT DAY
THEIR BRAVE AND GLORIOUS LAD’S SO FAR AWAY
I WAS LYING WITH ME MESS MATES, ON THE COLD AND ROCKY GROUND
WHEN ACROSS THE LINES OF BATTLE CAME A MOST PECULIAR SOUND.
SAYS I NOW LISTEN UP ME BOYS, EACH SOLDIER STRAINED TO HEAR
AS ONE YOUNG GERMAN VOICE SANG OUT SO CLEAR.
HE'S SINGING BLOODY WELL YOU KNOW MY PARTNER SAYS TO ME,
SOON ONE BY ONE EACH GERMAN VOICE JOINED IN IN HARMONY
THE CANNON’S RESTED SILENT AND THE GAS CLOUD ROLLED NO MORE
AS CHRISTMAS BROUGHT US RESPITE FROM THE WAR
Instrumental

AS SOON AS THEY WERE FINISHED AND A REVERENT PAUSE WAS SPENT,
GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMAN, STRUCK UP SOME LADS FROM KENT,
OH THE NEXT THEY SANG WAS SILENT NIGHT T’IS SILENT NIGHT SAY’S I,
AND IN TWO TONGUE'S ONE SONG FILLED UP THAT SKY.
THERE’S SOMEONE COMING TOWARDS US NOW THE FRONTLINE SENTRY CRIED
ALL SIGHTS WERE FIXED ON ONE LONE SOLDIER TRUDGING FROM THEIR SIDE,
HIS TRUCE FLAG LIKE A CHRISTMAS STAR SHONE ON THE PLANE SO BRIGHT
AS HE BRAVELY TRUDGED UNARMED INTO THE NIGHT
THEN ONE BY ONE ON EITHER SIDE WALKED INTO NO MAN’S LAND,
WITH NEITHER GUN NOR BAYONET, WE MET THEIR HAND TO HAND,
WE SHARED SOME SECRET BRANDY, AND WE WISHED EACH OTHER WELL
AND IN A FLARE LIT FOOTBALL GAME WE GAVE THEM HELL.
WE TRADED CHOCOLATES, CIGARETTES, AND PHOTOGRAPHS FROM HOME,
THESE SON’S AND FATHER’S FAR AWAY FROM FAMILIES OF THERE OWN,
TOM SANDER’S PLAYED HIS SQUEEZE BOX, AND THEY HAD A VIOLIN,
THIS CURIOUS AND UNLIKELY BAND OF MEN
Instrumental
SOON DAYLIGHT STOLE UPON US AND FRANCE WAS FRANCE ONCE MORE
WITH SAD FAREWELL’S WE EACH BEGAN TO SETTLE BACK TO WAR
BUT THE QUESTION HAUNTED EVERY HEART THAT LIVED THAT WONDROUS NIGHT
WHOSE FAMILY HAVE I FIXED WITHIN MY SITE
T'WAS CHRISTMAS IN THE TRENCHES AND THE FROST SO BITTER HUNG
THE FROZEN FIELDS OF FRANCE WERE WARM AS SONGS OF PEACE WERE SUNG
FOR THE WALLS THEY’D KEPT BETWEEN US TO EXACT THE WORK OF WAR
WERE CRUMBLED AND WERE GONE FOR EVERMORE
Instrumental
OH MY NAME IS FRANCIS TOLLIVER IN LIVERPOOL I DWELL
EACH CHRISTMAS COME SINCE WORLD WAR ONE, I'VE LEARNED IT’S LESSONS WELL
FOR THE ONE’S WHO CALL THE SHOTS WON'T BE AMONG THE DEAD AND LAME
AND ON EACH END OF THE RIFLE, WE’RE THE SAME
7 posted on 12/04/2002 6:35:16 AM PST by azhenfud
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To: All
Picture this happening with Moslems. (What would they sing?)
8 posted on 12/04/2002 6:43:33 AM PST by Temple Drake
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To: Temple Drake
Nope, neither can I.
9 posted on 12/04/2002 6:45:12 AM PST by Temple Drake
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To: Ff--150; 4ConservativeJustices; pubmom; stainlessbanner; LeeMcCoy
BUMP!!
10 posted on 12/04/2002 6:50:44 AM PST by billbears
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To: Temple Drake
Pitcure American's bombing Christians on Easter....oh wait, we did that in Serbia pretty recently.
11 posted on 12/04/2002 6:52:21 AM PST by mr.pink
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To: Temple Drake
I can picture this happening with just about any group of people who want nothing but to go home and play with their kids.

Human beings are not a bad group to spend time with. Dieties tend to screw things up.
12 posted on 12/04/2002 6:53:38 AM PST by Vermont Lt
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To: billbears
bttt
13 posted on 12/04/2002 6:54:41 AM PST by stainlessbanner
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To: TroutStalker
There is a great song writen about this event.If you like good old American folk music, may I recommend "John McCutchen" he plays a Hammer Dulcimer (SP?)Nice lyrics and instrumentals

Christmas in the Trenches
by John McCutcheon

My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here
I fought for King and country I love dear.
'Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung,
The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung
Our families back in England were toasting us that day
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lying with my messmate on the cold and rocky ground
When across the lines of battle came a most peculiar sound
Says I, "Now listen up, me boys!" each soldier strained to hear
As one young German voice sang out so clear.
"He's singing bloody well, you know!" my partner says to me
Soon, one by one, each German voice joined in harmony
The cannons rested silent, the gas clouds rolled no more
As Christmas brought us respite from the war
As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" struck up some lads from Kent
The next they sang was "Stille Nacht." "Tis 'Silent Night'," says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky
"There's someone coming toward us!" the front line sentry cried
All sights were fixed on one long figure trudging from their side
His truce flag, like a Christmas star, shown on that plain so bright
As he, bravely, strode unarmed into the night
Soon one by one on either side walked into No Man's Land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand
We shared some secret brandy and we wished each other well
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell
We traded chocolates, cigarettes, and photographs from home
These sons and fathers far away from families of their own
Young Sanders played his squeezebox and they had a violin
This curious and unlikely band of men

Soon daylight stole upon us and France was France once more
With sad farewells we each prepared to settle back to war
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wonderous night
"Whose family have I fixed within my sights?"
'Twas Christmas in the trenches where the frost, so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed as songs of peace were sung
For the walls they'd kept between us to exact the work of war
Had been crumbled and were gone forevermore

My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell
Each Christmas come since World War I, I've learned its lessons well
That the ones who call the shots won't be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we're the same

© 1984 John McCutcheon - All rights reserved





14 posted on 12/04/2002 6:54:45 AM PST by Robe
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To: billbears; 4ConservativeJustices
Great story--thanks for ping!
15 posted on 12/04/2002 6:56:12 AM PST by Ff--150
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To: TroutStalker
bump
16 posted on 12/04/2002 7:01:17 AM PST by VOA
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To: Temple Drake
Allah harks barf. But the Islamic's even bomb each other during ramadamadingdong.
17 posted on 12/04/2002 7:04:17 AM PST by American in Israel
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To: azhenfud
Beautiful, but what were they fighting for?
18 posted on 12/04/2002 7:10:26 AM PST by xJones
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To: TroutStalker
You can't do this today. Christmas is a sectarian holiday and would offend many others in the battle.
19 posted on 12/04/2002 7:13:48 AM PST by raybbr
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To: xJones; Robe
I haven't a clue. The last verse of the song says it all....

PS. McDermott's release was a rerecording of John McCutcheon's original work...
20 posted on 12/04/2002 7:21:29 AM PST by azhenfud
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