23 December 2010

Christmas Truce 1916

"Here we are again as the song says. I had quite a good Xmas considering I was in the front line. Xmas eve was pretty stiff, sentry-go up to the hips in mud of course. … We had a truce on Xmas Day and our German friends were quite friendly. They came over to see us and we traded bully beef for cigars. Xmas was ‘tray bon’ which means very good."

These words were written by Canadian soldier Ronald Mackinnon (above) in a letter to his sister. But this was not written during the famed Christmas truce but in 1916

According to research by Dr Thomas Weber, of the University of Aberdeen, cease-fires continued to take place in 1915 and 1916. But because of military action (artillery, machine gun, and sniper fire) the truces were on a rather smaller scale and and more localised than the events of 1914.

"…soldiers never tried to stop fraternising with their opponents during Christmas. After the battle and after the adrenaline had gone, remorse tended to set in and there are many incidents recorded where soldiers tried to help injured soldiers from the other side.” Dr Weber said

Private Mackinnon was killed during the battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

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