2016-12-25

Dec 25. The Christmas Truce


Sergeant Bernard Brookes
Sergeant Bernard Brookes was a signaller who spent ten months in Flanders in the beginning of the War before he suffered shellshock and was invalided out of active service. During his convalescence he wrote up the notes he had made during his service, giving a personal, unsentimental account of the appalling conditions in the trenches as well as humorous exploits on and off duty.

Here are two short extracts relating to the famous Christmas Truce 1914:
24 December 1914: "An officer went out (after we had stood at our posts with rifles loaded in case of treachery) and arrangements were made that between 10.00am and noon, and from 2.00pm to 4.00pm tomorrow, intercourse between the Germs [sic] and ourselves should take place. It was a beautiful night and a sharp frost set in, and when we awoke in the morning the ground was covered with a white raiment. It was indeed an ideal Christmas, and the spirit of peace and goodwill was very striking in comparison with the hatred and death-dealing of the past few months."

German signatures and addresses collected
by Brookes during the Christmas Truce at Chappelle d'Armentières
25 December 1914: "The Germs [sic] wanted to continue a partial truce until the New Year, for as some of them said, they were heartily sick of the War and did not want to fight, but as we were leaving the trenches early next morning and naturally did not want them to know, we insisted on the truce ending at midnight, at which time our artillery sent over to them four shells of small calibre to let them know that the truce, at which the whole World would wonder, was ended and in its place, death and bloodshed would once more reign supreme."

You can read more of Sergeant Bernard Brookes’s story on the Europeana 1914-1918 site. These have been shared by his daughter, Una Barrie, under a CC SA-BY licence.

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This post is part of our Advent calendar. New stories are published every day from Dec 1 until Christmas.

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