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A 1st WORLD WAR TALE : the xmas day peace truce of 1914 (Part One – General Sir Walter Congreve)

A TRUE STORY OF THE XMAS PEACE TRUCE OF 1914 AS WRITTEN FROM THE MIRROR NEWSPAPER ARTICLE …

It is one of the most iconic moments of the 20th century when British and German troops put down their weapons to play football on ” the western front ” and to show how remarkable this was a recent discovery of ” a generals letter ” of his reluctance to fraternise with the enemy has now gone on show in a museum …

 

Letter by General Sir Walter Congreve

Letter by General Sir Walter Congreve

The letter written by ” general sir Walter Congreve VC ” goes on show today and provides a first hand account of how opposing sides shared cigars , played football and sang carols while the battlefield guns were temporarily but unofficially silenced for 24 hours …

 

The letter was sent to ” Sir Walter’s wife Cecilia ” and the document details how news of the football match spread quickly along the front line after ” the Germans ” had called a truce …

 

The commander who fought during the war despite losing his left hand wrote : ” I found an amazing state of affairs – this A.M on the 25th ” a German ” shouted out that they wanted a days truce and would one come out if they did , so very cautiously one of our men lifted himself above the parapet and saw a German soldier doing the same thing ” …

 

” Both got out and then more soldiers climbed out and finally as the night moved into day they all began walking and talking and giving each other cigars , cigarettes , chocolate , biscuits and singing carols as well as exchanging photographs and addresses hoping that each other would survive the war and maybe one day they could meet in civvy street ” …

 

The scene was part of a series of unofficial ceasefires that took place along ” the western front ” but despite several captains and a German colonel joining in the celebrations ” sir Walter ” remained in his bunker reluctant to go out in case ” the Germans ” wanted to shoot a high ranking officer in an ambush before they went back to their trenches …

 

Sir Walter Congreve wrote : ” I was invited to go and see the Germans myself but refrained as i thought they might not be able to resist shooting ” a general ” and the reason why i say this is because my informant one of my aides said he had a fine day of shooting the breeze if you will excuse the pun of smoking a cigar with the best shot in ” the German army ” who was no more than 18 years old , they say he’s killed more of our men than any other,  12 is the number that was mentioned but we now know where he shoots from so I hope we down him tomorrow I hope devoutly they will ” …

 

” Sir Walter ” who led ” the rifle brigade ” drafted the letter after visiting trenches near ” neuve chapelle in northern France ”

 

on Xmas day 1914 …

 

The document which will be on display at ” the records office in Stafford in England ” was found during research to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war …

 

Sadly ” the xmas day truce of 1914 ” was never to be repeated so the next year in 1915 strong orders from the English government strongly permitted british troops fraternising with each other which was much to the disappointment of many of the troops on both sides as it acted as a respite from the harshness and torture of war and death on what many saw as a day of peace not conflict …

 

” General sir Walter Congreve ” was born in Chatham in Kent in southern England and was awarded ” the VC – Victoria cross ” for gallantry in the face of the enemy during the second Boer war of 1899 …

 

And to sum up this moment of peace ” the first world war ” broke out due to ” Britain declaring war on Germany ” on august 4th 1914 which was effective from 11pm and this was due to ” Germany declaring war on Belgium ” and refusing to communicate with Britain in a peaceful way over Belgium remaining ” a neutral country ” and due to the German monarch ” Kaiser Wilhelm 2nd ” being the eldest grandson of ” Queen Victoria of England ” so the war from that perspective became even more complex …

 

Over 6000 British soldiers were killed on the first day of fighting which is why the peace truce of December 25th even though unofficial and not sanctioned by top brass to the soldiers they figured in a small way that war may be averted by them standing in ” no mans land ” and mixing with the enemy but sadly this thought never resulted into anything more than sentiment and tears as December 26th brought the re start of a war that would continue for 4 more years …

 

By Paris Skye

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