WWI: The Miracle Of Christmas

WWI The Miracle Of Christmas

But things did not work out like that. They didn’t go home for Christmas and the war went on for another four years. During the first great European war, 8,500,000 men were killed while other hundreds of thousands died from injuries. However, on Christmas Eve of 1914, something very unusual happen, probably one of the most unusual events in the war’s history took place on the Western front.

On December 24, the weather suddenly became cold, the waters froze and soldiers were all gathered in trenches. At one point that night, German soldiers started lighting candles. British sentries immediately reported to their officers as small lights began popping out in the dark. The German troops were then clearly illuminated by these lights, however, the British didn’t take advantage of their vulnerability and held the fire.

Shortly after, British officers began to see something even more unbelievable. German troops were holding Christmas trees above their heads and there were lighted candles in their branches. The British understood the message and the fact that the Germans were celebrating Christmas. And not just that, they also noticed the Germans were giving holiday greetings to their enemies.

A few moments later, you could hear a bunch of German soldiers singing a Christmas carol. They were soon joined by more and more soldiers. The carol sounded like this: “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” It didn’t take long for the British troops to recognize the song and start singing their English version of it, along with the Germans, the WND Diversions reports.

One by one, soldiers from both sides would lay down their weapons and walk towards a small patch of land, between the German and the British lines. So many soldiers engaged in that moment of peace, that officers were prevented from objecting. Frank Richards was there when the miracle happened. He later wrote about it in his wartime diary: “We stuck up a board with ‘Merry Christmas’ on it. The enemy stuck up a similar one. Two of our men threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads as two of the Germans did the same, our two going to meet them. They shook hands and then we all got out of the trench and so did the Germans.”

Richard recalled a moment when a German soldier who spoke very good English, started saying how much he dislikes the war and how he would be happy when everything was over. British soldiers agreed. The soldiers sat around a campfire, exchanged chocolate bars, badges, buttons and small tins of beef.

The peace ended just as it broke out. On December 26, at 8:30 a.m., Captain C. I. Stockwell, of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers fired three shots into the air. A German officer whom he had met the night before, also stepped forward. After they bowed and climbed back into their trenches, the German officer fired two shots into the air and the war began.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE