All Quiet on the Christmas Front

…in a different time and a different place.

Alfred Anderson, the last known survivor of the 1914 “Christmas Truce” that saw British and German soldiers exchanging gifts and handshakes in no-man’s land, died early Monday, his parish priest said. He was 109. His death leaves fewer than 10 veterans of World War I alive in Britain.

…Born June 25, 1896, Anderson was an 18-year-old soldier in the Black Watch regiment when British and German troops cautiously emerged from their trenches on Dec. 25, 1914. The enemies swapped cigarettes and tunic buttons, sang carols and even played soccer amid the mud and shell-holes of no man’s land.

The horror of that Great War is fading. And yes. The romance of a certain chivalry within that horrific time is dying away too.

In a place where bloodshed was nearly commonplace and mud and the enemy were fought with equal vigor, something surprising occurred on the front for Christmas in 1914. The men who lay shivering in the trenches embraced the Christmas spirit. In one of the truest acts of goodwill toward men, soldiers from both sides in the southern portion of the Ypres Salient set aside their weapons and hatred, if only temporarily, and met in No Man’s Land.

15 Responses to “All Quiet on the Christmas Front”

  1. Mr. Bingley says:

    Wow. Rest in Peace, Alfred. You’ve certainly earned it.

  2. Cindermutha says:

    Now they can do it again in heaven.
    It just occured to me Alfred is 7 years younger than my grandfather.

  3. Ken Summers says:

    Is he the one that looks like Paul McCartney?

  4. Mr. Bingley says:

    It was 91 years ago today
    We met the boche in the field to play…

  5. (I would have guessed Ruben Blades…)

  6. Ken Summers says:

    We’re so sorry, Uncle Alfred
    We’re so sorry if we cause you any pain…

  7. Mr. Bingley says:

    When we were young
    Near Verdun
    In an open trench
    We used to play “shoot the Hun dead”
    (you know we did you know we did you know we di-id)
    But if this never-changing war in which we’re stuck in
    Would just give us a try…
    To Drink The Hun Dry

  8. Ken Summers says:

    Well, when I met you ‘tween the trenches
    You had that funny helmet on you head
    You brought peppermint schnapps
    so I whipped out some Johnny Walker Red
    We’re gonna get hi hi hi
    The night is young
    Gonna drink drink drink drink drink drink drink
    Till the truce is done

  9. Ken Summers says:

    Tommy Brit and Fritz the Hun
    Get together to have some Christmas fun
    Side by side they drink till they’re plastered
    Pour me one

  10. (Oh, excellent, Mr. Summers! I can’t say it out loud, or Bingley will pout.)

  11. Nightfly says:

    Rocky’s platoon sat shiv’ring ‘fore noon
    South of the Ypres Salient
    Rocky had come equipped with a gun
    To shoot off the head of the Germans
    The men sat and prayed on Christmas Day
    Trading good cheer in the trenches
    And they heard the Hun, and carols were sung
    Across the No Man’s Land fences
    A few men broke lines from opposite sides
    Handshakes and cigarettes traded
    Then others soon crossed the wintery frost
    A single day’s fighting abated
    The rivals drew near in holiday cheer
    In friendship their games were contended
    Peace in the trench, and goodwill towards men
    The way the Good Lord intended…
    Rocky’s platoon fell back after noon
    South of the Ypres Salient
    They fought the Great War four long years more
    But never lost the hope of that moment

  12. Mr. Bingley says:

    that’s gorgeous, ‘Fly!

  13. Nightfly says:

    Thanks guys. Loved yours, too – tough acts to follow.

  14. Dang, Diptera! That’s Kipling awesome.

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