January 2 1915: Wonderful Xmas. Exonian tells of Xmas trees before the trenches
Corporal Leon Harris of the 13th battalion London Regiment (Kensington) who has been serving at the front for eight weeks with one of the last batch of Territorials sent has written a letter to his parents residing at Caradon, Monks Road, Exeter, giving remarkable particulars of how some of the British lines spent Christmas at the front. “This has been,” he says, “the most wonderful Christmas I have ever struck. We were in the trenches on Christmas Eve, and about 8.30 the firing was almost at a stand still. Then the Germans started shouting across to us, ‘a happy Christmas’ and commenced putting up lots of Christmas trees with hundreds of candles on the parapets of their trenches. Some of our men met some of theirs half way, and the officers arranged a truce till midnight on Christmas Day. It was extended till Boxing day night and we all went out and met each other between the two lines of trenches, exchanging souvenirs – buttons, tobacco and cigarettes. Several of them spoke English. Huge fires were going all night and both sides sang carols. It was a wonderful time and the weather was glorious on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – frosty and bright with moon and stars at night.”
January 7, 1915: Devon man and the Xmas truce
In a letter to his brother at Barnstaple, Private H A Amy of the 2nd Devons at the front, also refers to the Christmas truce. “On Christmas Eve,” he says, “their officers told them not to shoot unless the Germans did, and not a shot was fired. The Germans were singing and shouting, “a merry Chrstmas to you”. As the day broke the enemy would be seen to bob up and down, and as the British did not fire they plucked up courage enough to get out of the trenches. Soon their parapets were lined and our chaps went out and met them and exchanged gift, cigarettes etc. Officers also fraternised. The Germans told them that the English had lost thirty warships and they had only lost two. It only showed that the Germans were being buoyed up with false hopes, and that when they learned the truth no doubt they would get a shock.”
NB: also reports of fighting and attack over Christmas period (January 4 and January 8) and dropping bombs on enemy trench on Christmas night.