The Christmas Truce of 1914 continues to amaze and inspire. Yet the account of this famous event is largely based on a handful of diaries, a few reports in the national papers of the day and some regimental diaries. The voice of the ordinary soldier, the "Tommy Atkins", has largely gone unheard. As we draw close to the 100th anniversary of this event we'd like to put that right.
Many soldiers wrote home about their experiences and their letters were often printed in local papers. This valuable historical resource telling of the Truce at first-hand has largely gone untouched because of the huge effort required to go through Britain's hundreds of local papers. We'd like to enlist the support of volunteers from Britain's network of local history societies to transcribe and collate those accounts. If you'd like to help, here's how:
- Drop us a line saying which part of Britain you would like to cover. We will let you know if anyone else is working in that area and so avoid duplication. For most counties we will need two or three volunteers.
- Go through the local papers in your area (they will almost certainly be on microfilm at your library) and search the 1914/1915 issues for letters about the Truce. Remember to include any letters denying the truce took place at all. Printouts of any pictures included with the reports would also be useful.
- Print the reports out and/or transcribe them. It would be most helpful if you have the facility to type them up and email or send the reports on disk.
- With each report attach a cover sheet with the following information: County; Title of Paper; Date of cutting; Researcher's name; Researcher's contact details.
- If you find no items about the truce in a particular newspaper it is obviously useful to let us know that too! Drop us a note with the title of the paper and the dates covered.
What you will receive in return: The satisfaction of assisting in a worthwhile and vital historical project! We'll also ensure you and your historical society are credited in the acknowledgments. We will also undertake to make a digital copy of the collected works available to you free of charge ahead of it going public. Our intention is to eventually make this resource freely available to anyone. We will ask those using the material for financial gain to make a donation to The British Legion or a similar charity.
To register your interest write to: Operation Plum Puddings, 57 Church Street, Whitehaven, CA28 7EX. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Alan Cleaver and Lesley Park.