Friday, December 17, 2010

Cherish the Story

Most have heard about the story of Allied and German troops who laid down their arms on December 25, 1914, sung carols, played football, and exchanged gifts. (Friko has documented the event very well in her Advent series.)

Now a Canadian soldier's letter written at Vimy Ridge has been uncovered which describes a similar event in 1916.

"Here we are again as the song says," the young soldier wrote. "I had quite a good Xmas considering I was in the front line. Xmas eve was pretty stiff, sentry-go up to the hips in mud of course. ... We had a truce on Xmas Day and our German friends were quite friendly. They came over to see us and we traded bully beef for cigars."

The passage ends with Pte. MacKinnon noting that, "Xmas was 'tray bon,' which means very good."

Scholars have hailed the letter as a "fantastic find." The letter takes on added poignancy since the young soldier was killed on the infamous ridge in April, 1917.

"The letter clearly demonstrates that there was an attempt to downplay these small-scale Christmas truces when they happened," said Prof. Weber, noting that official military records make little or no mention of such events — largely because they could be interpreted by army commanders as a failure to maintain discipline and a fighting frame of mind among front-line soldiers."

This is the season to reflect and cherish stories like these which provide some inspiration for greater harmony and good will.