Christmas Truce, 1914

December 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Christmas Truce, 1914

Many years before I started to write A Generation of Leaves, I heard John McCutcheon’s ballad, Christmas In The Trenches, sung at a small gathering on Christmas Eve where some dissident Catholics were having a service in a Quaker Meeting House. A lone guitar player sang out with his clear tenor where a group of maybe twenty of us were gathered in a room lit with candles. I knew little about WWI then and nothing about the fields of Flanders where my young Uncle Léo’s bones someplace rested in an unknown, unmarked grave. I know a lot more now but the lesson I learned that night with John McCutcheon’s song tells the story of that war as true as any novel. During WWI there were other spontaneous truces all up and down the Western Front where men on both sides disgusted and disheartened with the slaughter made up their own minds not to shoot but to live and let live. Here is the story of that first truce.

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