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Archive for December, 2017

An artist’s impression from The Illustrated London News of 9 January 1915: “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches”

Well before the United States entered into World War I the Christmas Truce took place as French, German, and British soldiers crossed the trench lines to exchange food and souvenirs and to sing Christmas carols.

This truce was unofficial and did not happen everywhere there were hostilities.  In some cases, the fighting continued. But some 100,000 troops were involved in the truce along the Western Front. When the Germans placed candles on their trenches and began singing carols, the British responded with carols of their own.

British writer Henry Williamson, a nineteen-year-old private at the time, wrote to his mother:

Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o’clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a ‘dug-out’ (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn’t it?

Books and movies tell the story of the Christmas Truce. But this “Peace on Earth” didn’t last.

Soon the fighting resumed and although there were additional instances of cessations in the fighting the war would rage on for another four years. Before the end, some 40 million military and civilian lives would be lost.

While not of the same magnitude by any stretch, we’re calling for a cessation of posting here for the next few weeks.

We’ll be back in January with new information and updates about the script and perhaps a new direction for this blog.

Best wishes for the Christmas season.

Let us all continue to pray for peace.

Photo credit: By A. C. Michael – The Guardian [2] / [3]Originally published in The Illustrated London News, January 9, 1915., PD-US, [Wikipedia]

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The “Big Four” at Versailles peace treaty, 1919. From left, Lloyd George (Britain), Emanuele Orlando (Italy), Georges Clemenceau (France), and Woodrow Wilson (United States).

 

On December 4, 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson set sail for Versailles for the World War I peace talks. Wilson was the first U.S. President to travel to Europe while in office. The world was changing.

The world continued to change after World War I with the types of warfare and weapons used. Airplanes were used for the first time during this war. Poisonous gas killed many and destroyed many more.

While Wilson traveled to Versailles, my grandfather was in a hospital in a different part of France recovering from his contact with mustard gas. His world was changing as well.

In reality, we are still seeing the results of that war. While it was supposed to be the War to End all Wars, it was far from it, and it set in place conflicts that would shape the course of the century to come.

It’s important that we recognized that history. It’s important that we tell those stories.

That’s what I’m trying to do with Clean Dry Socks: Diary of a Doughboy.

More to come…

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