A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times



                Heads were bobbing about and showing over their parapet in a most reckless way, and, as we looked on, this phenomenon became more and more pronounced.

                A complete Boche figure suddenly appeared on the parapet, and looked about itself. This complaint became infectious. It didn’t take ‘Our Bert’ long to be up on the skyline (it is one long grind to ever keep him off it). This was the signal for more Boche anatomy to be disclosed, and this was replied to all our Alf’s and Bill’s, until, in less time than it takes to tell, half a dozen or so of each of the belligerents were outside their trenches and were advancing towards each other in no-man’s land.

                A strange sight truly!

                I clambered up and over our parapet, and moved out across the field to look. Clad in a muddy suit of Khaki and wearing a sheepskin coat and Balaclava helmet, I joined the throng about half-way across to the German trenches.

                It all felt most curious: here were these sausage-eating wretches, who had elected to start this infernal European fracas, and in so doing had brought us all into the same muddy pickle as themselves.

                This was my first real sight of them at close quarters. Here they were – the actual, practical soldiers of the German army. There was not an atom of hate on either side that day; and yet, on our side, not for a moment was the will to war and the will to beat them relaxed. It was just like the interval between rounds in a friendly boxing match.

                The difference in type between our men and theirs was very marked. There was no contrasting the spirit of the two parties. Our men, in their scratch costumes of dirty, muddy khaki, with their various assorted headdresses of woollen helmets, mufflers and battered hats, were a light-hearted, open, humorous collection as opposed to the sombre demeanour and stolid appearance of the Huns in their grey-green faded uniforms, top boots, and pork-pie hats.

                The shortest effect I can give of the impression I had was that our men, superior, broadminded, more frank, and loveable beings, were regarding these faded, unimaginative products of perverted culture as a set of objectionable but amusing lunatics whose heads had got to be eventually smacked.

                “Look at that one over there, Bill,” our Bert would say, as he pointed out some particularly curious member of the party.

                I strolled about amongst them all, and sucked in as many impressions as I could. Two or three of the Boches seemed to be particularly interested in me, and after they had walked round me once or twice with sullen curiosity stamped on their faces, one came up and said “Offizier?” I nodded my head, which means ‘Yes’ in most languages, and, besides, I can’t talk German.

                These devils, I could see, all wanted to be friendly; but none of them possess the open, frank geniality of our men. However, everyone was talking and laughing, and souvenir hunting.

                I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons.

                We both then said things to each other which neither understood, and agreed to do a swap. I brought out my wire clippers and with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange.

                Whilst this was going on a babbling of guttural ejaculations emanating from one of the laager-schifters, told me that some idea had occurred to someone.

                Suddenly, one of the Boches ran back to his trench and presently reappeared with a large camera. I posed in a mixed group for several photographs, and have ever since wished I had fixed up some arrangement for getting a copy. No doubt framed editions of this photograph are reposing on some Hun mantelpieces, showing clearly and unmistakeably to admiring strafers how a group of perfidious English surrendered unconditionally on Christmas day to the brave Deutschers.

                Slowly the meeting began to disperse; a sort of feeling that the authorities on both sides were not very enthusiastic about this fraternising seemed to creep across the gathering. We parted, but there was a distinct and friendly understanding that Christmas Day would be left to finish in tranquillity.

                The last I saw of this little affair was a vision of one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling down on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.

Along a 27 mile sector of the Western Front, 21 incidents were recorded of British and German soldiers meeting in this way. In some areas the meetings lasted only for a few hours, in others they continued all day, and in certain cases they persisted until New Year and even beyond. “Just think,” one British soldier wrote home to his family, “that while you were eating your turkey, I was out talking and shaking hands with the very men I had been trying to kill a few hours before.”

Sadly, this was never to be repeated for the rest of the duration of the whole war.



OUR FIRST CHRISTMAS AT WAR.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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