Year 6 Writing Home from The Christmas Truce
Over the last half term, Y6 have been learning about WW1 and what life was like for the soldiers who served on the frontline. They have read primary and secondary sources to inform them of life and had discussions about the information which would have been included and why other information would have been left out.
Below are two examples of letters written home from The Christmas Truce, to share the work we have been doing this term.
By LM in 6C
26th December 1914,
To my beloved brother, Bach.
I am writing this letter to wish you a merry Christmas and tell you how I can not wait to see you again. I miss Christmas with Mother and Father: going on long walks in the countryside; playing fun games of cards by the fire; laughing together and eating a delicious roast dinner (believe me it is the food I missed most). Please, tell Mother and Father I am so sorry that I left home, without a word, to join the army yet I felt it was my duty. Truth is, war is brutal, people have died, people, I have grown fond of in recent months but home is just a distant memory one I look back on fondly.
That said, I am not writing to complain. For once, I am writing with a small piece of joy for Christmas was not what I expected. A truly remarkable event took place, one I am sure will go down in history.
It was Christmas Eve, and I was on duty keeping watch through the periscope for any sign of attack when the fritz began to sing. Their voices echoed across the vast graveyard between us in a song of Silent Night. Initially, my brethren and I, weren’t sure whether to join in but by the end, a chorus of German and British voices grew louder in harmony. It's hard to believe, considering the tension between us; however, it was actually quite pleasant and not the end of our fraternization.
The next morning, we got a massive shock. I awoke in my billet, to see Jim climbing over the trenches with his hands up in a temporary surrender whilst a german (I eventually learned was named Otto) joined in. In the middle of no-mans-land, Jim and Otto shook hands, signaling an armistice - for how long we did not know. Then the other germans and our troops joined them, shaking hands. Some people thought it was a trap; however, I still cherished every moment of it: playing football (we lost 5-4), exchanging food, drinks, giving haircuts. There was a frivolity in the air that gave everyone a chance to breathe and just relax - well almost.
Unfortunately, as the sun began to set in the sky, we heard gunshots in the distance so we said are goodbye’s and went back to our trenches. That said, the fighting never reached us and nobody fired a shot the rest of the night. It seemed that Christmas, at least for that day, was peaceful.
This event has become really important to me as it gives me hope for the future that there is goodness in our enemy and perhaps we will be able to avoid future bloodshed - although my hope is but small. I fear we will be here for much longer than anticipated and I may not be able to say this in person. I am sincerely sorry for the harshness in my tone before I left and wish for your forgiveness. Perhaps you will grant me that in your next letter.
Until then, my brother, stay safe. Your brother, Jake Loga Paul.
By YG in 6C
29th December 1914
To General Toudy,
To you and your family, I extend the warmest of Christmas greetings. In these desperate times, I hope for your good health and your speedy recovery for I know you to be a man of service; being sidelined with an injury is not a situation becoming of a man of your stature.
Since your departure, we have had some seasonable weather, but the frost has set in and the temperature has dropped to -5 degrees. The troops are in low spirits and I am struggling to raise their morale, at least, until the events of the day. I appreciate the unusual nature and it may be an incident which requires reprimand in the coming weeks, yet for today at least, I see it as a necessary evil.
On the morning of the 28th December, it was brought to my attention of an event which took place on Christmas Day, which my trusted informant, Sergeant Congreve described as `The Christmas Truce’. I asked him for a summary of the situation and enclosed is an extract of his report:
‘It all started when a Jerry began slowly rising above the parapet with his arms raised above his head. I told my battalion to stand guard and wait to see what the German did, as I know you would disapprove. Unfortunately, one of my soldiers did not take heed and also started slowly rising above our parapet. I shouted for him to get back down but it was too late; others had already joined this flagrant disregard for conduct and valour by rising over the parapet to meet a growing number of German men. Anger was rising inside me as they all started shaking hands and trading smokes, cigars, chocolate and a whole host of other thing as I continued to stand to attention back in my trench. This continued for hours as they gave each other haircuts, played football and showed each other photos of their family and friends back home until the sound of gunfire brought them back to their trenches ready for the night.’
I anticipate disapproval of this event from you, especially considering the circumstances; however, as a man of similar rank, I have often contemplated what you would do in my situation. I would think that this would require immediate repercussions, some of which severe, yet as a human being, who has worked up the ranks to become who I am now, I feel that this event may be a good opportunity for my battalion to rest, recover, and ultimately enjoy the holiday that has been snatched from them. I have visited my men and witnessed a positive change in them which I have never seen up until recent events. Even though you may think otherwise, I believe I will overlook this event and move forward. King and country need us. We must focus on our duties.
Ensure to follow doctors orders and I will see you on the other side of the war.
In King George’s name, sincerely General Charter
More writing to follow.