‘Just you think,’ wrote one soldier to his family, ‘that while you were eating your turkey I was out talking with the very men I had been trying to kill a few hours before!’
Christmas, 1914. The first winter of the First World War. In a conflict infamous for its horror and brutality, enemy shook hands with enemy. Soldiers shared rations, exchanged souvenirs, and even played football on a frost-covered No Man's Land. This Christmas truce was not just a brief interlude in one place. The ceasefire between the trenches extended over at least two-thirds of the British line and there were similar ceasefires in the French and Belgian sectors of the Western Front. In some areas the peaceable mood lingered well into 1915. But behind the festive cheer and acceptance of shared experience, the inevitable renewal of hostilities loomed large.
Malcolm Brown and Shirley Seaton have combed war diaries, talked to participants and consulted a wide range of contemporary letters, diaries and newspapers to produce this unique account.
It is unlikely that this fine book's account of the truce will ever be bettered
Richard Holmes, Times Literary Supplement
The authors of this excellent book have captured a moment of humanity in a time of carnage. They splendidly evoke what must be the most extraordinary celebration of Christmas since those notable goings-on in Bethlehem
Piers Brendon, Mail on Sunday
An excellent account, placing the truce in its proper context and collecting eyewitness impressions skilfully from both sides
John Terraine, Army Quarterly & Defence Journal