Earlier today I came across the following letter, dated 27th December 1914, from Private Charlie Pratt of Naunton Beauchamp, which was published in the Evesham Journal on 16th January 1915. His letter recounts his experiences of the 1914 Christmas Truce in the trenches on the Western Front in the First World War.
“Just a few lines to give you a brief account of my Christmas out here; under the circumstances it was excellent, and altogether a surprise. Had it not been for the absence of your two dear faces it would have been the most pleasant Christmas I ever knew. About seven o’clock on Christmas Eve we were thunderstruck to see the lonely figure of a German officer standing half-way between our trenches and theirs. He flashed a torch, and in good English said: ‘Will any officer or man come forward and have a drink with me? We have plenty of lager beer, and this is Christmas time. Please, who will come?’ At first no one would attempt to go, but he assured us that it would be perfectly safe and that nobody would be shot. Then one of our sergeants climbed over the trench and went rather cautiously towards him. The German sent up a star shell, which lit the place up lovely, and then for the first time we saw friend and foe shaking hands, drinking each other’s health and exchanging cigarettes. At that all our fellows were out of their trenches, and went half-way to meet the Germans who were coming towards them. They kept assuring us that none of their side would fire until Christmas was over, and then the order was passed along for us not to fire. After a nice time with them we wished them goodnight and returned to our trenches. Then their band struck up and gave us a few selections, which we appreciated very much. Everything was quiet after that, nothing to be heard save the rumbling of big guns away on our left. All of a sudden a cornet player commenced the old melody ‘Home, sweet home’ playing it beautifully, and when he finished claps and cheers rose from each side. No wonder that the next day, Christmas Day, both sides joined each other again, and remained with each other all day, exchanging food, tobacco, badges etc. A football match was arranged, only we could not find a pitch to play on, as all the ground for miles around had been torn up by shells some of the holes big enough to bury a team of horses. The Germans are very confident of victory, and say the war will end about Easter. But wait till they know the truth; what a take-back for them.”