Though there was no official truce, roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in unofficial cessations of fighting along the length of the Western Front during Christmas of 1914.
In the early months of static trench warfare during World War I, opposing infantry units in close proximity to each other often developed an attitude of “live and let live.” In some cases, overtly aggressive behavior ceased and troops participated in small-scale fraternization, engaging in conversation or bartering for cigarettes.
Through the week leading up to Christmas 1914, this behavior became even more widespread. On Christmas Eve, German troops began decorating their trenches with candles and putting up Christmas trees, and when the German troops began singing Christmas carols, the British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings back and forth between the lines and in many sectors the two sides agreed to and an unofficial truce.
On Christmas Day, many soldiers from trenches on both sides independently ventured into “no man’s land,” where they mingled and exchanged small gifts such as food, tobacco and alcohol. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently killed soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties and in some cases joint services were held
Troops from both sides were also friendly enough to play games of football with one another. First-hand accounts of these “friendly games” are recorded by several units including the Rifle Brigade, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, the Royal Field Artillery and The Lancashire Fusiliers.
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