World War 1 Christmas Truce: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Christmas Truce of 1914.

  • The Christmas Truce is the name given to a series of unofficial ceasefires which happened during World War 1 on the Western Front in 1914 around Christmas time.
  • It is estimated that about 100,000 German and British soldiers were involved in ceasefires along the whole length of the Western Front.

  • In the weeks leading up to Christmas 1914, British and German troops began to shout Christmas greetings from trench to trench, and Christmas carols were shared.
  • On Christmas Eve 1914 in Ypres, Belgium, some German soldiers decorated areas around their trenches. They placed candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, and sung carols.
  • The British troops in Saint-Yvon responded with their own carols and soon German and British troops were meeting face to face in No Man’s Land.
  • Gifts (such as food, tobacco, buttons and souvenirs) were exchanged, and the artillery guns fell silent.

German and British soldiers meet on Boxing Day

  • In some areas the truce lasted until Christmas night, in others it went on until New Year’s Day.
  • The truce was localised. In some regions the fighting didn’t stop at all, and in others it was agreed that dead soldiers could be recovered from No Man’s Land so that they could receive a proper burial.
  • Many football matches took place on Christmas Day on the Western Front. A few of these were between German and British soldiers. Most of the matches were just kick abouts. Footballs were hard to come by, so the troops used old ration tins instead.

Christmas Truce 1914

  • A small number of truces took place around Christmas 1915, but orders against fraternizing with the enemy largely prevented them from happening on a bigger scale.
  • Although the Christmas Truce is often held up as something completely unique, localised truces along the Western Front weren’t all that uncommon. Due to the fact that the opposing trenches were so close together, soldiers were able to organise ceasefires during meal times and arrange times for the bodies of fallen soldiers to be collected from No Man’s Land.
  • The Christmas Truce has featured in many films and TV shows, such as Oh! What a Lovely WarSpace: Above and Beyond and Joyeux Noel.
  • In Frelinghien, France and monument was errected on 11 November 2008 to mark the spot where a football match took place on Christmas Day 1914 between the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and the German Battalion 371.