First World War Christmas truce was not a one-off

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Historian uncovers evidence of a significant number of meetings during 1916

  • Christmas truces during the First World War were not a one-off, evidence shows
  • It had been thought the truces stopped as the conflict grew more brutal 
  • But they continued throughout and there were a significant number in 1916

Christmas truces during the First World War were not a one-off, a historian has found.

It had been thought that, after 1914, the truces stopped as the conflict grew more brutal.

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But Thomas Weber, of Aberdeen University, has uncovered evidence that the meetings continued throughout the war.

He found a significant number in 1916, despite huge casualties in the Battle of the Somme that year.

Though official documents recorded that no such exchanges took place, Professor Weber found the situation on the front lines was very different.

There were a significant number in 1916, despite huge casualties in the Battle of the Somme that year. Pictured, British infantrymen occupy a trench during the Battle of the Somme
British infantrymen occupy a trench during the Battle of the Somme

There were a significant number in 1916, despite huge casualties in the Battle of the Somme that year.

In an account of a truce between German and Canadian troops at Vimy Ridge, northern France, in 1916, one soldier, Ronald MacKinnon, wrote: ‘We had a truce on Xmas Day and our German friends were quite friendly.

‘They came over to see us and we traded bully beef for cigars. Xmas was “tray bon” which means very good.’

Professor Weber said: ‘What we see is that, despite the difficulties they endured, soldiers never tried to stop fraternising with their opponents, not just during Christmas but throughout the year.’

-BBC