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“Silent Night:” The WWI Christmas Truce Of 1914

Submitted by Allen Booth – 2015

         All soldiers have indelible memories of the time that they spent “in harm’s way” under battle conditions or perhaps something they saw or experienced that simply defied any logical explanation.
         Such an inexpiable event that occurred on Christmas Eve in 1914 should be known to all Americans.
         In some of the most grueling warfare known, the men served in horrible conditions. These men survived in trenches dug into the earth. This Western Front of trenches stretched over 400 miles.
         The conditions were so miserable that many of the soldiers got “trench foot” from having to stand in the mud, never allowing their feet to dry.
         They were tormented by rats and the diseases which the rats carried. There was no place to properly dispose of waste materials, so many sicknesses were carried in that manner.
         No Man’s Land was the ground in between the two trenches, with the British in one and the Germans in the other. Traversing no man’s land was often a hellish experiences for soldiers. This ground ranged from several hundred yards to in some cases as short as 15 yards. It was heavily defended by machine guns, mortars, artillery, and riflemen on both sides. It was often riddled with barbed wire and rudimentary improvised land mines, as well as corpses and wounded soldiers who were not able to make it across the volley of explosions and fire.
The area was usually devastated by the warfare, carnage, and remains of the artillery. The stench was unbearable. It was open to fire from the opposing trenches, and hard going generally slowed down any attempted advance.
         However, not only were soldiers forced to cross no man’s land when advancing, and as the case might be when retreating, but after an attack the stretcher bearers would need to go out into it to bring in the wounded, risking their own lives.
         On Christmas Eve of 1914, the British were amazed to……

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