On This Day…Christmas Eve
The Christmas Truce is one of the most famous and iconic events of the First World War and has burned itself into our collective consciousness.
Late on Christmas Eve 1914, the British Expeditionary Force heard German troops in the trenches opposite them singing Christmas carols and classical German songs, seeing lanterns and small Christmas trees along their trenches.
The next day, British and German soldiers met in no man’s land and exchanged gifts, took photographs (see above) and some played games of football. They buried their dead and repaired trenches.
The truce was not observed everywhere along the Western Front. In other areas the fighting continued and there were many casualties on Christmas Day with many officers concernerned that impromptu truces would undermine fighting spirit.
After 1914, the Higher Command on both sides tried to prevent any truces on a similar scale happening again. Regardless of these higher orders, there were still some instances of soldiers holding brief cease fires later in the war; In what came to be called the ‘Live and Let Live’ rule, in quiet portions of the front line there were brief respites in the fighting to allow both sides to gather their dead and repair trenches.
On the same theme, this photo was taken in Vietnam, Christmas Eve 1967.
Christmas Eve worship on the bombardier training programme in San Angelo, Texas. Lt. Eugene F. McCahey, flying chaplain of San Angelo Army Air Field, brings the Christmas message to the bomber flight line on Decenber 24, 1942. Cadets receive blessing before continuing their practice bombing on the massive Texas site. Chaplain McCahey was himself a pilot.
USS Holland (AS-32), a submarine tender, here seen on Christmas Eve, 1934 with submarines Cachalot, Dolphin, Barracuda, Bass, Bonita, Nautilus, and Narwhal.
Captured wrecked Wildcats of VMF-211 collected by Japanese on Wake, photo taken on December 24th, 1941.
Midnight mass, Christmas Eve, on Guadalcanal, 1942.
Had to squeeze an Enterprise photo in! The season’s greetings decorating a TBF Avenger of carrier Air Group 6, based aboard USS Enterprise during attacks on the Marshall and Gilbert Islands, Christmas Eve, 1943.
GI’s help a Belgian woman pack her belongings in advance of a major conflict in the area. December 24th, 1944.
Bob Hope playing to US soldiers in Vietnam, Christmas Eve, 1972.
5 additional images. Click to enlarge.