- Posted December 19, 2013 by
Newcastle upon Tyne
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
WW1 Christmas Truce 99 Years On
I’m a researcher at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. The area I specialise in is military history, and this year the curators have been working towards commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the First World War in 2014.
This Christmas is the 99th anniversary of the World War I truce which saw hostilities temporarily come to an end whilst both sides celebrated the festive season. Soldiers sang Christmas carols and exchanged gifts and greetings in no-man’s land near Armentieres, France. Famously a game of football (soccer) was played between the Germans and the British soldiers on the frozen ground of no-man’s land.
In the Discovery Museum’s collection is a notable artefact from the famous Christmas Truce of 1914. A German field cap, or Feldmütze, is on display in the Soldier’s Life gallery of the museum, amongst a variety of other items (see images). The field cap was given to Private K H Rifley of the Northumberland Hussars as a gift from an unknown German soldier during the unofficial truce.
The grey-coloured cap from the Christmas Truce is a small reminder of the hope that exists in wartime, and represents perhaps the truest spirit of Christmas.
The reality of war is not too far away, however. To the right of the cap a revolver is on display. The Smith & Wesson was used by Corporal Shaw of the Northumberland Hussars, who took the gun from a dead officer to defend himself after his machine gun was put out of action at the Battle of Mons earlier in 1914.
By 1915 the war had resumed once again, and would last until the winter of 1918. There would be no more truces as the conflict raged on, and many would never see Christmas again.