PEACE COMES TO LIVERPOOL | The bullets stopped for one day in 1914

Since World Cup soccer started in 1930, West Germany/Germany has been a dominant force with four wins and four-times runner-up. In 1966 one of the most famous games was England’s 4-2 victory over Germany.

Turn back the clock 52 years before that and there was another England-versus-Germany game that took place on Christmas Day on the Western Front in World War I.

It was unofficial, for obvious reasons, and the Germans won, 3-2.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the outbreak of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in warfare.

At first light on Christmas Day, German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no man’s land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English.

During WWI, on and around Christmas Day in 1914, the sounds of rifles firing and shells exploding faded in several places along the Western Front in favour of holiday celebrations in the trenches and gestures of goodwill between enemies.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British troops sang carols to each other across the lines and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At first light on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no man’s land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native language. The men exchanged gifts of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols. And there was a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of soccer.

Some soldiers used this short-lived cease-fire for a more sombre task: the retrieval of the bodies of fellow combatants who’d fallen between the lines in no-man’s land. The British retrieved about 70 of their comrades’ bodies during that truce.

At first light on Christmas Day, German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across no man’s land, calling out “Merry Christmas” in English.

Despite the lack of a true Christmas, hundreds of British soldiers got a gift from Princess Mary’s Gift Fund. The embossed boxes contained cigarettes and tobacco. One of these historic gift boxes is in show here at the Peace comes to Liverpool exhibition at Liverpool Regional Museum.

Due to its popularity since opening in October, the exhibition has been extended to February 2, with a brief break for Christmas/New Year.

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