24 December in Belgium in the area of Ypres was an unusual event. German soldiers ceased fire and began to decorate the trenches fir branches. Towards evening, when the rear sounded Christmas bells, they lit candles and sang Christmas carols. In response to the British side suddenly heard "silent night" favorite "a Christmas Carol" of the British. After the hymns of the soldiers began to shout congratulations to the each other. "A happy Christmas to you, Englishmen!" - shouted in broken English, the Germans. "Same to you, Fritz, but dinna o'er eat yourself wi' they sausages!" ("And you, the Fritz, not only objectes sausage!") - answered by the British. On Christmas eve, many German soldiers got out of the house make warm clothes, medicines, food. They started out of the trenches in the neutral zone and share with opponents gifts: tobacco was traded for whiskey, Westphalian black bread for cigarettes, biscuits ham...
Spontaneous cessation of hostilities historians call the "Christmas truce". It lasted from 24 to 25 December and covered the whole Western front. In total it was attended by more than 100 thousand German, British, and in some places, and French soldiers.
All Christmas artillery was silent. And the soldiers in the trenches, as they say "live and let live". During the truce funeral commands issued from the battlefield dead bodies (just lay there for more than one month), have jointly their funeral and buried their lines of defense. In some parts of the front, the German and British soldiers held football matches, with the team on each side could be up to 50 players.
"I would never and for that, didn't miss this unusual and strange Christmas - later recalled one of the officers of the British army Bruce Bairnsfather. Where was neutral territory, I noticed the German Ober-Lieutenant, and being a bit of a collector, explained that he had chosen some of his buttons... I got the pliers for wires and a few deft movements started taking a few of his buttons, putting them in his pocket. Then gave him in exchange two... And then I saw one of my heavies, who was in civilian life, a hairdresser, a lover, cuts long hair "Bosch", and he patiently kneeling on the ground while automatic scissors cut the back of his head".
At the end of the day, 25 December the truce ended. Command of both belligerents were extremely dissatisfied with the sudden lull, issued an order prohibiting any friendly intercourse with the enemy. As a result, in the first three years of the war, the artillery fire on the Western front during the holidays were significantly heavier than on weekdays, and losses on both sides.
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