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Christmas at the Front 1914
A letter from Private Edward Duncan, 6th Battalion Gordon Highlanders, to his mother
28th December 1914
We spent Christmas Day in the trenches and it was one long to be remembered for a reason that you can hardly credit. We had a day off with the Germans and had fun along with them in chasing a hare and giving as well as receiving souvenirs. It seemed to be a mutual truce along our part of the line. Certainly it was not official. The first that we knew about it was a few Germans putting their heads up above the trenches, and some of the boys saying that they wanted to bury their dead. A few of the enemy soon appeared clear of the trenches and before you could say Jack Robertson, they all came out and over the trenches without their rifles. Our boys were soon swarming up to meet them and hand-shaking ensued. We were not allowed to go near their trenches so we carried their dead half across, and they carried our dead to the same distance. Soon a hare made its appearance between our trenches and all joined in the chase. Not a man could refrain from laughing at the sight as the Germans mixed with us in the scramble. Spontaneous laughter re-echoed all around and the hare got clean away so there was no trouble over who was going to have the soup. A good few of them could speak English, and one of them was once a Sunday School teacher in Blackpool. He said that they get bulletins issued to them every day and they were told of a great German victory in Poland and that they were to get 160 guns, which had been captured from the Russians, up to help them. They had been waiting patiently but no guns had come their way so they are now fearing it was a bulletin of falsehoods. They are all fed up and wishing it was over. Some of them were exceedingly smart looking chaps and gave our boys cigs and chocolate as well as drinks of gin. They said that if we did not fire they would not and the arrangement was carried out. The day after Christmas they cried across if we would play them at a game of football, but as no football was forthcoming there was no match. The first night we were in the trenches they were crying across to us and singing Christmas carols and taking spasmodic turns of shouting, " Are we downhearted? NO!"