I’ve always thought that life would be so much easier and happier if countries settled their differences on the sports field rather than in war. Obviously, it would have to be an American football field, because we’d get wiped out in everything else, but for the sake of this post, we’ll just generalize sports. Like, imagine if instead of medals, the Olympics were played for land. We’d all be barons and dukes, reaping the spoils of athletic competition!
Anyway, if you’re still young enough to remember your high school and/or college history classes, then you’re probably familiar with the Christmas Truce of 1914, which is famously regarded as one of the last true moments of humanity in war. It was immortalized in the 2005 film Joyeux Noël, starring the delightful Diane Kruger, and last year the Premier League created the Christmas Truce Tournament for kids from across Europe.
Now, though, war historians are thrilled because an actual letter from Staff Sergeant Clement Barker, one of the British soldiers who was fighting at Ypres against the Germans before soldiers from both sides agreed to this temporary truce, has surfaced, offering further insight into this inspiring moment.
“A messenger come over from German lines and said that if (our side) did not fire, they (the Germans) wouldn’t in the morning (Xmas day).”
“A German looked over the trench – no shots – our men did the same, and then a few of our men went out and brought the dead in and buried them and the next thing a football kicked out of our Trenches and Germans and English played football.”
The soldiers also shared carols, shook hands and exchanged cigarettes. Sgt Barker added: “We have conversed with the Germans and they all seem to be very much fed up and heaps of them are deserting. Some have given themselves up as prisoners, so things are looking quite rosy.” (Via The Mirror)
Obviously, the war eventually continued, with British and German officials irate that the two sides actually stopped slaughtering each other to have fun, but it’s good that this letter was found. It could have only been better if Barker described the air drop of puppies and bourbon that happened next.