Christmas Truce, 1914


Peace on Earth …. Amen

Dearest Mother and Father,

As we sit huddled in our trenches
separated from the Hun by craters and barbed wire,
our thoughts are at home
with our families.

The occasional sniffle makes its way to my ears
and I remember fondly
standing around the piano last Christmas
singing carols with you all.

Out of the darkness a lonesome
tenor starts to sing.
The words are not familiar but the tune
is one we all recognize.

One by one voices from both sides of no-man’s
land join in until a choir of soldiers
sing mournfully in two languages
celebrating not only Christmas, but being alive.

There was no shooting Mother.
It must be as hard for you to envisage as it was for us.
All was calm and under the star-filled night sky
all was eerily bright.

We climbed out of the trenches
and met in no-man’s land
shaking hands and swapping buttons
sipping Scotch and Schnapps.

Fritz showed off a picture of his daughter
I showed him one of my son
and our wistful smiles replaced words
as we both silently prayed we would see them again.

Later we wandered back to our trenches
to cries of “Merry Christmas” and “Frohe Weihnachten”.
I have the socks on that you knitted for me, Mother.
I wish this peace could last …

– 22 Sept 2014


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