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WWI Christmas truces 'not uncommon'

By Lucinda Cameron

Christmas truces during the First World War were not a one-off, but continued throughout the entire conflict, a historian has found.

The Christmas truce of 1914 is generally reported as a unique phenomenon not repeated as the conflict grew ever more brutal.

However, Thomas Weber of the University of Aberdeen has uncovered evidence that festive meetings continued throughout the war, with a significant number in 1916 despite the huge casualties suffered in the Battle of the Somme.

Professor Weber has been given access to a large number of family memories of the war which show that, despite officers recording in official documents that no such friendly exchanges took place, the situation on the front lines was very different.

One example he found was of a truce between German and Canadian troops at Vimy Ridge in 1916.

The official version of events stated that the Germans tried to interact, but that no one responded to it.

But the historian found that a letter written by Ronald MacKinnon, the son of a Scot from West Lothian, tells a rather different story.

It said: "Here we are again as the song says. I had quite a good Xmas considering I was in the front line. Xmas eve was pretty stiff, sentry-go up to the hips in mud of course...

"We had a truce on Xmas Day and our German friends were quite friendly. They came over to see us and we traded bully beef for cigars. Xmas was 'tray bon', which means very good."

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