ONLINE: 'Not so silent nights: the 1914 Christmas truce' by Prof Mark Connelly
19 Dec

Caption: British and German soldiers arm-in-arm and exchanging headgear: a Christmas Truce between opposing trenches [Illustrated London News, Jan 9, 1915]

About the talk: The Christmas truce was a series of widespread unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914. It began five months after hostilities begun. The opposing armies were running out of men and munitions, and commanders were forced to take stock as their strategies failed to produce the expected breakthroughs. In the run-up to 25 December, French, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In some areas, men from both sides ventured into no man's land on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. There were joint burial ceremonies and prisoner swaps, while several meetings ended in carolling. Men played games of football with one another, creating one of the most memorable images of the truce. Hostilities continued in some sectors, while in others the sides settled on little more than arrangements to recover bodies.

About the speaker: Mark Connelly is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Kent. His main research interests are the memory of war, the image of the armed forces in popular culture and aspects of operational military history. His publications include The Great War: memory and ritual, Steady the Buffs! A Regiment, a Region and the Great War, (with Tim Bowman and Ian Beckett), The British Army and the First World War and (with Stefan Goebel), Ypres. During the centenary he was director of the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded, Gateways to the First World War, a multi-university online centre aimed at encouraging public engagement with the centenary. He also works closely with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the In Flanders Fields Museum, Ieper/Ypres.


Mark on a field trip


19 Dec 2023 19:20