I have just finished watching the Christmas movie Joyeux Noël, about the truce between the German, French, and Scottish soldiers on Christmas Eve of 1914. It is based on real occurrences of which many of us would be aware.
An Internet search reveals the truce began on Christmas Eve on 1914, when German troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium for Christmas. In 1915 there was a similar Christmas truce between German and French troops, and during Easter 1916 a truce also existed on the Eastern Front.
Okay I am not going into details, if you want to know more you can google it. This is about the movie, a tearjerking heartwarming sappy Christmas movie. Even though it takes place during the war, it would be wrong to say it is a war movie. It has romance, friendship, family, religion, and of course the war. It makes one realise the futility of war and that no matter how much you have been taught to hate your enemies, at the end of the day they are also people with families, somebody’s son with mothers and wives waiting for them back home.
Like I said, the movie has many elements. You have the opera singer who was drafted and on Christmas Eve when he went to sing for the Crown Prince with his girlfriend, who was also an opera singer, she persuaded him to take her to the front where she sang for the troops. The soldier was then arrested for disobedience, and rather than risk being separated the lovers surrendered to the French. Then there was the young Scottish boy whose brother was killed, but he kept writing letters to his mother from both of them. The French lieutenant whose wife was pregnant and since nobody could communicate with them he had no idea what happened to her or whether he had a son or daughter. The Scottish priest who went along with the recruits from his parish, who held “the most important mass of his life” on that Christmas Eve, to a congregation of French and German and Scottish soldiers. The young French soldier who longed for his mother and her hot coffee, his house was only an hour away from the front and on Boxing Day he disguised himself as a German soldier and went home. When he came back he was spotted by a visiting Major (who was quite angry about the truce) and gave orders for him to be shot. Before he died, his lieutenant came to hold him and with his last breath the soldier whispered about his mother and delivered the news that the lieutenant had a son.
Alfred Anderson, the last survivor of the Christmas Truce of 1914 died on 21 November, 2005 at a nursing home in his native Scotland. He was 109 years old.
On 11 November 2008, the first official Truce memorial was unveiled in Frelinghien, France, the site of a Christmas Truce football game in 1914.
If you have the time, do watch this movie. Although the incident took place almost a hundred years ago, it will restore your faith in humanity.