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The Christmas that Stopped the War

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The Christmas that Stopped the War Interviewer: Good morning and welcome to the new series of "Memorable Days." In this series we are going to try to remember specific days during both wars and will attempt to get in contact with and meet veterans who can tell their stories. Today we have a very special guest with us on the show, a war hero and a witness to the astonishing scenes of Christmas 1914. Jim Prince of the North Staffordshire Regiment tells his tale of the truce of Christmas 1914 so sit back and enjoy this truly memorable day. Jim Prince: I never really thought of war as a tragic loss of life, but as a game of intense competition until on one routine day I passed a piece of bread to a comrade who on rising to take it, stuck his head above the parapet. He got shot and died instantly. I was stationed at Ypres in Belgium during the month long battle where a total of a quarter of a million Allied and German soldiers were killed. Christmas Eve night was like any other, except that there was a feeling of unease amongst the soldiers as many of them thought they would be home for Christmas. ...read more.


Jim Prince: I think everyone must have had a few ideas in their head of what to do if the Germans walked up to the lines and started firing, but to everybody's absolute amazement, the Germans were genuine. More and more Germans started appearing over the horizon singing, so the Allies followed what they were doing and got up out of their trenches and started socialising. A friend of mine, Major Leslie Walkinton said something to me that I can't forget, "a spirit stronger than war was a work that night." Christmas day dawned with a freezing mist in the air and already there were thousands of men out in no-mans land. Quickly a football match started and the different sides started to exchange what little possessions they owned as gifts and the local barber started giving free haircuts. This was the most fun anyone had had in a long time because we had the freedom to move about and talk to people with out the fear of getting shot. A chaplain and a German divinity student gave a short funeral service in remembrance of the dead. Interviewer: You must have met quite a few new people. Are there any who you particularly remember? ...read more.


Do u have special facilities or are you not allowed to go while on duty?? Please enlighten me. Interviewer: A valid question. I have sometimes wondered the same thing but never had the guts to ask anyone. Jim Prince: Well...this really has nothing to do with my story, but anyway. It is quite simple, whenever you need the toilet you go to a designated area, dig a whole, do your business and cover the hole over with mud. Simple really. Interviewer: Thanks for that. Now we will take one last call. Caller 2, you're on the air. Caller 2: Hi Mr. Prince. I was just curious what a soldier on the front lines would eat. I hear the food was pretty nasty stuff and wasn't dissimilar to gruel. Jim Prince: The food wasn't exactly gourmet, but it was edible stuff just about. Breakfast is bread like cardboard, lunch is leftover breakfast and we didn't eat supper. Interviewer: Well that's all we have time for today. A big thanks to Mr. Jim Prince for spending time to tell his story!! Join us next time on "Memorable Days" when we will speak to Mr. Albert Anderson who tells us about how his rifle malfunctioned and backfired to blow and hole in the side of his head. Next time on "Memorable Days." Jason Duke 29/12/02 1 ...read more.

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