Many people know of the Christmas Truce of 1914, which happened after the battle lines of World War I had settled down to the series of opposing trench systems. British and German troops spontaneously called a halt to hostilities and emerged from their trenches to exchange gifts and even engage in soccer matches. Now, according to the Huffington Post UK, a historian named Thomas Webber at the University of Aberdeen, the 1914 truce was not the only one thyat took place during the Great War on the Western front.

Webber has uncovered family memoirs and letters that suggest that Christmas truces were an annual affair, at least during 1915 and 1916.

The belief that the brutality of World War I had foreclosed such gestures, taken at the initiative of soldiers in the field, often in defiance of their offices, has to be reassessed. The fact that these truces took place was suppressed in the official records.

One account uncovered by Webber tells of a truce conducted between Canadian and German troops around Christmas 1916 where the two sides fraternized, trading bully beef for cigars. The Canadians believed that they got the better of the exchange, as bully beef was considered inedible, with the tins they came in being used to line the muddy bottoms of the trenches. In any case, the official account claimed that the German attempts to fraternized were rebuffed by the Canadians.

The reality seems to tell a different tale.

Similar stories have been uncovered about a Christmas truce conducted by British and German soldiers at the Somme, the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of World War I.

The spontaneous outbreak of peace and goodwill toward men by the combatants along the western front became a matter of concern by higher officers.

How does one expect soldiers to kill the enemy with whom they had friendly intercourse just the other day? The concern was one reason why accounts of these Christmas truces were suppressed, least the news travel and other soldiers were moved to imitate it.

Webber is currently writing a book about these truces and other untold stories of what was once called the “war to end all wars.”

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