|"An Historic Group" (Image source)|
I still distinctly remember learning about World War I at school. I would sit in class blinking back tears as we heard about the sheer numbers of lives lost, often due to the sheer stupidity of the military powers, and as we read personal accounts from people on the front and those left at home to wait and wonder. The third battle of Ypres, otherwise known as the Battle of Passchendaele, is well known as being one of the bloodiest battles of the war. But Ypres is also the place where one of the most beautiful and affirming events of World War I occurred - that is, the Christmas Truce of 1914.
Thousands of British and German troops were involved in an unofficial truce beginning on Christmas Eve that year. It reportedly started with the Germans lighting candles, singing and calling out Christmas greetings to the British soldiers. The British soldiers begun to respond and eventually troops from both sides emerged from their trenches and crossed No Man's Land to exchange gifts with one another. It's such a wonderful story, a perfect Christmas message of peace and humanity and trust and vulnerability.
Here's a lovely wee website where you can read transcripts of some of the letters from people who were involved in the truce.
And if you're stuck for Christmas gift ideas, there's a sweet-looking book about it at the Imperial War Museum shop.
They've got a whole selection of nice things, in fact, including lots of vintage-inspired items, prints and books. And, as a bonus, you'll be supporting them if you buy from there. Which means they can continue to grow their museum collection and educate people about the historic and continuing impacts of war on society and individuals everywhere.
Here's an idea of some of the things they have on offer:
This book sounds really interesting too: