UK

Heartwarming Letter From The Trenches Details WWI Christmas Truce With German Soldiers

24/12/2014 10:20 GMT | Updated 25/12/2014 03:59 GMT

world war christmas

Soldiers of the 103rd Saxon Regiment sit in their trenches in Warneton, Belgium, December 1914

A touching letter, penned 100 years ago, has been released by the Royal Mail detailing the Christmas Day ceasefire of the First World War from a soldier's perspective.

The famous truce began when German soldiers on the front line put down their weapons and crossed No Man's Land to share festive wishes with the British troops before sharing cigarettes and playing a football match.

To commemorate the momentous anniversary, Royal Mail has released a private letter from Captain AD Chater of the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders.

royal mail christmas letter

Dated Christmas Day, the letter reads:

Dearest Mother,

I am writing this in the trenches in my "dug out" - with a wood fire going and plenty of straw it is rather cosy, although it is freezing hard and real Christmas weather.

I think I have seen today one of the most extraordinary sights that anyone has ever seen. About 10 o'clock this morning I was peeping over the parapet when I saw a German, waving his arms, and presently two of them got out of their trench and came towards ours.

We were just going to fire on them when we saw they had no rifles, so one of our men went to meet them and in about two minutes the ground between the two lines of trenches was swarming with men and officers of both sides, shaking hands and wishing each other a happy Christmas.

This continued for about half an hour when most of the men were ordered back to the trenches. For the rest of the day nobody has fired a shot and the men have been wandering about at will on the top of the parapet and carrying straw and firewood about in the open - we have also had joint burial parties with a service for some dead, some German and some ours, who were lying out between the lines.

Some of our officers were taking photos of English and German soldiers - the extraordinary truce has been quite impromptu - there was no previous arrangement and of course it had been decided that there was not to be any cessation of hostilities.

I went out myself and shook hands with several of their officers and men. From what I gathered most of them would be as glad to get home again as we should - we have had our pipes playing all day and everyone has been wandering about in the open unmolested but not of course as far as the enemies lines.

The truce will probably go on until someone is foolish enough to let off his rifle - we nearly messed it up this afternoon, by one of our fellows letting off his rifle skywards by mistake but they did not seem to notice it so it did not matter.

The soldier goes on to tell of another truce planned for New Year's Day - so the Germans can see how the photos turned out.

Chater was later wounded in March 1915 at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. He married the following year and passed away in Henley, Oxfordshire, in 1974.

"He didn't really talk about the war at all. A lot of them didn't," Chater's grandson told The Guardian.

The Royal Mail also launched a series of special stamps to commemorate the war that will be issued from 2014 to 2018.

christmas truce