The Christmas Truce

CHRISTMAS 1914

The regulars of the BEF had suffered such heavy casualties that territorial units had to be sent to France and Flanders to reinforce them.  The 2nd Mons was amongst the first, taking up its positions in the line at Le Bizet, near Armentieres in November 1914.  It was here that the battalion took part in the famous Christmas truce of 1914.

Private L Browne wrote home to Newport to say “There was a sort of armistice between the Germans and the boys in the trenches and there were even conversations held between them half-way between the two lines. Cigarettes, cakes etc were exchanged, but of course it all had to end the next day.

The end of the truce was marked by tragedy when, as the men returned to their trenches, Sergeant Fred Collins of Monmouth, and Private Ernest Palfrey of Abersychan were shot and killed.  The deaths were used by the press to condemn “German barbarism”, but they appear to have been isolated incidents, for which the German officers apologised.