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Covering the villages of Wilsden and Harecroft

22nd December – 28th December 1914

This week in 1914

Christmas Truce

On Christmas Day, all along the Western front there were spontaneous outbreaks of peace – a mutually accepted ceasefire between British, French, Commonwealth and German troops. Troops freely mixed in No-Man’s land, swapping buttons, badges, cigarettes, tobacco and rations, playing games of football, taking photographs and wishing each other a Happy Christmas.

“We were just going to fire on [two German soldiers] when we saw they had no rifles, so one of our men went out to meet them and in about two minutes the ground between the two line of trench was swarming with men and officers of both sides, shaking hands and wishing each other a Happy Christmas"
- 2nd Lieutenant Dougan Chater

On the Boxing Day, the Headquarters of the British 7th Division ‘issued orders saying that such unwarlike activity must cease’. Despite this, in parts of the Front Lines the peaceful mood lingered until February – and even beyond.

Sources

Brown, M The Imperial War Museum book of the Western Front

Gilbert, M First World War

Keighley News Archives (accessed via Bradford libraries website)

 

15th December – 21st December 1914

This week in 1914

“The Lengthening out of the War

Ever since the outbreak of war, speculation has been rife as to its probable duration… the talk of a three months campaign to be followed by an economic collapse in Germany has proved altogether delusive; the confident assertions that it would be ‘all over by Christmas’ have gradually grown fewer and fewer… [Lord Kitchener’s] forecast is a three-years war … another estimate fixes Germany’s resistance at eighteen months or two years.”

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From the Keighley News, 12 December 1914

  • December 18th – During an attack on the French village of Givenchy, a group of Highlanders are unable to fire their rifles because they had become too clogged with mud, due to appalling conditions in the trenches–“trenches were knee deep and sometimes waist deep in mud and icy water”, due in part to an unseasonably wet winter. The Highlanders were subsequently captured by the Germans.
  • December 21st – Captain J.W. Barnett, of the 34th Sikh Pioneers, writes in his diary of the war - ”I think we will win through, but out casualties will be appalling”

Sources

Brown, M The Imperial War Museum book of the Western Front

Gilbert, M First World War

Keighley News Archives (accessed via Bradford libraries website)


 

8th December – 14th December 1914

This week in 1914

KEIGHLEY RECRUITING FOR THE “BANTAMS”

“The enrolment of men for the Birkenhead “Bantams” Battalion has brought about a bit of a spurt in recruiting in Keighley during the present week. Men are still coming in for the ordinary regiments and the Territorials, but the small men have easily out-distanced the bigger ones in numbers, and it is confidently expected that as soon as it becomes generally known that five-footers can now be enlisted there will be quite a rush to join. After all, little men can do quite as good work as big men in modern warfare, so long as they have the necessary stamina … The minimum height for “Bantams” is 5ft, and the maximum 5ft 3in.”

8th - 14th December 1914

- Both taken from the Keighley News, 5th December 1914

Sources

Brown, M The Imperial War Museum book of the Western Front

Gilbert, M First World War

Keighley News Archives (accessed via Bradford libraries website)