- Late veteran of the Northumberland (Hussars) Yeomanry and Royal Field Artillery speaks of the unofficial truces, 100 Christmases ago
- The former soldier from Newcastle, Captain George B Jameson MC, reveals incredulity in the trenches as word spreads
- Recording to be shared for the first time on the National Army Museum website to commemorate the centenary of this incredible act of humanity
A previously un-heard interview with a late war veteran who experienced the Christmas Truce of 1914 is to be posted on the National Army Museum website to mark the 100th anniversary of this astonishing act of festive goodwill.
Remembering his time in the trenches, Captain George B Jameson MC (1892-1999) speaks of his disbelief when a pal told him: ‘Jerries are walking around on top.’
Speaking to a National Army Museum curator in 1991, the veteran from Newcastle explains in this fascinating interview how soldiers exchanged gifts including cigars.
He says of the truce: ‘You see, the general impression was the war was going to be over by Christmas, or very nearly that, you see – well this is part of the way towards it, you see – the war was going to be over. But the top brass soon put paid to all that.’
Later in the interview, he adds: ‘We’d got a Bavarian Regiment, I think, opposite us at the time, and they were singing hymns.’
The Christmas Truce was actually a series of unofficial ceasefires which took place across the British Expeditionary Force’s front around the first festive period of World War One. The events, which have now gained a semi-mythical status, saw many soldiers from both sides venturing into no-man’s land where they mingled and were even friendly enough to play games of football.
Although strict orders were issued against fraternisation by the high command on both sides, many junior officers tolerated a truce that would never be repeated throughout the remainder of the war.
Captain Jameson was transferred to the Northumberland (Hussars) Yeomanry in 1913. His unit took part in the First Battle of Ypres in both a mounted reconnaissance role and as dismounted infantry and later engaged in trench maintenance and regular patrolling. His full story will appear alongside the MP3 file of his remarkable audio interview in the Soldiers’ Stories series on the NAM’s commemorative portal, First World War in Focus.
These personal accounts are being unveiled month-by-month and piece together the development of the war from the point of view of those directly involved – 100 years from the time that they describe. The Museum hopes that in sharing these personal stories, the human scale and impact of ‘The Great War’ can be better felt and understood.
Also on the portal is an interactive global map that geotags all the major events of the war, a timeline to help users piece together the development of the conflict and a host of learning tools. The website is a unique resource that will help commit the events of 100 years ago to the country’s national memory in one central place.
First World War in Focus is part of the National Army Museum’s exciting Building for the Future* project, which is supported by an £11.5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project will see the radical transformation of the Museum’s Chelsea site as well as an extensive programme of community projects, together with Regimental Museum collaborations, travelling exhibitions, loans and expert support.
Support from the Heritage Lottery Fund has also enabled the Museum to go on the road during its closure period, with a series of nationwide events around the country to commemorate the First World War and the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in 2015.