Many years after world war one, peace and joy is being recognized after honorable and humane troops on both sides in World War One took a day on the Flanders front to meet against the opposing troops to sing carols, exchange gifts and play football in no-mans land.
What is less known… is that some of these British soldiers who shook hands in the battlefield of 1914 were court marshaled a face a harsh punishment for an hour with their enemy during the war.
The true story passed on by a grandfather
During the battle, the fortunate soldiers that survived thru three Christmases in the trenches, were not longer able to celebrate and offer truces for that one day.
Generals took to excessive force to wipe out any threat to what the generals felt would decrease the “fighting spirit”.
In a largely forgotten incident, a repeat of the first famous ceasefire occurring the next year. One Hulse’s fellow officers in Scots Guards was put on trial at a court martial.
Hulse, killed at 25 in March 1915, Captain Iain Colquhoun survived and recorded how he had to face punishment by the military for again exchanging Christmas gifts, such as cigars and chocolates with his German foe and allowing both sides to bury the dead.
As Colquhoun wrote, “The Major-General (Lord Cavan) is furious about it.”
His commander wanted to know why the orders have been disobeyed and there should be no repeat of the 1914 incident.
The historical request for a truce
On December 25th, 1915 the 28 year old Colquhoun had wrote in his diary the following. “A German Officer came forward and asked me for a truce for Christmas. I replied that was impossible. He then asked for three quarters of an hour to bury his dead. I agreed.
“Our men and the Germans then talked and exchanged cigars, cigarettes, etc for quarter of an hour and when the time was up I blew the whistle and both sides returned to their trenches.
For the rest of the day… not a shot was fired, the Germans put up fairy lights… and their trenches were outlines for miles. It was a mild looking night with clouds and a full moon and the prettiest sight I have ever seen. Our machine guns played on them and the lights were removed.”
10 days later he was arrested
10 days later… Colquhoum returned to the read of the front line only to find himself under arrest for his prior actions.
Charged with conduct of the prejudice of good and order and military discipline for “approving of truce with the enemy”. He was placed in a five hour trial on Jan 17th, 1916.
Found guilty... yet respected by his troops
Colquhoun after being found guilty for his actions, he escaped by being reprimanded.
Prime Minister Herbert Asquith was his wife’s uncle and Aquiths son was his defense counsel which may have helped.
In retrospect, Colquhoun also felt the army understood the spirit of Christmas stating “Everyone who knows the facts of the case all say that is was a monstrous thing that the court martial ever took place.”
Colquhoun’s career was not hindered by the trial. He actually rose to rank higher and remain popular with his troops even after the war, showing concern for the betterment of his troops.
This story has been shared by Alexander Macdonald, the creators of this story grandfather.
Wishing you and your family a happy holiday
From all of us at Green Bean Buddy, we want to wish you a happy and Merry Christmas. As you spend time with family and loved ones, remember you are not in the trenches and peace on earth has always been in the minds of every human being.
Continue spreading love and peace to those in your home and family. As this happens, it then becomes easier to spread to those outside the home just like it was done in 1914.