Much has been written about the Christmas Truce of 1914, which was well covered by the press at the time; however, a second truce which occurred in December 1915, and which involved a Welsh battalion, was suppressed. Word of it began to surface in the early 1930s but it is only in the last few years, and during 2014 in particular, that a detailed account has emerged.
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The latest exhibition at Wrexham Museum explores the story of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the oldest regiment in Wales, during the First World War through the historic objects, archives and images held in the reserve collection of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum.....
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A year ago, at Frelinghien on the French-Belgian border, a remarkable commemoration took place. 100 years before, Captain Clifton Stockwell of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welch Fusiliers, and Captain Friedrich von Sinner of the 2nd (Silesian) Jaeger Battalion, had met in no-man’s land to exchange compliments, beer and Christmas puddings. On the same spot, their grandsons met and made the same exchange watched by soldiers of the British and German armies, local people and visitors from Britain and Germany....
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War Diaries From The Second Christmas Truce 1915
Military historian Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley, chairman of trustees for the Royal Welch Fusiliers which has a regimental museum at Caernarfon Castle, said there had been other accounts referring to a second Christmas truce but the "emergence of the Keating diary has completed the jigsaw"...
As Christmas 1914 approached, there were moves towards some sort of truce or armistice. Pope Benedict XV proposed the idea in early December (1) and the Germans accepted almost at once, with the proviso that everyone else did the same. That was a forlorn hope, but in all armies there were preparations for the troops’ Christmas. 2nd Battalion the Royal Welch Fusiliers were ordered into the line at the village of Frelinghien on the French/Belgian border on 25 November. In front of the village of Frelinghien, commanding A Company of 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers...
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The Royal Welsh Fusiliers
As darkness fell, a total of 11,000 names were projected on to the outside of Caernarfon Castle. The Bring Them Home project, was staged by the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum. Shirley Williams, museum development manager said: “The names of those who fell are marked on war memorials in towns and villages across Wales, but we think this event will help to bring the boys together to show the horror inflicted on just one regiment.
The Bring Them Home project is the latest event being staged by the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, for which Lt-Gen Jonathon Riley is Chairman. The aim is to illustrate the extent of the losses suffered by just one regiment in the 1914-18 conflict.
The names of nearly 11,000 men who lost their lives are to be projected onto the walls of Caernarfon Castle on Armistice Day - November 11 along with some of their photos.
As well as displaying the names of the Fallen on the walls of the castle, which houses the regimental museum, it is hoped that the event will spur families to send in photographs of family members who died in the war.
The Christmas 1914 Truce is a partnership research and development project originated by the Royal Welch Fusiliers Regimental Museum Trust (RWF), Caernarfon; in collaboration with CyMAL / Welsh Government; the Arbeitskreis Sächsische Militärgeschichte/Saxon Army Museum, Dresden; Bodelwyddan Castle Museum Trust; Commune d’Armentières and Commune de Frelinghien (France); and Commune Comines-Warneton (Belgium). The project lead is the RWF.
This project provides a genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mark a defining moment of Welsh and European history. It is a rare example of a First World War commemorative event that is also celebratory, reflecting as it does the common humanity
Jonathon Riley is a member of the WW1 Commemoration advisory group, under Sir Deian Hopkin, advising the Welsh government on the centenaries and also Chairs the British Army's group supporting these events in Wales.
The Christmas Truce 1914
The exhibition opened on 3 August at Castle Wolkenstein and will move on to Armentieres, Ypres, and then to Frelinghien, site of the actual 1914 truce, in December for a special event, then it will come to Bodelwyddan Castle in North Wales in January, the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff in April, then back to Germany in May .The Welsh flag was flying in a prominent position over the entrance to Wolkenstein Castle where the event was taking place.
The opening was attended by a number of representatives from the local community and partner museums (Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands). Wales was represented by *Miles Stockwell and Dr Kevin Mason, Director of the Bodelwyddan Castle Trust.
There were also a number of representatives from the Saxon government including the Speaker. Following the official speeches during which the honoured guests were listed individually, there was ample opportunity for people to discuss the exhibition and the forthcoming tour.
RWF - The Christmas Truce 1914
Introduction & Philosophy
During the Christmas period of 1914, a series of spontaneous and sporadic ceasefires occurred along the Western Front in Europe. The first of these was recorded at Ploegsteert, Comines-Warneton and Ypres in Belgium, with others notable locations including Frelinghien in France. These ceasefires lasted several days in some cases, enabling casualties to be cared for, and bodies retrieved. Troops from both sides of the war decorated their trenches with candles and Christmas trees; songs and carols were sung and tokens of friendship exchanged. The Christmas truce was only a temporary respite from killing, but the events have resonated across the decades and been reflected in popular culture.
This project provides a genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mark a defining moment of Welsh and European history. It is a rare example of a First World War commemorative event that is also celebratory, reflecting as it does the common humanity between peoples, at a specific moment in time, during the midst of carnage. The contribution of Welsh people and culture to the events of 1914, and the First World War more widely, will be explained to audiences of all ages. For those audiences familiar with the history, it will be a timely and sensitive remembrance. For those unfamiliar, it will be a thoughtful and powerful introduction to the role of Wales and its soldiers during the Great War.
The Christmas 1914 Truce Project meets the aims of the commemorative programme of activities as referenced in the First World War Centenary CyMAL Cabinet Paper for the Welsh Government (v4, 24 Sept 2013) and the UK Government’s First World War Centenary plans.