The Wildgoose Chase

I met Chelsea Pensioner Walter Wildgoose in 1977 when he was 87 and I was 26. Through a series of letters written over the last year of his life, he passed along his life story - the workhouse children's home, a life in the British Army witnessing the opening battles of World War I and life in India, a remarkable family surviving the bombs of World War II London. This blog will document my research and progress on the novel I'm writing about this amazing man.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Christmas Truce 1914, Part I

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, Walter didn't write much about Christmas 1914 - only that he was in Kemmel and received the Christmas box from Queen Mary with a pipe and tobacco (doesn't mention anything else that it might've contained).

The Christmas Truce of 1914 is one of the iconic moments of the Great War, and much has been written about it. As with all historical events (and everything surrounding World War I, it seems), folks are constantly fighting of the reality of the situation. Some say it's been romanticized; some say that it really was the "Oh, shit, what are doing here?" moment for both sides that many reported it to be. One central fact seems to be that the truce afforded the chance to clear and bury the dead in No Man's Land.

Here are a few good resources on the truce:

An interview with Stanley Weintraub, author of Silent Night: the Story of the World War I Christmas Truce (2002)

Background on the personal account by illustrator Bruce Barinsfather that disputes the sentimentality of the event.

The Long, Long Trail website has a page listing the British and German units that took part in the truce, along with other interesting links.

A new French film, Joyeux Noel, has the truce as its focal point. I don't think it'll be in the US until March 2006.

I've titled this post "Christmas Truce 1914, Part I" - so be on the lookout for parts 2, 3, and so on. If you know of strong resources on this topic, please let me know - I'm always on the look-out.
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posted by MaryB @ 2:05 PM  


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