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This beacon of our humanity lives on
AS READERS will be aware, 2014 will mark the 100th centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
By the end of 1914 a number of battles had been fought with significant losses on all sides, and as the year’s end approached it dawned on the various participants that this war would most probably not be over by Christmas.
The set-piece battles of past conflicts were consigned to the history books and were replaced with the horrors of trench warfare. Though few could have guessed it at the time, the scene was set for a slaughter of Europe’s youth on an industrial scale that would shape the rest of the century.
Yet as Christmas Day in 1914 approached, the guns fell silent.
In many sectors troops from opposing sides offered one another a hand of friendship.
Soldiers erected makeshift Christmas trees, sang carols together, and exchanged cigarettes and chocolate and other gifts. Some played football.
I find it heartening and yet heartbreaking that such a spontaneous truce was possible. I regard the truce as a beacon of humanity among the unimaginable pain and suffering of war and think that this is a story worth reflecting on as we celebrate the festive season and see in the year which will mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of this tragic conflict.
Chris Beverley, Common Lane, East Ardsley, Wakefield.
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