for American Legion Post #142; Hominy, Oklahoma.
>>> by Gary Lanham
As I write this another wonderful Christmas has passed and chances are we have moved into a New Year of promise and challenge. One of my favorite quotes is from Charles’s Dickens Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.” It seems every year brings marvelous memories while delivering sadness. Somehow though, during the holidays, it seems to suspend in the marvelous. This season always brings to my memory a story I heard in my youth.
During WWI (the War to end all Wars) although there was no official truce, roughly 100,000 British and German troops were involved in unofficial cessations of fighting along the length of the Western Front. The first truce started on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1914, when german troops began decorating the area around their trenches in the region of Ypres, Belgium and particularly in Saint-Yvon, where Capt. Bruce Bairnsfather described the Truce.
“The Germans began by placing candles on their trenches and on Christmas trees, and then continued the celebration by singing Christmas carols. The British responded by singing carols of their own. The two sides continued by shouting Christmas greetings to each other. Soon thereafter, there were excursions across No Man’s Land, where small gifts were exchanged, such as food, tobacco, alcohol, and souvenirs such as buttons and hats. The artillary in the region fell silent. The truce also allowed a breathing spell where recently killed soldiers could be brought back behind their lines by burial parties. Joint services were held. The fraternization carried risks; some soldiers were shot by opposing forces. In many sectors, the truce lasted through Christmas night, but it continued until New Years Day in others.”
Bruce Bairnsfather, who served throughout the war, wrote: “I wouldn’t have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything. … I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons. … I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange. … The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck.”
General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, commander of the Brittish II Corp, issued orders forbidding friendly communication with the opposing German troops. Adolph Hitler, then a young corporal of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry, was also an opponent of the truce. Even in difficult times the season can touch hearts and provide hope.
As second reminders to members, when you re-up with the Legion make sure you coordinate that with our Treasurer Jack Cross. It seems thing go much smoother going through him rather than responding to a mail out. Trust me, it works better.
Well the Marines delivered toys for the Toys for Tots drive to Hominy December 19th in support of the school Angel Tree Program and for distribution from the Hut Saturday December 21st. Due to poor weather conditions Doc O’Leary and Babo Carter took on the challenge to hand out toys for local boys and girls keeping many of the rest of us from struggling to travel in the weather. Look for more details of their adventure in this edition along with photographs.
Also note we will be hosting a Chicken Noodle Feast Fund Raiser January 18th. More details will follow but start marking your calendars now. All proceeds support the local American Legion Chapter and all the things we do in the local community.
Our regular meetings are the first and third Thursdays if weather does not present a challenge. Our Monday morning Koffee Klatch meetings for January should be up and going as normal starting around 0700 till about 0900. Eli and Jerry usually have breakfast set up where we can catch up on each others mischief and story telling. If you are a veteran come on by. If you have a good story, it may end up in print!