Christmas in the Trenches

       John McCutcheon tells us this story in a song.  Like many of the best ones it is based on a true story.

        It was a cold winter night in WWI on the western front in the year 1914.  The British and the Germans were in their respective trenches.  An open field lay before them.  They had been killing each other all day. 

        The rifles were quiet.  A German soldier began to sing.  His clear voice pierced the cold night air.  Soon he broke into ‘Stille Nacht.’  The British began to sing along in English;  ‘Silent Night.’ 

        In a minute a sole German soldier climbed out of his trench.  The British trained their rifles on him, but he carried a truce flag.  They held their fire.

        Soon they all emptied out onto the open field; the no man’s land which had been a killing ground only hours before.  They traded cigarettes and chocolates and showed each other pictures of family from back home.  Someone started a pick-up ball game and they played cards.  After a few hours they went back to their trenches.

         In the morning they resumed killing each other.

        To me those poor boys were the same on both sides; just kids who wanted to somehow get back home who had been manipulated into a hopeless situation by some old fat a^^ ‘leader’ who either got picked last in ball as a kid or his mama didn’t love him.  (or both) 

       My thoughts and prayers this Christmas are with our service people.  I pray they get home safe.  God says we should pray for our enemies.  I try to listen to what He says, so I pray for the ones on the other side of the conflict too.  I suspect the vast majority of them are but pawns in the deal who are just trying to get home themselves.  It ain’t the fault of the ones in the trenches, and I pray for peace so they can all just go back home.

Dr. B

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12 Comments on “Christmas in the Trenches”

  1. newt221 Says:

    My prayers are with the soldiers too. They are very brave and self sacrificing to self and protect others.

    My cousin had a similar story about WWII. He said that while he was fighting in Europe in the trenches and fox holes often German soldiers in the dark of night would crawl across the “no mans land” to drop into the American trenches for C rations when they were handed out.

    I cannot imagine what it must be like to be side by side someone who is “suppose” to be and enemy just because they believe what their “government” has told them or they have be drafted to fight….

    God Bless Those Soldiers this Christmas

    • drtombibey Says:

      Amen Cindy,

      I hope you have a blessed Christmas. All of us who love the beauty of the arts, be it music, writing, or other genres need to hold to hope.

      The numbers of folks who truly believe in a life of grace and dignity through the arts may be too small, but I pray they we can all change the world one human being at a time.

      I know I’m a Pollyanna, but I gotta keep on till the end.

      Dr. B

  2. Those stories of the fighting stopping during Christmas in the trenches have always broken my heart. War is an ugly, ugly thing.
    I wish you a merry Christmas, Dr. B, full of song, good food, and – of course – family!

  3. drtombibey Says:

    Me too slightly. I agree 100%.

    My daughter is here; my son is in tomorrow, and my wife has the Christmas cooking rocking the house.

    Here’s to a blessed Christmas my young friend. All the best,

    Dr. B

  4. jessiecarty Says:

    i first heard that story in a high school history class and it never fails to awe me.

    Have a peaceful holiday!

    • drtombibey Says:


      The sadness and the paradoxical hope in it never fails to move me. Here’s to a peaceful holiday your way too.

      Dr. B

  5. thewatermill Says:

    My prayers are with our women and men fighting on behalf of me so I can actually type this comment. I pray for a safe return.

    Good writing and I look forward to your comments.


    • drtombibey Says:


      They sacrifice themselves for us to have freedom. Christmas seems like a good time to never forget that.

      Dr. B

  6. Fiona Skye Says:

    What a beautiful story, Dr B. Thanks so much for sharing it. As a military brat – my father served 30 years in the Navy – I can tell you how much your thoughts and good wishes mean to those serving overseas.

    Have a warm, safe, and joyous Christmas and New Year’s!

  7. drtombibey Says:


    I close every office visit with a service person with some variation of this: “I’m an old doc; too old to protect myself anymore. You young people protect me so I can have the freedom to do what I do. Anything else I can do for you?”

    I hope for a wonderful holiday for you also.

    Dr. B

  8. This reminds me of a movie I saw once called “A Midnight Clear”. Good movie, but unbelievably depressing.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I too find it so very sad and hard to understand. Appreciate you dropping by and hope you’ll come back to visit.

      Dr. B

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