THE YPRES TIMES that Lord Plumer is himself ready to receive whatever any of us can give for the completion of the church. It should be done, and done at once, so that this out standing memorial may be made of the 250,000 men who died at their posts in the Salient, and of the equal heroism of the tens of thousands whose lives by the mercy of God were spared." The sun was slowly sinking in the west when the little gathering, united in an act of remembrance around the Tomb, passed out of the Abbey, that temple of silence and reconciliation," into the stir and turmoil of the city, to resume each his toil, to take up again his burden of perplexities and difficulties, but with spirit braced by the memory of that dauntless courage and endurance for which all had assembled to honour the dead. 'Tis sweet to hear of heroes dead, To know them still alive; But sweeter if we earn their bread, And in us they survive." THE most wonderful, and, perhaps, weirdest Christmas ever spent. Picture two opposing lines of trenches, from 100 yards apart in one place to 400 yards in others, and you have, on our side, the wet and muddy ditch comprising the front line before the little village of Wez Macquart, in front of Chapelle d'Armentières, and on the Boche side, the trench housing its garrison. All day long till late afternoon desultory sniping and the usual shelling had gone on, but, at stand to," an astonishing thing happened. Several men appeared behind the German line, carrying lanterns. Fire was immediately opened on them (we were feeling very bitter owing to the fact that a popular sergeant had been hit earlier in the day), which evoked cries of Don't shoot," in English. Suspecting some new ruse, we held our fire, but kept on the qui vive," and the Jerries disappeared into their trench. Nothing happened, until, suddenly, lights began to appear all along the Boche parapet until his front line was illuminated for a mile or more, and a voice called across, in quite good English, inviting one of our men to meet the owner half-way across No Man's Land, and he would exchange a bottle of wine and a box of cigars for a cake. A volunteer was quickly found, and it was most weird to watch the two points of light (each man carried a flash- lamp) emerge, one from each line, and begin to cross No Man's Land. They met in the middle, and our man found, not one, but three Jerries." However, the exchange was duly made. By now, we were all sitting up on the parapet, and an eerie silence seemed to pervade the atmosphere. There was the Boche line illuminated by a myriad pinpoints of light as far as the eye could see, while behind, in the village, a huge bonfire was blazing, round which could be discerned the figures of several troops. The guns were silent. The Spirit of Christmas was abroad. Peace on earth, goodwill to all men. Meanwhile, an officer of the battalion on our right had gone across to the German line, under a flag of truce, and arranged an armistice for the morrow. They were a Saxon mob opposite, and their commander is reputed to have concluded by saying, "A truce until mid night to-morrow, when I will fire my automatic and the war will continue." As soon as the news spread, the boys were out in front, eager to stretch their legs after having been up to their knees in water, in many cases, for a week or more. One of our platoons started up a carol, and at the end there was applause from the other side. Then Jerry sang to us, and the quaintest concert was carried out, each side rendering a carol or song, and evoking applause from the other.


The Ypres Times (1921-1936) | 1929 | | pagina 6