Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Soldier of 1914 Christmas truce dies at 109

Soldier of 1914 Christmas truce dies at 109. The oldest man in Scotland died yesterday. Alfred Anderson is believed to have been the last survivor who witnessed the famous Christmas Truce of 1914 during World War One.

The truce had been unplanned. Soldiers on both sides decided not to attack each other on Christmas. Before long, soldiers were fratanizing with each other between the two lines. They sang Christmas carols, traded cigars, and even played soccer. When the truce ended, they went back to killing each other.

The truce was not repeated later in the war. And I don't believe there was ever a Christmas truce during the Second World War. (If there was, there was not this level of friendly interaction between the sides).

Alfred Anderson achieved other things in life beyond surviving a brutal war. However, his memories of the conflict stayed with him his entire life including a sense of guilt for living when so many others died. May he rest in peace.

From the site:

Alfred Anderson, the last surviving soldier to have heard the guns fall silent along the Western Front during the spontaneous Christmas truce of the First World War, died yesterday at age 109.

More than 80 years after the war, Anderson recalled the "eerie sound of silence" as shooting stopped and soldiers clambered from trenches to greet one another on Dec. 25, 1914.

His parish priest, Rev. Neil Gardner, said Anderson died in his sleep early yesterday at a nursing home in Newtyle, Scotland. His death leaves fewer than 10 First World War veterans alive in Britain.

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