British soldier’s poignant WW1 letters recall Christmas Day truce of 1914 when troops exchanged gifts

Private Frederick Davies wrote the letters – which have just been discovered – to his mum when he was serving in northern France.
Newly found letters from a British soldier describe the Christmas truce of 1914 when troops left their trenches to swap gifts with the German enemy.

Private Frederick Davies, 28, who was serving in northern France in World War One, wrote to his mum: “They were only fifty yards from us.

“They came out and we shook hands and gave them cigs, jam and corn beef. They gave us cigars.”

The Royal Welsh Fusilier added: “They were fed up with the war.”

Soldiers serving in northern France in 1914 left their trenches along some parts of the front line on the first Christmas Day of World War One to meet the enemy in no man’s land and exchange gifts – with some famously even playing football.

Another letter said: “It’s a grand sight to see the shells bursting of a night, it’s just like fireworks.”
Pte Davies, from Lampeter, Ceredigion, joined the Army in 1908 but was invalided in 1915 after a trench caved in on him, shattering his spine and leaving him permanently injured and unable to work.

He wed after the war ended in 1919 and had three children.
His granddaughter Jane Oliver, who discovered the letters, donated them to the Imperial War Museum.

She said: “The letters are a reminder that the Germans weren’t all bad, they were family men like ours were. It’s very important to keep this sort of thing alive.”

 

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