Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday in the United Kingdom. At St John’s we have a special Service of Remembrance culminating in the two minutes’ silence at the war memorial. Here’s what I said.
As any general will tell you, the last thing you want is a soldier who won’t obey orders. When you’re engaged in warfare, discipline is vital. Which is why the Christmas Truce of 1914 caused the generals of both sides such a headache. During the week leading up to Christmas, groups of German soldiers on the one hand and mainly British soldiers on the other began to sing Christmas carols across the trenches. In places the trenches were only yards apart. As Christmas Day approached, soldiers of both sides started to climb out of their trenches, walking across no-man’s land. They talked with each other and exchanged gifts. Joint burial ceremonies took place, and meetings often ended with carol-singing. And on Christmas Day, most famously perhaps, games of football took place between the opposing sides – those who days earlier had been engaged in the most awful conflict.
Perhaps it was the football that was taking things too far. Continue reading