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CNN/AP: Last survivor of 1914 WWI 'Christmas Truce' dies

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 07:16 PM
Original message
CNN/AP: Last survivor of 1914 WWI 'Christmas Truce' dies
Last survivor of 1914 'Christmas Truce' dies
WWI veteran, 109, was Scotland's oldest man
Monday, November 21, 2005


LONDON, England (AP) -- Alfred Anderson, the last surviving soldier to have heard the guns fall silent along the Western Front during the spontaneous "Christmas Truce" of World War I, died Monday 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 December 25, 1914.

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

Born June 25, 1896, Anderson was an 18-year-old soldier in the Black Watch regiment when British and German troops cautiously emerged from the trenches that Christmas Day in 1914. The enemies swapped cigarettes and tunic buttons, sang carols and even played soccer amid the mud, barbed wire and shell-holes of no man's land.

The informal truce spread along much of the 500-mile Western Front, in some cases lasting for days -- alarming army commanders who feared fraternization would sap the troops' will to fight. The next year brought the start of vast battles of attrition that claimed 10 million lives, and the Christmas truce was never repeated....


http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/11/21/wwi.soldier....
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 07:18 PM
Response to Original message
1. May that Magic Overtake the World
and not just one trench in one war for one hour.
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 07:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Beautifully said, Demeter. nt
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 07:31 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
Wetzelbill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 12:59 AM
Response to Reply #1
23. that gave me chills
:)
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demobrit Donating Member (279 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 02:35 AM
Response to Reply #1
26. The Magic is still alive
Enlisted men , non commisioned officers and lower ranking officers joined in the truce .
It was the Commanders and Politicians that didn`t like it , the people who were out of harms way and were sending young men to fight for them .
I remember reading that in the American Civil War , as men from both sides lay wounded and dieing on the battlefield , they would try to help each other .
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lastliberalintexas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #26
32. I think that's likely the case in many wars
The humanity of the individual usually exceeds that of a group, especially in a profession with such a groupthink as the military's tends to be. And isn't that sentiment rather telling- that military commanders could be "worried" about peace breaking out?

Welcome to DU. :)
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The Stranger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-05 09:08 AM
Response to Reply #32
43. But how to awaken the sheeple?
Eager for their own destruction.

Complicit in ours.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
4. Amazing story. Recommended for all to read. n/t
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WI_DEM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 08:01 PM
Response to Original message
5. What an experience, what a life!
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TomInTib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
6. "Christmas in the Trenches" John McCutcheon
Edited on Mon Nov-21-05 08:10 PM by TomInTib
For the Peace lovers and veterans alike one of the most beautiful songs you will ever hear. For us combat vets it is also the truest and saddest.

"whose family have I fixed within my sights"

"and on each in of the rifle we're the same"

Kills me every time I hear it.
I will play it late tonite for Alfred Anderson and all the rest of us.

Pax
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NYC Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 08:13 PM
Response to Original message
7. Kick, for a must-read.
:kick:
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lithiumbomb Donating Member (217 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 08:19 PM
Response to Original message
8. Last survivor of 'Christmas truce' tells of his sorrow
From The Observer last year.


The words drifted across the frozen battlefield: 'Stille Nacht. Heilige Nacht. Alles Schlaft, einsam wacht'. To the ears of the British troops peering over their trench, the lyrics may have been unfamiliar but the haunting tune was unmistakable. After the last note a lone German infantryman appeared holding a small tree glowing with light. 'Merry Christmas. We not shoot, you not shoot.'


http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,137...
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u4ic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 08:38 PM
Response to Original message
9. What a leap of faith on both sides
to trust the other wouldn't harm them. Extraordinary.

The war will haunt him no more. RIP
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Straight Shooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 08:45 PM
Response to Original message
10. The movie, "A Midnight Clear", 1992, surprised me with its intensity.
It tells the story of that fateful Christmas. Usually I scoff at such movies, but this one really got to me. I never found out who sang the title song, but it is the most haunting rendition of "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" that I have ever heard.

http://thegreatlands.com/store/B0000648X7.php

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 09:10 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. That's not this incident
"A Midnight Clear" is about WW2, involves Americans and Germans, and is based on a novel, not real life.
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Straight Shooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 09:15 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Okay, I'm confused.
But do you know who sings the song? I've been trying for, like, 20 minutes to find out, heh. :)
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 09:52 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Sam Phillips
arranger, producer and singer.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102443/fullcredits

IMDB has the answer for almsot everything to do with film or TV.
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Straight Shooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 10:22 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. Ah.
"Sam" for "Samantha." Such a beautiful voice.

In my search for the singer, I went to musicmatch.com and found a lovely version of A Midnight Clear by Diane Taraz. Now all I have to do is find the Sam Phillips version, so I can create a CD of Christmas music for my friends.

Thank you very much. :hi:

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JoFerret Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 09:06 PM
Response to Original message
11. That war, that terrible war
...has so many lessons to teach us.
Here is one - from Rudyard Kipling who wrote many a verse in support of the ordinary soldier - the Tommies. Who urged his son to enlist. Who so grieved when that sone became one of the missing.

"If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied."



Support our troops. Bring them home. Beg forgiveness for the lies.


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stop the bleeding Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 09:11 PM
Response to Original message
13. I have always loved this story - nominated n/t
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thebigidea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 10:01 PM
Response to Original message
16. insert Blackadder reference here
what with most of my WWI knowledge coming from Elton & Curtis...
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Bridget Burke Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-05 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #16
39. Remember the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth?
All the Blackadder tales ended with the entire cast dead. It called for weird plot twists in the first three series.

In the series based on the Western Front, no fantasy was needed. The Generals demanded a Big Push & all the characters realized they were not long for the world. There was a bit of pathos amid the usual hilarity.

Then they all went Over the Top into a cloud of gunfire.
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thebigidea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-05 09:03 AM
Response to Reply #39
42. beautiful ending, I thought
Stephen Fry as Gen Melchitt was just fucking perfect. "all ready for the Big Push?"

perfect vision of the madness of war...
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justabob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 10:32 PM
Response to Original message
18. I love the story of the Christmas truce
Sadly, we'll not see anything like it anytime soon.
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JoFerret Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 08:13 PM
Response to Reply #18
33. Here is a pic
Edited on Tue Nov-22-05 08:23 PM by JoFerret

There was a more limited truce the next year - 1915. For some contemprary accounts and loads of illustrations go to http://www.greatwardifferent.com



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CottonBear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 10:43 PM
Response to Original message
19. I heard an interview with Alfred Anderson on NPR today.
The interview took place a number of years ago.

Amazing story and a link to history.

Go in peace Mr. Anderson.
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justabob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 10:44 PM
Response to Original message
20. Does anyone here know the story of
a very well respected British pilot who was shot down and imprisoned in a german pow camp. The pilot was allowed to fly even though he had had one or both legs amputated. The Germans also had a great deal of respect for the man and allowed a RAF plane to fly over safely and drop prosthetic leg(s) for the pilot.

I heard this story some time ago and I think it was WWI, though it could have been WWII I suppose. I am just curious if anyone else knows this story or can correct me if I am wrong. It came to mind reading of the Christmas story.

I regret deeply that this kind of thing has become impossible. There was a time when even enemies could respect the humanity, character, ability (I don't have the right words) of their opponents. *sigh* I often feel like I should have been born in another age.
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LibertyLover Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 11:18 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Bader
The RAF pilot you are asking about is Douglas Bader. He was a double amputee. If I am recalling the story correctly, Bader lost his legs in a training accident prior to the war, but was fitted with prosthesis and kept on flying. As you mentioned, he was shot down and in the crash his artificial limbs were damaged. The Germans allowed an unarmed British plane to drop new ones. Bader immediately put them to good use and attempted an escape. After he was caught, the camp commendant (sp?) required that Bader turn in his legs each evening. There were one or two other amputee pilots in the RAF during WWII as well, inspired by Bader.
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justabob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 06:14 AM
Response to Reply #21
29. Thank you nt
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Nevernose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 08:20 PM
Response to Reply #20
34. "Honor" is the word I would use
Something sadly uncommon since the advent of satellite weaponry and flamethrowers.
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justabob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 10:16 PM
Response to Reply #34
36. honor is the word
Thank you.

Yes about the new weapons/tactics too. Soon wars will be fought with machines, remotely operated, and waged as a true video game (more so than it already is). The absence of honor and respect is only going to get worse.
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JoFerret Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-05 08:51 AM
Response to Reply #34
38. Nothing too honorable and chivalrous
in the reality of being burned to death in the cockpit of a Spitfire. (Or indeed of being spiked on the end of a jousting stick.) The word "honor" in terms of warfare died sometime in mid 1915.(It should have been seen as long dead but by 1915 even the charade could no longer be maintained.)
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upi402 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 12:51 AM
Response to Original message
22. You know, the hippies were right
one world, one love, one planet
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RFKHumphreyObama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 01:23 AM
Response to Original message
24. The story of the Christmas Truce has always proved deeply inspirational
and deeply touching for me. The power and poignancy of what happened is just immense

RIP Alfred Anderson. You, like all your fellow soliders in WWI, served your country with honor and valor and I salute you.

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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 01:56 AM
Response to Original message
25. The story of the Christmas Truce is heart-wrenching
A glimmer of hope drowned in an ocean of bullets and bombs. WWI was the real beginning of the 20th century, and it would set the tone for the rest of the century.
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Historic NY Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 02:44 AM
Response to Reply #25
27. It lasted from Christmas day to Jan 3, 1915........
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JoFerret Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-05 12:59 PM
Response to Reply #27
45. But only in certain sectors.
.
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Endangered Specie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 03:07 AM
Response to Original message
28. If the generals and politicians who started war were made to fight it
there simply would be no war. The average men on both sides were almost identical, except for language spoken. On any other day, men from both sides would have probably shared drinks, talked of beautiful women, played cards, go fishing, you name it. You can thank the powers that be for putting them in a situation to kill each other... Damn shame isn't it?
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KDLarsen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 06:29 AM
Response to Original message
30. I've been reading a book on the truce lately
Edited on Tue Nov-22-05 06:33 AM by KDLarsen
.. a pretty damn amazing story if there ever was one.

EDIT: If anyone wants to know the title, it's "The Small Peace in The Big War" by Michael Jurg.
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 08:57 AM
Response to Reply #30
31. Thank you, KD, for alerting us to this book. nt
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Nevernose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 08:22 PM
Response to Original message
35. The passing of an age (heard his last BBC interview today on NPR)
Hearing his own words in his own voice... wow.
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tired_in_tulsa Donating Member (17 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-05 12:08 AM
Response to Original message
37. May he rest in peace
8(
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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-05 09:00 AM
Response to Reply #37
40. Thank you for posting, tired_in_tulsa, and welcome to DU.
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sofa king Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-05 09:02 AM
Response to Original message
41. As those horrors recede, our inclination to repeat them rises.
It was ninety-nine years between the horrors of the Napoleonic Wars and the horrors of the Great War, just long enough to pass entirely out of living memory and into the realm of abstraction.

Perhaps we can view the World Wars as one great conflict with a twenty year armistice in between, thus pushing back the date of our ultimate complacency to about 2044. But as I view the world today, I can see the sprouts of the next world war taking firm root. Soon Hitler will be as distant in peoples' minds as Napoleon, and the stage will be set for the next maniac to set the world ablaze.

Come to think of it, that maniac may already be here.
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Tyler Durden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-05 09:22 AM
Response to Original message
44. STAAAAND....TO!
R.I.P., Henry Johnson, Private: Canadian Light Horse, WWI; and RSM: Princess Patricia's Light Infantry, WWII.

My Grandfather.
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