Celebrating Britain

Christmas Day 1914

One of the great stories of the First World War – in fact of any war….

It was Christmas in the trenches and the soldiers of both sides started singing Silent Night.

They emerged from their dugouts to exchange gifts from the King and Kaiser (cigarettes, chocolates, pipe and tobacco).

Someone produced a football and the world’s oddest game was played in No Man’s Land.

I’ve painted this from a trench eye view with a low horizon, figures silhouetted against a purple and bleached winter sky.  Trees are battered and broken; there are shell holes, barbed wire and frost on the ground. It’s early morning, there’s Venus the morning star hanging in the sky – or is that the Christmas star?

The soldiers are dressed in their field grey and kharki with the Germans wearing spiked helmets  and the Tommies in cloth caps. (The coal scuttle German helmets and tin helmets of the British didn’t come in until 1915.)

This is such a poignant powerful story that speaks to me of the human scale of the Great War. The handshake and exchange of gifts speaks volumes…

My mum was born in November 1914 and my grandfather joined up the same day. He served as Lt Colonel of the Warwicks, was wounded several times, and decorated with the military cross.

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