Topic: British Army
Christmas Day; A Soldier's Diary
A Soldier's Diary of the Great War, Anon., 1924
December 25th, Christmas Day.
The guard-room is a small shed with dirty straw, which we share with a machine-gun section of the Regulars. These cheerful souls are this quiet morning engaged in picking lice out of the seams of their clothing.
For dinner we warmed two tins of Maconochie (M. and V. ration) and some Christmas pudding sent from home, with biscuits, butter, jam, and coffee.
Life is one great battle with water and mud. The paths are neatly labelled with names reminiscent of home, 'Piccadilly Circus', for example. One ramshackle hut has a notice board outside, SIC TRANSIT GLORIA MUNDI.
Even the German shells and our axes have not yet spoilt the beauty of these great woods. In spring they must be lovely. Last year's nests still swing on the rustling twigs; and robins, wrens, and chaffinches chirrup still around. They resound to the blows of hammer and axe, to the tramp of feet, shouts and whistle and song, or to the scream and crash of a shell; but when the rare gleam of winter sunshine strays al December ong the rides, one cannot help thinking of the high woods of home.
Last night was a cheerful one in the trenches and barricades. We all made merry with carols, mouth-organs and popular songs. The Germans also made a rare noise, and all along the lines there was cheering and singing.
Today a number of our fellows and the Germans have been chatting between the lines, swapping cigarettes, and so on. The Regulars H.Q. have sent out to us of the guard some hot roast beef, potatoes, fruit, and beer.
I joined the company at 8 p.m. at the breastwork, curled up round the brazier, and slept for a few hours. Followed long hours of fatigues (sand-bags to the firing line) and then the company took over the front line.