Trick or Truce?

Game That Stopped WW1 May
Have Never Happened. So What?

It supposedly went on a century ago today, on the Flanders Fields of Belgium. English and German soldiers put down their weapons and deemed a friendly game of football more appropriate for Christmas than the roar of canons. And so they played, according to a soldier’s letter.
But alas, as inspirational it all may sound, there are doubts about the account, which is in line with our age of cynicism and inconsistent devotion to the truth. It’d have been great, but many are not sold on the idea that such a truce would’ve been even possible.
Then again, who cares? Yes, if it isn’t true, then ‘reenactments‘ of the episode are ridiculous, lessons to be learned about human piety are downright phony, and even the statue, ‘designed by a 10-year-old boy,’ is, well, besides the point, isn’t it? It really doesn’t matter.
The following year, both sides made it official: anyone attempting to get cozy with the enemy would be summarily shot. But the idea that we do have the power to replace hostilities, with a good ol’ game of soccer, or anything else, really, has survived and remains truthful.
We are celebrating a silly idea, for sure, as unrealistic as the thought that the WW1 was to ‘end all wars.’ It triggered the second one that followed it, and became template for all unnecessary cruelty and carnage that marked every conflict ever since. So what?
We still rather declare unwavering allegiance to what the tale is about: a little ballgame among soldiers, breaking the chain of command and defying the madness of generals and assassins at the top, made even more powerful, and poignant, because it may have never happened.

2 thoughts on “Trick or Truce?

  1. Old Jules says:

    Hi Wesley. It’s a good story that one. Probably near enough to the truth [troops were there at Flanders on both sides] to offer up the possibility so’s everyone after could suffer a tinge of feelgood telling, hearing, and wanting to believe it. And there’s a historical precedent at the Battle of Vicksburg which probably might have happened more certainly. As I recall it was in the vicinity where troops from Missouri were on both sides, cousins, uncles and so on, and they’d been yelling across a goodly while before the celebrated meeting between the lines. I think it was Christmas, but I can’t swear to it. I can’t recall enough of the datage on the siege to even recall whether it went on through Christmas and New Year.

    But belief in it was widespread enough to get it onto some markers on the battlefield so’s visitors can stand on the Yankee side, move over to the Confederate side, and go to the middle to read the names of some of the families who participated.

    I figure believing it happened beats believing in Audie Murphy or ‘Combat’ Kelly, anyway. An old WWII sergeant told me and a lot of other trainees in 1961 the anti-tank grenade Kelly was supposed to have run up to a tank and smashed against the hull required a lot more velocity to detonate than was possible by several orders of magnitude.

    Maybe we all need to be more careful what we’re skeptical of. Might as well face the fact our ancestors were as prone to lies as we are, maybe worse, and believing anything they said doesn’t have anything to do with truth.


    • colltales says:

      Well said. When it comes to memories, reality seems to be besides the point, which opens up a whole new can of tall tales. Thanks for your input, I need to hear more about your experience. In the meantime, all the best to you today and ever.

      Liked by 1 person

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