We were in the trenches on the Christmas Eve, and our squadron was relieved by B Squadron. We were back in rest billets. And we thought, oh good we’re out of the line for Christmas Day – that’s marvellous. And, of course I copped the job of Duty Corporal on Christmas morning. However, one of my pals in my section, he said the ration parties going back and forward to the front are saying the Jerries are walking around on the top. Well, I thought, he’s stringing me along! No, no, he was absolutely positive that the Germans are walking about on the top. There’s nobody fighting anybody – they’re going talking to each other! Well, I said, I can’t do anything about it – got copped for this job. But you go on off, if you like, and see what’s what. So they went off, and they came back, and one of them was wearing a Landwehr hat – you know the Landwehr hat?
The forage cap.
It was like a flat cap.
Without a peak?
Without a peak – grey and red. Do you remember? Had a sort of button thing on the front. And Keith came back with this stuck on his head, you see, on Christmas morning. And other lads who were also with him came back with a whole fistful of cigars. Yes – it’s a fact – our people are all wandering about on the top and talking and having a great old time.
Of course, the General Staff didn’t approve of this?
But as far as you were concerned, were you quite happy to see what was happening?
You see, the general impression was the war was going to be over by Christmas, or very nearly that, you see – well this is part of the way towards it, you see – the war was going to be over. But the top brass soon put paid to all that, you see, and the Germans did the same thing, because they put their… we’d got a Bavarian regiment, I think, opposite to us at the time, and they were singing hymns – and of course I’d heard them singing, because I’d been in no-man’s land one night, listening patrol – they were singing all sorts of carols and things at that time. They weren’t wanting to fight or anything, none of them – they went through the motions, so to speak, but there was no real war going on, so it was very quiet in that part of the world. And, of course, the Prussian Guard came opposite to us, and they were all withdrawn.
The Bavarians were taken away?
Yes. Made a big difference.
This transcript is from a 1991 interview with George B Jameson MC in which he recalls his experiences while serving as a corporal in the Northumberland (Hussars) Yeomanry. (NAM. 1991-12-112)