|Sainsbury's Christmas - The story behind our Christmas ad (Sainsbury's)
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Although the events we show in our ad are fictional, we’ve tried to make the details as accurate as possible. Everything from the insignia on the men's uniform to the depth of the trenches is based on historical fact.
Click here for the ad they are talking about.
In this short documentary we talk to the experts who advised us, interview the grandson of a soldier who was there, and hear first-hand accounts from both sides.
You can read about that Christmas Truce here.
By December 1914, the Great War had raged for almost five months and claimed nearly one million lives.
Letters and diaries from the Western Front describe how the guns fell silent on Christmas Eve.
We were in the trenches on Christmas Eve and, at about 8.30, the firing was almost at a standstill.
We heard a commotion in the German trenches, and then they began to sing Silent Night.
My grandfather was a Captain in The Royal Warwicks. He's a man I knew little about until I read his diaries. He made contact with two German officers at dawn on Christmas Day. That was really the start of a mass exchange of things in no man's land between German and British soldiers.
As the day broke, the enemy would be seen to bob up and down. And, as the British did not fire, they plucked up enough courage to get out of their trenches. I met their officer and we arranged a local armistice for 48 hours. As far as I can tell, this effort of ours
extended itself throughout the whole line. The soldiers on both sides met in their hundreds and exchanged greetings and gifts.
The Christmas truce wasn't just one event, it was a whole series of events scattered along a fairly small area of the front line. But it certainly wasn't continuous.
Some soldiers died on Christmas Day 1914. They got out of the trench thinking there was a truce and they were shot by Germans who didn't want a truce. So it was a very courageous thing for them to do.
It was an experience of a lifetime, I should think. And one very rare.
During the day, we had football matches with a new ball sent by some kind friends. So, you see, it takes a good lot to upset our men and make us forget Christmas.
We may never know what really happened. We can't be 100% sure that there was a football match between the Germans and the Allies. There probably was, almost certainly. What matters is the message that whole event carries, which is, you know, even at the toughest of times in the heat of war and in the most dreadful occasions, there can be great humanity.
The Christmas truce certainly happened. Who knows all the details behind it, but it's a really good way for people to start to understand the First World War and the humanity. Not just the scale and destruction, but also all those small moments of charity and support, and human contact that easily get lost otherwise.
It is a great hope for future peace when two great nations... Happy Christmas. ..hating each other as foes have seldom hated should, on Christmas Day, and for all that the word implies, lay down their arms, exchange smokes and wish each other happiness.