Today's advent calendar item is an excerpt from the Battalion war diary of the 2nd Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, which gives a little insight as to how Christmas was spent in the trenches.
December 25th: Not a shot fired on either side. By agreement with the Germans the dead of both sides between the trenches were collected and buried side by side. Greetings exchanged between all units of the Brigade.
December 27th: Some of the trenches fell in and the day was busily spent in repairing them. All the men who can get boots and putties are now wearing them, as shoes have proved to be useless in the thick mud. The hose-tops are turned over the puttees.
December 28th to 31st: Normal nothing special. The truce started on Xmas Day continued until New Year’s Day. Four Scots Guards scouts who entered the enemy’s during the truce did not return, so 40 Germans who paid a visit to the trenches of the BORDER REGIMENT were kept as prisoners.
Hot baths have now been arranged for us in a dye factory behind the lines and each man gets a bath once a fortnight.
January 1st to 3rd: (Rue de Quesnes) Battalion orders headed Rue de Quesnes.
January 4th to 7th: (Point de la Justice) Battalion orders headed Point de la Justice. 1 officer and 50 men joined. A sort of informal truce with the enemy during Xmas and the New Year having taken place strictest orders were issued that it must cease. All Germans above ground to be shot at.
January 8th to 15th: Trenches flooded. To retain the line it was found necessary to hold isolated posts of 1 NCO and 10 men at intervals of about 50 yards. The posts so held damned up at both ends and the water pumped out between the dams. Battalion re-organised as two Companies to be known as Numbers 1 and 2 Companies commanded by Captain J M HAMILTON and Captain W REID respectively. 2nd Lieutenants A J K HONEYMAN and P J BOYD joined.
January 16th to 20th: Brigade reorganised for purpose of relieving trenches. GRENADIERS and SCOTS GUARDS relieve each other in No.1 sub-section. THE BORDER REGIMENT & 2nd and 6th GORDON HIGHLANDERS (these two now forming one unit for holding trenches) relieving each other in No.2 sub-section.
January 21st to 31st: Normal German shell fire increasing daily. 2nd Lieutenant G G C DAVEY and W GORDON joined the Battalion. Lieutenant Colonel H P UNIACKE having rejoined from sick leave resumed command of the Battalion on January 29th.