What really happened in the Christmas Truce of the First World War?

The Christmas Truce of 1914 has become a legendary story. The romantic image of enemies shaking hands in the middle of no man’s land, or playing football against each other, reoccurs again and again in popular culture, from films and songs to adverts. But how much of it is true? What do we really know about this moment of peace in a brutal war? The photographs, letters and interviews in IWM’s collection tell the real story of the Christmas Truce. In this video, Head of Documents and Sound Anthony Richards explains how the truce came about, its impact on the course of the First World War and why it never happened again after 1914.


British and German troops meeting in No-Man's Land during the unofficial truce. (British troops from the Northumberland Hussars, 7th Division, Bridoux-Rouge Banc Sector). Burying those killed in the attack of 18 December.
© Harold Robson/IWM (Q 50720)
First World War

Voices of the First World War: The Christmas Truce

Episode 9: Hear the story that lead to the unofficial, spontaneous truce which took place along some parts of the Western Front during Christmas 1914.  
British soldiers ducking down in their trench
First World War

Life in the trenches of the First World War

When it comes to the First World War there's one thing that instantly comes to mind - trenches. Muddy, rat-infested hell holes with death around every corner. Places so bad that only going over the top could be worse. Trenches dominate our perspective. But are our perceptions really accurate?
British Monitor "Severn" endeavouring to tow the Whaler "Rattler" which went aground near Wasin Island 24th February 1916.
First World War

Why Whales Were Vital In The First World War

Whale oil was an extremely important material in the First World War. Around 58,000 whales were killed during the war to provide Britain and its allies with the oil they needed to continue fighting. At this time, the whaling industry was dominated by Norway, who remained neutral during the war.