Kent

WWI 1914 Christmas truce: 'Stop it at once' order auctioned

German and British soldiers in 1914 Image copyright Imperial War Museum/AP
Image caption Soldiers from the German 134th Saxon Regiment were photographed with men of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in No Man's Land on the Western Front

A World War One memo that hints at how British Army chiefs tried to prevent the famous 1914 Christmas Day truce is to be auctioned.

Men emerged from trenches into parts of No Man's Land in 1914 to swap gifts, sing carols and play football.

But one order sent late on Christmas Eve ordered British soldiers not to communicate with the Germans - and to open fire on any who approached.

It suggests chiefs were worried about unofficial ceasefires, auctioneers say.

Image copyright C&T Auctioneers
Image caption The military order was sent late on Christmas Eve 1914

The document is timed at 23:15 on 24 December 1914 and is addressed to a commanding officer at Flanders.

It reads: "On no account are our men to be allowed to hold any communication with the Germans.

"Take steps to stop it at once. They must not be allowed to approach our trenches on penalty of fire being opened.

"If they continue to do so you must open fire."

Image copyright C&T Auctioneers
Image caption The military order is being sold at a collectables auction
Image copyright PA
Image caption British soldiers from 26th Divisional Ammunition Train (Army Service Corps) playing football in Salonika, in Christmas 1915

The framed military order is being sold by C&T Auctions, of Ashford, Kent, having been in private collections since 1928.

Its militaria specialist Matthew Tredwen said the order sheds new light on popular perceptions of what happened.

Ephemera expert Valerie Jackson-Harris said the paperwork was extremely rare and could easily be worth more than £2,000.

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