At Christmas 1914, the British and the Boche fraternised in No-man's Land. Just before Christmas 1915 started, the Higher Authorities gave orders that this should not occur again and to ensure it the Gunners began straffing very early in the morning on Christmas Day 1915. I was attached to the lst/5th Royal Sussex, the Cinque Port Battalion or Sinkers - the Pioneers of the 48th Division.
We were to have our Christmas dinner at Battalion H.Q., in a house opposite the Mairie (Town Hall).The Boche were very quiet until the afternoon, when they got fed up with us and let us have it good and proper. Some Heavy Gunners got a direct hit on their Christmas dinner and all their servants were killed, but we were lucky and at 8p.m. the officers of the Battalion sat down to their dinner. The menu was as follows :
The menu, which I still have, is surrounded by the names of 26 officers. The dinner was excellent and there were no casualties. We had dined very well with some French officers - I think it was the 137th Regiment - and in return we dined them. Sad to relate the Frenchmen could not hold our whisky and they were sent home in the mess-carts, terribly the worse for wear.
About this time, I got hold of Philip Gibbs and Valentine Williams, who were Press-men visiting the line. They stayed to lunch and listened with great interest to anything we told them. A few days later, an article appeared in the Morning Post describing the situation - and part of it ran: "Last Sunday I lunched with five laughing officers who, at any moment between their it jokes, might have met their deaths." Splendid.