Thursday 26 November 2015
The Christmas Truce exhibition at Caernarfon Castle will focus on events around Christmas 1914 and 1915, when British and German forces in the trenches laid down their arms - and exchanged gifts and greetings
Local schoolchildren will also be invited to re-enact one of the most enduring of stories - a football match between the warring enemies.
Pictures and documents from the Christmas-time truces have been assembled with help from organsations in Germany, Belgium and France. They will be on display from December 1 until February 28.
"Those stories of friendship between foes have been the subject of films and Christmas TV advertisments - we're proud to reflect on those rare and spontaneous gestures" said Shirley Williams, RWF Museum Development Manager. “We will be inviting schools to come along, dress up in First World War Uniform and have a kick about with an old fashioned leather football as part of their educational visit.”
“It is a rare example of a First World War commemorative event that is also celebratory, reflecting as it does the common humanity,” said General Jonathon Riley, Chairman of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum Trust.
The exhibition was put together by the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum in collaboration with Welsh Government; the Arbeitskreis Sächsische Militärgeschichte (Saxon Army Museum), Dresden; Bodelwyddan Castle Museum Trust; Commune d’Armentières and Commune de Frelinghien (France); and Commune Comines-Warneton (Belgium).
It provides an opportunity to mark one of the defining moments of Welsh and European history. Visitors will get the opportunity to read about the Truce as well as to view artifacts from that period.
During the Christmas period of 1914 and 1915, spontaneous and sporadic ceasefires occurred along the Western Front in Europe. The first of these was recorded in 1914 at Ploegsteert, Comines-Warneton and Ypres in Belgium, with others notable locations including Frelinghien in France.
These ceasefires lasted several days in some cases, enabling casualties to be cared for, and bodies retrieved. Troops from both sides of the war decorated their trenches with candles and Christmas trees; songs and carols were sung and tokens of friendship exchanged. The Christmas truce was only a temporary respite from killing, but the events have resonated across the decades and been reflected in popular culture.
The exhibition will run at Caernarfon from December 1st 2015 until 29th February 2016.