The Christmas Truce of 1914 in the trenches of the First World War is one of those stores from the war that will remain talked about for many more years. We are fortunate to have in our collection a report of the Truce, written by Private Hutchings of the 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment. The Regiment’s part of the front line was opposite the 126th Saxon Regiment’s trenches, and both sides participated in the Truce. The report is handwritten with a small cap badge stuck to the top of the page.
The report reads (in his own words and spellings):
The Saxon Cap Badge was given to me with a cigar in exchange for my own in Xmas 1914
at Plougstreet Wood. The German Trenches were roughly 200 yds from ours.
Our Company Officers Name was Capt. Unwin. The Saxon’s were beckoning with their hands
for us to go over to their trench. But we shouted over that we would meet
them half way so Capt Unwin asked for a volunteer. I happened to be standing
by the side of him at the time and it fell my lot to go over and meet
one of the Saxon’s and a nice fellow he was. We shook hands and his first
words to me was Were there any Scotch Territorials out yet as he was
himself a waiter in Glasgow. After that I cannot remember what was passed
between us as their was quite a little crowd of us. But we were the best of
friends for the next seven days. We use to walk about on top of the trench
or in the front of it without any thing happening I remember one day
during the truce they accidentally killed one of our HQ Siggnlars
and they sent over and appologized and the last day of the truce,
one of their fellows brought over a message to say they had orders
to open fire with their auto matic machines but their first shots
would be fired high. Capt Unwin in return gave him a box of
chocolates. And they certainly acted according to message. Then we
were at war again I mentioned Saxon’s as they are to be relieved by
Capt Unwin I believe was killed about the same time as Capt Fiddler
our late RSM 2nd Battle of Ypres I remember him so well. I walked into him after the retire
next I was walking along asleep. Pte B Hutchings B. Coy.Commemoration and Remembrance 100 years on
We are celebrating the lives and sacrifices made by the men who served in the Hampshire Regiment during World War one, and their families and friends, who were equally as touched by the war as those serving. The ones left behind came to wave them off, tried to keep up morale with cheery news from home and by sending parcels of treats, and campaigned ceaslessly for better conditions, medical care, support for injured soldiers, and then for memorials once peace had been declared.
We remember, and give grateful thanks for all of these thousands and thousands of men, women and children affected by the war. Over 1 million memorial plaques were issued by the Goverment for those British, Empire and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives. Over 1 million lives cut short, and many many more than 1 million affected by the loss of fathers, sons, uncles and friends in some of the most inhospitable fighting conditions ever seen. Men and horses simply drowned; in mud on the Western front, during beach landings and river crossings in the Dardanelles, and on transport and hospital ships all around the seas. Others were shot, gassed, shelled and mined, while thousands more died from diseases such as malaria, dysentry, and small pox.
In this year, 100 years since the Armistice of 11th November 1918 when the guns fell silent, it is more important than ever to remember their lives, and all those who lost their lives in later years, and other wars. They were mostly men, mostly young, and mostly not professional soldiers. They either answered the call and volunteered or were forced into it through conscription. They felt they had no choice but to fight for freedom and what they thought was fair and just. These men were just ordinary men, with hopes, dreams, lives and loves. They lived through unimaginable horrors and deprivations, and many thousands more were scarred survivors.
As Britain becomes covered in a wave of poppies, we remember them. As the names on memorials throughout the land are read, and we fall silent to the bugle’s notes, we remember them. And with each new year, and generation of children, we teach them the same message, of thanks and praise. They died for our freedoms. We shall never forget.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
For the Fallen, by Robert Laurence Binyon. 1914.
12th November 1918
Tuesday 12th November 1918. ZINJAN.
Germany surrendered at 11am yesterday!
How they must be ringing the bells at home and Poidebart says – in Paris champagne will be as water!
Took my pony out for a ride – he is in fine fettle.
Have at last got the policing running fairly smoothly & there is not nearly so much work.
11th November 1918 – The Armistice
Monday 11th November 1918. ZINJAN.
Kaiser & Crown Prince have abdicated. It snowed.
Enlisted 9 Persian police as agents.
Poidebart probably going soon, so I shall be left by myself.
Perhaps now one will be able to get letters through via Baku & Batoum, saving several weeks.
Baku is in current-day Azerbajan, and Batoum is on the Black Sea in present-day Georgia. British and Indian troops were stationed there throughout 1918 and 1919 to aid with civil disturbances at the request of the Foreign Office.Hidden Treasures – no. 2
The museum is lucky enough to have a variety of textiles in its collection, varying from uniforms and caps to craft items. This lovely embroidery of the Regimental Colours and Battle Honours was probably made during World War 1 as part of a rehabilitation course. It is well documented that soldiers undergoing treatment at military hospitals were often required to complete embroidery, willow weaving and papercraft activities as part of their care. This served a variety of purposes; both encouraging manual dexterity and acting as a type of physiotherapy, while also occupying the soldiers in quiet activity for a period of time. Sometimes the items produced by the soldiers were sold to raise money for the hospital or military charities, sometimes the patients would given them to friends and family as presents.
This embroidery is mostly sewn in wool, but the tiger has been completed in cross-stitch in embroidery silk. It shows a high level of skill to complete such a piece, especially one so large – this measures about 60cm square.A New Donation – The Medal Group of 17738 Private Herbert Adlam MM
The museum recently received this lovely group of medals into the collection, kindly donated by the grandson of the recipient.
These medals belonged to 17738 Private Harold Oliver Adlam, who served in the 2nd Battalion and 15th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment during World War 1. The group comprises the Military Medal, the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
The 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal are often referred to as “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred”, after the characters in a long-running comic strip in the Daily Mirror. The comic strip was launched around the same time as the medals were issued in early 1920, and the nicknames stuck.
Private Adlam was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry while serving with the 15th (Service) Battalion, Hampshire Regiment in 1918. Few citations survive for gallantry awards, but the museum is fortunate enough to also hold the notebooks of the Commanding Officer of the 15th (Service) Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel C D V Cary-Barnard, detailing all his recommendations for awards from his men. We looked up Private Adlam’s citation and it reads:
‘ 17738 Pte Harold Adlam. For great gallantry and devotion to duty during the operations at MORY, BIHUCOURT + GOMMECOURT March 25th when he handled his Lewis gun with great coolness under heavy fire and inflicted heavy losses on the advancing enemy at close range. His conduct throughout the whole operation was excellent while the fine example he set on this occasion had a good effect on all ranks. Recommended MM 6/4/18′.
Harold Adlam was born on the 20th November 1893 in Clanfield, Hampshire. He worked as a shepherd on a local farm prior to joining the army. He first entered a theatre of war on the 5th December 1915, when he went to Gallipoli.
The front and reverse of the 1914-1915 Star awarded to Private Adlam. This was awarded for service in Gallipoli, and has the initials of the King – George V at the bottom of the front. Medals were stamped with the recipient when they were issued – stars were stamped on the reverse, as shown here. Medals with patterns on both sides were stamped around the edges. As you can see, the letters and numbers do not have regular spacing; this is because they were stamped by hand with each individual letter and number being added separately.
The reverse of the Victory Medal – hence why the First World War is often referred to as “The Great War”.
The reverse of Pte Adlam’s War Medal. This is the side of the medal that is rarely seen as it is against the uniform when worn. The medal depicts the victorious St. George on horseback trampling over the Prussian shield; the skull and cross-bones are a commemoration of all those who lost their lives during the war. Around 6.4 million of these medals were issued to British and Commonwealth personnel which shows the enormous scale of the war.