The Curmudgeon

YOU'LL COME FOR THE CURSES. YOU'LL STAY FOR THE MUDGEONRY.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

A Lucky Escape

This year sees the centenary of the notorious Christmas truce, when soldiers on opposite sides of the developing Great War climbed out of their trenches and started fraternising; and the bemused reaction of one general has been preserved in a letter written to his wife. Sir Walter Congreve was a fighting officer who won the VC in the Boer War and lost his left hand in battle in 1915, but faced with a temporary peace among the commoners his courage apparently failed: he declined to show himself during the truce in case the Germans took a pot-shot at him. The brass, of course, learned the necessary lessons and resolved Never Again, even though the participants dutifully started killing each other again on Boxing Day; and the final transformation of the incident into advertising kitsch has recently been accomplished through the good offices of J Sainsbury plc.

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