The day before the party I wrote home again.
Yesterday a German approached the trench and offered a truce we are to meet tomorrow and have a day of not fighting but peace I can't wait the young man who negotiated said there would be German pigs as big me and mugs overflowing with beer Even the Red Baron has promised no fighting I'm intrigued by him I hope I can meet him tomorrow, I hope to hear from you I miss you extraordinarily.
Huntsman approached me, I kissed the letter and as he sat down the courier took the letter and put another in my hand. "From your girl?"
"No, parents," I said. He smiled. My relationship with my parents was one I was proud of we had never argued and if I was ever hit I deserved it, I was raised to respect my father and mother and fear God so I would respect his commandments.
"Good I'm glad I'm not the only one who writes my parents." he laughed. I don't know why but this man reminds me so much of Yance my elder brother, from how he takes criticism, his laugh, even his jokes, ones like a lame horse they should be put down. He even kind of sort of looks like Yance. "Hey they need help, wanna aid in the defusing of some mills and their grenades?" he chuckled.
"What for?" I asked almost laughing.
"The Tree." he said pointing at a pointy object in the distance. "They got them off dead soldiers. Seems fitting they died for peace now their weapons will symbolize peace." I looked down, "Hey we get out of these damned trenches." By the time he said this we were up and out walking for the symbol of the pause of monotony.
"Who are you two?" A mean looking German asked.
"Huntsman and Smith British and you."
"Wilhelm Fredericks you helping?"
"Yes we are, are the all the grenades defused?" Wilhelm nodded, "Do they still need painting?"
"Yes right this way." we spent all day painting explosives, talking and joking with men we were told to hate.
When the sun started to recede we bid farewell and headed back to the trench silently. we sat down in our small hole and tried to sleep, but soon Hammond woke us. "Boys, hey we're heading over come on." We followed and saw gun shots I sprinted and noticed they were celebratory so in good spirits I drew my Webley and fired into the air.
"Four O'clock friends time for breakfast." the German leader shouted, and oh what a breakfast they had prepared, ham, biscuits, gravy, other succulent meats, as well as bacon Belgium waffles and maple syrup. The men were soon seated and about to dig in when the two commanders stood and crossed they're arms and began to speak in the languages of their men.
"Dear God thank you for allowing us this day to feast and observe Christmas day with our new friends and bless this food that it may nourish and strengthen our weary bodies and that this war will be over soon. Amen" The men gave a chorus of "Amens" then half eating half talking we ate amongst the "Enemy" soon some young men brought out several large barrels.
"We've got some more if we need it so don't be shy!" They shouted. some men filled their helmets others took their canteens or mess kit bowls with the bitter liquid. It was cold in the cold weather but Hell I filled my canteen my cup my bowl and my helmet with the cold beer.
I sat down next to an upset looking German, "Sprechen sie englisch?" I asked politely.
"Yes," he said his English a little rough, "Name is Manfred Von Richthofen. Good to see a Brit on the ground." we laughed.
"Harold Smith, Richthofen I know that name from somewhere." I said pondering where.
"They call me the Red Devil, silly I'm a talented pilot I hope they find a nonlethal use for me after this if not I think I should like to go home maybe ask my sister for some land, or test myself at gymnastics again, but even as a child I was bred for military life I rode horses hunted and was a cadet at an early age hell if we didn't put up so much barbed wire I would have only told headquarters where you were." He handed me a picture, there was a family a young woman holding a baby, a young man, whose hand was on a boy's shoulder, and another boy. "That is my mother and father that is me," he pointed to the oldest boy, "This is my sister and my two brothers. I loved them all, they are all good, good people I hope to go and see them again after the war ends." he said putting the picture back.
"You will," I said pulling out a picture of my family taken only a year ago, "the oldest is my father next to him my mother, under at the left is Yance my older brother, Me, Jeremy, and Lydia. Yance was killed last year, a month after this photograph was taken, a sharpshooter hit him in a charge, but I forgive the man who killed my brother, Yance was told he had gangrene in his left leg, I'm glad the sharpshooter killed him before he could suffer more."
The day continued like this, talking to Germans talking about family, lovers and how we would spend life after the war. Soon there was massive pigs set on the tables we scrounged together. Everyone grabbed what they could and sat on the ground, I had found Huntsman talking to Richthofen so I sat near them. soon the commanders stood up again. "Dear God thank you for allowing us this day of rest and thanks giving and we hope this food may nourish and strengthen our bodies and that we may not be ordered to fight tomorrow. Amen"
Again there was a chorus of "Amens" then we ate talking to our new friends, Huntsman was talking about his childhood and that's when I knew why he reminded me of Yance, this is William Huntsman, Yance's best friend they looked so alike they could have been brothers, this is the man who helped me kill my first stag in Scotland. "Did Yance tell you to keep an eye on me before he died?"
Will's eyes welled up, "Yance is, dead? Yes he asked if I would God I can't believe he's dead."
"I'm sorry I didn't know you weren't told." I said trying to comfort him.
"Yance was stricken with gangrene, then taken by a sharpshooter." Richthofen said.
"Did he suffer?" Huntsman asked regaining composer.
"No he had just been diagnosed the day he was shot."I said Huntsman looked relieved.
The day before the party I wrote home again.