A Christmas Truce
British and German troops meet in no man's land. Boxing Day, 1914. Photographed by 2nd Lt Cyril Drummand, RFA.
The Truce book and DVD are now available - sent directly to you for a contribution to P&P. See the MPA shop.
View the Truce film here. Please watch, download and share.
As part of the Return to No Man's Land event participants were invited to have their photograph taken posing in the style of 1914. It was a very popular activity and Sgt Meredith was called on to appear in a good number! Participants are invited to download their image for free by clicking on the following links. (Nb: These photographs must not used for any commercial purpose and the copyright of the images remains with MPA.)
Each photo comes in two versions:
Return to No Man's Land
Film premiere, celebration and reflection
Choir members, school students, young footballers, parents, teachers, artists, poppy crafters, audience members from Rhyme, partners and funders all came together with the MPA team to create a full house for the premiere of the Truce film on Saturday 14 March at Accrington Library. The afternoon was a chance to both celebrate and reflect, both on the experience of the project and on our respective learning about 1914. As master of ceremonies Sgt Meredith kept everyone in order as well as providing the most spell binding, moving, moment of the afternoon with his monologue on the experience of the 1914 truce. The Truce choir entertained with their favourite songs, and lead a rousing sing-a-long with 'Tipperary'. Artwork from the project was on display and dozens of people had their Truce Portrait taken by photographer Cameron Procter, in the style of 1914 posing. Sgt Meredith was in great demand to appear in those!
Lots of interesting conversations took place, as over 440+ cakes and 45 litres of cordial, participants shared their Truce experience. The overwhelming story was one of strong emotional connection to all that had been learned, a deeper understanding of World War One and that extraordinary truce at Christmas 1914 and a recognition of how that moment of share humanity is relevant to our world today.
View the Truce film here. Please watch, download and share.
Read our blog - Truce - Sgt. Meredith's Story
Read our blog - The Power of Song (by Truce choir leader Janet Swan)
The Christmas Truce
Commemorating the 1914 Christmas Truce with football, songs, reflection and sharing
This event was woven in and around the league match between Accrington Stanley FC and Wycombe Wanderers FC on 20 December 2014. Music, singing and moments of reflection happened before, during and after ASFC's last home match before Christmas. A special free souvenir programme was available for all the fans - download yours here. The 1,325 strong crowd enjoyed the Truce Choir, East Lancashire Concert Band, displays of artwork created during the project and much more. Not to mention a great game that, in keeping with the theme, ended in a draw!
At half time the presentation of trophies to the winners and runners up of the Truce Centenary Cup Football Competition for U12s took place on the pitch, the junior players had earlier escorted ASFC and WWFC players onto the pitch for the kick off. Following the presentation the young players presented special Truce flags designed by students of Hollins Technology College to the home and away fans while the choir sang Silent Night in both German and English. This solemn moment was followed by a rousing rendition of Tipperary, which had everyone singing!
Truce Centenary Cup Football Competition for U12s
We had a fantastic day on 13 December for the Junior football competition. The day started on a down beat note as the icy conditions meant the outdoor pitches were not safe enough to use, but everyone quickly adapted to the revised game plan and shorter 5 a side matches indoors. The quality of the play was spectacular, we were lucky to have five very talented teams taking part: Darwen Rangers Lads, Darwen Ranger Blue, Hyndburn Youth, Rossendale United Juniors and Fulledge Colts. Each team also had a session with 'Sgt Meredith' and learned lots about the Christmas truces and what it would have been like in the trenches for young people, who in many cases were not that much older than themselves. The teams, their coaches, parents and supporters all enjoyed the day and all the players went home with a certificate of achievement and a limited edition enamel Truce badge. The winning team, Darwen Rangers Lads and the runners up, Fulledge Colts, will be presented with their trophies at the Christmas Truce event at ASFC.
"What a day for the Fulledge Colts Under 12's. They were taught all about soldiers in World War One, and reached the final of the truce cup!"
"Thank you to all who planned it.[...] my dad said it was brilliant x well done everyone."
"Thanks again, my sons telling everyone about what happened, think Sgt Meredith got through to them."
The Rhyme of No Man's Land
Songs and words remembering the 1914 Chrismas Truce
Saturday 29 November, 7pm - St James' Church, Accrington
We experienced a very special evening commemorating the 1914 Christmas Truce of World War One, featuring the Truce community choir, the East Lancashire Concert Band, readings of poems and texts by students from Hollins Technology College, a choir from Spring Hill Primary and Sgt Meredith's dramatic monologues. Also included the inaugural display of The Great People’s Poppy. Download a copy of the programme here.
"Just a quick thank you for a wonderful evening on Saturday. Clearly, a lot of people were drawn into a very meaningful and moving experience. The singing, the gifts, the Truce Poppy, and, of course, Sgt Meredith, who was wonderful, all contributed to a very memorable occasion"
"An outstanding event, flawlessly managed and very moving. The choir sounded fantastic and the idea of weaving Sergeant Meredith's performance in amongst the singing was a masterstroke."
"Well done to everyone involved. A night to remember - very though provoking and emotional too. Brilliant."
The Great People's Poppy
To mark the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, artist Emma
Blackburn, in partnership with Up for
Arts, called on the talented knitters, makers and fabric manipulators of Lancashire to contribute to a collective memorial poppy. These individual
handcrafted poppies were united by Emma to create the art installation The Great People’s Poppy.
Makers were asked to send in a red, white or purple poppy and to include text in its design, which could be a personal message to honour a member of their family who fought in the Great War, or words of support to people whose lives have been affected by war. Red is the most well known colour, the white poppy dates from 1933, when the Women's Co-operative Guild wanted a lasting symbol for peace and an end to all wars, and the purple poppies commemorate the animal victims of war.
We were very privileged to be part of this project and especially to host its inaugural display at The Rhyme of No Man's Land. Visit the website or Facebook page for further information.
This work will tour the county over the coming months. TGPP will be available for loan across Lancashire. If your group would like to host it, please contact Helen Randle via email.
The Truce Choir was an integral part of the project. This community choir, open to all, had up to 100 members attending learning sessions, with a core for performances of around 70. Learning sessions took place in Accrington Library and St James' Church and the choir members not only learnt the songs but lots of information about the truces too. They gave an amazing performances at The Rhyme of No Man's Land and at the Christmas Truce event at Accrington Stanley. To the delight of all they reprised part of those performances at the Return to No Man's Land event too.
"It was a great musical and social experience for all of us in the choir."
"Thank you so much for the opportunity to take part, and for all the work you have put into it."
"Thank you for helping to make last Saturday such an amazing event. I enjoyed every minute of it and it was both a privilege and an honour to be a part of it. It was one of the best experiences of my life and one I will treasure. There was such an atmosphere of camaraderie amongst all participants and the audience that somehow reflected the spirit of peace, comradeship and shared humanity that the British and German soldiers demonstrated in such a wonderful and humbling way that Christmas of 1914."
One of the songs the choir learnt is Only Remembered the song that featured in War Horse - hear it on YouTube.
Primary and Secondary school pupils are particpating in workshops during which they spend time with heritage expert and performer John Meredith learning about the WW1 and the Christmas truces, and then respond creatively to what they have discovered guided by artists Iain Broadley, Cath Ford and Cameron Procter. Students from an after school group at Hollins Technology College created flags especially for the Christmas Truce event at ASFC. These combined the colours of the two teams playing that day and included signicant images and words that they associated with the truces. Spring Hill Primary, worked with their resident musician, Steve Brown, to write their own song, which they then performed at the Rhyme of No Man's Land event. Peel Park and Mount Pleasant took part in workshops focussing on the tins distributed to everyone in the King's uniform and serving overseas in Christmas 1914. A fund created by Princess Mary from public donations supplied a specially designed embossed brass box, the contents of which varied considerably depending on who received them. Officers and men on active service afloat or at the front received a box containing a combination of pipe, lighter, 1 oz of tobacco and twenty cigarettes in distinctive yellow monogrammed wrappers. Non-smokers and boys received a bullet pencil and a packet of sweets instead. Indian troops often got sweets and spices, and nurses were treated to chocolate. Our primary school students have decorated their own tins and placed inside a letter, diary entry or drawing that tells someone's experience of the truce and objects important to them. The students have also been learning about artist Paul Nash and they watched the Sainsbury Christmas Truce advert, trying to work out how many different creative people and jobs were involved in making that short film. The tins and flags were displayed at the Return to No Man's Land event. Over 150 students have achieved the Discover Arts Award by participating in Truce.