They died on Christmas Day (1914-1919)

Last year on Christmas Day I made a blog post about the men from Portsmouth who were killed on Christmas Day during the Second World War. Out of 2,549 men and women, 3 men died on 25 December.

Yet when I went to search through my WW1 Database, something remarkable transpired. Not one man out of the 2,101 I have so far researched died on Christmas Day between 1914 and 1919. Given the extreme number of casualties suffered by the British Army on the Western Front and elsewhere, this is quite a surprise to say the least.

Many men did die very close to Christmas, however:

Private Arthur Frederick Merriot, 1st Bn Gloucestershire Regiment, 19 and from Boulton Road, Southsea. Killed on 23 December 1914, and remembered on the Le Touret Memorial.

Private Edward Victor Emis, 2nd Bn South Staffordshire Regiment, 20 and from Forton Road, Kingston. Killed on 26 December 1914, and remembered on the Le Touret Memorial.

Driver Sidney John Walter Budden, 5th ‘C’ Reserve Brigade Royal Field Artillery, 22 and from Craswell Street, Landport. Died on 26 December 1916, buried in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth.

Bombardier William Davey, Royal Field Artillery, from Lucknow Street, Fratton. Killed on 24 December 1917, buried in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth.

Corporal N.S. Gibson, 1/4th Bn Hampshire Regiment, 24 and from Eastleigh. Killed on 26 December 1917, buried in Baghdad North Gate War Cemetery.

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4 Comments

Filed under Army, portsmouth heroes, Remembrance, western front, World War One

4 responses to “They died on Christmas Day (1914-1919)

  1. John Erickson

    James- Is it possible that the Portsmouth men were spared in 1914 due to the Christmas truce? If any of them were in the more southerly area around (I hope this is spelled close enough) Armentierres, they may have been beneficiaries of that wonderful Christmas miracle. As to later in the war, I would be interested in seeing overall British (and French) losses for 25 December, to see if there was any slackening of effort in order to give the troops some respite for Christmas. Sadly that would not be the case in WW2 – with the more bitter, even racist, battling between Allies and Axis, Christmas lost its peaceful influence. The only blessing was the surrender of the Japanese in August 1945. Had the war continued, Christmas 1945 would have been a truly horrendous day, far worse than Christmas 1944 in the Ardennes.

  2. James Daly

    I think thats entirely possible John, in fact I would go as far as to say that this is evidence of informal truces and the live-and-let-live system at work. ie, on the Western Front men were not inclined to kill each other on Christmas Day.

    • John Erickson

      It’s hard to believe, with what is general knowledge of trench warfare in WW1, that troops on opposite sides would be willing to fraternise. The Christmas Truce happened before the great blood-letting of the Some, Ypres, Passchendale, and the rest – not to mention the horrors of WW2′s Holocaust and the Bataan Death March (among others). The British Army in 1914 were professionals, not the conscripts of later years, as were the Germans and had not yet been subjected to the immense amount of hate propaganda of later years. The Great War was a war of firsts, but also of significant lasts – respecting your foe, and even feeling a certain bond over shared hardships, sadly died with the end of that first year of war.
      (OK, James, speech over, I relinquish the floor!)

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