Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve, 1915, World War One

Once again we approach Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with prayers for peace in our hearts and minds and on our lips. It seems to be always this way, but perhaps in 2009 we can make a start towards changing that. Here's a poem from 1915 that seems as relevant today as then. Merry Christmas. Happy Hanakkuh. Peace be with us all in a prosperous New Year in 2009.

Christmas 1915

‘Tis Christmas Eve. In all the camps
There gleam a host of tiny lamps
That make the hill on which I stand
A veritable fairyland.
For friends at home and far away
Have helped us celebrate the day
By sending each and every man
A present of a billycan
Crammed full of wondrous things inside,
You couldn’t guess them if you tried.
Tobacco, socks and butterscotch,
And for some lucky chap, a watch;
Tinned cheese, and ham, and bloater-paste,
Sweet biscuits (which we will not waste),
Toothbrushes, chocolate, lanoline,
Bootlaces, coca, Vaseline,
Stewed fruit, cigars, a Christmas cake,
And writing pad all helped to make
A gift as pleasant to receive
On service as it was to give.
Now the first excitement o’er
And as I listen from the shore,
A wave of song towards me floats
From fairy choirs in fairy boats
Bearing the message of love and praise
And a prayer for purer, better days.
The Spirit of God is hovering there
In the wondrous calm of the still night air,
For the roughest heart has seen again
A vision of peace and goodwill to men.
So here’s to you, good friends and true,
And ‘hands across the oceans blue’;
We wish you all both far and near:
A Happy Christmas, a prosperous New Year!

Sgt Alan J. Kerr
(AWM 1 DRL 397)