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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

'Songs of Praise' 7/12/14 Christmas Truce

Mark Hone

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The newly revamped version of the long-running BBC religious programme is featuring a three-part film about the descendants of Private William Tapp 1st Royal Warwicks and Leutnant Kurt Zemisch of 134th Saxon Regiment, who both left descriptions of the Christmas Truce. This week the families met at St Yvon. Very interesting and I was pleased to see our school wreath, laid at the Khaki Chums Cross during our October battlefields tour, featuring in pride of place in a couple of shots!

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  • 1 month later...

I received a nice reply from the 'Songs of Praise' production team following my email to them about their Christmas Truce feature. Subsequently, several people have independently mentioned to me that they saw our wreath in the film. One friend had assumed that the boy featured ( a descendant of William Tapp) was a pupil from our school and had laid the wreath himself. Apparently the sequences at St Yvon were filmed around 1st November, a few weeks after our visit.

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I happened to see this by chance while visiting my very elderly Saxon grandmother, and naturally we were both moved and fascinated by the material about Ltn. d.R. Zehmisch in particular.

Zehmisch was with 11. Komp. / IR 134 and came into the line on Christmas Eve. His battalion was holding subsector 'C' of the Warneton sector, between '134er' Weg and the 'Yves-Strasse' (the map below is from the history of Jager-Bataillon 13 which was deployed at various times in subsector 'A', hence trenches in 'C' are unfortunately not depicted):


Hence his unit was indeed in just the right place to meet Bruce Bairnsfather et al. of the Royl Warwicks.

I only got hold of a full German version of the Zehmisch account this week via a friend in Flanders, and will be updating my big article on the Saxon part of the Christmas Truce once I've properly digested it. He freely admits to taking an active part in fraternisation, describes rough attempts at football and mentions (like so many others) abortive plans for a proper game on Boxing Day which never came off.


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