WW1, Christmas 1914 Truce Song by Catherine Rushton, Music Monday

WW1 Christmas Truce

Through blog posts or books, war and dogs are a constant presence on my blog. My thoughts seem to gravitate towards them. Since yesterday we made our first Christmas decorations for this year, Noel was on my mind and so it happened that I discovered this musical gem on YouTube: a Christmas war song – how else? Christmas 1914 – Truce Song was composed by talented Catherine Rushton in 2004. Ten years later she published this soulful, folk song online at a friend’s request. It has almost 13 000 views now.

To help UK veterans suffering from PTSD, Catherine donated the WW1 Christmas Truce Song to Combat Stress for Veteran’s Mental Health. You can visit Catherine’s fundraising page here.

Here are the lyrics and guitar chords for Christmas 1914 Truce Song by Catherine Rushton

G ………………………………………………. C ………………. G
I am Private Angus Turnbull of the Highland Infantry.
……. C ……………….. G …………. D7
In Flanders field I fought the Hun.
………. G …… D7 ….. C …………….. G
And there I fell, but I’ve a tale to tell
………………………….. D7 ……………….. G C G
Of the Christmas I witnessed at the front.

‘Twas early Christmas morning when we heard the strangest sound
As silence crept through no-man’s land,
And the next we knew a German gunner crew
Had crossed the halfway line to shake our hands.

D7 ……………………………………… C …………… G
We were enemies one day and brothers the next.

……………….. D7 ……………….. C ……………………… G
We shared photographs and beer and schnapps, jokes and cigarettes.

…………. Em ……………… Am ………D7 ……….. C
‘Twas a sight I wish all mankind could have seen,

………… G ……….. D7 …………… G C G
That Christmas, nineteen fourteen.


For three days we played football, three nights we drank and sang
‘Til it came time to say farewell.
Then we went to ground; each side fired three rounds
And just like that we all were back in hell.

….. And we showed the world that peace was not a dream ….

Two weeks later I was buried while the war ran on and on
‘Til thirty million lost their lives,
But don’t weep for me beneath this poppy field
For I saw paradise before I died.

…. And I came to understand what Christmas means …

G
Stille Nacht, heilige nacht
Am …….. D …. G
Alles schlaft, einsam wacht
C ……………………….. G
Nur das traute hochheilige paar
C ……………………. G
Holder knabe im lockigen haar
Am ……… D ………….. G
Schlaf in himmlicher ruh!
G ………… D ………….. G
Schlaf in himmlicher ruh!

I hope you enjoyed listening to the hauntingly beautiful WW1 Christmas 1914 Truce Song by Catherine Rushton.

WW1 Christmas Truce song and football game
Armistice Day football match at Dale Barracks between German soldiers and Royal Welsh fusiliers to remember the famous Christmas Day truce between Germany and Britain -source PCH

During the WW1, in the winter of 1914m a Christmas Day football truce game between Germans and the British was won 2-1 by Germans. It was started by a soccer ball kicked from a British trench and ended by two German snipers.

WW1 Christmas Truce song and  Illustrated London News – the Christmas Truce  1914 – source wikipedia
Illustrated London News – the Christmas Truce 1914 – source wikipedia

Christmas Truce, Weihnachtsfrieden, Trêve de Noël, took place during 24-25 December 1914: British, French & German crossed the trenches to exchange greetings and play soccer.

If you d wonder, no Christmas Truce took place during WW2 although a German woman, Elisabeth Vincken, sheltered and fed three US soldiers and four German ones, all lost and hungry. Nearby the Battle of the Bulge was taking place. It was Christmas Eve, Heiligabend 1944.

WW1 Christmas Truce song and WW2 Christmas time, Battle of Bulge
Battle of the Bulge-WW2, Christmas time

Whatever you do this Festive Holiday, however you choose to celebrate it, do spare a thought for those who fell during the countless wars we put behind us, be it in historical locations or not, or are still taking place.

Song lyrics and movie clip are property and copyright of their owners and are provided for educational purposes and personal use only.

The #MusicMonday meme was created by Drew @ The Tattooed Book Geek. You can pick a song that you really like and share it on Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog feature on Mischenko’s lovely blog, ReadRantRockandroll .

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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A Resultant Force, Women Writing about War

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg - Women writing contemporary war books

As an author, I am the resultant force of the books I read, of the places I visit. As a woman, I am the resultant force of the women who influenced my life – my mother, my grandmothers, my daughter, my girl friends, my female role models. As a human being, I am one of the forces shaping my children’s future; albeit a tiny one, I can point forward and upwards.
Scientia potetia est.

It was an honor to have my article on Why We Need Contemporary War Fiction Written by Women published on Books By Women:

At some stage during my adult life, and this will astound my history teacher if she’d discover, I found myself fascinated by the thought of writing fiction inspired by contemporary events.

A thread that brought me here might have been reading Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” in my teens; another one, witnessing the terrorist attack on World Trade Center on Live TV while pregnant with my daughter. A definite thread, silky and alluring, came from enjoying historical fiction by Philippa Gregory and Diana Gabaldon. While the most recent one, still carding itself, draws from my son’s keen interest in war computer games and my own, in military working dogs.

Contemporary war fiction penned by women pales in comparison to the amount of books written by men. Be it in poetry or prose, throughout the centuries an author, not an authoress, depicted more often the combat male protagonist. As Homer put it in his Iliad, “war will be men’s business”.

Why so, since countless notable women were not afraid of fighting battles? The Greek goddess Athena is shown as a warrior, the patron of justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, and arts. The Celtic goddess Brigid is the patron of poetry and smithcraft. Scathach is an Irish Goddess who taught the martial arts. The Amazons were fierce warrior women and there were even gladiator women, gladiatrices, although Juvenal, the Roman poet of those times, depicted them as a mere novelty. History is splattered with the blood of innumerable women warriors: Hatshepsut, Queen Boudicca, Queen Samsi of Arabia, the Trung Sisters from Vietnam, Empress Theodora of Byzantium, Olga of Russia, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Mary I and Elizabeth I of England. 

History also showed us that women who took to war were willingly followed by an army of men and women and that they won their battles much to their opponent’s dismay. Is it the fact that women can stand up for themselves in times of political upheaval what worries men or the fact that women could, eventually, bulldoze them? 

With such role models, although nowadays women have changed spear for pen, where has history brought us?

Read my entire article here.

With thanks to Barbara Bos for so graciously facilitating the publishing of my piece.

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for Patricia FurstenbergSilent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for is my latest book release, a thrilling read about military dogs, soldiers and the populace caught in the War in Afghanistan.

You can read the opening pages right here, on my website.

Read about the symbolism depicted in this novel.

Find out what the readers of Silent Heroes have to say.

Buy Silent Heroes from Amazon UK, Amazon US or use the international Amazon link here.

Silent Heroes is also available in LARGE PRINT.

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Dog Mascots of WW1 and Their Cute Faces via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #WW1 #story #history

Dog Mascots of WW1 and Their Fascinating Stories

We saw already what amazing roles dogs played during the Great War and how many lives they saved. They’ve been helping in the trenches, acted as ratters, scouts, messengers, sentries; they’ve been Red Cross helpers, pulled wheeled machine guns or sleigh with supplies.

Dogs provided a great comfort to men fighting in the trenches - Staff Sergeant (Horse Farrier) of the Army Service Corps (ASC) with the Corps pet dogs, Hissy and Jack, in France in 1916. Source DailyMail
Staff Sergeant (Horse Farrier) of the Army Service Corps (ASC) with the Corps pet dogs, Hissy and Jack, in France in 1916. Source DailyMail

Not in the least important was the role dogs’ role as mascots, making the soldiers’ lives more bearable under the severe stress of war, constant battle and the constant death threats.

Canadian wounded soldier and the mascot puppy that put a smile on his face
Canadian wounded soldier and the mascot puppy that put a smile on his face

The size of the dog never mattered.

Through their warm companionship, their eagerness to please, their courage and loyalty and mostly through their friendly nature, dogs managed to raise the morale of the troops better than anything else.

The mascot dog of a regiment at the front listening attentively to a recruiting appeal on the gramophone.
The mascot dog of a regiment at the front listening attentively to a recruiting appeal on the gramophone.

Sergeant “Stubby”

Sgt. Stubby was an American Pit Bull Terrier mix and the most decorated dog of World War One: for discovering, capturing, and alerting the Allies to the presence of a German spy.

Sgt. Stubby
Sgt. Stubby , a 9-year-old veteran of the canine species. He has been through the World War as mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division. Stubby visited the White House to call on President Coolidge. November 1924

He has been through the World War as mascot for the 102nd Infantry, 26th Division. Stubby visited the White House to call on President Coolidge. November 1924

Most decorated and highly-ranked service dog in military history, Sergeant Stubby, a bull terrier.
Most decorated and highly-ranked service dog in military history, Sergeant Stubby, a bull terrier.

“Rags”, Mascot & War Hero

Rags found in Paris and fought alongside the U.S. 1st Infantry division as a mascot and a messenger dog. After arriving on US soil he became a lieutenant colonel and a celebrity.

Dog Hero - Rags with Sergeant George E. Hickman, 16th Infantry, 26th Division.
Dog Hero – Rags with Sergeant George E. Hickman, 16th Infantry, 26th Division.

Jack, the New Zealand Engineers mascot

Jack was a mascot dog attached to the main body of the New Zealand Engineers during their service in France during the First World War. This photograph was taken at Bertrancourt, France, on 6 April 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders.

Jack, a New Zealand mascot
Jack, a New Zealand mascot

Gibby, the Canadian’s mascot

“Gibby,” the mascot of a Canadian regiment, and his C.O.

Gibby, the mascot of a Canadian regiment, and his C.O. The dog had been gassed twice, but still went into action.
Gibby, the mascot of a Canadian regiment, and his C.O. The dog had been gassed twice, but still went into action.

A Jack Russell Terrier mascot of the 28th Division

What is special about this image is that the 28th Division keystone is clearly visible on the mascot’s vest, as well as two overseas chevrons.

Jack Russell mascot of the 28th Division
Jack Russell mascot of the 28th Division

The 28th Infantry Division is a unit of the Army National Guard and is the oldest division-sized unit in the armed forces of the United States. Some of the units of the division can trace their lineage to Benjamin Franklin’s battalion.

Caesar, a company, 4 Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade NZ mascot

Caesar was a trained Red Cross dog and helped rescue wounded troops during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Members of the NZ Rifle Brigade with Caesar. Source Auckland War Memorial Museum
Members of the NZ Rifle Brigade with Caesar. Source Auckland War Memorial Museum

Cesar, a bulldog and his handler, Rifleman Thomas Samuel Tooman, embarked for Egypt in 1016. His handler was assigned to train as an Ambulance Driver and Caesar was trained as a Red Cross Dog. Next they embarked for France, for the Battle of Somme.

Caesar was killed in action on No Man’s Land. He was found alongside a soldier who had also died, his hand resting on Caesar’s head.

Sammy, mascot of the Northumberland Fusiliers

Sammy, mascot of the Northumberland Fusiliers WW1
Sammy, mascot of the Northumberland Fusiliers WW1

Sometimes even enemy’s pets would be adopted after a battle, renamed and loved. And sometimes they got hurt too.

A British war dog receiving first aid.
A British war dog receiving first aid.

Some mascots took for the skies.

An RAF fox mascot sitting on a plane with the pilot during World War One. Source BBC
An RAF fox mascot sitting on a plane with the pilot during World War One. Source BBC

And not all mascots were dogs.

A British soldier “shaking hands” with a kitten in the snow. Neulette, France, 1917
A British soldier “shaking hands” with a kitten in the snow. Neulette, France, 1917

Do return for more posts on the role dogs played during WW2, the Vietnam War, the Korean War, in Israeli Special Forces, during the fall of the Berlin Wall, during the Gulf War, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.

Do check out my book Joyful Trouble, A humorous read about an incredible dog and how he had found his true, yet unexpected calling. It is a book for all ages.

My adult fiction book, Silent Heroes, is a #1 New Release, a contemporary fiction novel,  filled with action and emotional twists and turns. “Silent Heroes” has a strong historical and cultural feel of the area when the action takes place, Afghanistan.

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Amazing, True Stories of WW1 Dogs via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #war #WW1 #truestory #history #LestWeForget

Amazing, True Stories of WW1 Dogs via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #war #WW1 #truestory #history #LestWeForget

If you read my previous posts you surely discovered the incredible variety of tasks dogs performed, willingly, during the Great War. No matter their size or breed, dogs found a place in the hearts of the troops, saving a great deal of lives in between.

Dogs have been man’s best friend for over 150 000 years, they offered comfort during peaceful times and support during battles. We saw how indispensable dogs proved to be in wars and why, how they helped soldiers in the trenches, how they wagged their tails as scouts and ambulance dogs and how saved lives as brave sled dogs during the Great War.

Some dogs were just mascots, others acted as real soldiers.

WW1 True Story: Steif, a mixed-breed German dog, saves the life of his master, Lieutenant von Wieland

During the German campaign on the Eastern front, a lieutenant leading an attack fell under the heavy Russian fire. Heavily wounded and unable to move, he sent back his men. At the same time back in the trenches, the lieutenant’s own dog, a Great Dane – Mastiff – hound mix, had gnawed his leash to set himself free. Steif, the dog, dashed o his master’s side through the rain of bullets and, with love and determination, he pulled the severely wounded man to safety. The dog only lost his grip once, when a bullet “creased” him from shoulder to flank. Right at the end, when his master was safe, another bullet penetrated the dog’s front legs, braking them.

Steif and Lieutenant von Wieland
Steif and Lieutenant von Wieland

Man and dog were rushed to the hospital and were both operated on. Wilhelm II, the German Kaiser (emperor) and king of Prussia came to their hospital bed and awarded each, man and dog, an Iron Cross ( military decoration instituted in 1813 by Frederick William III).

This is their true story, as told to Kaiser Willem II:

“Lieutenant von Wieland led a party of men in an attack on the Russian trenches. Seeing the task hopeless on account of the Russian fire, he, wounded, sent back the men who had set out with him and lay there in the blood and muck and filth of the battlefield: The Russian fire was so murderous that no one dared bring him in. Presently a dark form bounded from the German trenches, rushed to Lieutenant von Wieland’s side, grasped his coat between his teeth and, foot by foot, dragged him to safety. Once, but only for a moment, did he loosen his hold, and that was when a bullet creased him from shoulder to flank. The blood gushed from the wound, but the dog took a fresh hold and finished his job at the edge of the trench where willing hands lifted the lieutenant down to safety. They had to lift the dog down, too, because just then a bullet broke both his forelegs.”

WW1 True Story: Messenger dog Satan helped the Allied forces

Battle of Verdun took place between German and French soldiers on the Western Front between February and December in 1916, and more than 300,000 men lost their lives.

A section of French soldiers, outgunned and outnumbered, were ordered to hold out their area until reinforcements arrived. Yet days passed.

Their eyes cats on no man’s land, expecting death to rush towards them at any moment, the soldiers were stunned to see a blackish dog wearing a gas mask heading their way. Dog handler Duvalle recognized his boy, Satan, arriving with a vital message.

Satan the dog saved a contingent of French soldiers at the Battle of Verdun
Satan the dog saved a contingent of French soldiers at the Battle of Verdun

That’s when the German’s spotted Satan and opened all available fire on him in a desperate attempt to stop the messenger.

Duvalle called and encouraged his dog, urging him to push forward and directing him over the open death trap that was the battlefield, reminding him what they both learned during their training. The dog began running in a zigzag pattern to avoid the impact of the bullets.

Just meters before the French trenches two bullets found Satan causing the brave canine to crash in the dirt. His master could not take it and sprang from the trench, calling and encouraging his brave companion. ‘Satan – have courage my friend. For France!’ – were his last words yet they echoed into the dog’s heart who miraculously crawled to the French trenches, delivering his message of hope:

‘For God’s sake hold on. We will relieve you tomorrow.’

The astounded French soldiers noticed that Satan had been fitted with two wire cages to his harness, each containing a messenger pigeon. Quickly, an officer penned the co-ordinates of the German artillery onto two pieces of paper. Luckily, one pigeon made it through the German fire and back to the French HQ.

Only one hour later the German battery fell silent, minced by the French guns a short distance away.

‘The garrison was able to hold out until reinforcements came all because one hairy mongrel refused to die while his errand was still uncompleted and because he was too loyal to quit.’  (Albert Peyson Terhune, American War Reporter)

WW1 True Story: Taki, first war dog to carry messages for the Allies in World War 1

Taki was a Belgian Sheepdog (Belgian Malinois).

If you wonder, this is the difference between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois dog.
If you wonder, this is the difference between a German Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois dog.

It was 1914 and the German troops, on their way to occupy UK, were rolling through Belgium. A unit of French Army found itself stranded between a river and the Germans. They were desperate to send message and call for reinforcements. Who will dare brave the bullets?

Taki, the youngest of the trained dogs volunteered. Or was chosen.

Messenger dogs training.
Messenger dogs training.

 A message was written in code and placed into a waterproof capsule that Taki had been trained to carry in her mouth. She left and everyone prayed.

Taki successfully went through the shell-worn fields, under a rain of Nazi bullets and poisonous gas and, soon enough, help arrived.

Messenger dog with its handler, in France, during World War I
Messenger dog with its handler, in France, during World War I

I hope you enjoyed the blog posts about dogs and the incredible help they gave during WW1.

Come back for new stories about the role of dogs during WW2 and so forth.

Do check out my book Joyful Trouble, A humorous read about an incredible dog and how he had found his true, yet unexpected calling. It is a book for all ages.

Joyful Trouble, Amazon Bestseller in eBook and paperback format
Joyful Trouble, Amazon Bestseller in eBook and paperback format

My adult fiction book, Silent Heroes, is a #1 New Release, a contemporary fiction novel,  filled with action and emotional twists and turns. “Silent Heroes” has a strong historical and cultural feel of the area when the action takes place, Afghanistan.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Faith Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Faith Are Worth Fighting for
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Amazing Roles dogs Played During WW1, part 3: Sled Dogs, Pulling Dogs via @PatFurstenberg #dogs #WW2 #sled #winter #snow

Amazing roles dogs played during WW1, part 3: sled dogs and pulling dogs

Dogs PULLING wheeled machine guns

Before the Great War, in some European countries such as Belgium and Netherlands, strong dogs were used to pull the milk carts.

Before the Great War this is what a dog-cart meant in Belgium. Source owlcation
Before the Great War this is what a dog-cart meant in Belgium. Source owlcation

Just a few years later and these dogs found roles within the military, pulling wheeled machine guns along with ammunition.

Remember that light weight machine guns have only been developed later during WW1, so mounting machine guns on dog drawn wagons added to their mobility and speed of deployment.

Belgium, WW1: dogs pulling wheeled machine guns. Source metropostcard
Belgium, WW1: dogs pulling wheeled machine guns. Source metropostcard

The Belgian soldiers were very attached to the dogs which drew their heavy “mitrailleuse” machine-guns.

The Belgian soldiers were very attached to the dogs which drew their mitrailleuse guns, Source owlcation
The Belgian soldiers were very attached to the dogs which drew their mitrailleuse guns, Source owlcation

Sled Dogs of WW1, Poilus D’Alaska, “The Infantry from Alaska”

Drawing from the harsh facts of the 1914 winter war in the Vosges mountains when the Allies battles through high snow with only men and horses to bring supplies of ammunition and food, by July 1915 the secret mission of getting together 400 sled dogs was already in place and running.

Poilus D’Alaska, "The Infantry from Alaska"
Poilus D’Alaska, “The Infantry from Alaska”

But where to find 400 sled dogs when the Allies barely had any military dogs, let alone canines used to trudge through snow?

Help eventually came from the famous musher (can drive a dog sled) Scotty Allan, “the sled dog whisperer”.

Quebec Telegraph, 2Nov 2015 - Scotty Allen to Help French Army
Quebec Telegraph, 2Nov 2015 – Scotty Allen to Help French Army

Scotty Allen became famous by winning sled dog races and even inspired Jack London’s popular book “White Fang.” René Robert Haas, another musher, also jumped on board.

A.A.”Scotty” Allan
A.A.”Scotty” Allan

An entire infantry of sled dogs was brought from Nome, Alaska, to France. This is how they traveled.

Poilus D’Alaska, "The Infantry from Alaska"
Poilus D’Alaska, “The Infantry from Alaska”

From Nome, Alaska, to Vancouver, Canada, the mushers and dogs traveled by boat. Them from Vancouver to Québec, all across Canada, by train.

Several poisoning attempts by German spies are recorded.

Once in Quebec Haas and Moufflet hid the dogs in a hangar while they look for a boat to sail them across the Atlantic. The hangar was located near an explosive-testing facility, so the dogs got used to explosions.

Haas and Moufflet were lucky, they found the last ship to leave Quebec before the St. Laurence River froze over. Thus, men and sled dogs arrived in Le Havre, France, on December 5, 1915.

Amazing roles dogs played during WW1, part 3: sled dogs and pulling dogs
Amazing roles dogs played during WW1, part 3: sled dogs and pulling dogs

Sadly, four dogs died during the Atlantic crossing and half died during the combat in the Vosges.

For the first time n war history, dogs were decorated with the” Croix de Guerre” for acts of heroism during combat.

Alaska sled-dogs serving in France, 1918
Alaska sled-dogs serving in France, 1918

Wars are never restrained to an area or to a moment in time. Wars are rooted in the past and throw their dark shadows far into the future.

It is amazing how Canadian dogs saved lives in Europe. French, Belgian, British descendants of the soldiers who fought in the Vosges mountains during WW1 owe their lives to the anonymous Canadian people who nurtured and raised the furry Poilus D’Alaska, “The Infantry from Alaska”.

I hope you read about the amazing dogs who helped WW1 soldiers in the trenches, as scouts, sentries or messengers. Come back to see some amazing WW1 and WW2 mascot dogs as well as discovering how dogs helped the soldiers further.

My latest book, Silent Heroes, is a work of fiction about the Military Working Dogs and the amazing Marines and local people caught in the War in Afghanistan.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
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