As we approach Christmas Day this week, we mark the Christmas Truce that occurred 100 years ago. On the battlefields of the Western Front, approximately 100,000 German and British troops agreed an unofficial truce, and football games sprung up and down No-Man’s land.
In fact, it wasn’t for just one day, and it wasn’t just a football game. During the first week of December, French and German troops exchanged newspapers and recovered their dead. It’s thought that this might have led to the subsequent impromptu truce. On Christmas Eve, German troops in the area of Ypres (particularly Saint-Yvon) decorated the area around their trenches with candles. They then started singing Christmas carols to the British soldiers, who replied with their own carols (a brass band even joined in at one point). This led to German soldiers emerging from their trenches, calling out, “Merry Christmas” in English. The British soldiers, initially thinking this was a trap, soon noticed the Germans were unarmed, and so they too left their trenches, and walked across No-Man’s land to shake hands with the “enemy”.
Gifts of plum puddings and cigarettes were exchanged. The ceasefire was also taken as an opportunity to reclaim the bodies of those who had fallen on No-Man’s land.
Games of football sprang up. It’s these which have become synonymous with the Christmas Truce.
“All Together Now” was written by Peter Hooton for his band, The Farm, and was first released in 1990. Hooton, in explaining the meaning behind the lyrics of the song said,
“I wrote ‘All Together Now’ about the extraordinary events on Christmas Day 1914 when British and German troops took part in an unofficial truce, singing Christmas carols, exchanging gifts and even playing football. It was a spontaneous act of humanity that transcended the horrors and barbarity of World War One and is a story which still resonates 100 years on. It is a story of hope and peace which should be told over and over again.”
The song has been re-recorded to commemorate the hundred years since the Christmas Truce, with all profits going to the British Red Cross and The Shorncliffe Trust, which is currently working towards creating the UK’s first Heritage Park & Education Centre dedicated to the history and legacy of the modern British Army.
The new version was recorded at Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios and features backing vocals from members of Liverpool FC’s U12 team alongside over 30 boys from different Premier League teams and 22 boys from German football clubs. The boys sing in both English and German and appear in the video in their football club shirts.
Artists who gave their time to sing on the single include Mick Jones from the Clash (who also co-produced the single with Madness frontman Suggs), Engelbert Humperdinck, Suzi Quatro, Leo Sayer, Paul Potts, Julian Lennon (who released his own charity single on the same day), David Gray, Clean Bandit, Dionne Bromfield, The Proclaimers, Holly Johnson, Alexandra Burke, Guy Chambers, Gorgon City, Gabrielle, John Power, Jah Wobble, Jane McDonald, I Am Kloot, Shara Nelson, Amelle Berrabah from The Sugababes, winner of The Voice 2014 Jermain Jackman, and The Farm themselves.
Sadly the song failed to chart in the UK top 40 singles, but they did however hit the number one spot in the Independent charts.
A spokesman for the Shorncliffe Trust said,
“A huge thank you to The Peace Collective and the team for all their hard work on the single.
“For so many artists and supporters to work so hard for us has been incredible – and your support, of course, has been invaluable.
“The song is still available, so if you haven’t bought a copy yet, please do. It really is an amazing collaboration.”
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