FAMILY RESEARCH: Christmas Day 1914 is remembered as the day British and German troops set aside hostilities and came out of their trenches to shake hands and play football in no-man’s land.
So when I discovered one of my relatives died on the Western Front on December 25 1914 I wanted to find out why and how.
It took a lot of research and support from a friend who leads tours of First World War battlefields in Belgium and France – and Shooglebox proved invaluable as I started to piece together the story of the 1st Cameronians, their first four months of action as part of the British Expeditionary Force, and their refusal to take part in the famous Christmas truce.
I squirrelled away all the things I came across over a year or two – photographs, trench maps, extracts from books, diaries and war records – and kept coming back to Shooglebox to review everything and spot gaps in the story.
Eventually we had the full why, how and where of the story. We tracked down the exact location where my great uncle was killed – attempting to capture a machine gun that had been firing from the German front line at Pont Ballot near Armentières – and had everything we needed to travel to Belgium and retrace his footsteps. Shooglebox was a great companion on our tour of the WW1 battlefields – and now it’s helping me pull together the full extraordinary story to share with the rest of the family.