Today was a bit of a day off. The weather was not favorable so Matt, our friend Caitlin (who arrived last evening) and I decided to take the day to adventure as we headed for Amsterdam. After some conversation we decided it would be neat if we could find the monument to the December truce of 1914. In brief, during the first Christmas of The Great War, there are stories of British and German troops exchanging gifts and playing football (soccer) on Christmas day 1914 in the Ypres salient. Not exactly sure exactly where there was a commemoration of these occurrences were we headed to Ypres to see Steve Douglas.
Steve is the owner of the Grenadier Bookshop in Ypres. Additional to running a superb souvenir and bookshop, Steve also provides excellent battlefield tours of the salient. If you are already in Europe and looking for a guided tour through one of the most rich historical areas of The Great War please consider contacting Steve.
Today we visited a little known monument to the PPCLI, a graveyard which was dedicated to Royal Engineers buried during the battles for Ypres, the wonderfully obscure Bedford House cemetery and a field where one of the Christmas trues's is reported to have happened.
On a personal note I was lucky enough to hold a near 100 year old Lee Enfold rifle that is part of Steve's personal collection. It was very kind of Steve to allow me to hold his as I one day hope to own a Enfield myself. Amazingly Steve told us the person he purchased it from proved to him that though it had rested in the mud of Ypres for some 20 years, and was an additional 70 plus years old when Steve acquired it, the rifle could still fire!
One of the many fantastic anecdote Steve shared with us today.