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World War I
A Christmas Truce

A Christmas Truce
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.67

     challenging words:    chateau, happening, meerschaum, mud-splattered, shadowy, Stille, cigarettes, artillery, unit, killing, trench, truce, hatred, celebration, matches, greeting
     content words:    Charles Whittingham, World War, Royal Welch Fusiliers, British Army, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Princess Mary, King George, Stille Nachte, Silent Night

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A Christmas Truce
By Jane Runyon

1     It's quiet out there. Some might say it is too quiet. For months now, the sound of rifle fire and artillery shells has become the usual noise in my head. Now, there is quiet. Every once in a while I can hear the voices of men lifted in song. Then those sounds are carried away on the wind. My brain is straining to understand what is happening. It doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem right. Then again, why should it? Nothing in my life the last few months has seemed real.
2     Let me introduce myself. My name is Charles Whittingham. I am a soldier in this war some call the World War. My unit is the Royal Welch Fusiliers, which is part of the British Army. I live and work in a trench on the western front of the war. This trench is nothing but dirt and a few pieces of wood used to keep the dirt from falling in on us. It is cold. It is always damp. When the rains come, we stand in mud past our ankles for days. It is almost 7:30 in the evening of Christmas Eve 1914. It is my turn on watch. We are very close to our German enemy. Sometimes we are as close as thirty yards across No Man's Land. No Man's Land is the name given to the area between the two armies. No one is supposed to set foot in this area or he will take the risk of being killed on sight. I am to watch this area tonight to make sure the Germans don't try to sneak up on our camp.
3     Rumors have been spreading all day. Some of the men are saying that the Germans are asking for a truce to celebrate the holiday. A truce would mean that there would be no fighting or killing on this holiest of days. Can we believe these rumors? Our commanding officers are snug and warm in a chateau more than twenty-seven miles from here. They have sent orders to keep fighting. They want us to ignore any offers by the enemy to cease fire. They say it is all a trick to catch us offguard.

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