A Christmas Pause During “The Great War” (1914 – 1919)

“No Man’s Land” is the term used by soldiers to describe the ground between the two opposing trenches. Its width along the Western Front could vary a great deal. The average distance in most sectors was about 250 yards (230 metres). However, at Guillemont it was only 50 yards (46 metres) whereas at Cambrai it was over 500 yards (460 metres). The narrowest gap was at Zonnebeke where British and German soldiers were only about seven yards apart.

No Man’s Land contained a considerable amount of barbed wire. In the areas most likely to be attacked, there were ten belts of barbed wire just before the front-line trenches. In some places the wire was more than a 100 feet (30 metres) deep.

The group “Celtic Thunder” sings the story of this World War truce. The German soldiers take a spontaneous pause to sing Christmas Carols and from across “No Man’s Land the allied troops joined in before returning to their fighting in the morn . . . This heart-wrenching music video tells that story.

French soldier’s room unchanged 96 years after his death in first world war

The story below touched my heart so much that I felt compelled to share it with my readers.  I can only imagine with great trepidation enduring the loss of a son and honoring him beyond my time on this planet…


First world war 100 years on

Parents kept room as it was the day he left, and stipulated when they moved that it should not be changed for 500 years

By:   in Paris
The Guardian, Tuesday 14 October 2014 08.15 EDT

Soldier's room

Hubert Rochereau’s room in a house in Bélâbre, France. Photograph: Bruno Mascle/Photoshot

The name of dragoons officer Hubert Rochereau is commemorated on a war memorial in Bélâbre, his native village in central France, along with those of other young men who lost their lives in the first world war.

But Rochereau also has a much more poignant and exceptional memorial: his room in a large family house in the village has been preserved with his belongings for almost 100 years since his death in Belgium.

A lace bedspread is still on the bed, adorned with photographs and Rochereau’s feathered helmet. His moth-eaten military jacket hangs limply on a hanger. His chair, tucked under his desk, faces the window in the room where he was born on 10 October 1896.

He died in an English field ambulance on 26 April 1918, a day after being wounded during fighting for control of the village of Loker, in Belgium. The village was in allied hands for much of the war but changed hands several times between 25 and 30 April, and was finally recaptured by French forces four days after Rochereau’s death.

The parents of the young officer kept his room exactly as it was the day he left for the battlefront. When they decided to move in 1935, they stipulated in the sale that Rochereau’s room should not be changed for 500 years.

“This clause had no legal basis,” said the current owner, retired local official Daniel Fabre, who showed the room to the Nouvelle République newspaper. But nevertheless he and his wife, who inherited the house from her grandparents, have respected the wishes of Rochereau’s parents and will continue to do so.

Soldier's room
The soldier’s desk. Photograph: Bruno Mascle/Photoshot

The room contains the spurs of the cavalry officer, his sword and a fencing helmet, and a collection of pistols. A flag is propped up beside the wall. His pipes are on his desk and the stale smell of English tobacco comes from a cigarette packet.

Rochereau, a second lieutenant with the 15th Dragoons Regiment based in Libourne, outside Bordeaux, received a posthumous croix de guerre, the French equivalent of being mentioned in dispatches, and the Legion of Honour for his extreme bravery on the battlefield.

As well as being commemorated at the local war memorial, his name is also on the monument to the fallen in Libourne. The regiment’s history recounts how Rochereau’s commander was killed by a bullet to the head after giving the “heroic” order to counterattack in Loker.

On Rochereau’s desk is a vial on which, in keeping with tradition, a label records that it contains “the soil of Flanders on which our dear child fell and which has kept his remains for four years”.

The battlefields of Flanders, which stretched from north-east France into Belgium, saw some of the fiercest fighting of the 1914-18 war. To commemorate the 580,000 soldiers who died on that part of the western front, a memorial by the architect Philippe Prost is due to be inaugurated by the French president, François Hollande, on 11 November.

The soldiers who died there came not only from the UK, France, Belgium and Germany but also from as far afield as Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and India. The memorial at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, France’s biggest national war cemetery, where the remains of 40,000 French soldiers are interred, is a giant ring of gilded metal bearing the names of the dead. Prost says he intended the Ring of Memory to symbolise unity and eternity.

Remembering Loved Ones for Their Military Services

Thank You Veterans

Home of the Brave

About 1-1/2 years ago, I wrote a blog post From Everyday Moments May Come Precious Memories where I noted my feelings, ties, and respect for my mom’s grandfather, John Carpenter Ford; her parents, Robert Gideon and Loretta Ford; and her brother, my uncle, John Austin Ford.  The Ford family was intricately involved with me in my formative years.  You know the saying, “It takes a village…”.  Well this was especially true in my life because I spent nearly as many days living with them as I did with living my parents–every chance I could!

Each of these Ford men bravely fought for their country during historic wars and conflicts. And, we can never be sure to what degree their lives and personalities changed because of their individual wartime circumstances and conditions.  And, this is why I so appreciate them placing their lives on the line for us during these incursions.

Our Men Who Served

John Carpenter Ford  (1864-1961)

John Carpenter Ford

My maternal great grandfather, John Carpenter Ford, was born January 15, 1864, (a capricorn like myself), in the midst of the American Civil War, in Wake County, North Carolina (a Confederate state).  The Civil War was the bloodiest war in America’s history taking the lives of about 600,000 men right on their own lands and among their own people! When “Grandpop” or “Pappaw” as we called him, enlisted for a five year stint, he was nearly 25 years old.  According to his military records, he served in Company D of the 17th Infantry Regiment. Reviewing the timeline of Indian Wars and the involvements of the 17th Infantry, his enlistment would have placed him in 1890 in the midst of the Apache Indian War in Arizona and New Mexico, and at the Sioux Indian disturbances in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, November, 1890 – January, 1891.


John Carpenter and Mary Susan (Morris) Ford 1943

My great grandfather lived to be nearly 100 and in 1961 was one of only two of the last surviving veterans of the Indian Wars. Ironically, in 1894, he married my great grandmother, Mary Susan Morris, who claimed to be a full-blooded Cherokee from North Carolina. 



Private Robert “Roy” Ford (center)

????????????????????????John Carpenter Ford’s son, Robert Gideon “Roy” Ford, my maternal grandfather, at age 19 enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. On June 28, 1914, six assassins (five Serbs and one Bosnian Muslim) led by Gavrilo Princip killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg.  Just weeks later Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia–adding fuel to the fire that exploded into the Great War. Fortunately, four months after Roy enlisted, World War I ended with the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919.  Shortly after his discharge from the Signal Corps in 1919, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served on the “Big Island” on the Central Pacific Ocean from September 1920 until September 1922.


PvtJohnAFordThe Invasion of Italy was fought September 3-16, 1943, during World War II (1939-1945). My Uncle John Austin Ford, was there having enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately following high school graduation.  He was only 19. During the course of the invasion, Allied forces sustained 2,009 killed, 7,050 wounded,  and 3,501 missing while German casualties numbered around 3,500. My uncle John was one of those wounded. Unfortunately, he lost his left eye.  Following his injuries, he was awarded the Bronze Star, and Purple Heart Medals for his valor during the battle.  Uncle Johnny passed away at the young age of 37, leaving a wife, a 15 year-old son, John, Jr., and a 5 month old baby girl, Tammy, whom he loved dearly.

A Hearty Thank You to All Veterans of All Wars and Conflicts for your services to me and our country!