Last Witness to Word War I's 'Christmas Truce' Dies

The last surviving soldier who witnessed the "Christmas Truce" in 1914 on the Western Front of World War I has died. Alfred Anderson was 109 years old.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

During Christmas 1914, there was an early, spontaneous cease-fire in the First World War. It was called the Christmas Truce between British and German soldiers on the Western Front. It began when the soldiers sang Christmas carols back and forth from their trenches, and it ended up including swaps of cigarettes and buttons.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And today the last man known to hear the guns falling silent that Christmas has died in his native Scotland.

SIEGEL: Alfred Anderson was 18 at the start of the war and 109 when he died today.

NORRIS: Anderson was the last known veteran from any nation to have served in the war in 1914. He didn't take part in the legendary soccer game between the German and the British troops during that Christmas Truce, but he does recall the quiet.

(Soundbite of BBC interview)

Mr. ALFRED ANDERSON (World War I Veteran): We heard the complete silence, and we all ...(unintelligible) the bullets ...(unintelligible) outside and listened. There was not a sound that we heard for a while, nothing.

NORRIS: Alfred Anderson speaking on the BBC.

SIEGEL: He fought in France until 1916 when he was wounded by shrapnel from a shell. He married and returned to Scotland, where he took over his father's building business.

NORRIS: Alfred Anderson, the last man known to hear the guns fall silent in the Christmas Truce of 1914--he died today at the age of 109.

SIEGEL: This is NPR, National Public Radio.

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