Dublin Transport – January, 1944 Staff Magazine of the Dublin United Transport Company Limited Another Wartime Memory GOOD WILL IN “NO MAN’S LAND" "That war-time experience of motorman Carolan, printed in the last issue of Dublin Transport, brings back memories to me, for it was my lot to undergo the selfsame hardships during my three years on the Western front, 1915-1918." It was Inspector James Meagan, D.U.T.C. who was speaking, and my own amateur journalistic inquisitiveness prompted me to guide the conversation into channels that would wring from him a story of his experiences. I learned that he was an N.C.O. in the Irish Guards, spent three consecutive winters in the trenches and was wounded five times. "Around Christmas, 1917, my regiment was holding a section of the line along the Somme, where bitter fighting had been in progress. Christmas Day arrived with no prospect of the official dinner as our ration party had failed to arrive, and as N.C.O. in charge of our section I had to worry about providing a dinner in lieu. We had tea and sugar but no milk. I decided (contravening Army Orders, of course) to explore a shell-hole in No-Man’s land about 200 yards in front of our trench and collect some firewood to get a fire going for our tea. A tree had been blown into this shall-hole by artillery fire and this was my "prize". Telling some of my lads to keep me covered, I set out and eventually reached the hole. I was soon working away chopping wood with my bayonet, the only equipment I had. "Then I happened to look across to the German lines, where a Bavarian Guards regiment were entrenched. To my surprise, I observed a German soldier coming towards me without his rifle. He had his hands extended and in broken English asked me how we were fixed for 'grub'. I explained my mission in the shell-hole and he then produced a very nice rich cake from under his tunic and handed it to me, with the compliments of his comrades. They were great fighters these Bavarians and held the Irish regiments in great esteem. "I was deeply moved by his fraternal gesture of good-will and we warmly shook hands. Both sides fraternised on Christmas Day in 1915 and 1916 but we had been forbidden to do so on the 1917 festival. "We both returned to our respective lines and my only regret was that I had nothing to return those Bavarians as a present. Unfortunately in about an hour's time the news got around to officialdom that the Irish regiment was beginning to fraternise. As a result, our artillery opened up with a particularly heavy and vicious barrage - tine first shooting of the day - and right on the section of the enemy trenches which contained our friendly Bavarians. "That was our Christmas present, as decreed by the inhuman lawns of 'total war' and one I sadly regretted. The German artillery were a little slow in replying to our salvos but when they did it was thunderous. We took our Christmas dinner of tea sugar and rich cake to the 'music' of artillery."