The school of a former Edinburgh teacher and soldier who was instrumental in the famous ‘Christmas Truce’ during World War I has arranged a weekend of commemorations to mark the 100 year anniversary.
Archibald Buchanan-Dunlop will have a specially commissioned stained glass window unveiled in the school chapel of Loretto School in Edinburgh as part of a weekend of events to commemorate the amazing truce on the western front.
The former gymnastics teacher and Lieutenant colonel with the Royal Scots, who was in the trenches on the western front in 1914, used a copy of the Loretto School Christmas Carol programme to sing carols to soldiers on both side on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
His actions made international headlines in 1914 when he The Daily Sketch reporting that “Major Buchanan-Dunlop was one of the moving spirits in this wonderful Christmas Truce.”
The commemorations to mark the event will take place on 20 and 21 December at the school and will bring together descendants of the British and German soldiers who took part in the Christmas Truce as well as children from schools in Scotland, Germany and Belgium.
A stained glass window will be unveiled by the grandsons’ of both Archibald Buchanan-Dunlop and Hauptmann Maximilian Freiherr (Baron) von Sinner, the commanding officer of the Machine-gun Company of the Prussian 6th Jäger Battalion – who was also involved in the Christmas Truce.
Other highlights of the weekend include an event in the school’s theatre with words and music by pupils from Scotland, Germany and Belgium , including a stylised re-enactment of the truce, capturing the humour and emotion of the event. It will include the singing of Stille Nacht, a re-creation of the football match and a performance of Wilfred Owen’s Strange Meeting.
The fraternisation across no man’s land between enemy troops during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of 1914 saw weapons set aside as soldiers on both sides exchanged gifts, sang carols to each other and even played football matches together.
Jonathan Hewat, Director of External Affairs, Loretto School, said, “The weekend of events promises to be a powerful way to engage and educate people about such an important moment in our history.
“We all grew up with the story of soldiers from both sides putting down their arms on Christmas Day, and it remains wholly relevant today as a message of hope over adversity, even in the bleakest of times.”
“The Christmas Truce was never repeated. Evidence of football matches, exactly where they took place and between whom, is fragmented.
“Reports of frontline matches between enemy troops emerged in letters home on both sides. Other accounts include those of trench-weary troops taking advantage of the unofficial ceasefire to kick a ball among themselves.”
The specially commissioned stained glass window, to be unveiled by the Buchanan-Dunlop and von Simmer families, is designed by Haddington-based artist, Kate Henderson.
Archibald Buchanan-Dunlop was born in 1874 and joined The Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1894. After a distinguished military career, he returned to the school where he was a pupil in 1908 as a teacher of gymnastics and drawing as well as establishing the Loretto Officer Training Corps, in 1910.
He was awarded the O.B.E. (Civil) for his work as County Army Welfare Officer of the City of Edinburgh and died in Lasswade, Midlothian in 1947.
The weekend’s commemerative events are free and open to all however tickets must be booked.
Loretto School in Musselburgh, East Lothian is Scotland’s oldest boarding school with just over 600 boy and girl pupils aged 3-18.