Children from Scotland, Germany and Belgium and the relatives of British and German Officers involved in the First World War Christmas Truce will come together for the first time for acts of unforgettable reconciliation.
It was spontaneous, reciprocal and became one of the most recognisable moments of First World War.
The fraternisation across no man's land between enemy troops during the "Christmas Truce" of 1914 saw weapons set aside, yuletide greetings and gifts exchanged, carols sung and even, it was reported, football matches played on the western front.
The Christmas Truce of 1914 was a significant event of the Great War; one with a strong connection with Loretto School.
The first event will take place in the Loretto School Theatre at 10:30 a.m. - ‘The Christmas Truce Remembered’ - words and music by pupils from Scotland, Germany and Belgium (Ypres), 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 second event will take place in the Loretto Chapel at 11:45 a.m. - the unveiling of a specially commissioned stained glass window in the Chapel by the grandsons of 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. The unveiling will take place during a Commemoration at which Reverend Norman Drummond will preach. Norman Drummond is The Queen's Chaplain in Scotland and has been appointed by the Scottish Government to Chair the Scottish Commemorations panel to mark the centenary of the First World War.
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.”
Archibald Buchanan-Dunlop was a pupil at Loretto School from 1886 - 1889. After a distinguished military career, he returned to the School in 1908 as a teacher of gymnastics and drawing as well as establishing the Loretto Officer Training Corps, in 1910. He returned to his regiment at the start of the hostilities in 1914 and he was instrumental in the now famous Christmas Truce and had with him a copy of the Loretto School Christmas Carol programme. The event made international headlines across the world at the time with The Daily Sketch reporting that "Major Buchanan-Dunlop was one of the moving spirits in this wonderful Christmas Truce."
The two main highlights of the commemorations will take place on Saturday, 20th December;
After the Great War, Archibald Buchanan-Dunlop returned to work at Loretto and later became the School’s first Bursar.
Now, 100 years on, children from Scotland, Germany and Belgium and descendants of the British and German officers who took part in the Christmas Truce, will come together for the first time in what promises to be an act of unforgettable reconciliation and remembrance of this momentous act during World War 1.
A weekend of commemorations at Loretto School will take place on 20th / 21st December. During the weekend, Loretto will be joined by eighty children from three schools - Gesamtschule Bergen Feld and Willy Brandt schools in Germany and Heilige Familie school from Belgium.
• Lt Col Archibald Henry Buchanan-Dunlop OBE TD was born in 1874, the eldest of four sons to the Fifteenth Laird of Drumhead. He was a pupil at Loretto School from 1886 – 1889.
• Lt Col Buchanan-Dunlop had a distinguished military career serving firstly in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, the Leicestershire and Lancashire Fusiliers, the Royal Scots and Leicestershire Regiment.
• Hauptmann Maximilian Freiherr (Baron) von Sinner was the commanding officer of the Machine-gun Company of the Prussian 6th Jäger Battalion.
• 148 former Loretto pupils lost their lives in the First World War.
• 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.
• Rev Norman Drummond was Headmaster of Loretto School from 1984 – 1995
• The two events on Saturday, 20th December are free and open to all. Places are limited and must be booked in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning 0131 653 4433
Set in a leafy campus just outside Edinburgh near East Lothian's coastline, Loretto provides an all‐round education for around 630 boys and girls – boarders and day pupils ‐ aged 3‐18. The School is made up of two parts: the Junior School ('The Nippers') for children aged 3‐12, and the Senior School for those aged 12‐18.
Founded in 1827 as Scotland's original boarding school, Loretto is well known for its relaxed family atmosphere, traditional values and emphasis on the development of the whole person, mind, body and spirit.