Faith Blum

O Come All Ye Faithful

O Come All Ye Faithful

Edwin wanted to be home, but instead he crouched in a trench. The English on one side of No Man’s Land and Germans on the other. What a way to spend Christmas. Could anything make it better?

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O Come All Ye Faithful

December 23, 1914

Edwin stared across the vast expanse. He could almost make out a couple of German soldiers across the divide. The sun set too quickly as always. Just as they were making progress in their attempt to get across what everyone called No Man’s Land, the sun would set and they would start over again the next day.

Darkness settled over the land and Edwin turned his back on the field of bodies, crouching down deeper in the trench.

“Another night of restless sleep?” one of Edwin’s soldiers asked.

Edwin nodded. The lieutenant’s stripe on his uniform was the only difference between his and those of his soldiers. They were all equally tired, grimy, hungry, exhausted, and war-weary.

“Any chance we’ll get to go home for Christmas?” Charlie asked.

Edwin scoffed. “That’s what? Two days away? Not a chance. We’ll be lucky to still be alive.” He set his rifle down, took his helmet off, and leaned against the trench wall. “I’m going to get some shut-eye. Wake me up before dawn.” He put his helmet over his face to keep some of the light out and fell into a light sleep almost before his arm rested into his lap.


The fighting the next day was as brutal as always. Men charged only to be mowed down by the Germans. At this rate no one would win the war. How could they? No one could get across—Germans or English. Edwin fired his rifle like an automaton. He was past caring if he hit anything. If he did, he didn’t even think of that person as a human being. He had killed too many people now.

Midday passed by too quickly. The sun waned down farther and farther toward England and away from them. Come back, sun. Don’t leave me behind. I don’t want to be stuck in the dark with my nightmares. His wishes were useless. The sun never listened and soon set, and another evening started with too many men scrunched into the trenches.



Edwin blinked against the dim light of the dawn. What had awakened him this time? A dull boom in the distance startled him. Distant or not, that boom was much too close for comfort. Who had fired their artillery and where? It was far enough away to not be a danger to him or his men, but if it was the Germans, that meant another company was getting artillery shells lobbed at them.

Not for the first time, Edwin wished he lived back during the days of King Arthur. Boulders catapulting toward him would be preferable to the devastation from a shell. He had always imagined boulders would be easier to see and move away from. If he couldn’t, then being crushed had to be better than shrapnel. He shuddered as memories of the army hospital tents came back.

The captain shouted orders to them and Edwin bit back a groan. Another day, another fight, another depressing… Wait, it was Christmas Eve. Not that it mattered, but being gloomy on this holiday was not something his sister would approve of. A smile flitted across his grim face. It didn’t stick, but that tiny seed of hope lifted his spirits just a little.

The men around him stood in the trench and looked across No Man’s Land. Someday, one of the armies would cross the expanse. Whoever that happened to be would likely win the war, too. At this point, Edwin didn’t care who it was so long as the fighting stopped. Too many had died already.

The acrid smell of gunpowder and dirt filled his nostrils and Edwin shook himself out of his reverie. His friends were fighting and he needed to help them as best he could.

The exchange of volleys continued all day until darkness set in and they could no longer see well enough to fire anymore. Edwin let out a sigh. He was still alive. Most of the men near him were also alive. They had survived to at least see Christmas Day.

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