September 1914: The British Expeditionary Force has the Germans on the run, or so they think.
After a month of bitter fighting, the British are battered, exhausted, and down to half their strength, yet they’ve helped save Paris and are pushing toward Berlin. Then the retreating Germans decide to make a stand. Holding a steep slope beside the River Aisne, the entrenched Germans mow down the advancing British with machine gun fire. Soon the British dig in too, and it looks like the war might grind down into deadly stalemate.
Searching through No-Man’s Land in the darkness, Private Timothy Crawford of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry finds a chink in the German armor. But can this lowly private, who spends as much time in the battalion guardhouse as he does on the parade ground, convince his commanding officer to risk everything for a chance to break through?
October 1914: The British line is about to break.
After two months of hard fighting, the British Expeditionary Force is short of men, ammunition, and ideas. With their line stretched to the breaking point, aerial reconnaissance spots German reinforcements massing for the big push. As their trenches are hammered by a German artillery battery, the men of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry come up with a desperate plan--a daring raid behind enemy lines to destroy the enemy guns, and give the British a chance to stop the German army from breaking through.
No Man’s Land—a hellscape of shell craters and dead bodies. Soldiers have fought over it, charged across it, and bled on it for a year of grueling war, but neither side has dominated it.
An elite German raiding party is passing through No Man’s Land every night, attacking the British trenches at will. The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry need to reassert control over their front lines.
So the exhausted men of Company E decide to set a trap, a nighttime ambush in the middle of No Man’s Land, where any mistake can be fatal. But the few surviving veterans are leading recruits who have only been in the trenches two weeks. Mistakes are inevitable.
In the cold, muddy trenches of the Western Front, there is a strange silence. As a crack English trench raiding team enjoy their first day of peace in months, they call out holiday greetings to the men on the German line. Soon both sides are fraternizing in No Man’s Land.
But when the English recognize some enemy raiders who only a few days before launched a deadly attack on their position, can they keep the peace through the Christmas Truce?