[23 December 1914]
Name of the sender: K. Timó, Budapest, 1st Infantry Regiment
Address of the sender: 3rd March Battalion, 4th Section
Address: To the honored Miss Antónia Zajác
3rd district, Kis-Korona Street 52
My dear son!
I wish a merry Christmas to you, your mother and sisters, hoping that next year at this time we can be together, not this much pulled apart. Now we are staying here for this year. But I do not think that there will be any leave, because even our lunch is brought up to the second floor.
Please come in the same way that we agreed last week. Today we go to confession. How are you? I feel as if I were in prison.
Greetings to your mother and sisters
Embraces and kisses
[We will never know whether in the conditions of full alert he succeeded in going home at least for an hour. Or whether he could at least say goodbye.
“Today we go to confession.” It’s a practical measure: in the firing-line there will be little time to deal with such things.
A Christmas spent in Budapest, even if it makes you feel like in a prison within the walls of the barracks, is a thousand times more peaceful than with the troops in the battlefield.
We would think that on the holy feast of Christmas, there is peace between the hostile parties at least for a short time. The two different calendars also give the possibility for that.
Looking at the current „Höfer report”, it says so little, that those at home could even imagine peaceful front conditions.
A typical höfer. The field reports signed by Lieutenant-General Höfer, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, became a synonym for balanced and retouched war correspondence
These posts usually avoid wisdom that comes from subsequent knowledge, since the actors in the war themselves did not know what the future, even the next day, would bring for them. (And if they knew it, what would have they done? An interesting question, but a side-issue now.)
On this occasion, however, it is worthwhile to open the chronicle of the regiment published after the war, although it also includes quite a number of höfers. The regiment of Károly, wrestling with the Russians on the crest of the Carpathians, was almost totally destroyed by this time. The chronicle, albeit in a polished form, and generously concealing the details, reports about terrible losses, caused by the ever-wilder Russian attacks instead of the hoped-for smoothing of the struggle before Christmas Eve.
“Under the pressure of this situation, on the 22nd at 3 a.m. the regiment began the retreat through Korcina to the northwest exit of Krosno. In the complete darkness they succeeded to detach themselves from the enemy, and, after marching with bowed heads in the deep mud, they occupied rear-guard positions on the altitudes before Krosno, where already in the afternoon they fought heavy fights with the advancing Russian forces. Then they retreated through Krosno to Suchodel, where, having occupied the altitudes, they covered the retreat of the rest of the division until two in the morning.
On 23 December 3 a.m., after drawing tinned food and bread, the regiment marched through Suchodow, Miesto, Piastówe, Royi and Rowno, and in the northern foothills of Zboiska, they occupied new rear-guard positions. At 3 p.m. a strong fire fight developed between us and the enemy artillery and infantry, which went on during the night. On this day, only coffee and bread were distributed for meal.
On 24 December the artillery fire was so intense already in the morning, that it could be compared only to the later drum-fire of Isonzo…”]
Blessed and peaceful Christmas to all readers!
Next postcard: 31 December 1914