15 November 2008

Football rematch: Germany 2, England 1

Never thought I'd end up writing about a football (or any other kind of -ball) game here, but ZUI this article from the MOD Defence News:
British soldiers travelled to France this week to play a football match against German soldiers on the exact spot where, on Christmas Day 1914, their regimental ancestors came out from their trenches to play football in a rare day of humanity amidst the horrors of the First World War.

Some 30 officers and soldiers from the Chester-based 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welch Fusiliers) went to Frélinghien, France, where on Tuesday 11 November 2008, Armistice Day, they played football with the German Panzergrenadier Battalion 371. The Germans won 2-1.

The soldiers also witnessed the unveiling of a Christmas Truce Memorial in the town. Before the football match, the soldiers conducted a Service of Remembrance, laid wreaths and observed a two-minute silence in the town.

This week's match was organised by Major (Retired) Miles Stockwell, the grandson of Captain C I Stockwell who was present at the truce meeting in 1914. Freiherr Joachim von Sinner, grandson of the commander of the Saxon Regiment, was also present this week.

1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (The Royal Welch Fusiliers) and the team from the German Army's Panzergrenadier Battalion 371 were invited to take part as it was their regimental ancestors from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Saxon Infantry who played football on Christmas Day 1914.


On Christmas Day 1914, in many places along the western front, British troops met their German opponents in 'No Man's Land' in a day of peace. The 2nd Battalion The Royal Welch Fusiliers, holding the line east of Armentières, met the Saxons of 133 Infantry Regiment and the Prussians of 6 Jäger Battalion. The Jäger brought out two barrels of beer from their positions in the Frélinghien Brewery and were given a plum pudding in exchange by the Royal Welch Fusiliers. The Welsh and German soldiers played an impromptu game of football in 'No Man's Land' and the fighting was resumed, by mutual consent, on the next day.

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