Undeterred by the Aldershot drizzle the crowd was thrilled by the British Army’s football team as it edged out their German counterparts, the Bundeswehr, by a single goal!
The deeply symbolic Game of Truce match was organised to commemorate the famous ‘Christmas Truce’ and the game of football reputed to have taken place in no-man’s-land in 1914. Head of the Army General Sir Nicholas Carter, FA Chairman Greg Dyke, Sir Bobby Charlton and senior German officials headed up a list of 100 guests that enjoyed a pre-match reception to mark the occasion. It was a fitting tribute to the event that Sir Bobby spoke movingly to the assembled throng and much amusement when he recalled he was ‘just lucky’ with a previous well-known encounter with Germany! The match was thrilling to the end with both teams showing exceptional skills in a fast flowing game. The outstanding performance of the German keeper earned Andreas Forster a well deserved ‘man of the match’. However, it was the early goal from LCpl Calum Wilkinson that clinched the result in what was a very poignant game of football that marked a unique occasion, honouring the memory of those on both sides who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The match took place on 17th December 2014 in Aldershot Town FC’s ES Stadium in front of a crowd of 2,500 in the very heart of the ‘Home of the British Army’ – Aldershot. All proceeds from the match will be donated to the Royal British Legion and the German Military’s equivalent charity.
Huge thanks to generous Team Army sponsors Babcock Land, Driver Hire, Aspire, Sodexo and Sainsbury’s – who all gave generously to support this fitting tribute to the extraordinary moment of humanity that ensued 100 years ago.
By December 1914 a continuous line of trenches stretched over 750km from the Belgian coast to the Swiss border. This was the Western Front over which a struggle of unprecedented brutality would rage for the next four years. The opening battles in a war of movement which had marked the start of the conflict just four months earlier had gone. The dreadful battles of attrition by which this first ‘total war’ would later be characterised had yet to start.
The winter of 1914-15 was a harsh one. There was a common aim and shared struggle to survive these woeful conditions by friend and foe alike. So it was no real surprise when on Christmas Eve 1914 Christmas carols started to drift across no-man’s land. The tunes were the same. The words and their meaning were the same. Only the language was different. As a population far more religiously minded than our own, the Christian message of peace and harmony chimed loudly amongst those manning that seemingly god-forsaken stretch of blasted earth. So the next day the famous Christmas Truce came to pass. Men met in no-man’s land. They shook hands. They swapped cigarettes and cigars, schnapps and whiskey, stories and jokes. They showed each other pictures of their wives, sweethearts and children and they took photographs of one another.