The trenches

The trenches

Legend has it that on Christmas Day 1915, soldiers from both sides of the trenches met up in No-Manís-Land for a game of football. Nothing official was kept of this brief meeting between enemies so our knowledge of what took place has always been somewhat patchy.

Bertie Felstead, the last known survivor of that football match, died in July 2001 aged 106 years.

Bertie Felstead remembered the following:

He was a member of the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

Bertie Felstead in his Royal Welch Fusiliers uniform

On Xmas Eve, he was stationed in northern France with his colleagues near the village of Laventie when he heard the Germans in a trench 100 metres away singing "Silent Night". In reply, the Royal Welch Fusiliers sang "Good King Wenceslas".

On Xmas Day, after some shouting between both trenches, he and his colleagues got out of their icy trench and greeted the Germans. Bertie Felstead recalled that the Germans probably were already out of their trench before the British left theirs. He claimed that nothing was planned and that what happened was entirely spontaneous.

A football was produced from somewhere Ė though he could no re-call from where. "It was not a game as such Ė more of a kick-around and a free-for-all. There could have been 50 on each side for all I know. I played because I really liked football. I donít know how long it lasted, probably half-an-hour, and no-one was keeping score."

The truce ended when a British major ordered the British soldiers back to their trench with a reminder that "they were there to kill the Hun not to make friends with him."

The mood of Christmas friendliness was shortly broken by the firing of British artillery . Bertie Felstead described the Germans as "all right".

MLA Citation/Reference

"The trenches". 2014. Web.

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