Theo Walcott and Prince William back Football Remembers tribute to World War I truce

By Alejandro Knott | 28 May 2014

Prince William has joined forces with Arsenal and England star Theo Walcott to help commemorate one of the most iconic moments of the First World War – The Christmas Truce

A photo of a footballer and two men in World War I military uniform in a football stadium
Chelsea and Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard helps launch the Football Remembers Schools Pack, flanked by Chelsea Pensioners Steve Lovelock (left, holding the Loos Football dribbled across no man's land at the Battle of Loos in 1915) and Dave Thomson (right)© Football Remembers
The pair, along with the British Council and England’s major footballing bodies, will all honour the event’s centenary year as part of the new Football Remembers initiative.

A series of activities will take place between now and December with the aim of engaging a new generation of young people about what took place on Christmas day in Flanders 100 years ago.

When a British soldier kicked a football into no-man’s land, on December 25 1914, it led to one of the most extraordinary moments in wartime history.

The soldiers began an impromptu kick-about that led to an unofficial Christmas Day ceasefire in the trenches of Ypres, Belgium.

And one of the Football Remembers main projects will see schoolchildren across the UK celebrate this by designing potential memorials to be built at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The Prince and Walcott will then judge the winning piece, which will be formally unveiled in December.

Describing the project as a “powerful” way to help educate young people about the war, HRH the Duke of Cambridge said: “We all grew up with the story of soldiers from both sides putting down their arms on Christmas Day, and it remains wholly relevant today as a message of hope over adversity, even in the bleakest of times.”

The first of the campaign’s activities was launched last month as information packs containing previously unpublished photos and letters from the war were sent to more than 30,000 UK schools through the British Council.

The Council, the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations, hopes to see schools across the country get involved.

“For a brief moment in history, the Christmas Truce showed how people-to-people connections can triumph at a time of global crisis,” said the Council’s Chief Executive, Sir Martin Davidson

The packs will also contain perspectives from British, French, Belgian, German and Indian witnesses as well as a number of activities. Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, praised the initiatives.

“Football has a unique place in the history of the First World War and it is appropriate that the modern game should come together to commemorate,” he said.

“The Football Remembers Schools Pack and permanent memorial competition are excellent additions to the Christmas Truce story.”

FA Chairman Greg Dyke, recently back from a trip to the battle sites in northern France, also paid tribute to the scheme.

“By bringing the story of the Christmas Truce to life for a new generation, we can also remind how football can be a positive force in bringing people together – even at the worst of times,” he added.

Research released by the Council earlier this year confirmed the Christmas Truce as one of the most recognised moments of the First World War, with more than two-thirds of UK adults aware of the football matches that took place.


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More on the World War I Centenary:

Jerwood Gallery reunites twin Alfred Wolmark portraits of First World War soldier

La Grande Guerre: French prints of the First World War at the Fitzwilliam Museum

English National Ballet commemorate First World War in Manchester and London

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