100 years on, British and German armies recreate ‘Christmas Truce’ football match

Commemorating the World War I truce on Christmas Day 1914, the British Army edged their German counterparts 1-0 on Wednesday in a charity match.

British Army player Martin Molyneux sends a free kick toward goal during a charity match against the German Army on Wednesday in Aldershot, England to commemorate the World War I Christmas Day truce. Toby Melville / Reuters / December 17, 2014
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The British Army edged out their German counterparts, the Bundeswehr, by a single goal on Tuesday in a match organised to commemorate the famous “Christmas Truce” of 1914.

A crowd of 2,547 turned out at Aldershot’s ESS Stadium for the fixture, a collaborative venture between the Football Association, the Army and Aldershot Town which was also attended by England World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton, FA chairman Greg Dyke and Head of the Army General Sir Nicholas Carter among others.

In what proved to be a highly competitive match, a third-minute goal from Lance Corporal Calum Wilkinson settled the contest 1-0, although both teams also struck the woodwork in stoppage time.

The “Christmas Truce” was said to have taken place on Christmas Day four months after the outbreak of World War I, with British and German soldiers leaving the trenches and meeting in no-man’s land to shake hands, exchange gifts and play a game of football.

And LCpl Wilkinson admitted it was a special feeling to see the spectators attend in their thousands in order to mark the event.

“To score in front of this many people and on this occasion is a big feeling for me,” said 25-year-old Wilkinson of the Seven Regiment Royal Logistics Corp.

“To be honest I didn’t expect this amount of people. The fact there are two and a half thousand people here is absolutely massive. I don’t think any of us have ever played in front of that kind of crowd so it was really good.

“It’s a massive occasion, people have been building it up and we’ve kind of been focusing on the football side of it. When we came here, the 15 minutes before the match, the minute’s silence, and Silent Night going off, it was really, really a nice moment. I got shivers down my neck.”

All proceeds from Tuesday’s match will be donated to the Royal British Legion and the German Military’s equivalent charity.

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