World War One Christmas truce football match recreated

Newark Town Football Club Newark Town Football Club played FC Emmendingen in Belgium

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The "Christmas truce" football match that took place in World War One has been recreated in Belgium by players from Nottinghamshire and their German twin town.

Newark Town FC was awarded about £8,000 to finance an under-21s match against FC Emmendingen at the site near Ypres.

A local historian came up with the idea after reading letters sent home by Private William Setchfield from Newark.

The German team won 4-1 in front of a crowd of about 150.

The "Christmas truce" of 1914

British troops at the Somme

Late on Christmas Eve 1914, men of the British Expeditionary Force heard the Germans singing carols and patriotic songs and saw lanterns and small fir trees along their trenches.

Messages began to be shouted between the trenches. The following day, British and German soldiers met in No Man's Land and exchanged gifts, took photographs and some played football. They also buried casualties and repaired trenches and dugouts.

Some officers viewed the truce as a chance to improve living conditions in the trenches, while others worried that such unwarlike behaviour would undermine fighting spirit.

The High Commands on both sides took measures to ensure such fraternisation would not happen again and the 1914 Christmas Truce remained a unique event on the Western Front.

Source: Imperial War Museum

Pte Setchfield, who was in the Royal Warwickshire regiment, wrote about witnessing a match during the unofficial 1914 truce.

Newark historian Francis Towndrow, who led the Heritage Lottery Fund bid on behalf of the football club, said Pte Setchfield's regiment had been fighting the 134 Saxon Regiment around Christmas time.

He said the soldier wrote to his brother in Newark about a football match, although the military - which frowned on the unofficial ceasefire - censored further information.

David Issott, who coaches the Newark team, said it had been an important trip for the young players.

He said: "It's not until you get here and see things [memorials and cemeteries] that you take it all in. It's been quite overwhelming at times."

FC Emmendingen chairman Renzo Düringer said it did not matter who won the game.

He said: "Once the match is finished we don't have to go back to the trenches, we don't have to fight each other.

"We will meet again, we will stay friends."

The game was being played near the original site in St Yvon, close to Ypres, on Sunday morning.

Newark captain Lewis Poole presents football Newark captain Lewis Poole presented a specially-made leather football to the German team

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