HRH The Duke of Cambridge unveils Truce memorial

Friday 12 Dec 2014
HRH The Duke Of Cambridge and Spencer Turner help unveil the memorial

HRH The Duke of Cambridge has unveiled a monument commemorating the 1914 Christmas Truce at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The memorial is part of 'Football Remembers', a series of events in December being delivered jointly by the Premier League, The FA and the Football League in partnership with the British Council, to commemorate the First World War and the centenary of the 1914 Christmas Truce.

Speaking at the unveiling, in his role as President of The FA, The Duke said: "It really is the most fitting culmination of the Football Remembers programme, and will serve as a permanent reminder of one of the key moments of the First World War.

"We all grew up with the story of soldiers from both sides putting down their arms to meet in no-man¹s land on Christmas Day 1914 ­ when gunfire remarkably gave way to gifts. It remains wholly relevant today, as a message of hope and humanity, even in the bleakest of times. 

"Football, then as now, had the power to bring people together and break down barriers."

The design for the memorial was chosen by The Duke of Cambridge and Arsenal and England star Theo Walcott, after the Football Remembers competition was opened to more than 30,000 schools across the UK. 

The Duke met the young designer, ten-year-old Spencer Turner from Farne Primary in Newcastle, at the dedication ceremony at the Arboretum, which is the nation’s centre of remembrance and closely connected to the Royal British Legion.

Until now, there has been no memorial on the 150-acre site dedicated to the Christmas Truce story of 25 December 1914. The new memorial has been funded by the Football Remembers partners.

FA Chairman Greg Dyke speaks at the National Memorial Arboretum after unveiling the

FA Chairman Greg Dyke speaks at the National Memorial Arboretum

The Duke was joined by FA chairman Greg Dyke, England manager Roy Hodgson, Premier League’s director of football Mike Foster, Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey and Sir Martin Davidson of the British Council.  

Also present was Sports Minister Helen Grant MP, who took part in a special wreath-laying at the new memorial along with Forces representatives.

The FA chairman also added his own words of commemoration, and thanks The Duke for his continued support. 

He said: "Yesterday, I was in Flanders on the actual site of one of the events of the 1914 Christmas Day Truce - the kickabout between British and German soldiers.

"We were told the stories of what had happened that Christmas Day. How - amid the despair and destruction - the human spirit still flourished. 

"How men from both sides were able to overcome the nightmare of mass warfare and celebrate Christmas together with a drink, a chat and famously a game of football. Predictably, the story goes, the Germans won on penalties.

"I am delighted we are able to welcome the FA President here today. He has embraced this project from start to finish and understood just how football can play its part in preserving the most powerful of messages. We are truly grateful for his support."

Spencer Turner was given the good news by Newcastle's Adam Armstrong (L) and Steven Taylor (R)

The special service included a rendition of Stille Nacht (Silent Night) in the original German version by the Repton School Chamber Choir along with a reading of the Ode To Remembrance by Army Brigadier Steve Vickery. 

The four partners first came together on the project in March 2014 with a special trip to the battlefields and memorial sites of northern France organised by the Football League.

Football Remembers has seen various activities take place this month to honour one of the most iconic and heart-warming stories in human history. 

Over the past week, clubs involved in Premier League, Football League and FA Cup matches right through to the grassroots  have united to create a unique series of joint team photos, honouring the way the British and German forces came together in ‘no-man’s land’ on Christmas Day in 1914. 

Schools and workplaces in the UK along with British military bases and embassies around the world have also joined in with their own mixed team photos. 

Manchester City and Everton at The Etihad

More than 10,000 photos were submitted to commemorate the Christmas Truce

More than 10,000 images have so far been posted to – via upload to social media using the hashtag #FootballRemembers. 

The website will help to provide a permanent reminder for future generations of how football sought to preserve such a powerful message of hope and humanity.

On 17 December, the British Army will take on the German Army in a special football match at Aldershot Town – bringing together serving soldiers from both countries almost exactly 100 years on from the original Christmas Truce moments of 25 December 1914. 

As part of the Football Remembers project, more than 30,000 schools across the UK received a British Council education pack with resources to help children learn about the Truce – including eye-witness accounts, photos, drawings and letters from soldiers.  

For more details, please click here.

Nick Clegg's Football Remembers message


By Jamie Reid Senior Writer National Memorial Arboretum